My Heart Is a Drunken Compass

My Heart Is a Drunken Compass by Domingo Martinez

Book: My Heart Is a Drunken Compass by Domingo Martinez Read Free Book Online
Authors: Domingo Martinez
rotation, exchanging information, the latest news, holding onto hope, trying to keep from thinking the worst. I sat on the phone that morning mostly with Mare, a new mother, and I could hear Mare sniffling, also recently awoken with the shock, and we just sat there for minutes at a time, not saying a word, just listening to each other’s silence as we sat and processed what had happened to one of us, needing not so much to have anything to say or hear, but only to have the other person in immediate contact, nearby, just the warmth of familiar beasts, even if it was over a cell phone.
    Every member of my family was making their way to Austin, to St. David’s Hospital, from every compass point within Texas. (Texas has its own compass, as a part of its joining the Union.) Even my oldest sister, Sylvia, who disapproved wholesale of Derek’s “lifestyle” in Austin, was driving there with her husband and youngest child, meaning it was no longer a secret. Our little brother’s addictions had grown completely out of control, and a permissive mother could no longer hide the harm he was doing to himself, and he’d ended up here, in a hospital, in intubation, with everyone descending into Austin on an emergency Saturday morning.
    Everyone, that is, except for me, in Seattle. I never made it there.

CHAPTER 9 Caramelization
    The neurologist had to wait to perform the surgery because Derek’s blood alcohol level—on its own—would have killed most people, he said.
    My family was gathered in the waiting room and it was now morning there, and I received text messages every few minutes from everyone, but no news.
    Someone was finally able to reach Dan, and he made the hour drive from San Antonio to the hospital, and even from the distance, I felt a little better because hospitals are what Dan does best; Dan and Marge together can translate indicators and shrugs and insinuations and the non-promises the doctors and nurses have down to . . . well . . . a science, and they’re able to read the medical tea leaves better than anyone else. The family was serving its function. Except for me.
    I don’t remember the next few hours, or I didn’t remember them, until I finally found a letter that I’d written to Derek that day. I don’t remember writing it, and it wasn’t because I was drinking or on any sort of drugs. I just don’t remember writing it, because when I break, writing is what I seem to do. It’s become my new home, my new place of security. Instead of praying, instead of asking for help in moments of crisis, I now write.
    Here is the letter I wrote to Derek, edited for readability, and so that I don’t piss off the Virgens de Guadalupe or San Juan . Or that other guy,Jesus, and his Dad.
You’re unconscious right now, still. It’s like, 10:00 a.m. there. 8:00 a.m. here. This is the same unconsciousness that took you since your fall earlier this morning. Lots of stories being told about how it happened, but who really knows what the truth will be, when it surfaces. And you just came out of surgery—brain surgery, Derek—where a neurologist removed a blood clot from the interior of your skull to relieve the pressure it was putting on your brain. And still you’re unconscious, hopefully sleeping through this hell you’ve put us through.
    It’s a sort of revenge, isn’t it? This is how you choose to tell us how severely you resent us. Because we tried to groom you to be the best of us. To hoist you on our shoulders too soon and be too smart and too strong and too much better than what we felt we were. You’re making us pay because what we know to be “love” is instead toxic, and it poisons whoever we get in its crosshairs. Do you think we don’t know that already?
    You’re unconscious as I’m writing this. In a way, I’m glad, because just outside your door is the congregation of the whole family Martinez,

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