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The 55th Fire: A Tale of Anger

TheGarbageManMar 15, 2019, 1:20:51 PM

An old one, I thought it was time to remove more mask and expose more me. Though age does calm a person down, I still have that flicker, that spark that creates a burning inferno of rage inside of me. Maybe some of you know what I'm talking about, or have at least seen it in action. Just know that it's not you, it's me.

I Am Richard's Debilitating Rage

Dragging my arm across the counter top, flinging glasses, letters, dishes, whatever is on a kitchen counter, I was in complete awareness of what I was doing. The wine smashed out of its various containers, splashing into windows, carpet, ceiling, and over the TV. “Not a problem”, I thought. I had to do something.

She was killing me. She would trigger the worst in me with a single sentence. I wanted to have a good night, a night away from the drama, from the life outside of ours. It was impossible with her however. With me too. One thing led to another, from a simple misunderstanding, to a full fledged fight. Nothing had been right lately. Maybe I was too jealous, maybe she was a habitual liar. Reasons to no end.

“It’s all your fucking fault!” I yelled.

She left soon after, leaving me and the mess I had made to wallow in. The comedown is sudden, leaving me docile, vulnerable, depressed. I waited till morning to clean up the mess, standing on the counters to wipe the red wine painting off the ceiling. Windexed the windows, thankful there were no cracks or chips. There were, however, a couple of pieces missing from the TV’s tube complete with broken wine glasses at the foot of the stand. Wine had spread and dripped over the front down into the stereo and the Wii, my new video game system I played during the precious few moments of relief from the day’s problems.

I tried to start the Wii. No lights, no noise, no signal of life. It had become another casualty of my anger towards things I can’t control. I sighed in resignation. Another victim...


Rage, my friend, whispered for me to head butt him. That sent him back then forward with his fists, breaking my nose.

He’d been giving me shit for weeks. I had had enough of him and his constant bullying. This time he had flicked my field cap off my head in formation and where the fight went down. Everyone staring in disbelief as the Sergeants took us to the M.P. station. All because of my friend being reignited. I had that black eye for 2 months, a badge of pride and shame. The shithead I got into a fight with went AWOL 2 weeks later.


When analyzing the problem that arises often, you always reflect back onto other quagmires that have been caused by the same conditions. My name is Richard Stephens and I am a rageaholic. Sure, we can mix alcohol into the fray, I do like my drink. But a problem that stems from years before liquor is permanent, no matter the cause. Reflecting, I see not the cause, instead focusing on the effect. Cause comes from different sources, broken promises, unmet expectations, failed dreams. Whatever the motive may be, the effect is always the same. Destruction, change, hurt. I never know when it may strike. I never know what the reason might be. All I know is that letting your anger take hold of your actions has dire consequences you can never foresee. Shuffling, heaving, blaring. The act is always rushed, no savoring. Stuff breaks, hands get bruised, things make no sense. I’ve destroyed many walls, countless punches on trees and cars, I’ve walked two miles in the rain just to gather my bearings. You have to smash. You have to unleash this demon inside you. You have to let it out or it will eat you up inside, surely and painfully. The day after it subsides you are drained. Food has no taste, it is bland and unfulfilling. Vision blurs in far and near. The constant hum in the hollow of your ears.

“Rageaholism” or “anger addict” is a term for those that get a rush from the lack of physical control their anger unleashes on them. Some hide it with substances, others with prayer. Most make no trouble concealing their rage. They embellish it, loving it as a forbidden affair. It may be wrong, but it feels so right. To them, it is not a problem, only a way of being. A friend that stops it from dwelling inside and consuming their very soul.

You see that homeless man screaming at the sky or whatever poor invisible object happening to be around? That football player who keeps shoving the other team long after the ref blows his whistle? The old man fleeing to the bar as soon as his shift is over, staying as long as the hours will let him? That kid who smiles and is so nice taking a knife to a couch when no one is around, silencing his inner frustration? They are all rageaholics, hiding and embellishing their anger and the reasons for it. They can be anyone or everyone for all I know.


