Saturday, November 12, 2005

Chapter 14 (20,746 words out of 50,000)


My mom is one of those sweet ladies, the type that’s so fucking sweet she’s extra receptive of any hatred that might be directed towards her and there’s a lot of hatred directed towards her because she’s so fucking sweet. People don’t like sweet. They like ugly, they like cynicism and vulgarity. They like nastiness. They like the dregs, the black, the underbelly – they like to be around someone who’s worse than them. Someone who’ll make their dysfunctions look like fucking Candy Land. Someone who’ll make their excessive masturbation on par with a hot cup of cocoa on a cold winter day. Someone who’ll turn their attempted murder of the neighborhood queer into a fucking Fudgy the Whale and Cookie Pus orgy. People hate my mom and it’s fucking impossible to hide it.

But she rolls with it, she takes it and just keeps on giving – but she can always feel this uncomfortable shift when she picks up on the hate – she sort of pauses, looks down for a moment, slowly continues with what she was doing while occasionally shifting her eyes to the hater. It’s so obvious that my mother knows, the person who is hating gets real quite, you can see their mind searching for something new to talk about, looking for some way to change the subject and alleviate the tension. My mother is the type that takes the task on, she’ll force a new conversation in order to spare the person who can’t fucking stand her any additional embarrassment – that’s the kind of person she is - the kind of person that brings out the worse in you and makes you feel guilty about it.

Guilty is the perfect state to have a mark in. If they’re feeling guilty, there is honestly nothing you can’t do with them – nothing you can’t get out of them. It leaves them open – leaves them vulnerable.

And that’s where my father comes in.

My father is cold, calculating – he looks at you with these eyes and sees into your fucking soul, sees everything misaligned and calls it. I’ve seen my father drive the most vile secrets out of people. I’ve seen child molesting uncles crumple at his feet and beg for forgiveness. I’ve seen my father act as a one man intervention for drug addicts, a stare and a quick “cut the shit” enough to get them to check into rehab. I got my gene for gauging people from my father but luckily the sense of righteousness was stripped out of it. My father goes to church three times a week and prays for the souls that he encounters – he prays for the inflictions he sees within them. He’ll meet up with an obsessive compulsive magazine editor-in-chief and pray for his soul whereas I’d turn the sink knob for him in a public restroom to work my way towards his penthouse parties and eat foie gras while chatting it up with his twenty-three year old assistant editor with social anxiety disorder, leading her away from large crowds as she falls in love with me, thinking I don’t know her story – thinking I don’t see the beads of sweats and the shifty eyes every time someone new comes over to mingle with her.

My mom and my father make one hell of a team and they don’t even realize it.

I never got away with shit when I was kid – especially when I hit those teenage parent-hating years in high-school. I’d get into some shit, nothing ever major – smoking a joint at my friends or something like that – getting home a little late but smelling clean, feeling fine. My father never cared if I got home late – he’s so old-school he thinks fourteen years-old is a man, the added school is pansy shit and I should be out doing manly work – driving trucks and hauling bricks or whatever the fuck he does six days a week, ten plus hours a day. But my mom would worry, I’d come home and she’d start screaming and crying, saying that she wants me home by ten and asking if I was out gallivanting with fucking pimps and gang-bangers and guys named Tito that sell fucking crack cocaine out of their hijacked ice-cream trucks while fucking sixteen-year-old girls high on candy, laid out across the broken coolers. My mom would confront me with hypochondriac inspired kindness, telling my she isn’t made but she just wished I would call, she wished I wouldn’t worry her so – she just wants to know her baby – the love of her fucking life – her only goddamn child – was all right. She was worried sick. She had a heart attack. She spent all night watching the news and listening to the police scanner she bought at a flea market for ten buck two years ago and never once picked up a goddamn signal. She sat by the window, watching and waiting for me to come home, the police scanner blasting static – the news reporting shootouts and beatings and daily casualty tallies over in the Persian Fucking Gulf. She laid it on heavy and I hated her for it. I pictured her flapping her fucking lips so much that she bites her tongue off and chokes on it, clutches her throat as she flops around on the floor, her waxy eye peeled wide like a fish, reaching out and trying to grab my leg so as to plead for help but I slowly back away from her and smile.

And then I would feel guilty.

My father would pick up like a fucking bloodhound, look right over at me and call me a pothead. He’d know where to look; he’d know were to smell. He’d look right in my eye and tell me to confess my sins before the lord and there was no way to lie to him, I didn’t even bother anymore. My mom would get nervous; she’d tell my father it was a one time thing. I was a good kid. I do well in school. Kids experiment, that’s what they do. I’d stand there firm and take the punch – take it like the man he wanted me to be at fourteen. I’d take the belt – I’d take the backhand. Whatever he had up his sleeve for my punishment I’d fucking take, I’d thank Jesus for punishing me through my father, for showing me the light – I’d fucking do whatever my father wanted to appease him, to get him to stop before I broke.

Before I became less than a man.

My parents were the first people I learned how to play – they were great to practice on. My mom wanted to be loved, my father wanted to be feared. You can tell my mom secrets, things she knows my father would hate but things that no-one would confide in her because they feel she’s too sweet to know about them – her sweet brain can’t process them. They weren’t big, dirty secrets – they were just enough to make her feel a little guilty pleasure while making her feel loved at the same time, making her feel trustworthy. I’d tell her that I got a seventy on my chemistry test. I’d tell her that I kissed Susy Jenkins at the movies. Stupid shit every kid did but in my house, with my father, they were fucking sins worthy of eternal damnation. And she’d take them all in and keep them, because who confided in her but me? And her hiding these secrets from my father caused her to worry – caused her to fear him – and he sensed it and thrived off of it. He didn’t care about what scared her as long as she was scared of him. Scared of his ability to pick you apart and deliver just punishment.

Once I learned how to play them I tested how far I could push it. Sneaking an extra twenty from my mother – my father hate when she gave me money, he felt as if I should work for it. Whenever I’d go out my mom would sneak a twenty in my pocket and tell me to treat Suzy to some ice-cream, never realizing I dumped that cunt months ago – she was good for a fuck but wasn’t worth investing in, not even at that age. My father was difficult to play directly but the influence he exerted on my mother made him a pawn by proxy. Like I said, the were a great team.

Agatha will try to play this girlfriend roll with them, she has to, she’s in too deep to turn it back now. And when she does my parents will expose her for the fraud she is – my father will cast her out of the house and run to church, pray for her soul. My mother would slip me a twenty and tell me to take Agatha home before my father gets his shotgun, then she’d ask me if I’ve been to the doctors lately, I look pale.

Even if Agatha knows how to play, like I suspect she does, my supporting cast trumps all.


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