The Man Who Would Not Break
Here's one without any felines in it. Distressing themes abound. I don't usually preface my stories with a quote but I have always liked the one you'll find below the disclaimer. It provided inspiration and framework for this outing. As usual, all mistakes are mine. Don't let them give you nightmares.
Disclaimer: Am going to break something I don't own that provides me no income but promise to fix it before giving it back.
The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.
Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms, 1929
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The Broken Places
She'd been gone for two weeks. He knew it was two weeks because there had to be at least that many days' worth of empties amid the rest of the debris; lots and lots of debris.
Lots and lots of empties.
He'd been doing his absolute best to achieve his goal – oblivion – and in fact had been doing such a good job of it that, finally, Sam Chu told him he wouldn't sell to him anymore.
Groaning, he rolled over onto his back and tried to assess the time. The light in the room was sort of yellowish and the air hot and sticky. He ran a hand over a heavily bristled face and lay there for a few moments. This wouldn't do. He was awake and cognizant. This wouldn't do at all.
Danny Williams pulled the Camaro into the driveway behind the battered Silverado. He hadn't pushed Steve to get it repaired because God knows the guy would probably only finish the job he'd started if he got behind the wheel anytime soon.
Since the day of the funeral he didn't think he'd seen Steve sober. The man had been stoic and nearly wordless through it all; silently accepting the condolences and attempts to comfort him; speaking only when necessary during preparations for the traditional post funeral gathering expected in so many cultures; the Island's certainly one of them.
He'd organized it as perfectly as a well-planned and executed op. There was food, augmented of course by whatever casseroles, cakes and other things friends and neighbors had brought. There was soda, alcohol, (lots and lots of alcohol), and of course the place where bereaved friends and family could gather to console one another and celebrate the life of someone they'd loved.
The wake had been well planned, well provisioned and, God knows, well attended. Steve had taken care of it as he took care of pretty much everything in his life; logically, efficiently and without any outward display of emotion.
After that, he stopped speaking.
Danny was pretty sure as soon as the door was closed behind the last mourner; his friend had gotten drunk and stayed that way. Steve had been ordered to take the week off and more if needed. He hadn't answered his phone since then. No one wanted to intrude but the ohana had continued trying to reach him.
After a couple days with many voice-mail messages but no call-backs, Danny had gone to the house to knock on his door but when he arrived found it unlocked. Pushing it open and calling out he'd received no answer.
Cautiously proceeding into the living room, he found Steve just inside passed out on the sofa, an empty fifth of whiskey on the coffee table beside him and no evidence he'd used a glass to drink it with. After several entreaties to wake, Danny had roused his friend only enough to be told to mind his own business and to hear a demand he leave.
Having ascertained that Steve was only drunk and not dead, he did as ordered and left but knew he'd be back. Even though his friend needed and deserved some solitude, he wasn't going to let him wallow in his grief alone.
In the days following, the cousins had stopped by several times and tried to get him to talk or at least eat something but after a while, gave up and left it to his best friend to try to get through to him. They knew Danny would never give up on the man he considered his brother.
On the next visit, he'd thrown his drunken friend fully clothed into the shower and turned the cold water tap on full blast hoping it would shock him into a greater state of sobriety. But it only pissed him off. Drunk on his ass or not, Steven McGarrett was a strong and formidable guy. Danny had found himself on the front walk on his derriere within a minute of that failed exercise. But nevertheless he'd keep trying. Steve had yet to talk about it . . . about the death.
The haole detective had come over nearly every day since if just to sadly observe the wreckage. In what were probably drunken rages, Steve had pretty much destroyed whatever was breakable and a few things Danny thought weren't – breakable that is.
Reluctant to see what latest destruction awaited him; lips compressed in frustration, the worried man sat in his car in the driveway staring at the house for several more minutes.
Pretty much everything that had hung on the walls was now in a heap on the floor. Every dish, every cup or tumbler, even every mirror – all smashed into thousands of pieces. Last time he was here he'd noticed there were a couple of chairs that weren't yet kindling but most all else was candidate for a bonfire or landfill.
The sad realization was that things were broken. Hearts were broken. Steve was broken.
Gathering himself with a tired sigh, he exited the Camaro to stride up the leaf littered walkway to the porch. He knocked and waited but, as usual, there was no response from within. He knocked once again but waited only a brief moment before trying the handle. As on previous occasions, it wasn't locked. Steve just didn't care anymore or was maybe hoping some evildoer with a grudge would burst in to put him out of his misery.
"Steven!" he called out as he pushed open the door. On the odd chance the SEAL was lurking about with a loaded gun, he proceeded cautiously. "Steven!" he called again but again received no answer.
Entering the dimness, he wrinkled his nose at the stuffiness and the smell of stale clothing and booze-soaked skin. Every window was closed with curtains drawn tightly over them. He stood waiting for his eyes to adjust to the lack of light.
Not finding Steve on the couch next to the door as he had last time he was here, he went further into the room. Not really expecting an answer, he called up the stairway. The television atop the cabinet opposite the couch was on with the sound turned down low enough that it was almost inaudible. Meerkats were scampering about on its screen. When this was over and Steve was feeling more himself, he'd have to bust his friend for his taste in television programs. Deciding to check around downstairs first, he went toward the kitchen.
"Steven? You down here?" he called.
Stepping through the doorway he saw the body on the floor. "Shit!" he cried out and rushed to kneel next to it. Feeling for that place just below the angle of jaw, he was relieved to find a relatively strong cadence pulsing beneath his fingers.
"Shit." he said again, only this time a lot more softly.
Carefully rolling Steve onto his back, he found a smallish gash on his friend's forehead that had bled profusely as head wounds tend to do no matter how minor the damage. The small puddle of blood on the linoleum beneath combined with the vision of his partner lying motionless nearly provided Danny's own voyage to the Great Beyond as his heart had nearly beat out of his chest in panic.
But Steve was still among the living and his friend was teary-eyed with relief, (and no small measure of anger). After pausing to wipe the moisture from his own face Danny had roused the drunken man enough to get him up from the floor to patch him up.
After the antiseptic, gauze and tape, he'd given him a cup of strong coffee but it didn't stay down. Steve staggered to the bathroom to puke it up then dry heave for what seemed forever before passing out once again.
Lieutenant Commander Steven J. McGarrett was a fucking mess.
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Unlike my others, this story had been completed before I began posting, (finally got tired of frantic, coffee fueled, all-nighters to publish or perish). Of course, I still have to mess with each chapter before letting it go but will try to update every Sunday and Wednesday.
Please review if you'd be so kind.