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In a family of musicians it wasn't unusual that the youngest child would also want to be a singer. Actually I was a closet lounge act, and I still am. The difference between my “act” fifteen years ago and my act now is that I've lost my voice and it was completely unnecessary. I lost my voice, or what was left of it during the last fight I had some years ago.
Our clan isn't big on fighting. We tend to stuff our emotions and hence don't get into the raised voice confrontations that might otherwise relieve the tension of familial betrayals and miscommunication. Physical activity, namely drinking and athletics, not necessarily in that order, were the preferred method of dealing with confrontational issues.
Heated discussions would occur. We weren't without passion. It was just our tendency to stick with non-family issues when ratcheting up the rhetoric of intensity while discussing controversial topics. Controversial family issues were stuffed; never to be adequately addressed or resolved.
When I met Elaine I knew there were sparks. Physically and emotionally she was far more expressive than any woman with whom I was accustomed. A fiery, red headed, single child whose propensity for violence was thrilling until one night after we had been living together for a few months when she planted a lamp next to my head in a sheetrock wall.
Earlier that night I found myself boiling over with uncontrollable rage at the absurdities that flowed freely from her mouth. Each sputtering of her verbal acid burned ever deeper into my skin until all the emotional calluses of my repressed adolescence and puritanical, non-confrontational upbringing were evenly scoured clean from memory, exposing the raw emotions they had been protecting. Pure rage stacked upon rage built in me from the ground up.
My feet were hot as my toes first curled into, and then ripped at the carpet. My calves began to cramp from the actions of my feet and toes. My knees became weak from my quadriceps balling and contracting. From toes to balls, white heat cooked my flesh from marrow to follicles. I was about to erupt. My stomach churned and rolled while the rage rose to my chest. Heaving, my back and chest muscles began to twitch and contract. In my throat now was this white-hot ball of fury no one had ever imagined could even exist in me, least of all me.
In my clouded brain I sensed that only one more tiny speck of venom from Elaine would break open the vile rage and malicious discontent that welled up from an inner hell I had never imagined before this evening.
“Just hit me.” Elaine screamed. “You know you want to and you know I deserve it.”
She had spent many a year in relationships where she was both the abuser and the abused physically speaking. Her request for me to hit her was the proverbial straw.
What came out of my mouth was the loudest, most guttural scream of viciousness that I had ever heard. Its intensity instantly removed me from my body and I became an observer of the next moments in our tiny apartment.
Trained to rely on the power of my abdominal muscles for a powerful voice, I used every ounce of energy I had, channeling it through my diaphragm, up and out of my tender, cold vocal chords. I could feel the damage this unrehearsed, cold solo was causing, but the fuse had long since been lit and had now ignited the time bomb of anger I'd held for all my young life.
My screaming ran through the range of favorite insults and then focused on specifics of Elaine's fucked up histrionics. Volume stayed at maximum for a full minute as I closed the distance between us from across the room until we were face to face.
Fear caused me to stop screaming. Not fear of the neighbors. Not fear of the police. Not even the fear of what I saw as pure terror in Elaine's face. To be sure Elaine had never bargained for what was happening. She may have been in dangerous situations with previous fucked up relationships, but at this point in this fight she was definitely afraid for her life.
What stopped me was that this unnatural state of rage caused me to hallucinate.
As I neared Elaine's face, my mouth was wide open and the full force of my voice powered by 300 pounds of muscle and bone was irradiating her head. Suddenly I could see the sound waves coming out from my body and bombarding her face and neck. Wave upon wave of black tinged concentric red circles of pure hatred projected from my body. The power of the most focused waves were causing ripples and indentations on her eyeballs that appeared to be crushing her orbs with unrepentant, uncontrolled ferocity. The dark, hollow pockets created by the sound waves made the skin of her face contort and peel away, pressing some of her features flat against her skull, and tearing other features like her ears and nostrils directly from her head to peel off into oblivion beyond my blurred field of vision aspirating blood in a pink cloud that burst from the wounds.
The rippling pressure on her eyeballs caused them to leak out the precious retinal fluid until the pretty green eyes that had complimented her fiery red hair and personality sat as lifeless grape husks in the hollow, bloody sockets above a ruined wreck of a face and neck. Gray white bone and the grin of her skull stood terrorized before the sandblasting that the force of my words and anger rained down on her petite frame. Gums peeled partly from that once beautiful smile exposed the length of her dental roots. Blood oozed from her teeth as the macabre grin of her skull laughed, betraying the fear held in her body's posture.
The fear of this imagined power caused me to go completely silent. I was perhaps half an inch from her face, sweating and shaking uncontrollably when I noticed that her eyes actually did have an elongated circular pattern imposed upon them. That pattern was the reflection of my teeth shining on the teary, moist surface of her eyeballs. In that moment I could see the reflection of the roof of my mouth and blood red uvula at the back of my throat. What had I done?
I backed away and she fell flat to the floor, crying. Tears were streaming down my face, salty and thick. I tried to cry out but no sound came from my mouth. I had torn several vocal chords and severely damaged all the rest. At least I hadn't actually shredded the skin from this sad and lovely creature that curled up helplessly around my ankles like an animal whose spirit had just been taken by its vicious master.