I want you to learn well from your old man here,Jim.
I can see it in you too well, we are after all-father and son, lives bound together as one mortal existence. We’ve got the same equestrian nose and unruly hair, shaped by short animal twangs and curls that give our faces that cheap, menacing quality. You’re barely a person yet, buttocks still unfull and your eyes twinkle heavily the burden of a 6th grader’s naivety. But the littlest things set me off-the way you walk for example, while normal boys your age walk like ducks newly liberated from a cage-steps a vicious huff no gentle earth should be subjected to-I can see you’ve learned to stroll with a proper man’s mind, to be decisive, modestly self-conscious and acutely aware of how the posture of your back and neck adds to the persona you’ve chosen to display. There I catch your gaze wandering to where the TV is again, Jim-I know you’ve grown to find my pre-dinner lectures unamusing and even sadistic, but try to pay attention-I may not live too long, heck this cough’s going to kill me before your mother does.
There’ll be a time when you will fall, not to the extent of your tragically fleshless knees, but you will feel like you’d have lost everything worth keeping, for now of course they may mean those toys I save up to buy-next year onwards I’m going to slowly replace your toy trucks and robot doll-things with some poetry, God knows the average, IQ-challenged poet can teach you more than a textbook ever will. Anyway, I digress, when this happens-you will realize, far too late, that there are worse things than loneliness. Our lives steer towards one cruel, immobilizing fate that will be when things diverge and come apart, piece by piece and lump by lump and in my case it happened over the years, Bob took all my friends away. Bob being the tiny stashes you see me bring home sometimes, or even now-the fading glint in my busted retinas or lips so black they’ve gone dead while the rest of my self struggles to cope. Uncle J, remember he used to bring you almond candies when he visited?I know you disliked them,tossed them over the fence into Miss Kara’s house and her cats would curiously purr and lick over those shiny things-but still, you’ve got to admit the man had some class. Or persistence at least, that’s what offed him in the end. He had the shakes often, spent days on your mother’s side of the bed paralyzed with blisters over his arms and he’d point to a vein right where the bridge was and asked me to shoot him there-of course I acquiesced, a man like that with little left to live for you wouldnt have had the heart to deprive him. He died right there by the night stand, I left him to rot for a few hours just to see the poison come inside out.
You lot nowdays, I don’t see the value of that trash on the TV you spend so many evenings on-maybe that Eventual Downfall will be total stupidity, bombs going off outside and the whole damn world on fire as you sit staring into the glass-contained abyss. You and I are too alike, we don’t know our strengths and care not to find out what they are. But with the help of yours truly, or if you paid some attention-we’ll have you living through your 30s completely sober. My own attention’s waning, this brain don’t function like it used to obviously-but frizzled as I am, I can still recognize how much I love you. And not just because you’re my son, but because we’re alike. I’m guessing that makes even less sense to your young, undiscerning thought. I’d let your mother feed you all that cream-puff gunk and fatten you up for the bullies, but I’ll stick my head into the oven before I let her spoil yours. Philosophy’s useful, or entertaining, depending on where you’re at in your life-poor thing, at this age every other adult must be quipping something or another from fragrant names like Oscar Wilde all the time-there is wisdom to be imparted, children to influence and polish so they grow up to become accountants. Personally, Jim, I wouldn’t mind if you ended even a mechanic, copywriter or one of those less glamorous jobs-people are often mistaking their work life for life itself. I’d love to fill your mind with art, store my memories in tiny, safe capsules you could swallow as a pre-emptive strike. Youth will empower and intoxify you towards self-destruction, so like me I suspect you’ll have a fairly turbulent time adapting as someone,who never in a million years,would or could become an accountant person-type.
Alas, its almost dinner time and we’ve got frozen meals to defrost. I know too how much you hate them, gnawing on those horrible things that taste like old couches you find in retirement homes-that is, they taste of age itself. But they give me a few pennies to live on, and I’d take up a job if I could-maybe someday I’ll rid myself of this disease, I always thought I’d drop it as if I’d unload a hitchhiker, but leave it too long it becomes a part of you, try slicing off a finger see how much fun that is. This weekend I guess your mother and her husband and 3 kids in their cute minivan will come by to take you to a circus, Disneyland or some equally morbid place. I see you cringing, but try to play along. Just laugh when the others do, smile occasionally and ask pedantic questions adults normally expect children your age to ask, you know, just to remind them you’re ok. People are always branding themselves victims, and the one thing they enjoy more than self-hurt is nursing another’s injury-that role and strength they believe it gives, my point is that life’s wasted away on reasons you or I wouldn’t personally devote to. Remember Jim,you're only a victim of anything if you allow yourself to be,I bet the counsellors at school encourage you to do just the opposite.Ah well, I guess that’s it for today-I’m glad you’ve got a keen ear, Jim, you’re not much of a talker and if anything that sure as hell is a sign we’re related. Clean up the dishes in the sink, I’ll make us roast lamb today.I’m feeling giddy, I feel like something special’s going to happen tomorrow. Usually these nebulous prophecies of mine turn out to be nothing, but hey, you never know right Jim?
(from the journal 14/8)