Grief's Melancholy Shade - Chapter 7
By: Susan McNeill and Rhonda Hallstrom

They continued to ride the torturous waves of withdrawal. Kermit was on his
last reserves of strength and yet, somehow, he managed to be there for
the next wave. Even he didn't know how he summoned the extra strength.
Desperation? Guilt? All of the above? It didn't matter, Kermit realized,
as long as it was there when David needed it.

David stood behind his brother, pasty white with eyes retreating
backward into dark bluish sockets. The viciousness was gone. No more
spitting anger flailed away at the source of authority. The young boy
stood there in the orange glow of sunset bleeding in through the window
of the cabin, looking meek and docile. Hands clasped behind his back, he
waited to be noticed.

Kermit waited for the battle to begin anew. For a brief few seconds, he
waited in Blaisdell's recliner, taking a few more moments to rest. <This
is hell. This is my life.> As surely as if he'd pumped his own body full
of heroin, Kermit Griffin was living his brother's withdrawal; every
retch and seizure, every howl of accusation, every ounce of pain
clawing its way out.

He was old. At twenty-five, he felt ancient. Weary and weak in his
failure, Kermit was exhausted from the past three days. He was afraid to
afraid to take his hands off his brother, and desperate to hold onto him.

Sucking in his own failings, the older brother turned to absorb the next
round. The heavy leather chair groaned slightly with the movement. The
sight that greeted him was an about-face from hours before. No
screeching rebel cursing him for being alive. No hatred pounded him in
waves to break him down to the fractured level of an addicted child.

David, sunken eyes still fixed on the rough-hewn floorboards, shakily
cleared his throat. Hands clasped firmly at his back, the white-washed
lips mumbled, "I'm...I'm...sorry. For it all...really, I am..." Wobbling
his head from side to side, the teenager's words stumbled out onto the

The warmth of the breakthrough caught the ancient twenty-five year old
by surprise. This was his brother! Once again, David was the sweet young
boy he'd been isolated from for years. <"Kermit! Can I use your glove?
Really?! "> A voice from a lifetime ago hid within the stammering apology.

Reaching out his arms to welcome his brother, Kermit offered a smile to
greet David's hollow expression. As the boy began to shuffle his timid
way forward, Kermit whispered, "It's okay, Squirt. It's not you, it's the
drugs. We'll get through it."

With dark brown eyes washed in a haze of crimson blood vessels, David
looked up at this brother, weakness their only message. "I mean it,
Kermit. I'm sorry...for it all."

One callused hand reached out to touch David's cheek. In a split
second, the slack muscle hardened. Eyes filled with remorse spiraled
into granite spears, shooting violence backward.

The mercenary let his window of opportunity pass. Kermit cursed himself
as the unstoppable blow flew into the side of his head.

David gripped the telephone receiver like a brick, choking it in his
fist. Drawing in his prey with the weapon of sympathy and trust, he
had waited for the look in Kermit's eyes. When that look of focused emotion
had appeared, he swung his arm with all the force remaining in his body.

His brother dropped like a stone, oozing blood from his temple.
Laser-like obsession shoved the young man over his brother's body.
Attacking the doorknob like a rabid animal, David tore at his freedom.

Twisting the metal in vain, he couldn't budge the door. "You bastard!!"
he screamed and fought the locked door. Diving back onto his felled
brother, David ravaged his pockets for the keys. "Where is it??!! You
bastard!" he raged. "Give it to me!!!"

Through a fog of thundering pain and heartbreak, Kermit felt his
brother's ragged anger as bony fingers dug through his pockets.
Moaning an attempt to reach him, Kermit tried in vain to communicate.
Rational thought was reassembling, feeling returning slowly.

"Here it is, you son of a bitch!" David found Kermit's key chain and
raked it from his brother's back pocket. Dropping to his knees before
the heavy oak door, David attacked the lock, ramming in key after key,
mumbling and cursing. Why did his brother have so many keys? Obviously,
Kermit had brought all these keys to torture him. Just like
everything else. The snakes. That putrid juice. Those lectures.

Another and another was forced into the unyielding lock. He hated Kermit. He
hated Marilyn for letting him drag him here to die. He was dying.
Another key and another. The beast snarled fire through his guts.
Another key.

Finally the lock snapped. Still on his knees, David flung wide the door
to his freedom.

<I'll take his fuckin' car! > David held on to the joyous thought and
struggled upward onto one knee.

As the young man mopped sweat from his eyes, his momentary freedom
shattered with the force of two strong arms.

Kermit, still bleeding and blurred from the attack of moments before, dove
into his younger brother. "NOOOOOO!!!!!" David screamed his failure
out into the wilderness as he fell to the porch in a tangle of arms and

Fighting with blindly thrown punches, the weakened body whirled within
Kermit Griffin's hold, battling with strength born of desperation. "Stop
fighting me, David!!!" The older brother dragged the dervish of a body
backward into the house and secured the door behind them.

"LET ME GO!!!!! I'LL DIE HERE!!!" David swung with every weapon. Plowing
his head backward into his brother's chest and digging heels into Kermit's
shins, the boy was scratching blood for an inch of freedom.

Ignoring the searing pain, Kermit held his brother on the floor as he
fought his own dizziness. Pressing his back into the front door for
support, the man used his superior strength to wait out the raging
torrent drowning this shadow of his brother. He'd made the very mistake
he'd been warned of so eloquently by the doctor. "Expect the trick. Wait
for the apology. Don't believe it," Harry had warned. He had relaxed
but it wouldn't happen again.

