Literary Orphans

Father’s Day by Jason Primm

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Like one of those freakish storms when the sun is shining bright, I’m hung over and drunk.  I turn over and my back is sweaty where it was touching the couch and the hair over my brow is damp.  The lights are on and a movie I didn’t put on the TV is almost over. There are sirens and it is my town and the cops are filling the air with lead and I’m not sure who to root for.  I smell some whiskey, and on the floor in front of the couch, I see an overturned coffee cup. The shades shimmer on the edges from the afternoon sun. I was having a dream that I was sick and that I needed to go to the doctor. There was something inside me. If they found it in time I would be okay, but I had the sense that it was too late.

I remember what woke me. My hand felt weird.  For some reason, my ball glove is on my hand. Why would I go to sleep with it on my hand? The inside is soft. I stand up, careful not to step in the whiskey. I pretend I am fielding a grounder. I pretend I am Craig Nettles fielding a line drive down the third base line. I pretend that I am younger than I really am. I try not to remember how drunk I got after the company softball game. If she calls, at least I can apologize.

The glove reminds me of the last time I saw my father as a boy. I was out in left field and he waved to me. I gave him that tough guy nod and turned my attention to the batter. I caught a fly ball for the third out and rolled it to the pitcher’s mound. Trotting in, I looked for him but he wasn’t on the bleachers anymore. From the dugout, I saw him talking to a young woman. He got into a car I didn’t know and they drove away. I kept looking for him during the game, convinced that he was coming back.

There was another time, maybe twenty years later when a bartender called me because my father was drunk. I had to get him or he would call the cops. I hadn’t spoken to him for maybe ten years. Why me was what I was thinking but I went down to the bar, and he was standing in front of the jukebox flipping through the songs.

“What are you doing here?” He asked and, a second later, “Do you have any quarters?”

“I don’t know, Pop. I haven’t the slightest idea and it takes dollars.”

“A dollar. Fuck that.”

When I told him the situation, he told the bartender to fuck off and that he probably put his kids through college with all the beers that he drank there. I thought, Yeah that was probably true. Probably why you arent in jail right now. His fly was down and he smelled. He let me settle his tab and we went out to the parking lot.  He still had the blue Cutlass Supreme. He wouldn’t let me drive, but I got in anyway and said, ”Go ahead, kill us both.” The seats weren’t real leather but the fake quilting felt a little like the ball glove. When we ran up the sidewalk and knocked over the fire hydrant and white water started going straight up into the sky, he said, “Billy, maybe you should drive.”

The front tires were flat and I drove him home the last two blocks on the rims knowing that that Oldsmobile wouldn’t ever make it out of the driveway again.

There is a commercial for Father’s Day on the TV. I imagine writing a card to him and sending it with a pair of the business casual slacks that the models are skipping in. Dear Dad, I’d write, hows the grub? Lousy, right?  They are going to lay me off on Monday. Here are some new pants to replace your old pants. This cracks me up. Then I wonder where my kids are. For a moment, I think that I have misplaced them.  But I don’t have any.

I want to call his brother, my uncle, but I have called him a few times drunk and I am not sure if he will take my call. I get up and go back to that bar.  When he died, we had him cremated and scattered him from the top of Lookout Mountain. The bar feels like the closest thing to a tombstone that I am ever going to have for him.  It doesn’t have a name on the door anymore, and it is done up like it would have been back then. The patrons are children in sideburns wearing the costumes of their parents or maybe their grandparents. I sit in the corner and order a High Life and start eating the stale pretzels.

I am surprised to see that I have brought the glove with me. It is sitting next to me on the counter. I pick it up again and open and close it. Trace the gold Reggie Jackson signature. Later, after I’ve had a few more beers and a little whiskey, it seems logical to put the bottle in the ball glove. I try to drink from it and spill some on the counter. The bartender, a hard little woman with tiny tits and big nipples, looks at me like I’m trouble. I wonder what it would be like to sleep with her. I can almost feel that moment after when the breaths are still fast and hard and we are waiting for them to slow down.  I would lean over and whisper in her ear, ”I loved the son of a bitch.”

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 Jason Primm lives in a coastal city pursuing modest goals.  His work has most recently appeared in Stoneboat, The Maynard, Gravel, burntdistrict, and The Southern Humanities Review.  He most prized possession is his slice backhand. He maintains a blog at jasonprimm.wordpress.org.

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