Sunday, March 26, 2006

That Boy is Junk

He had a car. A '73 Thunderbird. A wife. And a little boy.

He hated that car. "It's a piece of junk," he would rant. "I
treat her nice as pussy, change her oil, flush her. What more
does she want. Junk. I'm getting rid of her."

But he never did. He drove that piece of junk to work every
day. And back home again. Home to a doting wife and a little
boy who would open a cold one and set it out on the TV table
5 minutes ahead of time.

"Hi honey, how was your day," she would ask, secretly trying
to guess what it would be this time. The muffler she thought.
I bet it's the muffler again.

"God damn rearview mirror fell off."

"Oh, honey, that's terrible. Here, sit down. Watch some TV.
It's those funny men you like."

"What's for dinner?"

"Grabby nook. It's almost ready."

"Piece of junk." The man would mutter.

The little boy, hiding behind the couch, knew the routine. He
liked it. His pop would hold the cold one up against his
face, sigh, and then take a swig.

They were the same the little boy thought. The old man and
the bottle of beer. Cold on the inside, yet sweat beaded down
their necks. He wanted to touch them but he didn't dare.

After dinner the man would knock a few more back in front of
the TV. The little boy would move closer. Close enough to
whiff the familiar stench of his old man's dogs.

"Are the dogs barking pop?" he would ask.

"Quiet kid. My show is on."

This was the little boy's show. It was a perpetual re-run but
he loved it all the same.

Then one night the little boy snuck out of bed to see what
the old man was up to. He imagined his mom and pop cutting a
rug to old scratchy records when he was asleep.

He hid behind the couch and begged Loopy the dog to keep
quiet.

"What do you want from me," the little boy heard his pop say.

"I want you to talk to him. Throw a baseball out in the yard,
or help him do his sums. Something. Anything."

"Jesus Christ. You know how hard I work," the kid's old man
groaned, "I don't have time to mess around with some kid."

"Some kid?" the boy's mother shouted. "Some kid? He's your
kid. He's our kid. He loves you."

The little boy understood. They were talking about him.

"That kid's a piece of junk and you know it. He can't catch a
football, he's dumb as a crowbar, and he's a god-damn fairy."

The little boy's mother slapped the man sitting in the couch.
And then returned to the kitchen. She liked the kitchen.

"Pop, are you going to get rid of me?" The little boy asked
from behind the couch.

"Go to bed son."

"Do you want another cold one?"

"Go to bed or I
will get rid of you."

The next day, there was no cold one waiting for the man on
the TV table.

But he never did get rid of that little boy.

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