I released Teardrop Road on June 23, 2021. I think it was a Thursday. It was pretty devastating to put it out in the world on the big stage. Having your secrets on a blog is one thing. The worldwide stage opens up doubts and fears that I expected but could never prepare myself for. However, this release is a win. It’s a win for me. It’s a win for my family. For mental health in general. And I hope if you’re in pain and you’re going through anything, any kind of abuse, any kind of loss, I hope this book can help you and that you can see it as a win. I’m celebrating the release of Teardrop with another blog blast. These are chapters of the second volume of Reality of the Unreal Mind, called Normal Street. I’m releasing a chapter from that book every two hours and fifteen minutes. This is the story of Hollow Man. This is the story of how I figured out love through a series of heartaches and confusing episodes. Because love is not easy to navigate for anyone, and it’s almost impossible for a shattered mind to prepare for their soulmate. Here is Hollow Man 19: Lioness.
If I’m being honest, I need this chapter right now. I need it to help put me back together after what I just wrote. I need Lioness, I need to feel her here with me.
Well, my grandfather had a heart condition as long as I can remember. Not really. Actually, I vaguely remember spending the night at my grandma and grandpa’s house and her getting up early to make his lunch. He ate two sandwiches. Each was made with Roman Bread. It was an old brand. I don’t know if they are around anymore. I tried it, but to my young mouth it was cardboard. She put cheese on his sandwiches. That salad dressing with the pickles cut up in it. And I think that might have been it. She wrapped them in tin foil and put them in his box. It might have been three sandwiches. Can’t remember.
But before I could get a grasp on how many sandwiches he ate at work on his lunch break, the man had a massive heart attack. He tried to work after, and had another. Grandpa was retired. Pension and Social Security meant he never had to work again, and I’m sure he hated it. He spent his life reading old westerns, watching soap operas, watching movies and taking naps. Became a shut-in, never leaving the house at all. And I don’t remember seeing him out of his pajamas. He was alone a lot. I’m not sure how happy he was, and every year he would have a big one. One big heart attack that would throw him in the hospital for weeks.
When he moved to Missouri and we were still living in Milwaukee, he would have one of these, we would get in the car, and get to him as fast as possible. The kids weren’t allowed to visit him. Said it would upset us too much, and they said he didn’t want us seeing him with all those tubes in him, but the parents would go.
Well, one day my senior year, he has one of these big heart attacks and everyone in Milwaukee is told. We find out that not only is Tigress coming, but her big sister Lioness is coming as well. This sends ripples through everyone in the family. We haven’t seen Lioness since it happened.
Uncle Wrath and Tigress’s mother could not make it work. While they were apart on one of their breaks, she had a baby girl we will call Lioness. Wrath agreed to let her think he was her father. Well, at some point the truth got out, and we stopped seeing Lioness at all. Lioness and I had never been close. She had been a looming figure in my life, loud and unstoppable, with no real use for me and little to say to me.
Lioness coming to say goodbye to grandpa was a huge deal. She had been his granddaughter for over a decade before she had been told. She loved him and he loved her, but Uncle Wrath was in town as well. This would be huge.
He offered her his home, but she refused. We offered her ours and she jumped at it.
The next day, it is bright and sunny outside and I am standing at the picture windows staring out at the huge driveway, when the van pulls up and I see her for the first time in over four years.
I can try to explain what seeing her did to me, but don’t expect this to be very accurate.
It was overwhelming.
I felt a surge of pure love rip through my body. This had never happened before when looking at this woman. I felt a dire need to protect her from any pain she might have to face in the coming days, and I felt as if I needed her. I was being ripped apart by the Mary issues. I had no idea what to do, and this was either the answer to my prayers or a welcome distraction.
I ran out to her, meeting her in the driveway, and hugged her. Instantly we both burst into tears, and we held each other for a long time. I told her I missed her. I told her I loved her. I had my cousin back. A girl I had no idea I needed so badly. I walked her into my house and when Rose saw her, she saw us.
That is the best way to say that, I think. They all saw us. I was at her side. I was her ally. When Lioness faced a family member, she did so with me at her side. If anyone fucked with her, they fucked with me. It was instantly as if I had been her best friend for my entire life. This person I had never really known was suddenly the most important person in my life.
We hung out with Rose for a while, but very soon we ended up in my room. She sat down on my bed and we started to talk.
She showed me pictures of her graduation. She showed me prom pictures. She talked shit about the guy she had gone with. She talked about her friends, where she worked. She talked about all of it and I listened avidly. I wanted every bit of information I could get on her then, “Is this weird?” I asked.
“Very weird,” she said.
“We have never been close. Never. All of our childhood you played with your doll house. I was not even allowed to look at it or you’d yell at me.”
“I always loved you,” she said.
“Bullshit, you were annoyed by me. You loved me because you were told to, by blood,” I said. “What happened when you found out?”
“I instantly hated all of you,” she said. “Nothing fair about that, but it is true. I never wanted to see you again. I knew that you had known.”
“Yeah, but how do you have that conversation with a child when you are a child?” I said.
“I know. Anyway, why the instant connection?” she said. “I mean we are fused at the hip.”
“I would die for you,” Guardian said. “Right now, without pause.”
She laughed. “Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.”
“If they fuck with you, they fuck with me,” he said.
“Tell me about your life.” She looked at me and smiled. “Do you have a girl?”
By that time I had a few. I just didn’t know it.
Guardian talked about Mary. He told about how they just couldn’t get it together. They were there and she was there, and he loved her, and she loved him. Then a few minutes later he was breaking up with her and walking away. Said he hardly even remembered the conversation. Said it was like there was an enemy in his head hurting her every chance he got.
Then Shadow was talking about Precious. How much he loved her but couldn’t be with her because of D. He said he needed to find a way to be hers, but he could not nail it down. D was his best friend.
A few minutes later, out comes Artist. He cannot get Draconic off his mind. She plagues him at every turn. She is there with him now. Right in his mind, standing in his shadow. Lying under his bed.
Lioness’s face changes. She stares as Artist talks, like she can’t believe the words coming out of his mouth.
He is fired up now. Talking about love and art, and this twisted, wicked girl he needs to have in his arms, or he can’t breathe. He talks about her walk and the way she struts. He talks about her words and the way she uses them. He talks about the way she kisses him. Then like a wisp of a strawberry scent on the air, he is gone.
Out comes Shadow. More about Precious. More about the way she looks at him. How he feels about her and how his one regret is that he did not blast Blank in the face for smacking her. He sticks around long enough to talk about the Degenerates and how artistic and dark they are before he is gone again, and she is in front of Guardian.
He tells her again that he would die for her. Then he starts to talk about Mary. Within an hour, out comes Servant.
See, Destiny still pines for him. And he can’t get her off of his mind. She is dating Tony now, who is not treating her like a pristine thing. He comes every week with new stories of their sensual life. He has not taken her virginity, but he is all over everything else. And with every word, Servant is dying.
Destiny has that look to her. That way of looking at him that cannot be described. She will say something to him when Tony is out of the car, and her eyes will beg for him. She can’t help but pull him in with those eyes, and he has sworn not to touch her, no matter how desperate he is for her.
Then back to Draconic.
This will go on all night. Artist will read to her. Guardian will tell tales of his valor in one fight, and then the next. Shadow will curse and spit and say the most devilish things, and by the end, her head is spinning.
If anyone in the world could have guessed that we had DID, it would have been Lioness. She didn’t. She, just like all the others, assumed I was crazy. She had not seen me in years. How could she even get a read on my baseline? But that night over the course of the ten hours we sat up talking, she saw them come out in waves, rushing in then back out again.