I tell the accountant that I don’t think that he should be fired; I do, however, wish he’d answer the phone more often. She’s got tears in her eyes. She’s so sensitive. Everybody around me is. This is what I mean when I say that I am undercover. Like, take for instance today. Franny was here, and I showed the furries home schooling thing to her that everybody in the world has already seen. Jake’s there with us, and he brings up two gay parents trying to make their kids learn about being gay. Franny’s face is freaking out. She’s trying not to laugh. She wants to be sensitive. She’s asking herself where her feelings are supposed to lie in this situation. It’s hard for her to tell if she’s being a fool or if I’m being a jerk, and I can tell both you and her this right now that I am being both a jerk and a jokester, always and forever. That’s my motto. Here, now, and in the next life.

Don’t even bring it up, says Jake, because if we have our way you’ll be dead, and we won’t have to think about you anymore. The age of reason has fallen. Submit to the common will or be crucified.

If I’m going to die, someone please make it quick.

Shut up, Dad, says my daughter.

I’m not suitable for family environments. I’m more comfortable with my in-laws than I am my own flesh and blood. I used to vape on the porch, in full view, a TV star, a prince, a lion at the zoo. The keys were in the cage. I could come and go, attacking any one of them at my leisure. My parent’s though, they don’t go down without a fight. They stand looking down upon me and dodging every attempt I make to impress them.  

I’ve got time yet, I say. Even if you’re not impressed, I no longer need you. It’s me that I’m most interested in, and I’ve still got at least another life or two left in me, so I’m not going to hastily pass this one over. Don’t count me out in the here and now. I’m finding gold in this urine infested rathole. Here, I say, is a place that I can conquer. So prepare to hate me again. I could really use the energy. I’ve quit vaping entirely; now I’m relying on conversation to pass the time, so when my mother in law suggests we give our baby the fictional name that I give to my wife’s twin, I almost can’t take it anymore. This pregnancy is swimming in my head like how it is swimming in my wife’s belly. Everything banging against the scene for just one more drag.

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