Chapter Two: An Angry Cloud

Taylor

Dear Journal That I Vent To,

Life’s hell. Then again, if you actually think about it, we have it pretty good. We have food, shelter, and a hell of a lot of talent for music. Some people can barely make it through the day without medical problems or violence. Remember when Mom used to make us do that Inner-city Mission with the church in downtown Tulsa? Remember some of the housing? Some of the neighborhoods were downright scary. Some of the kids had to live with that violence all the time.

In comparison to the underprivileged children in the ghetto of Tulsa (If that isn’t an oxymoron I don’t know what is), I’m living one sweet life. But from my point of view, life can go fuck itself for all I care.

Anna is fighting with me again. Notice I say fighting with me instead of “we’re fighting.” Because she always gets mad at me! She always nags me and calls me up wanting to discuss problems in our relationship. You know, I think she looks for problems. I think she blows everything out of proportion. She says I’m an angry person. She says I have too much rage inside of me and she’s sick of me snapping at her. Yeah well you know what? I’m sick of all the times she says stupid shit and I resist snapping at her. If I were to act on impulse every time she talked, I’d be snapping a hell of a lot more.

It’s easier to be angry at someone who’s angry at you. It gives you a reason to not feel hurt they might want to leave you. She actually said, “If you weren’t so damn sexy Taylor…we would have been over a long time ago.” She was joking, at least she said so. But I cannot help but think it’s partly the truth. Am I admitting I’m sexy? You bet I am. But I’m also admitting that I do have a somewhat explosive attitude and I’m surprised she tolerates it.

Anyway, she says she’s contemplating if this relationship is healthy for her. She is contemplating if I’m worth the stress I put her through. Basically, the ball is in her court and I can’t do anything but sit and wait for her to do something with it. She could throw it over the fence and say, “Game over. You’re not fun to play with.” I have no control.

Speaking of female dominance, did you ever notice how strong it is!? For years, females complained about suppression. The civil rights acts and the feminists even today say how unequal the sexes are. They say men still try to dominate them. Are they delusional or just delusional?! Every woman I know seems to put a leash around my neck and they just drag me all around, making me do whatever the hell they want me to do. Women are the controlling ones. Women are always trying to tell us men what to do. Look at mom! “Clean your room!” “Where are you going?” “Don’t talk that way around your siblings.” I’m 19 years old for crying out loud! Yes, I’m still living at home. Yes, I still rely on you for my food, laundry, and shelter. But again, I’m 19 years old for crying out loud!

Did I mention it is 3 o clock in the morning? I was having bad dreams again. The kind of dreams I mentioned the other day. The gross kind of dreams. But the gross kind of dreams that make me wonder how much reality they enclose. Probably too much for my liking. I really need to try to go back to sleep. This is getting dangerous. Living on four hours of sleep a night? Mom would kill me, I know that much is true. I’m surprised she hasn’t noticed how organized my room has been. I’m surprised she hasn’t questioned why my closet is organized by color all of a sudden. I need to try to fall asleep.

Peace,

Taylor

~

I rest my head against the window and bang it a couple times for emphasis. Only Taylor glances at me. I’m so bored. We’ve been driving for at least 2 hours to visit my uncle down in southern Oklahoma. I’ve listened to three cds, played a solid 30 minutes of Tetris, and even participated in the “Alphabet” game. Now my family has moved onto the “Which car would you drive if you could have any one” game.

My dad points out the window at a big Chevy pick up truck passing by us. “I’m going to trade in my Honda Accord for that pick up truck.”

“Good, I don’t know why you ever picked the Honda in the first place,” Isaac retorts.

“Yeah, well I don’t exactly like your flashy BMW,” Dad says.

“You’ve had that BMW the entire time Ike. Switch to something new,” Avery probes.

“There is nothing better on the roads in Oklahoma than that BMW. I was surprised I even saw that one way out here in the hicks.”

Taylor is seated next to me with headphones on. He has barely talked the entire ride. He is usually pretty quiet, compared to the rest of us at least, but never this quiet. He is usually really enthusiastic about games in the car. He’s got a notebook in his lap and he’s currently shading in the barn he drew. His drawing is of a big barn, but the barn looks like it is falling apart. It might even be charred from a fire, but I can’t tell. I’m not going to ask and risk offending him. Besides, it is a given that I’m not supposed to be looking at what he is drawing.

He is concentrating on the drawing, his lips pursed and his brow furrowed. I can hear the bass drum beat coming from his headphones. It is loud and you can hear the music is angry. His drawing is angry. His drawing is downright scary. It is morbid.

And that is what I don’t understand about my brother. On one end, he is a really gentle person. He is always the first to hug you when you don’t succeed at someone. He always was the one crying when Bambis mom got shot. It is not that Ike and I didn’t think it was sad. We did. It was really sad to know he lost his mother at such a young age. But we just didn’t cry about it. The gentle soul of Taylor Hanson is responsible for songs like With You In Your Dreams and Save Me.

