A literal moment of self reflection, and introspection; grasping at straws trying to grab onto a semblance of identity. The teenager had been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder a few years back, but didn't understand what that was, and hadn't received treatment. He had no way of knowing that he was in a state of dissociation, like a walking coma, a day dream. Even his hands on the counter top felt unreal, distant, far away. The walls around him seemed imaginary. A box that was blurring around the edges.
This happened every now and again. He would blame it on drugs, if he hadn't been stone cold sober for the past 24 hours. Although he could objectively realize the person looking back at him, was him.. he couldn't bring himself to identify with that. It just didn't make enough sense to him in this moment. The fact that it didn't make sense made even less sense... Often times, he was very self assured in his identity as a person-- almost too self assured. Like he needed to prove something to himself, to others. At different moments, such as this one, he felt lost, confused, and uncertain.
It was like staring at a puzzle you had no idea how to put together, or figure out.. or like when you say your name out loud over and over again, til it starts to sound so foreign and strange, you think.. that can't possibly be how my name sounds. It just doesn't sound right. He knew who he was, he was Daniel James Desario, everyone called him Danny, he was 18 years old, lived in Las Vegas, Nevada, sold drugs to provide for him and his mother since she was too busy sticking a needle in her arm to make ends meat, or raise her son the past three years.
From the outside, he had a strong, set personality. On the inside, things were ever changing, rarely fixed. He had a dual nature to him that often led to feeling conflicted, confused, or both. He had strong opinions and beliefs, set likes, and dislikes. He was an intelligent, clever, hot headed little sh*t who can be strangely calm and apathetic, or completely off the rails. He was both happy, and sad... self assured, yet not secure. He also was none of these things, and felt next to nothing most of the time. All of this seemingly occurred simultaneously within one being, within one person.
The teen had no idea how all these counter acting juxtapositions could exist within one person.. most people would tell him You're a total gemini. He'd scoff and roll his eyes at that remark, but he understood the sentiment implied. Duality would forever be a huge part of his internal world. His eyes were entranced with the reflection of their counter part, he couldn't seem to look away from himself. In a state of disillusionment, even his own body seemed far away now. He couldn't seem to piece together what it meant to have a self anymore. Sometimes he knew.. mostly, it was fleeting. He was fleeting.
He could be so many different things, different people, at different moments. A good student to some, a deviant to his peers, an exciting, fun to be around guy with his close friends, or a total nightmare to others. Getting all dressed up and going out for the night, it was easy to play pretend.. to convince people to believe in the person he was, the person he had become... the person he wanted to be, the person he didn't want to be. He could convince people to do things, and there was no greater thrill in this world than that.
Convince them to buy, to sell, to steal, to f***, to smile, to please him, to laugh, to cry... to kill. A part of selling drugs and being in this world, was selling himself as well. Perhaps not quite as literally as some of the residents of Las Vegas; but rather to sell an idea of himself, an abstraction-- a distorted image, for your viewing pleasure. What he had to say or do in every situation, to make people buy into the image of who he presented himself to be. The person he was now, who was that? Who is that? He felt like he could be anyone but himself in this world. Danny had shoved himself so far down after they first came here, when the first person he ever fell in love with skipped town without a word.
He became what he needed to be to survive, to put one foot in front of the other, to put food on the table, to keep pushing to live to see another day, to want to live to see another day. He doesn't know what the future holds, hell, he hardly ever knew what the next 5 minutes held, apart from a staring contest with himself. What he did know was the now present, then future that had been promised in the past... the future him and his mother were supposed to have. The fact things couldn't be so further from that dream now broke his heart completely. A fresh new start in a new city sounded too good to be true, he was skeptical from day one.
** Maybe there's no such thing as starting over. Danny had told his mother 3 years prior, as they were finishing packing up their home in New York, moving to Vegas to have a fresh start. This was after his mob boss of a father was sentenced to 50 years for murder in the first degree, among a laundry list of other charges.. including laundering money. They lost most of their money, along with their home.. taken by the feds. They came for every cent they had, even though it wasn't all made through illegal circumstances.
We're just going to a new place, we're taking ourselves, and our last name with us... Maybe we can't escape the past. Maybe they'll talk about us just like they do here...
The 15 year old spoke while looking at his mother from across their kitchen, boxes all lined up around the house, stacked-- like the odds against them. He looked at his mother, wanting her to remedy the situation.. to smooth away the wrinkles the way she would with his clothes when he was a child, running late to school. His mother was a beautiful blonde woman with deep, soulful eyes that were light blue, kinda like the ocean when the sun reflects along the water. These traits that had been lost on Danny.