"David! Stop! I'm not going to let you die, dammit!!!"

"Yes, you are!" screamed the demon of pain hiding inside the shell of
the boy. "You're going to let me die! It burns, Kermit! Make it stop!"
The battle began to lose power. Jabs of fury folded into sobbing defeat.
"You're a killer...KILL ME!!!! Please....Please just let me die...."

Surrender came in the form of collapsing shoulders within his forced hug.
The pitiful excuse for a youthful body dissolved into convulsive sobs.
Kermit held on tighter.

"Trust me, kid. I love you. I won't let you die." Vise-like pressure no
longer needed, Kermit gathered the defeated young man into his lap like
an infant, gently rocking and comforting the tearful pleas. "It's okay,
David. I love you. I'm going to help you ride it out."

Choking on the tears and gnawing agony of addiction, David began to beg.
"Please..... Kermit! You don't know what it's like. Just one hit.
PLEASE!!! Just one! I'm dying!!!!" Shrinking into a ball, he huddled
into his brother's chest. Twisting pleading hands into his shirt, David
began to beg.


The begging scraped down through the years of disillusionment, into the
heart that Kermit Griffin had armored years ago. "David..."

The boy grasped his brother's chest like a lifeline. It was the only
thing not writhing in pain. The only port in this hurricane of burning
horror. "It hurts, Kermit. It hurts inside my soul! I need to disappear!

Kermit latched onto the one lucid statement in the sea of babble.
Holding his precious brother close to his chest, he coaxed a
distraction. Into the sweating tangle of hair at his chin, Kermit asked
gently, "Disappear, David? What does that mean?"

"Riding the horse takes it away...away...just for a while...I

"Forget what, David? Tell me." Kermit stroked the sallow cheek and
rocked softly.

"That I'm all of you. I don't exist. Why don't I? I'm all of you, everybody." The hopeless rambling lost form in
another round of convulsions.

Lost in the shared agony of his younger brother's nonexistent self
image, Kermit blindly picked up the boy and carried him to the bed.
Struggling through the tears, the man accepted his part in destroying this


Kermit sagged his tired body against the door frame, trying to ignore
his throbbing head. David had really whacked him a good one, might even
have a borderline concussion. He didn't have time to pay attention to it
now, though. He had to make dinner before David woke up. Thank God Paul
saw fit to install five-tumbler locks on all the doors. Kermit would
have a tough time picking these things. That sturdy lock had bought him
time to gather his senses before David could escape.

Spots swam before his eyes and he blinked them away irritably. He had no
time for himself. David had to eat to get his strength back. Keeping
food down was a losing battle so volume took precedence. <Keep cramming
it into him and, sooner or later, something might stay down. >

After retrieving a carefully hidden knife, Kermit tried to cut into the ham.
Trying to slice it and doing a miserable job, he heard a rustle out
back that should not have been there. He gripped the knife reflexively
as he walked to the door. He was leaning against the wall
when his muddled brain reminded him that a gun was better than a knife.
Cursing at his weakness, he placed the knife out of the way and drew his
gun from an expertly crafted slot behind the refrigerator.

The sliding door unlatched and slid open from the outside. Kermit
gripped the gun, spun on the intruder and found the gun in the
intruder's grasp and himself plastered against the wall, defenseless.

"Shit, kid, you look like hell! What did you do to yourself?!!"

Kermit sighed in relief as his mentor and benefactor handed him back the
gun and began to examine his wound. "Paul! What are you-?"

"Just checking up on how things are going. Kermit, you haven't even
cleaned this wound! Have you lost what little brains you had to begin
with? C'mere...."

Kermit moved out of his grasp and headed towards the kitchen. "No time.
David will be awake soon and I have to make him something to eat. Paul,
you should see him. I've seen healthier looking corpses."

"Look who's talking." Paul Blaisdell shut the door as Kermit found
the knife again and began his half-hearted battle with the meat. Paul
watched for approximately fifteen seconds before walking over and taking
the knife from him. "Give me that! You're going to hurt yourself. You
can't even see straight." Paul's strong grip and forceful demeanor
propelled Kermit to a chair. Paul then began the task of efficiently
slicing the ham.

"Why did you come here?" Kermit asked quietly, emotions churning as he
watched Paul.

"Well," Paul said, busily gathering bread, condiments and lettuce, "I
realized that the problem you mentioned takes about a week to get over
the worst of it. It suddenly hit me that you wouldn't be able to get any
sleep. So I figured you could use a sub for a few hours." He eyed
Kermit's head wound critically. "At least, long enough for you to stop
seeing double."

"I'm not seeing double, I'm seeing spots," Kermit quipped. "Let's get
accurate, here."

Paul scowled at having one of his lessons parroted back at him. "Call it
what you will. I'm relieving you."

"No," Kermit said firmly.

"You don't have a choice, Kid."

"This is a personal fight, Paul. My fight. My responsibility."

"I agree. That's why I'm only watching him for eight hours. That should
be long enough for you to regroup. I already talked to Harry and I know
the drill." Seeing the temptation and hesitation that he'd inspired,
Paul continued. "Besides, in your present condition, I doubt you could
stop me. Hell, in your present condition, I bet my toddler could take you.
Now, shut up."

Wordlessly, an exhausted Kermit let Paul Blaisdell clean his wound and
lead him out to the porch and where he flopped into the lush hammock
that swung in the corner. The fresh cool air cut through the stench of
guilt and sickness, reminding him how exhausted he was, and he fell
asleep the second his head hit the pillow.

To Be Continued...
Part 8-->