Monday, March 06, 2006


They always say when you lose someone you’ll feel it.  That the connection of blood-bound souls disintegrates into the ether, leaving you with a strange sense of loss, even when you know of nothing wrong. 

This is what They say. 

I’m not sure how much of it I believe, how much of anything I believe.  All I can tell you is how much it can hurt, how much it can feel like your insides are stuck on the spin cycle, how you heart beats so fast you think it may rise through your throat and land on the table.  Every façade we hold together, keeping the world at bay, crumbles and lands beneath your toes.  You hold the phone in your clutches, glancing at the screen, thinking you’ve missed the ring tone, anticipating The Phone Call, dreading it, thinking that this time it’s it.  They’ve found him.  He’s gone. 

You’re afraid to ask for help, afraid that it means it’s real.  Asking for help in the form of someone, anyone to hold you up, knowing they can’t fix it, knowing they can’t make it better or hurt less, but secure in the knowledge that they’ll hold you so close and you can bury your head in the curve of their neck, needing that second of protection, whispering “Where is he?”



My father awoke to a phone call from the police department, asking if he was the owner of a white sedan, confirming the license plate, advising it was found unoccupied in a ditch on a highway outside of town. 

My father’s response:  “My son drives that car.”

Repeated attempts to reach my brother’s cell phone, repeated voicemails growing steadily angrier. 

My father picked up the car, still drivable but lodged in the red clay mud found across Texas.  He pulled the car out of the ditch and drove it home. 

Three hours later my phone rings, my father asking, calmly at first, if I know where Matthew is. 

“He’s down there with you guys.”  A pause.  “Isn’t he?”

I hear the story about the car.  The airbags didn’t deploy.  There’s no blood in on the seats.  But it was unlocked, his DVD player, stereo and prized guitar sitting in the back seat. 

We rant and rave.  About how stupid he is, how he’s let his drinking get out of control.  He can’t just have one, we say, in total agreement.  Something is wrong. 

An hour later my father gets in his truck and drives around town, looking for signs of Matthew or his friends.  The parking lot of Fat Jack’s- empty.  His friend Robert’s house- deserted. This is all our combined knowledge allows us to check. 

I call information, looking for the parents of the kids I know he’s with.  I say kids, but I mean men.  They are 23 years old.  A group of boys teetering on the brink of adulthood, unwilling to cross over.  I make dozens of phone calls; in a Texas town of 80,000 thousand people there are a lot of last names to check.  Hoping someone will answer, be willing to track down their son, give out his cell number, something, anything. 

Hours pass.  When I run out of names I call my father.  Still nothing. 

My insides begin to ache.  The tears fall down.  I’m no longer just mad, I’m mad and worried.  Sick with the thoughts of What If, knowing he’s been gone too long.  There’s no explanation, reasonable or not. 

Another hour.  Two.  It’s dark outside.  I’ve turned off the lights because the thought of brightness hurts in that space behind my eyes, making me cradle my head in my hands as I shed what I feel is like the billionth tear.  I haven’t cried this much, this long, I think, ever.  I’m tired, exhausted with worry and grief, preparing for The Phone Call.  He’ll never grow up, I think.  He’ll never find his way.  Selfishly, I think I can’t make that Phone Call to my mother, working in West Texas for the week.  She doesn’t deserve this.  I can’t handle this. 

Brittany and Baker show up, banging on the front door.  Brittany throws her body against mine as soon as she’s inside the door.  She’s the first person I’ve touched in days, that moment being the first time I realized how much I need it.  I bury my face in her neck because I can’t think, my arms are too heavy, this weight too much.   

“Where is he?”

“Baby, I don’t know.”

I call my father again; he pulls out the yearbook, goes through every name.  Hoping something rings a bell, gives us another last name to look up.  We call more numbers in the vain hope someone knows something.  Something that will make this better.

We talk through the names we know, the places we know he frequents, hoping that we’ll trigger a memory, a name.  His ex-girlfriend.  Dad can find her parents house, he thinks.  We can get her number in Dallas from them, get numbers for all of his friends from her.  We have a plan.  Something to do. 

Fifteen minutes later my phone rings again.  It hasn’t been long enough for him to get across town.  This is it, I can tell.  It’s over.  I lean against my bed in the back of my apartment, my legs unable to carry my full weight. 

“They found him.”

I can’t breathe, I try to ask questions but my throat closes up.

My father takes a deep breath and slowly lets it out. 


“He’s in jail.”    


Jenni said...

THANK GOD. I have a brother that is carless, 26 years old, and he owns a peice of my heart. I'd rather the punk be in jail so that I can smack him around later, than to have any of those awful things in my imagination be true.

I'm calling my brothers tonight to tell them I love them.

oakland heidi said...

oh dear me. I've got two little brothers. The littlest has that glint in his 7 year old eye that tells me there will days like that for me.

I'm so glad yours is safe. How agonizing.

Heather B said...

Oh geez ... what a sucky thing to go through!

I am a born panic-er (is that a word?) so when I can't get someone on the phone I tend to think the worst.

I am so glad for you and your fam.

Johan Jordaan said...

I think I'm going to kick my brother's ass just in case.

auburn said...

My brother and I had a fight today.

I'm glad yours is okay.

Stacy said...

We must have the same brother...

Betty said...

Oh my GOD-

I'm so sorry to hear about all that shit you & your family went thru. My brother has done the same shit- I know the emotions you're talking about.

But - at least it was jail.

And I hope this wakens him up a bit.

Much love to you Birdie. xo

Anonymous said...

That deserves a good ass kickin'.

Texas style.

Dammit, this better be some sort of reality check for him. I'm sorry to hear what you all went through, it's very trying on the emotions.

I drank too much whiskey Saturday night and purged every tear and sorrow feeling from my body. I feel so wonderful and open and empty of pain this week, more than I've felt in years. I'm just sharing something you may possibly be feeling since you cried as much as you did. Sometimes there just aren't enough tears, but there's something to get out of it even if it's just purgation.


Texas Roxy

Drunken Chud said...

heh, i called my brother from jail. "i won't be coming to get those cheeseburgers, i'm going to the hoosegow. come get me in the morning." ahh, the fun times. gotta love em. so what was the poor bastard arrested for? dui?

Coyote Mike said...

Wanna borrow my baseball bat when you go see him? I think he deserves it for what he put y'all through. A few lumps can go a long way.

meghansdiscontent said...

You know, the more I think about this, the more I want to strangle his little ass.

I don't know if you have ANY idea of what you looked like Saturday night . . . and we didn't tell you at the time because you were going through so much . . . but girl, I feared for you.

You were pale, pasty and looked on the brink of a heart attack. Though, after you got your dad's call - - you were red and blotchy and looked on the brink of murder.

Fat Jacks??????????? Your dad checked Fat Jacks?????????? You didn't tell us that!!! Your brother still goes to Fat Jacks???????

Love you, chica.