[Sustentation] Chapter 2 - Wesley - Bedtime Prayers

It is important that educators have some basic grasp of psychology. It can assist in the understanding of different learning characteristics between children, adolescents and adults. Individual differences and disabilities also play a large role in the classroom. I honestly can’t believe professors are giving homework during the first week of classes. We haven’t truly adjusted to our schedules yet and here we are, two chapters deep in the textbook with an online quiz due Sunday. Psychology courses always seemed to bore me. It should be really interesting stuff, and maybe it will be helpful when I’m a teacher, but so much of the material feels to be unclearly wordy or difficult as if by design.

I need a break, for my own sanity. I grab a small bag of Doritos from the cabinet. Cool ranch has always been my favorite. I think I loved them as a kid because they looked like little beige Christmas trees. All the red and green looking like lights. Kareem didn’t have any snacks or any real food here before I came. He wasn’t picky about what I chose to buy but he also doesn’t seem to eat much food at all. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen him do anything other than watch movies in the few days I’ve been here. As far as I can tell he doesn’t work, and he isn’t exactly rich either. I don’t know anything about him other than his tattoos at this point.  

I’ve noticed he changes underwear and socks each day, but I never saw him put on clothes until this evening. He put on actual clothes and even cologne before he left. I asked where he was going but he didn’t do anything but grunt at me. If it wasn’t for his constant film watching I’d be sure I lived with an animal. Kareem just has no intentions of ever socializing with me I’m just another person in the house, when he actually acknowledges I exist. I offered to cook him dinner last night, but he only ate a single piece of chicken after I went to bed and didn’t mention it when I saw him today. I’m really wondering where he went tonight. I can’t see him going out and having a good time anywhere or meeting with friends. He doesn’t seem to be the friendliest person. I’ve got so many questions for him, and I know he’d just give me that cold vacant stare if I were to ask. I just wish I could force him into a game of 21 questions. Where are you from, what’s your favorite color, why do you love movies so much, did you ever go to church, what’s your favorite sport?  

“Shouldn’t you in bed schoolboy,” a voice startles me.

I drop my bag of Doritos in a panic before realizing the voice belonged to Kareem. He managed to catch the bag before it hit the floor. Eating a single chip before handing the bag back to me. Kareem’s shirt is ripped and there’s some kind of red liquid splattered across his entire body. It blends well into his black shoes and jeans; it’s most obvious on the white shirt and jacket he has on. I take the bag of Doritos but can’t seem to pull my eyes away from his.

“Past your bedtime,” he reminds me again.

“I can stay up late if I want to.”

“Yeah, but things get really scary at night. Especially for normal people.”

“What do you mean normal?”

“Just, normal. You’re not exceptional.”

“Oh, well thank you.”

“Just trying to give you my best Joe Clark impression. Have to keep the kids in school.”

“I’m pretty sure we’re the same age.”

“Yes, but I am the HNIC,” he smiles when I laugh.

The face tattoo is really unappealing, as are the neck tattoos. When he smiles, it’s almost adorable. He smiles like a kid that hasn’t figured out all of their facial muscles yet. I’m pretty sure he wanted to show his teeth as he smiled, but his lip got caught on those same teeth and he chose not to. Still, it is a nice smile, one that could light up a roam. Instead, he sits in the dark, bottom lip poked out in a perpetual frown. I smile back, and he instantly stops smiling as if I were making fun of him.

“Why the fuck are you smiling,” he asks.

“I thought we were just having a nice moment.”

“Speaking to you is a moment? Is your life that pathetic?”

“No. I just want to know about you if we’re going to be roommates.”

“Then ask away.”

“Where are you from?”

“Here, Terre Haute.”

“How old are you?”

“twenty-seven.”

“Woah, you look nineteen at the most.”

“Is that it?”

“Where did you go tonight,” the question I’m most curious about.

“I went to a rave.”

“Is that where all the red spots came from, and how you ripped your shirt?”

For the first time he seems to be aware of his appearance. Glancing down at his clothing he pokes his fingers through the holes in his shirt before moving and examining each piece of red on his jacket. For a moment he stops and stares at his hands, unsure if they have the same red on them, only letting out a quick sigh when he realizes they do. He removes his jacket and runs the inside of it across his face and hands, attempting to clear it away from himself but only manages to smear it across his face. He does all of this as if I’m not standing here waiting for him to finish the conversation. Feeling unsatisfied he opens the door to the basement to leave again without speaking.

“Are you okay?”

“Why do you care?”

“Because we both live here together now. If something is affecting you, then it will eventually have an effect on me.”

“So you’re just caring about yourself. Thanks, but I don’t need it.”

“Cary each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.”  

“What?”

“Galatians, chapter 6, verse 2. When you read The Bible, that’ll be your favorite chapter and verse.”

“No, it won’t. I’m not going to read The Bible, The Quran, or any other holy book you throw at me. None of them will solve my problems.”

“I might be able to, if you just told me what’s wrong.”

“You can’t. Make sure you cut the lawn tomorrow. It looks disgusting.”

“Do we have a lawnmower.”

“Check the shed, if not find a crackhead. I’ll pay you back whatever they charge.”

“Anything else you want done tomorrow?”

“You could stop speaking to me.”

“I thought we were becoming friends.”

“I don’t need friends.”

“Then why did you get a roommate and make the rent so cheap?”

“You think you got it all figured out don’t you. You probably love quoting Bible verses at people. All your Bible thumping and prayers didn’t get you anywhere.”

With those words Kareem vanishes into the darkness of the stairwell as the door closes behind him. I try to peak into this mysterious basement that is off limits, but I can’t see anything but darkness down there. I stare at the door after he’s gone, waiting for some kind of sound, maybe for him to reemerge, but there’s nothing. If it weren’t for the sound of me chewing Doritos, there would be absolute silence.

I wonder if Kareem is on drugs. I’ve worked with people who are recovering or still using drugs. When we spoke, he seemed joyful, and even smiled. Then he had a mood swing that took him to the extreme opposite end of the spectrum. Mood swings aren’t uncommon for drug addicts. Then there’s the sitting around in his boxers all day doing nothing but watching movies with no reaction. Drugs aren’t something I can rule out. I know he says this isn’t my business but he needs help. It’s my duty to help carry his burdens so that he doesn’t stumble and fall. I don’t know much about detoxing, but I can help him find a rehabilitation center for sure. The student resource center may have something. I’ll stop by and ask some questions tomorrow. For now, there’s only one thing I can do for him, pray.

“Heavenly father, thank you for surrounding us today with your blessings, I’m standing here for Kareem, asking for your grace, even if he doesn’t know it. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray that you rebuke every spirit of rage, and addiction that flows through his body. Amen.”

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