The Prince of Darkness
This piece was first performed at the Beyond Imagination Story Slam at the Cupcake Theater in Los Angeles.
THE PRINCE OF DARKNESS
I was born to fight. I don't mean that like some kind of clever metaphor about my ambitions. I mean I literally came out of my mother throwing punches. I was fighting for my life against my umbilical cord who I thought at the time was my friend. But as he was choking me, turning me deeper and darker shades of blue I realized my womb-mate wanted me dead because it knew. It knew I was getting out of that prison. I was going places, and he was going in a dumpster somewhere. My first breath of air was my first act of defiance. And when you face down death on your very first day as a baby, you grow up very quickly. Which is why when I was three, I was finally old enough to have my very own mortal enemy. His name was Al, the Prince of Darkness. (He gave himself that name)
After my parents got divorced when I was two, my mother worked hard every night and everyday sacrificing what ever she could to make sure that her boys...her boys, would have the life she never had. We lived in a tiny little apartment on Sean Drive, we had sliced cantaloupe at night while we watched movies which at the time you could only get from a movie store, I had my own big wheel, and we had each other. Even though I was young and don't fully remember what it was like, my heart still tells me these were the happiest moments of my youth. My brother was my best friend. My mother was my hero. And I was FREE. Free to pedal my three wheels wherever the wind would take me.
Then one night, this Prince of Darkness who had been coming around for a few years now came with us to return a movie to the sacred movie store. My mother went inside, The Prince stayed with my brother and I in the car. I remember watching her out the window as she crossed the parking lot out of our sight, when The Prince turned around from the front seat and said "Your mother and I are getting married." Now in my mind I retaliated with something very clever, but It's more likely I just cried. I was very big into crying at the time. That was the end of the fight. My life was over like that (snap) They quickly got married in a surprise wedding at my grandma's house. We moved away from my home and my Dad. My brother and The Prince's son became best friends which left me and my brother to never be close again. Everyone in our new house had their new relationships they needed to tend to which left me in the outskirts to fend for myself. My freedom was replaced with an endless list of new rules and punishments. They ensured me I could still be happy , as long as I gave my absolute obedience. And for all of you rebels out there who are like me, you know when you hear those words a fire ignites within you and there is only one proper response to their offer, there was no fucking way that was going to happen!
On top of his hundreds of new house rules, food rules, shower rules, outside rules, table manners, bed making, language etiquette he also had us doing school work year round. We were doing book reports during our summer vacations. Instead of TV, we watched educational videos like where there's a will there's an A, and we could only do that on the weekends. We would spend our family nights playing the capitols game, which is about as fun as it sounds. It's just memorizing the state capitols. That's not a game! That's bullshit. So I refused. And I can proudly say I know practically none of the state capitols to this day.
With every new game and every new rule I put my foot down and declared my independence from this family. When it came to educational family games, I said I would rather be punished than participate. The Prince would try to break my spirit by spanking me with a belt but I would simply bite down hard on the collar of my shirt, not giving him the satisfaction of a response. He took away my TV privileges, so I snuck out of the house, went down the street to a tag sale and bought my own TV. This battle of wits went on for a DECADE.
But as I got older I got smarter. I was naturally manipulative. My anger turned into a malicious talent for mind games. You see, I didn't want to just get away with not being punished. I wanted him gone. I wanted to win and he helped me do it. The Prince of Darkness, was an amazing master of logic and debate. He wasn't the kind of parent that said "because I said so." He let me defend myself. I would try to lie, I would try to manipulate, but he always took me down. He would twist my words. Set traps, back me into corners. Almost every night we fought about something. But every debate I got better and better. I sharpened my silver tongue. I learned his tricks, dodged his pitfalls. I started to see how every word must be specifically chosen if you are ever going to be able to forge the infinite shades of truth into an unbeatable weapon. Every time I thought I had him against the ropes, he would duck, dodge, weave, and strike a knock out blow. At first I couldn't last three rounds with him. Then I started lasting five, then ten. Pretty soon he couldn't even knock me out. Then one morning when I was 17 I would break free and get my years of revenge.
It was about 10 o'clock on a Saturday. I was woken up by the sounds of my Mom and The Prince fighting which was a very unusual for them. I don't remember what the argument was about, I just remember how visceral and nasty it seemed to be. Now, my mother didn't fight like he and I did. Her power was is in her silence, not her words. He was hurting her, and she was no match for him. From the basement I wanted to scream, I could see the moves she should make, duck, jab, get up, move your feet. She kept taking hit after hit after hit, as he dominated the argument. That's when I lost control. I ascended the stairs fired up and hungry for blood. For the first time ever I had the advantage. By listening from the sidelines I already knew his arguments, dissected his logic, and was ready to unleash my forged weapon of truth. I came out of no where and entered the ring swinging. My words were potent and devastating. He was so shocked by my initial onslaught that he was shaken, I watched him fumbling his phrasing, losing his thoughts. While he stuttered I struck with everything I had. He made one last desperate attempt to end the fight, calling a truce. But that just fueled me to attack deeper. I was a rabid dog, my tongue was sharp and I lashed out relentlessly striking without an ounce of humanity at his greatest fears as a husband, as a father, as a man. Ten years of anger spewed out in a flurry of hateful attacks. I stabbed as deeply and as violently as I could with out hesitation and with no means of stopping this flood of brutality. And then it was over. I won.
He ran out of the kitchen and into the bathroom where he shriveled up into a ball of tears on the floor. I had never seen a man cry before. Never so hard. Never so deeply. I knocked him off the mountain and there I stood taller than ever, hovering over his corpse. My mother stood there in a vacant shock, tears streaming down her face trying to understand where she had gone wrong. Then I snapped out of it. The rage flooded from my system and left me, the real me standing there. I looked down at my marvelous talent, my gift, ,my years of training culminating into one beautiful act of pure destruction. Suddenly everything in the past decade of fighting made sense. I was the monster, and he was the hero in the story. I jumped to the floor with him and the apologies and I'm Sorry's couldn't come fast enough. There was no way to repair the damage. Words are weapons that leave no wounds you can dress. In that moment I promised myself never to cross that line again, not with anyone.
Our relationship was quiet after that. I didn't know how to face him out of my own shame. Years passed and I got older. I went away to college, time moved on as it often does, healing hearts and making changes. And I can't tell you how this happened. there was never a moment, not a specific story that I can share. I just knew one day, when I looked up at him, he was my true best friend and I loved him.
Now when I look back, it's kind of ridiculous to think that the man that I now know, the man that turns into an emotional mush monkey when he drinks spewing I love You's to me as he wraps me in bear hugs, used to be my mortal enemy. He and I talk more and share more than anyone in my whole family. He's still the man, and I still rebel. But now that I am older, and have had relationships of my own, I can see the missing part of this story which shines a light on the darkness. He didn't come into my life to strip me of my happy world and chain me in obedience. He came into my life, because he loves my mother. He loves my mother and I am in awe. He stayed and fought everyday for 20 years against a monster that wanted nothing more than to destroy his relationship. Not only that, but he stayed and gave his greatest enemy unconditional love, because that's what she wanted. He is the only man I know in real life that loves his wife with all the whimsical clichés you see in the movies from the movie store. My mother found her prince. And as a son, you can only pray to be so lucky. So no matter what happens, no matter what obstacles get in their way, no matter what things may threaten their relationship, I will be the first one by their side, keeping their love strong, making sure they stay together, and for their happiness, I will never stop fighting.