The father

“I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I went a wee, teeny, tiny bit overboard.”

Father?

“Shh!” A figure steps from the void, its identity largely hidden by the dark. “You’re thinking, Oh, oh, poor me. It was just a little—”

Father?

“Father?” the voice mocks. “Is there someone down here other than you and me?”

I … No.

“Well, I don’t feel like a father. Do I look like one?” It steps a little closer. Jack can just make out a pair of eyes, which look very much like his father’s, but the voice—not exactly a voice, but more like a vibration in the middle of his head. It varies, as though it’s coming from a variety of empty rooms. A voice, but not really a voice. A non-voice. “I know Pucer likes telling you, and that chicken-shit sibling of yours, that I’m your Uncle Lu. Maybe. But he exaggerates. You didn’t know that about your father, I know. He does … he exaggerates.” The eyes float up toward the ceiling, each one seemingly independent of the other, like a pair of tiny balloons.

You’re not Uncle Lu? Jack speaks, but his lips do not move.

“Oh, certainly. I didn’t mean to suggest your father is a liar. An exaggerator—not a liar.  For example, he makes me sound like a prick, as if I’m some kind of a bummer. I like to have fun on occasion, just like everyone else.”  The eyes drift farther and farther away, but the non-voice is still right there in the middle of his head. “Hey. What’s this I hear about you being naughty?”

I lied.

“No.”

I’m sorry I lied.

“Are you?”

I am sorry.

“Oh, perfect! You’ve discovered the magic word. You’re free!”

Jack attempts to move his arms and legs, but can’t.

“Uh … Perhaps I spoke impulsively. I so hoped …”

I took the letters from Father’s desk. I’ll never disobey him again. I swear. I promise!

“Not working. You know what I suspect the problem is? It hurts me to have to say this, but, well, it’s just … too late.” The eyes suddenly appear at his side. Jack has the impression that Uncle Lu is seated there to his right, like a parent visiting a child’s bedside. “You see, Jack, my dear nephew, you made a choice. Your father, out of his boundless love for you … Boundless love. Isn’t that poetic? Boundless love. Boundless stupidity. Boundless boundlessness.

Anyway, the point is, he gave you the power to choose. You’re aware of that, I’m sure. You’ve always had that power—a choice—free will, if you prefer. You chose to disrespect your father with lies and stealing and fornication and worship of other fathers. You little snip snap, you. You little piece of shit. You were warned. You were warned because you were so dearly loved. And now I have you … forever … eternity. Do you know eternity, Jack?” The eyes vanish.

“Eternity is not the tummy ache of a week without pizza and donuts.” The non-voice seems to come from below now. “It’s not a month or a year of pissing all over yourself. No. It’s not a hundred, or a thousand, or a million, or a google-boogle zillion such years.” A piggish snort comes from below. “Google-boogle? What?” And then a snicker. “Did I say that? Can you imagine that?  I don’t think so.” The voice drifts even lower, as though it is slowly sinking into the floor. “Oh, but don’t you worry about it. You’ll get the hang of it in time. The pain, the agony … You’ll get used to that. Perhaps in a few trillion years, you’ll become bored with it all. And then you’ll have the rest of eternity to … hang out.”

I’m so sorry. Jack listens, pushing back every thought and every worry in his head to make room for a reply. Uncle Lu?

No answer. Just the dark.

****************************

More about Rodney Jones at: http://redadeptpublishing.com/rodney-jones/

Square food (a brief glimpse into the future)

Omega shoves a bite of saloosa into her mouth, then takes her fork, as she always has, and squares up the remaining food on her plate while she chews. I’ve sat here through a million meals watching her do this. I’ve never said anything, never asked or commented, but all of a sudden I have an urge to say, does it taste better? I won’t though. Obviously changing the shape of the food on your plate is not going to alter the flavor. Why ask a stupid question when you already know the answer? Because it’s humorous? And it would make her smile? Have I ever said anything that brought a smile to her lips?

She takes another bite, then makes a minor adjustment to the vegetables on her plate. I’d probably be accused of being unhelpful if I were to say something stupid, even something as contrived as:

“Harp once told me that square food isn’t as good for you as round.”

Omega looks up from her plate.

“He said it tastes better square, but it loses some of its vitamins,” I add.

“He said that?”

“No, I just made it up.”

She scrunches her brow, and cocks her head. “What?”

