Home > The Song of David (The Law of Moses)(4)

The Song of David (The Law of Moses)(4)
Author: Amy Harmon

I didn’t want to talk about this with Tag. I really didn’t want to talk about it with anyone. So I fixed my gaze to the left of Tag’s head, out the window, letting him know I was ready for the conversation to end. But Tag persisted.

“You’re almost nineteen. You are officially out of the system. So where you gonna go, Mo?” I don’t know why he thought he could call me Mo. I hadn’t given him permission. But he was like that. Worming his way into my space.

My eyes flickered back to Tag briefly, and then I shrugged as if it wasn’t important.

I’d been here for months. Through Christmas, through New Year’s, and into February. Three months in a mental institution. And I wished I could stay.

“Come with me,” Tag said, tossing down his napkin and pushing his tray away.

I reared back, stunned. I remembered the sound of Tag crying, the wails that echoed down the hall as he was brought into the psych ward the night he was admitted. He’d arrived almost a month after I had. I had lain in bed and listened to the attempts to subdue him. At the time, I hadn’t realized it was him. I only put two and two together later when he told me about what brought him to Montlake. I thought about the way he’d come at me with his fists flying, rage in his eyes, almost out of his head with pain in the session where we’d met. Tag interrupted my train of thought when he continued speaking.

“My family has money. We don’t have much else, but we have tons of money. And you don’t have shit.”

I held myself stiffly, waiting. It was true. I didn’t have shit. Tag was my friend, the first real friend, other than Georgia, that I’d ever had. But I didn’t want Tag’s shit. The good or the bad, and Tag had plenty of both.

“I need someone to make sure I don’t kill myself. I need someone who’s big enough to restrain me if I decide I need to get smashed. I’ll hire you to spend every waking minute with me until I figure out how to stay clean without wanting to slit my wrists.”

I tipped my head to the side, confused. “You want me to restrain you?”

Tag laughed. “Yeah. Hit me in the face, throw me to the ground. Kick the crap out of me. Just make sure I stay clean and alive.”

I wondered for a moment if I could do that to Tag. Hit him. Throw him to the ground. Hold him down until the need for drink or death passed. I was big. Strong. But Tag wasn’t exactly small, not by a long shot. My doubt must have shown on my face because Tag was talking again.

“You need someone who believes you. I do. It’s got to get old always having people thinking you’re psychotic. I know you’re not. You need somewhere to go, and I need someone to come with me. It’s not a bad trade. You wanted to travel. And I’ve got nothing better to do. The only thing I’m good at is fighting, and I can fight anywhere.” He smiled and shrugged. “Honestly, I don’t trust myself to be alone just yet. And if I go back home to Dallas, I’ll drink. Or I’ll die. So I need you.”

He’d said that so easily. “I need you.” I’d wondered how it was possible that a tough kid like Tag, someone who fought for the fun of it, could admit that to anyone. Or believe it. I’d never needed anyone. Not really. And I’d never said those words to anyone. “I need you” felt like “I love you,” and it scared me. It felt like breaking one of my laws. But at that moment, with our release looming large, with freedom at my fingertips, I’d admitted it to myself. I had needed Tag too.

We made an odd pair. A mixed-race delinquent who couldn’t stop painting and a big Texan with too much attitude and shaggy hair. But Tag was right. We were both stuck. Lost. With nothing to hold us down and no direction. I just wanted my freedom, and Tag didn’t want to be alone. I needed his money, and he needed my company, sad as it usually was. And so we went. We ran. We didn’t look back.

“We’ll just keep running, Moses. It’s like you said. Here, there, on the other side of the world? We can’t escape ourselves. So we stick together until we find ourselves, all right? Until we figure out how to deal.” That’s what he’d said. That’s what we’d done. And Tag Taggert became my best friend. When I needed him most he held on to me, and he didn’t let me go.

So now I have to find him.

The thing that scares me the most, is maybe he’s found his answers. Maybe he knows exactly what he’s doing. Exactly who he is. Maybe he’s figured the world out. But we’d made a deal when we were eighteen. And as far as I’m concerned, a deal is a deal.

“I need someone to make sure I don’t kill myself. I need someone who’s big enough to restrain me if I decide I need to get shitfaced. Hit me in the face, throw me to the ground. Kick the shit out of me. Just make sure I stay clean and alive,” he’d said. He’d wanted me to keep him alive.

I just hoped it wasn’t too late.

MY BAR IS called Tag’s because it’s mine. Simple as that. When I bought it, I thought about the name for a couple of weeks, trying to think of something catchy, something intelligent, but in the end, I just slapped my name on it. Makes sense, doesn’t it? When something is yours, you give it your name.

As a recovering alcoholic, owning a bar could be considered masochistic, but I don’t own it for the booze. I own it because every time I walk in, look around, tend the bar or pour a drink, I feel powerful. I feel like I’ve conquered my demons, or at least beat them back. Plus, I’m a man, and the bar is a man cave to surpass all man caves. Flat screens hang on walls and in thick clusters overhead so that customers can keep an eye on several games at once, with sections of the bar dedicated to different sports. If you come in to watch a particular fight or a football game, there’s a screen tuned in just for you. It smells like expensive cigars and leather, like pine needles and stacks of cash, all scents that make a man grateful for his testosterone. The décor consists of rock walls, dark wood, warm lighting, and pretty waitresses. And I’m extremely proud of it.

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