At the same time, Taylor looms anger. It is like you can picture him as the angry, gothic kid in some dramatic movie, only Taylor dresses more like a hippy than a goth. He grips his pencil tightly and his eyes pierce through the notebook. Sometimes when he snaps at you, you feel like you should put your hands up to guard your face in fear he might lash out. I only started feeling that way right before she left though.

As I see a Dodge Ram pass by, I nudge Taylor. He looks up. “Look Tay,” I say, pointing.

He takes his headphones off, “Huh?”

I point to the Dodge Ram that just passed us. Taylor loves huge Rams. Isaac always says it is because he needs to compensate. “Your favorite car. You better claim it.”

“I’m not playing,” he says simply, not even bothering to humor me, sliding his headphones back on.

I sigh and look back out the window. Fine, don’t appreciate the fact I was trying to include you in the game. Don’t appreciate my effort to connect to you.

Slowly she drifts into my mind. I can feel her skin against mine. She is sleeping on my shoulder and her cheek grazes my neck just barely. Her breathing is soft and steady. Taylor disappears from the seat next to me and it is as if she is riding in the car with us again.

“Isaac, nudge Zoe awake. Zac, you better wake Ellie up. We’re almost there,” Dad said from the drivers seat. Our big white van was packed with all of us. Family vacations are always better when some of us can bring friends. Unfortunately, it makes the car way more cramped than it needs to be.

I looked out the window at the cacti we passed and watched as the empty land turned into a busy city. It is amazing how quickly the middle of nowhere becomes a booming city. Las Vegas had never been more exciting. Usually I toured Las Vegas from the back of a taxicab and the window of a radio studio. But this was a real family vacation. There wasn’t going to be any work on that trip.

Ellie was breathing against my neck in her sleep. She didn’t breathe like Taylor breathes when he sleeps, loud and ragged. But her breathing was pretty and rhythmic. If I were attracted to Ellie, I would even say it was sexy.

I nudged her and watched her sit up, rubbing her eyes and looking around. I waited for her to put the pieces together: Family trip with the Hanson Family, Zac invited me, going to Las Vegas for two nights. She pulled her hood from her sweatshirt over her head and leaned back against me, watching out the window with me.

“Almost there,” I said, “Get excited…”

“Oh, I am…”

Ellie had been to Las Vegas before, just like me. But she was a good sport and said she’d come along anyway.

“Dad, I’m hungry,” I whined, looking at Burger King outside the window as we passed it.

“We’re going to go to the hotel, put our stuff down, and then go out and sit down to eat. I don’t think any of us can handle anymore fast food today,” he explained rationally.

“Seriously, McDonalds for breakfast and Taco Bueno for lunch,” Isaac added

“Well, we could have made it the all fast-food day. We just passed Burger King,” I said.

“Or Subway,” Mackie said and pointed at it out the window.

“I hope you clog an artery some day,” Taylor said, looking at me, “With all the fast food you eat.”

“It is convenient and it is cheap.”

“Hey, just like your sex life Isaac,” Ellie said, grinning back at Isaac in the back of the van. I glanced to make sure my parents didn’t hear. They didn’t. We laughed and Isaac rolled his eyes. It is a well-known fact though that Isaac will have sex with anything that moves.

Taylor smirked, careful not to laugh and give Ellie too much credit for the joke. He is way too competitive with her. Ever since the time Ellie and Taylor dated when he was 17 and she was 15, they’ve had a bitter relationship. I remember during those two months they were together they fought like hell. They were probably fighting for about 60 of those 61 days before they decided they’d be better as friends. I don’t know if you could even call them THAT today.

“Speaking of sex…” I said, nodding at a porn shop out the window. A big sign on the side of a building read:

XXX-TREME VIDEOS
Lesbian, Animal, Orgy, Handcuffs, Juvenile

Mom and Dad noticed the sign too.

“Animal? What is juvenile supposed to mean? That is such a disgrace. That has to be illegal…” Mom said, shaking her head sadly.

“Probably is, probably just haven’t been busted yet because the cops probably shop there,” Dad said thoughtfully.

“That is terrible!” Ellie exclaimed, turning to look at the shop one last time out the back window.

“That is terrible Walker.”

“You never know. We’re in Vegas,” he shrugged.

“Juvenile…what on earth…” Mom continued to mutter.

“Okay, we can stop obsessing over the sign now,” Taylor snapped at her, “Jesus Christ.”

He probably would have been fine had he not added that “Jesus Christ”, but Mom doesn’t like swearing and she considers that a swear.

“Taylor, I suggest you edit what comes out of your mouth or I will edit your schedule for the rest of this trip. Your attitude stays in Tulsa, understand?”

He looked at her in the side mirror, just staring, too stubborn to say anything but too respectful to continue talking back. Taylor’s attitude had been getting worse and worse by the day. It seemed everyday he had something new to bitch and moan about.

“Give us at least two days of a civilized attitude. I don’t care if you fake it. When we get back home you can start giving everyone misery again.”

