The father of abusive sons finds a way to make his sons acknowledge him.
His sons drink beer and repair things.
They monkey around the backyard.
Their father brings them beers and lemonade. They crush the cans on their heads. He makes them cookies, which they do not use.
‘You boys are something else,’ he says. He fires up the barbecue.
They take red plates and line up at the barbecue. He puts meat on their plates. He used to kiss them on the bridges of their noses. Now they are belching gorillas.
They put their father in a headlock. He is so thin they can lift him.
He is nothing, they tell him. They ruffle his hair.
He brings them out a cooler of beer full of ice, then corn on the cob.
Now he is wearing giant oven mitts.
They make a joke at their father’s expense.
When they have finished the corn, they open up new beers.
They heckle their father for making them full.
We couldn’t possibly eat. Are you trying to kill us, old man?
They do not laugh.
The father laughs. He is dragging out more beers.
He is getting old. He is winded.
Frightened, the boys throw empties at their father’s feet and tell him to dance.
It seems he’s not sure where he is.
Eventually, he brings a new box of beers.
He has since put on a long coat and a fur hat with flaps.
The boys insist they can’t eat anymore. Their father is begging them. He has made them eat potato salad, coleslaw, biscuits, corn on the cob.
He makes them more meat. He gives them more meat.
Their father collapses. His eyes crossed from heat exhaustion.
The boys fight to unbutton his coat but their fingers are too thick. He struggles underneath it.
Then they see his hand is missing. He uses both hands but one is missing. Suddenly relinquishes his coat, scared that he was ever in it.
Lift the goddamn seat when you piss, says their father. Don’t piss on the floor. Lift the seat, you animals.
His eyes go on blinking. Under his coat, he is bandaged like a mummy.
I’ve fed you boys and made you big. Now I’ve fed you my own flesh and blood.
They were fed up with their father. Their necks dribbled his grease.
Love me boys, he said. He spit [eeked] blood. For God’s sake, I’m your father.
Bob Selcrosse grew up with his mother, selling books, in the Pacific Northwest. He is now working on a book about a book. It is based in the Pacific Northwest. The book is The Cabinet of Children.