By Tenzin McGrupp © 2003
Halibut woke up suddenly to his screaming mother. Her high pitched squeal was an instant alarm clock for Halibut as he fumbled around his dark room and searched for his glasses. After a long day at work, she weathered nine vicious tequila shots that cracked her like an unexpected hurricane and got into a fight with the bathroom door at the Pub. It was ugly. Cici never saw it coming. She was knocked out for a couple of minutes before she jumped up, headed for an empty stool at the bar, then pounded three pitchers of Moosehead which cooled her rambunctious sloppiness before she stumbled home, popped a couple of Valiums and slurped the soup that Halibut had warmed up for her. While watching the “Tonight Show with Johnny Carson”, an embarrassingly sloshed Cici passed out on the couch with a lit cigarette in her mouth.
A filterless Pall Mall hung off Cici’s bruised lip for a few moments before it tumbled off her chest and wedged itself in between the plush orange cushions. Eighteen minutes later, bulky plumes of smoke filled the living room before the couch caught on fire. A cloudy eyed Cici coughed incessantly. She grabbed the first thing she saw; a nearby glass and tossed the remainder of its liquid contents onto the couch. She didn’t know that the glass was filled with vodka. Instead of extinguishing the smoldering couch, she set it ablaze. Still rip roaring drunk, she cursed twice before she grabbed her purse. She realized that she needed to wake up Halibut.
Before Cici turned around and raced to his bedroom, tiny Halibut stood motionless in front of his mother. Almost naked, he wore only a pair of ancient tighty whities, their distinguishing feature, a couple of holes and a beige skid mark that resembled the state of California. Unable to see through the smoke, he squinted at the glowing orange mass that used to be his couch. Before he uttered a word, Cici grabbed his arm and dragged him outside. They lived in a small apartment above a garage, situated behind the house owned by old man Ryan and his senile wife, Henrietta. When they reached they Ryan’s backyard, Cici hugged Halibut and squeezed him extra hard.
“That was a close one. I fucked up big time,” Cici whispered as thick funnels of grey and black smoke shot out of the windows. A mesmerized Halibut vigilantly watched the streaks of sparkling tears that trickled down his mother’s beat up face, illuminated by the eerie hypnotic radiance of their apartment in flames.
Tenzin McGrupp is a writer from New York City.