Brothers Part 2:
It feels like razors, and Alex curses at himself for not doing this beforehand, at the bar. Of course, the remembers he had gone at the bar, twice, but his bladder just couldn't hold that much liquid. Plus, it isn't like he had stopped drinking when the bar closed down, or when he had said good-bye to Matthew. It was only two in the morning, and to go home now, to go to sleep now, would just bring tomorrow faster. And, well, fuck that.
He hears the horns of the train first, then notices the bright light coming his way, urging him to finish pissing and get off the tracks. It had always been a game of chicken, to piss on the tracks while a train came. One of those things that starts as a kid and you never let go.
Alex steps away from the tracks, moments before the train goes by. He walks over to his pick up truck, and grabs the bottle of Jamison he has in the bed of the truck. Alex twists off the cap, and gives himself three good swallows of the whiskey, before setting it down. He leans on his truck, and looks off into the city.
“Never changes, does it, Tuck?” Alex says to himself. He smiles wistfully, thinking of the nights spent here at the tracks. This is where Alex and Tuck would sneak off to at night, stealing some booze from Tuck's older brother, hanging out and drinking. They' watch the trains go by, and stare at the Domino sugar sign. They'd talk about movies, music, life, but most importantly, girls.
“I just want an artist girlfriend, y'know, the kind of girl who will show me some sketches she did. No one else will get to see it, but me.” Alex says then as he does now. He turns his head to the left, and Tuck is giving him goofy grin.
“Sketches of what?”
“Doesn't matter. Anything. It'd be like having a girlfriend who is a singer, and she sings you a song she's been working on. Just something special, just for me.”
Tuck shakes his head, taking a drink of the Natty Light in his hand. In the now, Alex takes another swig of the whiskey, as he listens to Tuck speak back then.
“I just want a sweet girl. Soft hair, soft eyes...”
“Soft lips, eh?” Alex says, cutting him off. Tuck's face goes red for a split second, just long enough for Alex to see it. “You still haven't, huh? What happened last week, The Eastman girl was all over you, and she'll do anything/”
“I Don't know. We made out a bit but...it didn't feel right.” Tuck says, sheepishly. Alex smiles at him.
“You want the perfect girl, but there isn't such a thing, trust me. Look at everything I went through with Delilah.” Alex had said then, bitterly. Now, though, he can barely remember the girl. He isn't quite sure her name was even Delilah.
“Look who's talking, you want to be some girl's muse!” Tuck threw up his arms in mock exacerbation, as he walked towards the track for his own game of chicken.
“Don't get hit, Tyler would kill me.”
Alex finishes off the Jamison, and throws it as hard as he can. Somewhere in the distance, he hears the glass shatter. It's a comforting sound.
Tuck stands on the tracks, unzips, and starts to take a piss while a train comes in the distance. He looks back at Alex, who is finishing off the cheap beer, and smiles wide.
“Look ma!” Tuck yells at Alex, raising his arms, “No hands!”
“You're the best.” Alex says to Tuck, then and now. Only this time, he can't bring himself to laugh. Alex closes his eyes, counting to ten, trying to hold back the tears. Keep them below, keep them on the inside. He looks at one more train go by before he hops into his truck and leaves, going anywhere but home.
Alex is sure this is the right house, but there is only one way to find out. What is the worse that could happen, right? So he rings the doorbell at the brick townhouse, twice. He hears movement inside, so he readies himself, trying to look decent. As the door opens, Alex is sure he is at the wrong house.
“Alex...what the hell?”
He is at the right house, Audrey's house. She stands in the doorway, wearing a housecoat and an unhappy stare. Her brunette hair is shorter than he remembers.
“Oh, hey, I was in the neighborhood.”
“It's three in the morning, Alex.” She says calmly. He expected anger, or perhaps frustration. But the calm actually makes him more nervous.
“I like your hair.”
“Booze and train tracks. Can I come in? It's freezing out here.” He says, already making himself in side. She doesn't protest, this isn't the first time Alex has come to her door in the middle of the night.
Audrey's house is perfectly neat, nothing out of place. Alex instinctively takes off his shoes as he walks in. He may be drunk, but he isn't stupid, and would rather not get a tongue lashing from OCD Audrey.
He walks over to her couch, and sits down as Audrey walks to the kitchen. Alex looks around, noticing the little changes from what he remembers. Most of the missing stuff is the things Alex had gotten her, unsurprisingly.
Audrey walks back into the living room, and hands Alex a glass of water, before sitting down next to him. She gives him a concerned look.
“You're drunker than usual.” She says, flatly. This hadn't been the first time since they'd broken up Alex had showed up here. They didn't always have sex, but they'd sleep together. They were each other's safe place.
“Are you going to be okay for tomorrow?” Audrey asks. Alex hadn't realized but it makes since that Audrey would be at the funeral.
