The Man of Steel

The Man of Steel

A Story by Gabalicious!

A short from my Past


             I stumbled into the disinfected hallway and sat down on the vinyl-covered bench. I could see my grandmother pacing back and forth in the glass bubble down at the end of the hallway. My mother was there somewhere along with four other family members that would all look at me with a disgusted eye. I stared at the over lacquered floor trying to make a pattern out of the randomly colored tiles.

            What am I doing here? I hate hospitals, I haven’s seen most of my family in two years, and I’m sick. Not the sneezing, coughing, runny nosed sick, but the, I’ve just spent two days on a heroin binge trying to forget myself and my family sick. I was sober and ill. Every time this happened I found another fix, something to make everything fall away. This time was different though, this time my Papa was in the hospital.


            I heard the message on the machine, the cold voice of my mother floating through my apartment. She told me that my grandfather, Papa, was in the hospital. That he had a heart attack and that he wasn’t doing well. She said that I should come down to see him. I was crushed. I felt out of control and my mind was burning. My Papa couldn’t be hurt. He was invincible. My mother was famous for her interventions and I wouldn’t be fooled. I paced the dank living room staring at the machine like it was a venomous snake waiting for the chance to attack. I didn’t like this tactic, this thing my mother was trying to do, I stopped talking to my family because of this type of attitude. I continued walking the living room staring at the ground to make sure that I only stepped in every other tile on the floor. I had to find something to do, something to take my mind off of this family business. I sat on the couch and instead of grabbing the remote to the T.V. as I intended I snatched my rig from underneath the coffee table.

            I slowly slid the heated needle between my toes and injected myself with a dose of forget and regret. My heart slowed and the deliberate pound of my pulse echoed in my head. The nausea came in waves and after a brief trip to the bathroom, I flopped down on the couch and scooped my sweaty dyed black hair out of my face. I watched a candle I had lit burn, the flame slowly danced on top of the half-foot pillar letting off little puffs of blue smoke. I let the warm numbness flow through my limbs causing me to feel every movement inside my body and unfeeling to everything that was around me. As the heat moved through me the world moved around me. I spent two days chasing the numbness of life.

            The sound of footsteps across the hard wood floor brought me out of my stupor. I kept my eyes closed and hoped that the tremors from the footfalls were a side effect of the dope. A slight jab at my ribs forced my blurry eyes open. Someone was standing over me; he had a severe look on his face. It took a moment before my eyes focused to reveal my friend Rich looking down on me. He kicked me in the ribs again. I told him I was awake and he responded by walking into my bedroom and reappearing with a pair of blue jeans and a t-shirt. He threw them down on top of me and told me to get dressed. I sat up and realized that I was naked and laying in the middle of my living room.

            I pulled the t-shirt over my head and slipped on the blue jeans he had provided. My head was dull and swimming with questions, but the look he was giving me told me that this was not the right time to be asking. I tried to stand and fell back on my a*s. He stood and helped me up, shaking his head he pulled out a set of car keys from his pocket. “Your grandfather is in the hospital, he has been for two days. You need to go see him.” That was all Rich said to me. We drove across town in 45 minutes of silence. I watched the brown world pass by the beat up old Chevy. Everything seemed so dank and grim, a million cigarette butts littered the gutters. The forgotten city loves only the forgotten people. I felt removed from the world.


            I watched my grandmother shove her tiny fists under her arms as she paced, her movement quickened and she was crying. Did my Papa die? Was I to late? I looked into the glass room and could see my younger brother looking down the hall at me. He was the one that called Rich. I wasn’t sure if I could face them. I had disappeared from their lives. I faded into a life that didn’t include them, a life that they would hate me for and a life that I would hate myself for. I wasn’t even sure how my mother knew where to call to find me. My brother looked up to me, he loved me, and I wasn’t who he thought I was. My long hair greasy from neglect, the dark circles under my eyes, I wasn’t anybody’s role model. My brother’s nose sat on the ledge where the glass met the wall of the waiting room. He just stared at me; he was waiting for me to come down the hall, to make this better for him.

            I stood up and tried to imagine myself looking better than I actually did. I wasn’t sure if I could handle the cold looks from my family, or the way they stepped away from me when I walked in smelling like cigarette smoke and body odor. I would try, I needed to see my Papa, to make sure he was okay before I disappeared from the family I didn’t want to disappoint again. I walked forward, trying to exude the confidence that they had always complimented me on when I was younger, but this time I didn’t believe it myself and I was sure they wouldn’t either. I continued down the hall, fear was gripping my every movement and it was making it hard to continue to walk forward. I was about ten feet from the room when my body gave out, my fear overcame me and I just stopped.

            “Gabriel!” my grandmother, Gran, came running out of the waiting room with her arms opened. “Thank god you are here.” She wrapped her arms around me smell and all. My younger brother also came running out of the room and wrapped his arms around my waist. I felt warm and safe for the first time in a long time. I returned their hugs wanting nothing more than to hold them forever. I looked over Gran’s shoulder and saw my two Aunts, my mother and father standing there. My mother was crying and my father had an arm around her for comfort. My two aunts watched the reunion with tears in their eyes as well.

            Gran reluctantly pulled away wiping tears from her eyes. “You should go see your Papa, he doesn’t know who we are but he needs to know there are people here that love him.” She began to lead me into a small hospital room. “He had quadruple bypass this morning. If he says anything mean or doesn’t know who you are don’t get upset.” She opened the door and let me go in.

            I immediately began to cry when I saw the strongest man I have ever known. His eyes were closed and he had wires coming out of every part of his body. He looked so small and fragile, like he could disappear at any moment. I walked up to his right side and fell on to my knee’s and cried. I buried my face in the brittle over bleached bed sheet and let my tears consume me. I never wanted to see this. Is this what my family wanted? Did they call me here so I would be upset? I felt someone lay a hand on the back of my head. “Hey McGee, don’t cry I’m alright.” His voice cracked and it was rough sounding. Papa stroked the back of my head and smiled at me. “I love you.” He whispered to me right before he fell back to sleep.

            I stood and pushed back his grey hair and kissed him on the forehead. Teary eyed I walked out of the room and said goodbye to Gran and the rest of my family. I couldn’t stay here, I couldn’t work out the rest of the problems I was having with my family. This wasn’t the right time. So I wandered out of the hospital and wandered the city looking for a place where I belonged. I never found that place. I belonged with my family and I wasn’t ready to be there yet.

            I don’t know what my family saw that day. I don’t know what happened after I left, but through all of the pain meds and incoherent thoughts that I was warned of, my Papa knew who I was. In his sick state he saw me, not the person I had become. I never found a place where I belonged. But while I wandered the lakefront in Chicago I found a place where I wanted to belong and the people I wanted to belong to. I vowed that day to give my Papa a real reason to love me.

© 2008 Gabalicious!

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Added on February 14, 2008



Denver, CO

I was born and raised in Chicago, where my family still lives. Thanks to them I have a large amount of material to draw from in regards to my writing. I have finished several short stories, one of whi.. more..