Michael got home and saw that all of the lights were turned off and that nothing had been touched. There was no sign that Casey had been back. Turning on the living room light, he jumped when he saw Casey sprawled out on the couch. He was either asleep or completely passed out, Michael couldn’t tell. He looked horrible. His hair was disheveled, his clothes tattered, and he looked like he hadn’t bathed in forever.
Michael stood beside him. “Casey? Casey!” He raised his voice to try to wake him but Casey didn’t respond. Reaching down, he checked him for a pulse. One was present. Sometimes Casey did sleep pretty heavily and Michael could only hope that this was the case. Grabbing his shoulders, he riled Casey. This caused him to open his eyes and mumble something. “Casey, wake up!” He fought the urge to slap him. He would feel horrible if something was really wrong and he inflicted more pain.
“Mikey? What the hell?” It came out in a low mumble but Michael was able to make out what he was saying.
“What is going on? You look like hell!”
Casey sat up and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. From what Michael could tell, he looked to be coming down off of a high. His eyes were still glazed over and he was sweaty. His skin felt clammy and he was shivering.
“You go out with some old friends? Where you been?” Michael felt anger course through him. What a way to end a perfectly good night.
Casey’s teeth chattered together and he grabbed a blanket that was draped over the back of the couch. “It’s not what you think, man.”
Michael nodded and went to the refrigerator, grabbing a bottle of water. He handed it to Casey and sat down on the coffee table. “Drink that. I don’t wanna have to take your ass to the ER.” Pausing, he looked down at the carpet, trying to compose himself before he blew up at his brother. “What did you take?”
Casey drank the water down in about two gulps. “C’mon Mikey.” His eyes were pleading with him and Michael could tell that Casey was scared of him. In a way he was glad but he also felt guilty about it. “I have nowhere to go, please don’t kick me out.”
Michael lowered his voice. “What did you take?”
Casey hesitated and leaned his head back against the cushion. “Crack. It was way earlier today. I came home a few hours ago to crash as I came down off of my high.”
Michael bit his bottom lip. It felt like someone had punched him in the stomach. He was faced with a very difficult decision. Did he need to kick Casey out or continue to allow him to lie? There was only so much deception he could take before he had to shun his own flesh and blood. Their mother definitely wouldn’t help him and if he kicked him out he would just be out on the street, more exposed. Michael wouldn’t be able to live with himself if Casey ended up dead because he turned him away. But then again, Casey didn’t seem to want his help. He just wanted to use him when it was convenient.
“Mikey, say somethin’. You look like someone just walked over your grave.”
Michael balled his fists together. “How many times are you gonna lie to me? You came down to my work and swore to me that you were done with that shit. Do you realize how far I’m sticking my neck out for you or do you just not give a damn?”
“I couldn’t help it. An old buddy called, said he got his hands on some stuff. I was bored. You were asleep, I didn’t know what to do. I…I.” He stammered on his words.
“An old buddy? This same buddy who didn’t pay his half of the bills? Real good friends you have.” Michael stood up and walked to the kitchen, leaning on the bar, debating on grabbing the bottle of whiskey he kept over the sink. He needed something to calm him down.
“This was the last time. I just needed it.”
Michael didn’t even bother with a glass. He unscrewed the lid and took in two gulps, enjoying the burn down his throat. It tasted better than usual so he took another long swig. He had no idea what to do. He loved his brother but he couldn’t take this anymore. He was beginning to feel buzzed. He had several beers with Eva and now the whiskey and he had to sit down in a chair to brace himself. He fidgeted with the label on the bottle.
“Mikey, your silence is scaring me.”
Michael screwed the lid back on the bottle and carried it to his room, slamming the door behind him. His back slid down the doorframe until he reached the floor where he stayed for the time being. He sucked down more of the amber liquid, feeling it instantly go to his stomach. He had nothing to say to Casey at the moment. Maybe the whiskey would be his muse. He knew that he had to say exactly what he meant when the time did come to talk to him. Finding the right words would be the challenge.
He sat and stared at the whiskey and couldn’t help but notice how hypocritical he was being. He was riled up about Casey’s drug use and here he was turning to alcohol to help with this problem. He was no different than him. Standing up, he walked to the bathroom and poured the remainder of the drink down the drain, watching it swirl until it was completely gone. He had gone down the drinking path before and now wasn’t the time to start up again.