Jumping Our Fathers I tasted hot pennies when Harry Bloom said it—With this time machine, we can jump our fathers, make them pay. My tongue annealed to hear it, volcanic ash bluing my teeth. Harry ran off to pack a bag with weapons for fathers: bolos of granny-knotted shoestrings and unmown lawns, stripped Philips head screws and a lifetime of words unkept. Others who heard the call came with vengeance tattooed in double helixes along their forearms—all code for patricide in Prussian blue. We stepped into the time machine to intercept fathers at steel mills in the 60s, coal mines in the 40s. I saw not-yet fathers more sorry than shocked to be clapped with milk bottles by unborn sons. Eyeglasses binocular-thick weeping milk. I saw a son bend over in 1955 so that his pantied ass could hurl father-killing secrets, lipsticked there in 1987. Other attacks were less predictable. I saw sons reciting German poetry in the faces of zoot-suited not-yet fathers, hiding their mustaches in fedoras, stained by tears and pomade. I knew better than all of them. I was ready for my mother fucker, pockets full of Daddybane, letters never sent, arcade tokens, movie ticket stubs, that ringing silence from the slap I got for not hiding your can of beer well enough when that cop pulled us over the last time I saw you, Akron, 1975, pearled into a candy necklace, each sugarlet a tart remembering. I got your number. I’m coming for you. I brought a stool. I situate it in front of you. You thought you cornered the market on patience. But me and my stool corner more. I look, say nothing, forty years.
Bowling Night At The Office
It is bowling night at the office and I am drunk in other languages. Linda, the manager, shows us the tattoo on her back of a rose robbing a family of skulls. I make everyone swill their cups, bored outta their Ouzo, describing the time I walked in on a burglary. The robber pretends to be wainscoting. The alarm shrieks so loud the plates we don’t use fall to the sponge flooring, bouncing back up to flutter our Civil War mustachios. I draw my six-shooter and aim it at the burglar who thinks the alarm is an audience. He is a humble celebrity, waving them to take their seats because he’s about to wax ordinary about his next big roll, which earns a better pin count than any of us. Linda gets all pie-in-the-crocodile-sky-tears, how secretly ashamed she is of her father—a laugh track actor on the Brady Bunch, whose guffaw rolls into the aisles like a bowling ball that won’t stay in its bag. It leaps onto the floor, real hardwood this time and not the cupcake kind I got. The grains on the shiny floor are crisp with glass blown shards of volcanic gut, and I let it fly and the spin feels fine and my stretch leg kicks out just right and it’s a strike and beer’s on me. And yeah, maybe she’s older and not exactly skipping desserts, but Linda catches my glassy eye. So as they chant huzzas and I make the sign for them to slow their speed, to stop the applause, to pat atta-boy on invisible heads, I hope that I get lucky and that she’ll want to go back to her place. Mine’s crawling with burglars.
About the Author: Michael Chaney is from Cleveland, the source for the quip "if you don't like the weather, wait a second" -- but he waited many seconds and ended up in Vermont, where if you don't like the weather you can just stand there and freeze with disappointment for all we care. When warmed over, he blogs at michaelalexanderchaney.com.
Story Song: "Cat's in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin