At first all I can see is a dark smeary haze and the only thing that I can think is that I have no idea where I am. Slowly the ominous cloud that is my vision begins to assemble into bleary tracer stars and spinning clouds. For a second, the Montana night almost swallows me as I spin deliriously, and then I begin to register that I am laying on my back. An entire beer can full of straight Canadian Club whiskey has put me in an alternate universe. My 17 year old mind tries to grip some sort of reality and all that comes to me is that I am just like my mother. This thought motivates me to reach my hands out, gingerly searching for the nature of where I might be. I feel flat metal, I smell fresh cut grass, my ears suddenly hear a sprinkler, mindlessly watering at what must be 3:00 A.M.
I realize I am going to be sick and jerk my body into a sitting position. This action sends my insides into a riot, my throat and nostrils burn as I puke, my stomach trying to twist out every ounce of poison. I can’t lean forward, I sense that I am on a ledge. I hold on, gripping the edge of some unknown metal precipice, violently moving contents from the of the inside of my stomach to the outside of my chest and stomach. I am a damn mess. I am a broken girl, left to my own devices by inept parents, stalked by the patterns of the past and a slave to unbridled desperation. I decide not to open my eyes. I must be alone, maybe if I just be quiet, this will all just stop. Thankfully, my stomach agrees and now the rhythm of the sprinkler comforts me, like somehow if I can just hear the next click, I will make it.
After a few moments I can’t ignore the smell of whiskey vomit emanating from my shirt. It becomes obvious that I haven’t hidden from anything by keeping my eyes closed. Everything looks like it’s underwater when I finally manage to peel them open. I see a road, move my head enough to realize it’s a driveway with a truck in it and that I am sitting on the open tailgate of that truck. I see flowers and start to recognize the shapes around me as the front of my best friend’s house, my current flop house. I sigh in relief and lift my shirt over my head. In doing so, the smell overwhelms me and I start to throw up again. This time I am not prepared and I fall forward, off the edge of the tailgate, and land in the gravel. I lay there retching and inhaling dust, clutching the tiny rocks like they might keep me anchored, when I hear the screen door slam shut. Someone is headed across the lawn, and I can’t even lift my head to see who it is.
“Marti, what the fuck are you doing?” It’s Ray, my best friends dad. “Just what the fuck are you doing?” I really grip the rocks and turn my face towards his voice. He is wearing his robe and slippers, but that doesn’t take away from his intimidation factor one bit. He is a constant ball of rage, fiercely defensive of his daughter and always a force to be reckoned with. He likes me, though. I think it’s because I’ve decided that the world doesn’t give a shit and so has he.
“Oh Christ.” He moves towards me, bending over. “Put your goddamned shirt on, Marti. Out in here in your fuckin’ bra.” He gets a whiff of the vomit and jerks away.
“Christ.” I watch him fade into the distance, thinking that I am going to have to move my shit out of his house tomorrow. I battle the spins, fight the whirling stars, curse the drunken planet and wonder where the hell I am going to go. I hear the hiss of a snake, making it’s way through the grass slithering towards me. I roll my neck towards the sound. At this point, I haven’t anything else to offer.
“Marti, get up. Get the fuck up.” Ray is standing there with a hose, aimed at my half carcass. I refuse. I just don’t care anymore. He sprays me. My senses are yanked into an alert state, stark electric charges running from one cell to the other. Suddenly there is mud where there was dust and the rocks that were holding me in position are slippery. I feel like he is spraying me with fire, and I scream. I scream like I have just discovered injustice and unrest. Like suddenly my prickling skin has become aware of scorn and judgment. Like the water is exposing all my faulty wiring, I shriek as I am forced into reality. I start to cry when the shock wears off, and Ray throws the hose somewhere to the side. He sits by me.
“You smell better.” He isn’t a big man after all.
“Marti, what the fuck is wrong with you? Why are you doing this? You are too fuckin’ young. You could die.” He looks at me and realizes that I don’t particularly care.
“You could, you know, that shit is real. All you kids think your parents don’t know shit, haven’t seen shit, haven’t lived shit. You’re wrong, Marti. Someday you’ll realize it’s not a contest about who’s suffered the most.” This comment pisses me off. I gather myself, pull my legs in and resort to the fetal position, a sure sign of strength.
“Ray,” I mutter, my voice feeling like a ragged slip. “I’ll never do shit. Never. Did you ever realize THAT, Ray? Did you ever realize I’ll probably be some sad welfare mom in 10 years, waiting for my foodies. Fuck you, Ray, ’cause I come from a generations of failure. And fuck you Ray, cause somebody from somewhere in your past probably fucked over somebody from my past and that’s why I’m puking in the yard that you fucking own instead of just fucking puking right on the Earth.” I laid my head against my arm and felt avenged. I have the right to be an asshole, I have the right to be mad. Everyone where I come from doesn’t have a damn thing, and everyone not where I come from blames us for it. Everyone knows it’s our fault somehow. Everyone asks themselves why all the people on the reservation are so terribly dysfunctional, everyone wants us to scrap some kind of honor and nobility out of fucking nothing. Out of legacies and fantasies, out some beautiful native apparition. Living on the rez had been like being caught in some kind of trap, like chasing after some kind of eternal identity that had been lost before I could even dream of finding it. Sometimes I’m so bitter that food tastes bad.
“Oh fuck the drama, Marti. You are what you are, where you are. Right now, for you, that is a resentful, disrespectful pile of shit. You puked in my truck. I want you to get up and spray it, then go to bed. ”
“I can’t move.” I say, “I have the spins.”
“Bullshit. Get your ass up. Obviously, you think you’re a real bad-ass, Marti PukeFace.” I take this as a reference to an Indian name. That is it. I stand up. I am going to kick his ass, but I stumble. I can’t find my feet or my arms and I pitch to the side, piling into the dirt like a sack of resentful, disrespectful shit. Ray laughs. Not a chuckle, or a reserved tee-hee, but a belly laugh. I am infuriated. I flail on the ground, wrestle to find a grip on terra-firma. I find myself on all fours, heaving and acutely aware of the torn muscles in my right knee. I grit my teeth and I grind that knee into the ground with all my might. I connect with Earth. Fuck it, I think. Fuckitfuckitfuckit, and the pain sears. I feel like I might pass out, and I fall onto my side hoping that I will.
“Alright, Marti. Get up, I have had enough and I want to go to bed. Here’s the hose.” He flops the end of the hose onto my back and the cold water spills over my shoulder blades, down my neck. I hear Ray slip across the yard, and relish the contradiction of a fire and ice. My knee is blazing and my neck is frozen, but I have no-where to go except Ray’s basement. I figure I better spray down the bed of Ray’s truck and retreat like the belligerent dog that I am. I grab the hose and use it as an anchor, leaning against the tension to pull myself up. I manage to stand. I still can’t walk very well and I hold onto that hose like I might fall off the edge of the Earth. I scuttle my hands along it’s green length and pull my limping self towards the truck. I get splattered and wet, and my knee feels like it’s going to explode, but I spray every bit of shit out of the back of Ray’s truck.