“I'll manage.” Audrey reaches over and holds Alex's hand. He looks at her, teary-eyed. “You know the worse part? Seeing him tomorrow will be the first time I've seen him in almost a year. My best friend, since I was a kid, and I don't see him for a year. Until his funeral. What the fuck kind of person am I?”
Alex looks at Audrey, pleadingly, but she has no answers for him. All she can manage to do is hold his hand.
“Her name was Marie, she had...the most amazing green eyes and...the softest smile. Tuck loved her, so much.”
Alex notices the look Audrey is giving him, and shakes his head, muttering how it wasn't like that. He closes his eyes, fighting off the tears, and when he opens them again, Audrey is gone. The house is gone. Alex is in the car with Tuck, on their way to the movies.
“They had been dating for almost a year, so happy. We hadn't had a night out together in the longest time. We decided we'd have a guy night, grab some steaks then go watch some movie. I don't even remember what the movie is now, but we were so excited to see it.”
Alex is driving, Tuck is in the passenger side. They'd just left the steakhouse, on their way to the movie theaters. They'd both devoured a steak and split a bottle of wine, and couldn't be happier. They were talking about the movie, some comic book movie. Some hero gets powers, the world is threatened, and he has to make a choice: Save the world or lose the girl.
“It'd been a great night, you know? Things were going great for me at work, Tuck was so happy with Marie. We were talking about surprising Matthew, randomly going up to New York to see him. And then Tuck's phone rang.”
Tuck picks up the phone, and the look on his face, it was clearly Marie. Alex watches him from the driver side, and starts egging Tuck on with kissy faces and mock adulation. Alex, of the two, had drank more than his fair share of the wine, and was feeling particularly mischievous. Alex reaches over and snatches the phone from Tuck.
“She also spoke softly, to the point you almost had to strain to hear her. She wasn't mad at me, she giggled when I told her that I had kidnapped Tuck. I told her we were running off to Vegas to elope, there was nothing she could do about it. She played along, told me to just take pictures of the honeymoon, for her sake. Then she asked me to just make sure Tuck came home safe. I told her I would, and she hung up. I looked at Tuck and I told him that she had given him to me for the night. No girlfriends, no work. That was the deal I made with him. I turned off his phone, turned off my phone, and threw them both into my jacket.”
Tuck is laughing now, howling at Alex's theatrics.
“We pulled into the movie theater's parking lot, and I looked at Tuck, and I tell him that tonight we are just going to have a blast. And not to worry about Marie, since absence makes the heart grow fonder.”
Alex and Tuck get out of the truck, leaving their cell phones behind. As they walk towards the theater, Tuck pats Alex on the back. He was happy, Alex had never seen him happier.
“She was out jogging, and a car ran a red light...” Alex's voice cracks as he chokes on his tears. Audrey gasps, stunned.
“They took her to the hospital, did what they could, but...She was still alive, for a little while. That's the thing. Everyone called us, but our phones were off. That fucking movie...it was so long, by time it ended....he hated me. He did. Tuck could've said good-bye to her but by time we got back to the truck....”
Alex can't fight it off now, and breaks down crying. Audrey holds him, trying to do what she can for him. For twenty minutes, neither of them talk. Alex cries while Audrey holds him. They'd never felt closer. Finally, Alex runs out of tears.
“I should go.” He says, weakly.
“No.” Audrey shakes her head. “You should stay here tonight, Alex.”
“No, no. I just want to be alone.” Alex rises from the couch, walks towards the door. Audrey rises and goes to him, grabbing him by the shoulders.
“Alex, don't go. “
“Were we good? Alex asks.
“Us. Were we good?”
“Yeah. Yes, Alex, we were great.” Audrey says, still confused. Alex smiles, then gives her a kiss on the cheek. Before she knows it, he is out the door.
Nothing good happens after 2 am.
That one thought races through Alex's head as he hears the glass shatter and the truck compress. The air bag goes off, and Alex's world goes black.
The police report would say that Alex's black pickup had ran into a light pole. The truck itself was totaled, but Alex was lucky. When the police cruiser pulled up, he was outside his truck, smoking a cigarette. His left eye was swelled shut and he was bleeding from the head, but all things considered, he was safe. The police officer smelled the alcohol on Alex within five feet of him, and didn't even bother with the sobriety tests. No reason to, the officer had thought.
He helped Alex get into the back of the cruiser. Alex, to his credit, was very compliant. On the ride to station, Alex kept mentioning a Marie. The officer surmised that Alex was dealing badly with a break-up, and had gotten drunk in the process. No one was injured the officer was glad to write in the report.
They processed Alex, patched up the cut on his head, and sat him down on the bench. Next to him, an old man in his sixties rambled about UFOs and liberals. Alex was beginning to sober up, beginning to grasp everything that had happened. He looked disconnected, deflated, and lifeless. The officer walked over, knelt down to eye level, and asked if Alex had anyone he could call. Alex look at him glassy-eyed, thinking over the question.
“Yeah”, Alex says with a slight smile, “Yeah, I've got somebody.”