“I’m just trying to be unhelpful.”

“Why?”

“Like Tum.”

“The hologram?”

I shrug. “She was being humorous, you know?”

“Z, holograms are different than us.”

“Well, I know that. They have a sense of humor.”

“They are interesting to watch because they resemble people. But I find it hard to believe that the people they’re fashioned after behaved anything like they do. What Tum refers to as humor is really pointless nonsense.”

“Well then, what is humor?”

“Things that make you happy, I suppose.”

“Maybe pointless nonsense makes her happy.”

“This table and chairs would probably be laughing right now if they could,” she says.

I smile.

“What?” She throws her hands up.

I laugh.

“Why are you so happy?”

“What you said.”

“What I said?”

“The table and chairs … You were being humorous, weren’t you?”

Omega lets out an exasperated sigh. “I’m going to take my nap.”

Three days and three nights

It’s been a week now since our ‘rendezvous’.

Twenty-eight days?

Sneaking around requires some discretion, plus a trick or two—a ploy, a ruse. So, yes, we met, but not being one to kiss and tell…

I hadn’t seen O in over twelve years. So, we’re like, what, over twelve years older than we were? This was a huge concern for O, who was so certain I’d take one look at her, see she was now a decrepit old hag, or whatever, and tear out of the Motel 66 parking lot never to be heard from again. Was I harboring reservations about her advanced age? I wasn’t … not at all. I did admittedly add twelve years to my mental image of how I remembered her, and, even so, the picture I painted was still looking pretty good to me.

Another concern of O’s was that she’d be disfunctionally nervous at first. “We need to have a clear itinerary from the get go,” she said. “We need structure.”

So we came up with a step by step, detailed plan. We would first take our luggage and groceries up to the room, step in, then quickly out—for lunch and a drink, then a long walk in the park. And if that wasn’t enough to calm her, then, well, we’d go see a movie, and then another.

I left my house at 7:30, headed east on I-70, feeling good, cheerful, a bit excited—a four hour drive to the motel. As I got to within a half-hour of the place, it suddenly dawned on me that I’ve committed myself to a blind date—for three days and nights. What the fuck was I thinking?

I couldn’t find an answer to the question, so I drove on. I would have anyway … no matter what. We’d agreed to arrive at the same time, to avoid the torture of waiting for the world to end in a motel parking lot. Actually, I agreed to arrive first.

“If you’re not there when I get there,” she said, “I’ll turn around and head home… no ifs, ands, or buts.”

So I got there ten minutes early, checked in, took my stuff up to the room, then, with one minute left before her expected arrival, I went back out to my car to watch for her. Twenty-nine minutes later, I spotted a vehicle with West Virginia plates pulling in. I was warned beforehand not to approach her too enthusiastically, so I gave her a call to see if she might want to chat over the phone for a while before leaving her car—talk away some of the nervousness—ease into our meeting.

“Hi,” I said as gently and sweetly as I could manage.

“Are you going to help me get all this shit up to the room or just sit there and watch?” she said.

I clapped my phone shut, hopped from my car and stepped over to hers. She was bent over her back seat dragging her luggage toward the car door. She turned, gave me a brief, nervous glance, and then turned back to what she was doing.

OMG! Wow! Just like that! I remembered what it was that I had, all those years before, been drawn to, fascinated by, and frightened of. It was her, just as beautiful as I remembered. This woman really rocked my world—rattled my foundation.

I tingled with excitement as the elevator door closed before us—just O and I in a tiny six by six-foot box… alone… breathing, deep nervous breaths. (Elevator? OK, so maybe it wasn’t Motel 66.)

We put our stuff away, then threw each other quick glances.

“Do you want to go to lunch now?” I said.

“I’m not hungry,” she replied.

“I’m not either.” I looked down at the king-sized bed. Our bed. “Do you just want to sit and talk for a while?”

She glanced from me to the bed and back to me. “No.”

“OK.”

“Yes.” She lowered her butt to the bed, so close to the edge, it’s debatable whether she was really on it or not.

I scooted up to the middle of the backboard, piled a couple of pillows against it, and leaned back.

She took a deep breath, fidgeted, then suddenly got back to her feet. “Let’s go do something.”

“Do you want to go for a walk?” I offered.

“What do you want to do?” she asked.

“Hold you,” I said.

She took a deep breath, then, a long moment later, let it go. “OK.”