Excerpt: The Joey Song

An excerpt from The Joey Song: A Mother’s Story Of Her Son’s Addiction

Verse Three: Dissonance

I tap on Joey’s door. No response. I’m not at all sure I want to see whatever’s in there. But I have some yelling to do. So, I turn the grimy knob with two fingers and slowly push my way in.

Fully dressed (minus a sneaker), Joey is sprawled on his back across his bed. His long legs are twisted in the less than fresh looking sheets. His eyes are closed, he’s breathing heavily. One arm is bent over his forehead, the other dangles above an empty wine bottle on the floor.

“Joey,” I whisper softly. Not to rouse him, but to see if it’s safe to snoop without getting caught. Not an eyelash flickers. The small room smells of things unwashed, ashtrays, and recently smoked pot. I hold the back of my hand to my nose. Three of the walls are the color of a cigarette filter after a few puffs. The wall over his bed is spray-painted with mostly black graffiti. Bongs, baggies, and cigarette butts scatter the carpet between stiff-looking socks and mildewed towels. The printer from college sits in one corner gathering dust. Robust marijuana plants stand tall in another corner. Stepping over some junk I reach for his backpack. There’s another empty bottle of wine and a corkscrew inside. I’m pretty sure these came from the room where Joe and I keep our liquor locked up—a recent precaution in case Joey ever came over. I guess he found a way in. If his room wasn’t so filthy I might allow myself to crumple up on the floor and cry until tomorrow. Instead, I call out Joey’s name, this time loud and sharp.

Like rusty old hinges, his eyes slowly creak open, get a little stuck, close, and creak back open. Merely a crack. He remains deathly still. And silent. I’m fairly certain Joey’s not aware I’m here, but I yell at him anyway. I let go of my fury over last night’s drama, drugs, and deceit. I feel a little better, but I’m not quite done.

“Take a look at your life, at this mess, at everything you are throwing away. Get a grip. Grow up. Be responsible. Take control. Make something of yourself, Joey. Make a life you can be proud of. Oh, and, one more thing I love you. Don’t ever forget that.”