first appeared in Piker Press
He’s drinking my life away again, cussing in his battered seat. Forsaken in his self-indulgence, he scratches the label off the bottle, the last drip swirls at the base. I have surrendered to his sunken disposition and let it all be, raining down on my fading dreams. I scribble a note for his reminder and leave the house. Skateboarding through the neighbourhood to get as quickly to my friend’s place. At least his family resembles some structure of normal unlike the hollow cylinder construction of my father. I step through the doorway and greet my friend with a nod.
“He’s drinking again?” Mac says. It must have been my swift entrance that gave it away.
With defeat, I confess, “Yes.” My honour once more stomped on but it all gradually fades away because I’m in the presence of the best pitcher in our small god-forsaken town who always looks for constructive reasons even in the most doubtful situations.
“Why do you put up with his shit?”
“Because he’s my father.” A distasteful yet brave answer. The sad fact, he is my father. I let that notation respectably swim in my head.
I lean against the wall in the hallway, vanishing in my recollection. “He came home from the store yesterday reeking of booze and my mother at the first glance screamed then left the house cursing. She hasn’t been home since.”
“Did she say anything to you?”
“No, except she gave me this heart-felt stare to get away, to escape his miserable sorrows and leave him be to die in his own piss.”
“So why don’t you?” The ease in Mac’s question, as if life was that simple.
“I can’t. I feel obligated to help him.”
With Mac’s tremor of a look he accepts my answer and lights his cigarette. It’s funny how with such little accessory a person can transform suddenly from a respectable and cultivated young man to a tough rebel with perplexing questions and unspoken answers. “Did he give you one of his famous lectures about life again?”
I diligently look over my shoulder and stare back at him convinced that I’ll be malicious. “I believe that it’s inevitable to flee any of his half-humorous anecdotes.” Just like it is inevitable to flee any of my half-humorous anecdotes. My life could be a sob filled with much whining and complaining but should I allow that to take hold of me?
“What was today’s about?” Mac shoves his unclean uniform to a duffle bag and sniffs his shoes. “These need washing.” He mutters to himself.
“The social construction and scrutiny. The gist of his philosophical unproven theory is that small and insignificant people will only make an even tinier incision into the corrupted and powerful corporations; thus, freeing none of their deceptions. It lies irrelevant, don’t you think?”
“His wasted observation.” After a pause of my insecure reflection, I beckon to change the chapter of my state. “He asked me if I’ve taken the job. After I failed to answer his question to his agreements, he slapped me, and I continued to stand there waiting for more.” I long for some hope but just like him I’m hopeless, uneven, and unable to amend what is already encrypted as our social norms: to stupefy in all our definitions and procreate offspring who keep the blight of our justifications. I am bleak. “I remember when he was happy, full of life. It was like sickness, pleasing to my joy that my father spend time with me. After he got fired, he spent time with me but as a washed-out drunk and thus became vermin in my happy childhood pulling me down with him. Do I deserve this, my father’s disappointments and faults?”
“No.” Mac smiles patting my back.
My dispute is tall and heightened against my father and his disease. The collision is close by and I feel its tender strain breaking my neck. I swing back and forth in my perception and follow Mac. The roses withered in their beauty. The summer is almost gone. I have no more shame left in me. “Do you think I’ll end up like my father, dispensed?”
“If you’re not already dispensed?” Mac’s right in his rights. “What are you going to do tomorrow?”
“See the last game of the season.”
“And cry your cries. It’s all going to be alright.” We cross the road, along the freshly painted walls. Nothing has much changed in our town of sour lies. The theatre still plays old movies, the cars still evaporate the noxious gasoline, the sinks still bleed the hazardous water, and everyone else still tries to escape the unfulfilling realities. The fields are losing their green.
Four corners, four hitters, and one dog. It has been a long day, trimmed by the fun of baseball game. We fall laughing, hitting the ball, neglecting the grief of life for a moment.
The anthem of the lost youth knocks at my door once more and for the last time I hope as this is my last night at home. Tomorrow I will depart for the corporate battlefield. The commercial constitution of everyday life prolongs as we smudge through ads of our unnecessary materialism. And maybe in the near future I will be just like him singing the anthem of the lost adulthood, withering away because many have taken so much out of me as I have given so little in return. I don’t want to agree that it will all be the same regardless because I would like to believe that life can turn any other way than in doubt and regret.
The night comes and I sit on the porch drinking my soda. My father still rests in his chair, listening to the news, gossip and horror blasting on the screen. Unreal as it may be, he is dying of cancer and I cannot bear to lose him. He’s not a broken chair, so easily tossed to trash. He’s my father.
“Son!” he calls extending his arm, an empty glass in his grasp. “Something stronger this time. Hm. At least I can choose my medication.” Trembling hands, sober mind, and in his eyes the fear of the inevitable.
© Jacob Greb — 2003
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