Chapter Ten


It was a Friday, almost 4:00 in the afternoon. “For Jesus sake Susie, why didn’t you wake me up?” “I’m going to be late!”
I wondered why he used Jesus’ name when he didn’t believe in Him. Only this time I wondered this out loud. DAMNIT! Why did I say that? Ohh boy, here we go… Soon was I enduring the ‘Redemption diatribe about God, for God knows how many times.
“Redemption is not possible!” he proclaimed, “You would have to believe in God and Heaven and Hell to even consider the possibility of redemption! Redemption? Redemption for what, from what? Redemption is for pussies!” He was just warming up. The full-blown harangue had begun.
I sat transfixed. His entire head was changing shape. It was actually transforming itself from oval to completely round, round as a ripe tomato and it was turning just as red. The veins in his neck suddenly popped out and grew thicker than his little finger.
I watched in utter amazement. Surely, in any moment, smoke was going to shoot out of his ears, and flames would start roaring out of his mouth. Then his head would explode, tiny pieces of confetti floating down on his body as it deflated like a blown out tire.
“Wow!” Uh-oh, what did I say? Oh, shit! What if he clued in to the fact that I hadn’t paying attention to the bullshit he was preaching to me, his one and only captive audience? But he just picked up where he left off.
“That’s right, WOW! And if everyone could just accept that there is nothing, NOTHING, beyond the grave, we all could do what we want without feeling guilty!” Then he proclaimed his usual finale.
“Everyone turns to dust so they might as well enjoy life while they’re alive and make the most of it! And don’t regret anything because it’s all over then, lost to time and the elements that would quickly erase his existence here and blah, blah, blah (inhale) and… blah, blaah blah blah blah!.”
I bowed my head in deference to his greatness, in awe of his genius. I had already gotten his message, loud and clear: BE AN ATHIEST AND THEN YOU DON'T HAVE TO FEEL GUILTY ABOUT ANYTHING!
“Oh shit, I gotta get down stairs. We open in ten minutes throw me my… hurry, did you iron my
shirt?” Susie! Did you iron my shirt?”
I was still looking at his deflated rubber body in fascination, wondering: Why it was it confetti that exploded out of his head, why not blood, guts and gore?
“”SUSIE!” I woke from my reverie when he reached down and thumped me hard on the head, twice.
Before he could thump me again, I was in the bedroom, grabbing up his pants and shirt. I hurried over to the chest of drawers for, hopefully, the right colored socks. Trying not to wrinkle his shirt, I dashed over to his side of the bed and picked up his shoes and his belt. Whew! Cool! I made before he could finish shaving! Ha, ha, ha! No time for a tickle now, you fucker. “Dad, I got everything for you, they’re on the couch.”
As he came out of the bathroom and started to dress, he turned his head and looked at me with that stupid grin of his. He reached out for me.
“Oh, shit! I forgot your watch!” I ran to the bedroom, leaped across the bed and landed on the floor next to his nightstand. “Do you want your rings tonight?” I asked, as my eyes scanned the top of the dresser.
“Umm…no…they…umm, NEVERMIND!” he yelled, fumbling with his belt. “Just bring me my watch! If I’m late, you’ll know it when you come down. You do know you’re on schedule tonight, right?” He admired himself in the mirror one last time.
“Yes Dad, of course. I won’t be late; I’ll be down on time.” I said as I walked out of the bedroom.
“OK, come give me a kiss before you get dressed.” I did not hesitate; I had no desire for the consequences. I was hoping for a peaceful night instead of the unremitting stress of being available for his every need. I already felt tired.
A group of his admirers were on their college break. I hoped they did what everyone did; beg to hear a few of my dad’s amusing anecdotes and clever tales. Maybe tonight they would hang around long enough for him to get shit-faced by the time he came upstairs after closing time. Sometimes he would get so drunk, he would immediately pass out when he hit the bed.