Under Abnormal Conditions
    “Michael?” the familiar voice asked.
    “Yes,” I answered more reserved.
    “This is Brenda . . . Phil’s wife, he wants
all of our employees to meet at Angelo’s restaurant tonight at six
    “Okay, I’ll be there,” I said and tossed the
phone down.
    As I walked to the kitchen, I wondered what
the meeting would be about. Knowing Phil the way I did, he was
probably ready to reopen the club.
    Out of habit, I went over to check the
refrigerator. I didn’t think it was possible for my refrigerator to
actually have less food in it, but there it was. Even the baking
soda and jug of water were gone. There were dirty dishes piled up
in the sink and the trash can over flowed with empty fast food
containers. It didn’t really matter because I was too tired to
    The house was a complete and total mess, and
Ricky was nowhere in sight. Where was he?
    “Ricky?” I called out.
    He didn’t answer.
    A feeling of dread came over me. The house
was silent, except for a slight buzzing that seemed to be coming
from the back of the house. Careful to peek around the edges and in
every corner, I walked to the living room. There were clothes
scattered on the floor and everything was in a general state of
    It was a typical Tuesday.
    I slowly moved through the rest of the house.
On his unmade bed sat an open suitcase with clothes falling out on
to the floor. I closed the door and moved down the hall.
    The door to the computer room was slightly
open. I pushed it the rest of the way open and stepped inside. The
computer was on, but the chair in front of it was empty.
    Maybe he went for something to eat, I
thought. God knows there was nothing in the house. After the
divorce I thought my days of worrying about everyone else was over.
I should have known better. I had the classic caretaker
personality. As much as I tried to hide it, it was who I was.
    I stepped into my bedroom and began
undressing. As I walked to the closet, I noticed the faint smell of
alcohol. Even though I wasn’t a drinker, I knew that smell.
    There was no alcohol in the house so I
dismissed the thought to the paranoia surrounding the incidents of
the past few days. The weather outside was still cool, so I decided
to open a window and let the room air out.
    I was only about three steps away from the
window when I saw him. There were only a few feet of space between
the bed and window. I saw his fat little feet sticking out from the
other side of the bed.
    My first thought was the gangsters had
finally found him. I didn’t want to look, but I had to. Each step
seemed to go in slow motion.
    What would I tell the police? What could I
tell the family? What I saw left me relieved, but angry.
    He was passed out across the floor with an
empty bottle of Jim Beam next to him. He plaintively lifted his
head from the floor. He looked up at me and slurred something
before he returned to his repose.
    “If you are going to hide, it would help to
get all the way under the bed,” I said to his passed out body.
    He didn’t return a response. I took a blanket
from the bed and covered the side of his body that stuck out from
the bed.
    Maybe it was for the best. Seeing him lying
there took away any desire I had to go to sleep. It would have been
impossible to rest with him lying halfway under my bed. I couldn’t
imagine how we ended up like this. We all had so many dreams when
we graduated from high school.
    Trey was going to be a high-priced defense
attorney like his father. Ricky was going to develop the next great
computer software, and I was going to make my fortune in
professional football.
    Back then, I figured Trey would be the one to
stray from the plan. It had always been his father’s plan anyway.
Through everything that happened, he was the only one that had
stayed on track.
    As much as I tried to fool myself, I was very
tired. It was almost like I was walking around in a dream. I guess
I had been so busy during the day I just

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