#9: Red Line

#9: Red Line


A yellow couch in Dorchester filled with cat hair. A blanket and stray ray of light from the street lamp outside. The Red Line train rumbles by, causing me to stir. There are footsteps on the stairs, again.

I struggle between sleep and waking, between the before and after, between what was and what is yet to come, between one reality and another.

There are moments when one life dies utterly and completely, and the body is left void of anything but blood and guts. A heart beating, but a soul yet to be born.

My brother is over me now trying to catch my eye—“Tom, are you still all right?”—in a tone that conveys the kind of concern next of kin has when a sibling has a noose tied off over a rafter.

I don’t want to wake. I don’t want to leave the old reality. I don’t want to admit that I was a hero one day and the next I was…

My eyes are opening now. The marriage is over, the drinking, and “the kids” I cry out for are my 6-month-old sons and 2-year-old daughter.

My brother is holding my shoulder. “You are going to be all right, Tom.”

I don’t believe him. I am terrified, white pain in my eyes. The darkness of night has me by the neck.

Then I notice just the faintest hint of dawn and realize that, despite being completely lost, I have survived the worst night of my life.

I hug my brother, holding on for dear life the way I had the night before when I arrived on his front door with nowhere else to go.

—Photo kevin dooley/Flickr


#8: Philosophy << 100 Acts of Male Goodness >> #10: The Runaway

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About Tom Matlack

Tom Matlack is the co-founder of The Good Men Project. He has a 18-year-old daughter and 16- and 7-year-old sons. His wife, Elena, is the love of his life. Follow him on Twitter @TMatlack.


  1. The emotional trauma of going through the
    women-serving court system is horrific.
    One expects grief and loss,but not injustice.

  2. Then I notice just the faintest hint of dawn and realize that, despite being completely lost, I have survived the worst night of my life.

    this piece has stuck with me since i first read it when it was posted.
    i think most people have experienced ‘That Night Of Annihilation . That Night that Ended your Old Life, and began You Anew’


  1. […] #9: Red Line << 100 Acts of Male Goodness >> #11: Pal Dog /* Filed Under: 100 Acts of Male Goodness, The Good Life Tagged With: 100 acts of male goodness, Good Men, helping others, runaway, The Good Life About Nick FlorestNick Florest is a proud Brooklyn native, writer, after-school tutor, hip-hop artist, and host of "Rise Up Radio," a youth issues-based radio show that airs weekly on Fridays from 7pm-8pm EST on WBAI 99.5 FM. You can follow him on Twitter @VaryusWaise. […]

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