Filling with Rage, I punched the wall. No good, must’ve hit a beam. Needs another one. Score; through the plaster.

I told her to just go. She would not listen. Chest heavy and filled with stress I had to let it out somewhere, just not on her. My friend told me the wall was closer.


A child wakes in the night to a crash. He hears his father yelling in his parents’ bedroom, silenced only by an item being torn, smashed, or tossed. The child’s mother asks him to sleep with his brother on his bed so she can use his for the night.

The only sound he can make out is his father yelling “It’s all your fault!”

This child is confused. Is there something wrong? Why is dad mad on New Years? Maybe there will be answers but he won’t find out till the morning.

When he wakes, he first must survey the location of the noise. The chandelier has been ripped out the ceiling, frayed wires the only signal that it was hung in the first place. Clothes, glass, books strewn across the floor prompting his mother to tell him “do NOT come in here.” Anything made to stand has been toppled. I was that child and, worse of all, the Atari never works again...


Slamming the car door so hard it shattered the window after a harrowing crash. Luckily, nobody hurt except the vehicle.

Rage had only been mad at me, at my stupidity of taking a 20mph corner at 50. I hit the steering wheel and hit the car among the strong odor of evaporated brakes. I didn’t even ask my girlfriend if she was alright. 

She later said “I wasn’t scared of the crash, I was scared of how you acted afterwards.”


I have many happy memories with my father. Backpacking Devil’s Gulch in the middle of winter, an idea spurred by too many mountain man novels. Staying up all night playing darts during a leave from the Army. Cutting wood for the winter, all year long. Working with him at his various Lindal homesites, the smell of cedar perpetually in the air. Then there were times of great distance. Keeping in his workshop for days at time, throwing bats at people going too fast on the road, the smell of beer on his breath after a long night of wondering where he was. My father caused days of joy and days of dread. It confused the senses. Living around a timebomb can do that.

What would my anger be like if I had not seen my father’s own? Probably worse, adding a dash of justification to every outburst , as if my angry reaction was the necessary thing to do. If I didn’t know how much of it comes from my father, from seeing his responses, it would simply be the right thing to say or do because it feels like that anyway. His displays of unrestrained rage showed me the shock and rupture that kind of emotional answer can create. Call it fortunate, call it a shame, call it whatever. It was training, a parable showing what could happen if I didn’t acknowledge and attempt to control my own exploding responses to life and the troubles it can occasionally have. It is good to understand my emotions and where they may come from.


Pulling the garage door down so hard it jumped its track and left a snarled pile of metal blocking the entrance.

I was mad at my mom, mad at my father for being in prison, mad at having to move once again to another house. My friend was still new to me but his voice had been strong. He told me to let it out, to just grab the nearest thing and do something to it. Rage has always made me go for the nearest object.


My parents were getting divorced and I had an “anger problem”. My mother, forgoing a psychologist, instead opted for the christian alternative. I would meet with our local church’s leader, pastor John, every two weeks to determine what was making me angry and how I should pray it away. Prayer never quite worked, except I would be angry at God. But something pastor John said stuck with me.

“Your video games are an escape. You use them to get out of the world and not deal with your situation.”

Gaming has always been one of the joys of my life. A window into a futuristic fantasy world, they amused, entranced, and challenged. Playing Asteroids on the Atari until you found out the score resets before a million points. Coming home from a long day of work or school, the Wii drifting me away from the frustrations and pressures of my existence. Their destruction had taken some peace from me. They weren’t meant to be hurt. They were meant to sit idly by while things of lesser worth were discontinued. But in war there are casualties and they were loved ones with no involvement with the violence around them. The Atari, smashed by the TV toppled on it. The Wii, drenched in wine. A little piece of my happiness died with each of them and so much more followed.