WEDNESDAY, 7TH OCTOBER, 2009
I woke up, and all I saw was white. All I felt was groggy. “Where am I?” I asked, weakly.
“Toronto General,” a female voice said.
I lifted my head up, and saw that I was, indeed, in a room at Toronto General Hospital. The clock across the room read 5:15 PM. And standing next to me was a tall, slender nurse with a big Afro. Her name tag read Jessica Lightbourne.
“Umm… Ms. Lightbourne…” I began, sitting up in the bed.
“Jessica,” she corrected me. “Call me Jessica.”
“Okay, Jessica. What the hell happened to me?”
“I’ll give you the Cliff Notes version,” she said, her West Indian accent prominent. “A janitor found you on the washroom floor, passed out. He called 911, the paramedics brought you here in the pouring rain, and you had your stomach pumped.”
She looked at the monitor. I then realized that I was hooked up to it. “I read your file,” she continued. “You’ve had a lot of problems.”
“That’s putting it lightly,” I replied.
“One more suicide attempt and you get a toaster oven, if you survive,” she chuckled. I responded in kind. “Darling, why did you try to kill yourself?”
“I didn’t want to be there,” I said. “I didn’t want to be anywhere near my family. It was my birthday.”
“Don’t you love your family, honey?”
I thought about it for a moment, and then: “With some exceptions, hell to the fucking no.”
She gave me a look. I continued, “It’s complicated. Let’s just say that had they done their job, my medical file would not be like that.”
“I’m sorry you feel that way,” Jessica said.
“WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU TRYING TO PROVE LAST NIGHT, YOUNG MAN?!” Joseph stormed into the room, followed by Nadine, Charlotte, Ashley, Nicholas, and Denise. The armada looked pissed off as hell.
“Have you no manners?!” Jessica snapped at Joseph. “This boy’s just woke up.” She turned to me. “Seeing this lot, I’d kill myself too.”
“I think you should leave, Jessica,” I said.
“Right.” She gave my left hand a gentle squeeze. “I’ll check on you later.” She glared at the sextet standing in front of my bed. “You behave yourselves, or I’ll have security throw you out by your ears.” And with that, she exited the room. It was now six against one. Oh, how I wanted to make a run for it at that point.
“You bastard!” Ashley screamed. “You ruined my birthday!”
“That was a birthday party?” I sarcastically asked. “I thought it was a rejected episode of My Super Sweet 16.”
“I did not spend thousands of dollars so that you could come and ruin my daughter’s night!” Nicholas snapped.
“I thought that I was doing the right thing by doing it in the washroom,” I said. “Better to do it there than on the dance floor.”
“You always have to run your mouth, don’t you?” Denise asked. She looked at Ashley, who was beside herself with tears, and then me. “Just because you didn’t have a good birthday, doesn’t give you carte blanche to ruin other people’s birthdays, especially Ashley’s. Unlike you, she’s a good child with her head on and priorities straight.”
“Big fucking deal,” I muttered under my breath.
“You’re damn right it is a BIG FUCKING DEAL!” Charlotte roared, sitting in a chair. “Ashley told me that this was the worst birthday she ever had.”
“At least she HAD something,” I said. “I never got jack squat for my birthday.”
“Oh, are you still griping on that?” Nadine asked, walking to the left side of my bed. She looked unstable, and smelled horrid. “No one gives a damn about your birthday!”
I sniffed, and caught a whiff of booze. “Is that a forty on your breath?” Living with an alcoholic, I had unwittingly acquired knowledge of what kind of drinks were in Nadine’s system at any given point. Nadine had no response. She simply walked toward a chair next to Charlotte, and sat down.
“You know, this all could have been avoided had you guys let me celebrate by myself. I could have painted the town red. I could have been at North 44, dining on pink snapper tartare with grapefruit and avocado for an appetizer, having U.S.D.A. prime rib melt deliciously in my mouth, and finishing the night with a tart of chocolate peanut butter marquise, burnt caramel, crisp feuilletine, and lillokai parfait.” Despite having my stomach pumped, I was still hungry.
“BUT YOU WEREN’T!!!” Joseph exclaimed.
Ashley broke down, and Nicholas and Denise came to her side. “She has been crying non-stop since last night!” Nicholas said.
I have been known to sob for forty-eight hours at a time, so I was not that impressed.
“Come on, honey,” Denise said to Ashley. All three of them exited the room, shooting mean glances at me.
“Look at what you did, young man,” Joseph said. “You’ve pulled some shit in the past, but this… this is one for the ages.”
“For your information, it’s not a forty. It’s Colt 45!” Nadine screeched out of the blue.
I let out a sigh. “They make them in forty-ounce bottles.” I said.
“OH, SHUT THE FUCK UP! JUST SHUT THE FUCK UP, YOU GODDAMN KNOW-IT-ALL FAGGOT!” Nadine roared like a lion. I was unmoved. She’d been even louder in the past.
“You’ve put us through so much bullshit, Assiano,” Charlotte said. “You’ve made everyone’s life hell.”
“It’s Graziano, bitch,” I muttered.
“What did you say?” Charlotte leaped out of her seat and closed in on me.
“IT’S GRAZIANO, BITCH!” I roared with all the strength in my body. Charlotte fell back into her seat. It was at that moment a security guard came into the room.
“Folks, I’ll have to ask you to leave,” he said.
“With pleasure!” Nadine said. Charlotte dug into her bag and took out my car keys, and thrust them onto the bed. The three were halfway towards the door when Joseph looked at me, and said this:
“I don’t know how long they’re going to hold you here, but as soon as you’re discharged, I want you to pack all your shit and get the fuck out of my house. I don’t want to hear from you, I don’t want to see your face, and I don’t want any evidence of you being in my house to cross my path. I don’t care where you go. I don’t care if you have to live on the streets or in a shelter. I don’t even care if you die and have to be buried in a pauper’s grave. No. Take that back. I HOPE you die! I HOPE you get buried in a pauper’s grave! I HOPE you burn in the fires of hell for all time!”
And with that, they exited the room, with the security guard behind them. As they left, I heard this conversation:
“Why do they call it Colt 45 and sell it in forty-ounce bottles?” Nadine wondered.
“Because he’s a fucking ass-hole,” Charlotte said.
As their footsteps faded, I began to realize that, for all intents and purposes, I was homeless. I didn’t consider living in my parents’ Brampton mansion “home”, but technically I was. The last time was almost five years earlier. I had been booted out of the apartment that I had shared with Evan. And now, this. And Thanksgiving was only a few days away.
I sighed and turned on the television. On the Food Network, someone was preparing a Thanksgiving feast of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and stuffing. I began to cry.