Taylor pulled his sunglasses down over his eyes and stared stubbornly out the window. Ellie pushed the buttons of my watch mindlessly, just as bored as the rest of us. But I continued to study Taylor. An angry cloud had just started looming over him in the past month. I could be wrong, I could have been seeing things, but I swear I saw a tear fall from Taylors eye. His chest didn’t lift like he was trying not to cry. He didn’t make any noise what so ever. But I swear I saw just one tear tumble down his cheek that day.

I snap back to reality and try to wash her image out of my mind. Visiting all my cousins is bad enough. But being haunted by memories of her while visiting my cousins is more than I can handle. Taylor has closed his notebook and is just sitting there now, listening to his music and mouthing the words. I can’t stand his angry music, and I’m tempted to grab the cd player off his lap and toss it out the window. Unfortunately, the van windows back here don’t open like windows do in your average car, so I would have to climb across my dads lap in the front in order to do that. That would just take too much energy. Otherwise, Taylors cd player would be road kill. The pulsing of the beat is giving me a headache and I rub my temples in distress. I think it hurts Taylors ears too, because he closes his eyes and lets his head fall back against the seat.

~

It is dark out. The little kids are all outside running around with flashlights. Jessica, unsure of whether or not she is in the young adults group yet or still part of the kids group, remains in the kitchen with the grown ups listening in on their mundane conversation. I’m seated in between my cousins Josh and Kelly. Josh, who is Taylors age, is dominating this game of poker and making the rest of us feel pretty damn discouraged. I’m at least doing better than Kelly is, since I have a perfect view of her cards which she does a terrible job of hiding.

I toss Josh three cards and take three new cards. My hand only gets worse.

“How many do you want Tay?” Josh asks him.

Taylor holds up one finger and the dealer tosses him a new card.

“One huh? Someone must have a good hand…” I mutter. It’s got to be better than my pair of 3’s.

We bid with our pennies and reveal our hands. Taylor has a full house- three jack’s and two queens. It doesn’t get much better than that. I wait for him to celebrate.

But he doesn’t celebrate. He doesn’t even crack a smile. He just pulls the pennies over to his pile and flicks his cards towards the dealer. Taylor’s expression just doesn’t exist. It’s blank.

A couple rounds later Taylor stands up, “I’m out guys. I’m not in a card playing kind of mood anyway.” He wanders over to the couch and pulls his knees up to his body. After a couple seconds of contemplation, he pulls his journal out of his backpack.

~

Taylor

Dear Falling-Apart-Piece-of-Crap-I-Put-Up-With,

Or maybe I should say, Who-Puts-Up-With-Me. After all, I do all the bitching and you do all the listening. You don’t even interrupt me once. Amazing eh?

At Uncle Jake’s house today visiting the family. We drive 2 and a half hours to sit inside the house, eat dinner, and pretend we’re having a fun time. I would have slept in the car but I didn’t want to dream. Dreaming in private sucks, but it’s do-able. Dreaming in a carload of my family who watches every flinch I make is just asking for an interrogation. The fewer questions, the happier I am. Privacy is an amazing thing. I wish I had more of it.

I feel like I could fall asleep right here. My eyes are heavy and my mind is tired. Lack of sleep is catching up to me. Mom mentioned something today in fact. She said, “Taylor, why is your hand writing so messy?” when she was reading the directions I wrote out. Simple enough question right? I just shrugged and ‘I dunno’ed her. In the end she decided it must be because I’m exhausted. When I was still schooling and we were touring like crazy my penmanship always got worse when we were busiest and I was most sleep deprived. She asked if I was sleeping alright at night and I said I was sleeping just fine.

I asked Dr. Harris how memories turned into dreams, and how to get rid of them. For a while only the memories haunted me. During the day I could hear the sounds in my mind, faintly playing on a repeat cycle. The feelings would drift through my body when I was trying to do things during the day. Of course, I guess being haunted in the day time wasn’t enough. I started dreaming about these memories about a month ago. Dr. Harris said even if the memories didn’t exist, the dreams could. Dreaming is subconscious according to him. There is no logic of getting rid of my memories even if I could, but I have to come to terms with them. It sounds like bullshit to me.

Maybe Mom and Dad should come to terms with the fact they’re paying some asshole who calls himself a PH.D 100 dollars a session to tell me to accept the sick memories that run through my mind. What kind of an insensitive prick is he anyway? And he claims THAT will stop the dreams? C’mon…don’t they teach you anything in grad school?

~

I watch as Taylor writes, his eyes closing every couple seconds, and then snapping back open. He glances at me every now and then, but he is mostly in his own little journal world. He is lost in his words, scribbling his anger onto the page. I suppose it’s better than handing his anger off to the rest of us like he usually does.

I toss my cards down onto the carpet. “3 Ace’s. I finally won a round!”

“Don’t gloat or anything,” Kelly teases.

I smile and collect my pennies. I glance back at Taylor. His pen has dropped to the floor and he’s fallen asleep in the midst of writing. Why is he so exhausted? Unlike me, he doesn’t still have schooling. He barely is working on music lately. I should be the one falling asleep. I’m still taking four subjects in school until I can graduate! All he does is watch TV, occasionally eat something when he actually has an appetite, and make out with his girlfriend. How exhausting. My heart bleeds for him.

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