The only thing he got from her was his cheekbones, his smile, and an addictive personality. He took more so after the Italian on his father's side, mostly. She stepped forward to her son, setting a hand on his cheek-- a gesture she hadn't done much as of late. Stroking his cheek, her son closed his eyes for a moment... realizing now that it really was just the two of them. Dad was gone and not coming back; they would only be a family again through a booth and a glass window with a telephone attached. They had to leave the home he grew up in and move all the way across the country.
People do get to start over, Daniel James Desario.. Now, you listen to me. We can move to a new place, and become new people with new lives... We can do it. We will do it. We just have to try.
She heavily emphasized that last part. His mother was always a determined woman. She believed in the power of change for the both of them. Yet she didn't realize just how foreboding her words were, and just how true they would turn out to be... but not at all in the ways she would have hoped. Blood is on our family name. The things your father did, the enemies he created.. those are our enemies, too. You'd do well to remember that... We can't stay here anymore.
Her voice lowered to a whisper now, despite the fact they were in their own home, and it was only the two of them.
It isn't safe. **
It isn't safe. Her words echoed across three years time, through his subconscious, and to the forefront of his mind, haunting him now as if spoken by a ghost. Yet she was just in the other room, noddin' out on her personal favorite, china white. The city of sin became their new home, at the detriment of both mother, and son. The memory flashed through his mind like a sick joke on repeat, and for a moment, he understood why he couldn't feel anything sometimes. Why he went so numb and cold til he couldn't feel, til he had to do anything he could just to feel f***ing something... He subconsciously blocked out all the pain and unwanted emotions, in doing so, he inadvertently ended up blocking out everything altogether.
It's a vicious cycle, an insufferable, mind numbing, inescapable infinite loop-- along with mood swings that leave him with a bad case of whiplash. The human brain can be such a sick, complicated little thing. He couldn't stand the fact that they left home to be safe, to escape social scrutiny, to escape his father's enemies... to escape the blood his father had shed. Only for his mother to end up on drugs being pushed by the people he worked for, and for him to be losing more freedom by the day since turning 18... They have big plans for him in this city. They expect more from Luca Desario's son, and expect him to live up to his father's "legacy." Such bullsh*t.
They being the criminal mob currently ruling Vegas with an iron fist, and controlling Danny's life now more than ever before. He had been working with them for about two years now, connections that his father had that stretched far and wide... especially in a town like this. They valued him despite his age, due to the fact that his last name held a certain level of notoriety among many people in their world, due to his father, and the empire he had built in NYC.. the rival king pin he had taken out. The same act that led to such a level of notoriety and respect, was the same act that had crumbled his so called empire, to pieces.
Despite being the youngest involved, he was one of the best-- Danny was very good with people. He had a deep intuition that often came in handy, an intuition that helped him know just what buttons to push, spots to hit.. just how exactly to maneuver a situation to work in his favor, or to manipulate another person, based on who they were individually. The people at the top saw this first hand, he was bringing in a lot of money. That was what spoke volumes more than anything else.
Due to this, he was often sent to forge new connections with people in high places, low places, and everywhere in between. To move new product in new areas with new people. At first, this lifestyle, this way of making money; it was fun, and it was easy.. he was working with people who respected his father, and a few of his distant cousins were involved as well. He felt like he had a family again, in a way, people who'd have his back.
Since Jacob had left, along with his entire crew, their organization.. the boy had felt lost, alone, scattered. The "relationship" was highly inappropriate for many reasons, the most glaringly obvious one being the fact this man was old enough to be his father, and Danny was a minor in the court of law. Neither seemed to care, and in a sick way, he was definitely compensating for a lack of a male figure at the time. Things were also very hot and cold between them, up and down... black and b l u e. The sad thing is, he grew addicted to both the pain, and the pleasure.
He thought that it was the realest thing he had ever felt, ever could feel... during this time, the boy often wondered whether his life had been a dream up to this point. This man had changed his entire world, had been his entire world. Then one morning, he woke up, and Jacob was gone without a trace.. along with everything connected to him. He can't remember much about the time after that, just a lot of darkness.. quite literally. He didn't leave his own bedroom for two whole weeks. Looking back, that was probably the first time it really happened. The dissociation. There were a handful of traumatic events in his childhood. However, the dissociation from reality, from himself weren't a prevalent issue til now.
The only thing that got him out was the lure of escapism. Euphoria calling his name like a siren, he went to score drugs that sent him on a spiral; things took a turn for the worse after that. After getting in contact with his cousins, he became part of something even bigger and more powerful than what Jacob had going. This was the real deal, the big leagues, a mafia group that could actually hold its own against what his father had in New York. At first, it was great; he felt he had a support system again, a crew with many levels, and layers. He wanted to move up, wanted to be taken seriously. Now that he's of age, they do take him seriously, and he is moving up... but everything comes with a price in this town.
They want him to push more weight, they want it done consistently.. they want him entertaining wealthy clients, making sure they keep buying.. keep coming back for more. They want him showing up armed in a group to intimidate and scare other potential competition in the area. They want him to do unspeakable things just because someone didn't pay due diligence. Above all else, they want him to prove his loyalty. They want him at that casino, at this club, at that penthouse, at this hotel.. be there by 8:00 PM sharp! The text he received about an hour ago had ended with, always ending with a time, sent from an anonymous number.. some sh*tty burner phone, no doubt.
He barely even had time to lay down and simple feel what the f*** he was feeling.. or wasn't. The fast life had him by the throat. The last time he had an episode that lasted a week, he sat with the drugs in his bedroom and didn't move sh*t... there were consequences. There were threats... one of them being against his own mother. It was bad enough she was spun out on drugs, he would always feel responsible for that. He couldn't be responsible for her death. It just couldn't be. The worst part was, he needed them as much as they seemed to need him... enemies of his father were showing up in town now.
Enemies that wanted revenge on the only living male son he had.. somehow, the children always pay for the sins of the parent. It isn't safe. Danny all but heard out loud his mother repeating those words to him again now, holding a different context altogether still.. a truth that evolved over time. He had to get all dressed up now and go play the role of a teenage drug dealer, one that everyone liked. One that was charming, and personable; yet conniving, and manipulative.
Someone with a little look and a smile that says you don't know me, but I'll let you pretend that you do. A character that was a product of their environment, an image that had helped him maneuver through this sick neon world. A million layers of facades to hide himself away.. hiding so well, even he couldn't find himself anymore. He didn't know where he went, he didn't know when he was coming back. This stopped being fun and games a long time ago. It never truly was. The whole city was one pretty lie, and he fell for it.. hook, line, and sinker.
Danny was just a kid in many ways, whether he could see that or not; a kid in way over his head. He had fallen in deep, and didn't know how to admit that to himself.. didn't want to, didn't know what to compare it to, didn't know what else there was for him. For so long, he's needed to feel like he was the one in control of himself, his life, his choices. For the most part, he is.. but it doesn't mean that he is as free as he wishes to be. He is a slave to his vices, to his addictions, a pawn in a game much bigger than him. Yet the money continues to flow in, and he allows that to be his main priority and focus.
It was senior year and he was supposed to be looking at colleges like every other person his age... that wasn't happening anymore. Vegas owned his soul, and there was no reclaiming it. Not anytime soon, at least. They had him whipped. He was in deep water just trying to find a way to swim. Staying intoxicated helped most of the time.. until it didn't. There was a level of apathy he craved and swam towards, and then there was a numbness that was all consuming, pulling him down into the ocean depths as he kicked and screamed, trying to rise to the surface.
He looked into the mirror even still, gazing into himself with empty eyes, a vacant expression; trying to see if anybody was home. He honestly didn't understand what was wrong with him, or why he felt like this. He wondered if other people felt this way at times.. he didn't understand what was wrong with himself, and that was the most f***ed up part. He didn't know how to fix himself, or if he could be 'fixed.' He mostly wanted to know if he could answer the question that was burning inside. If it was too late to hit rewind, to fix everything... to save himself, to save his mom. All the money in the world could never help.
He realized it was time to get ready, splashing cold water on his face in an attempt to 'snap out of it', as he went about his routine on auto pilot mode. Clothes off.. clothes on, hair slicked back, chin up, look good, smell good.. check, check, check. He needed to show up and be a person, be himself, make some money, and convince some men much older and wealthier than him that they needed to get in business with his people, that they could push their product throughout the city while being secure, responsible, professional. He needed to be a business man, he needed to create new connections.
We're always on time, we always make almost triple profit, we're up front, and we never disappoint. Never anything shady... You can count on us if we can count on you.
He was already rehearsing his lines like a trained actor.
All the Desario's had really done was trade one devil,