Second part of a short story of an adolescent boy and his dad.
|Pops Boy II
I was grounded for the weekend. It probably would have been longer, but every time my Pop looked at me he let out a howl and had to leave the room.
Being a military guy, sometimes he had to go in on the weekend, and this was one of those weekends. He was also going to pick up Mom at the airport on his way back. I was kind of glad, and for two reasons. The first reason was I’d be spared listening to him cough and giggle at me all day; Mom would see to that; secondly, I’d be exiting these walls soon after he did. I owed Patsy a whack upside her head, or something like that.
As I sat impatiently waiting for him to get dressed and leave he must have sensed something was up. He told me I’d better stay put because he’d find out, and I knew he would. He asked me what I thought he would do with me if he found out I left the house. I didn’t answer, but cast my eyes down to the floor as I thought about it. I kept seeing him and his buddies throwing my broken carcass in the back of the squad car and then spitting beer on me. I was so screwed up.
I may as well tell the truth. My Pop is my Pop. There was never really any question; we’re identical. He’s just large and brawny and I’m small and wiry. Patsy is blind and a little bit stupid, but she is my girlfriend. She’s a couple of years older than me, more because I got moved up a few grades, not because she’s as dumb as a lamppost. And no, Patsy and I never had sex. I’ve barely been able to feel her up, and that’s only when she’s feeling particularly generous. I love those moments. Otherwise, it’s under the bleachers with the other sets of blue balls. Yeah, that part is true.
Since I wanted to live, I decided to do as my Pop said and finish my homework. It’ll be the first time in weeks that I have. You see, that’s the real reason I’m grounded. Some four-eyed freak of a science professor called my Dad and told him I was a slacker. He had the gall to tell my dad that I was smart, but just too lazy to do the work. It’s not that I’m too lazy; I’m too bored. Unless it explodes or causes such a stench that they close the school, I’m not interested. I can only watch the liquid change from blue to yellow and weigh out salt crystals so many times without feeling sick to my stomach. Going to that website and copying down that explosion formula was the other reason I’m in the doghouse. My Pop positively flipped out when he found it in my room. He talked to me so long and so hard that I wished he had just hit me. I felt like a moron for thinking it would be fun to blow something up. When he asked me to name something I thought I wanted to blow up, I felt like such a fool. I said, “I don’t know, a mailbox?” He didn’t smile. “That’s government property, like me. You dope!”
We went online then. I didn’t even know he knew how to sign-on. He showed me all the stuff people had blown up. There was so much damage and so many people standing around looking so shook up and sad, I practically started crying. I don’t like crying. I think I look much uglier and believe you me; I don’t have much going for me anyway.
I spent the entire day doing my homework. I only took one break to watch my favorite cartoon, and I only went online for a little while and emailed some friends.
It was a good thing I didn’t go out because Pop came home earlier than usual. I heard the car pull up and the door slam. I watched him from my upstairs window. He parked at such an odd angle in the driveway. My Dad parks the car as straight as he irons the creases in his uniform. He didn’t have that usual bounce to his step and his head was hanging down, so I knew something was wrong. I swear he looked like someone let the air out of his tires.
I listened for him to come upstairs, but he wandered around downstairs for what seemed like an eternity, back and forth from the kitchen to the living room. I was scared to go down, but I was more scared to stay in my room. I finally sucked in a deep breath and practically ran down there. “What’s up Pop?”
He told me to sit down. I could see that he actually had been crying. “Pop, you’re scaring me. What’s up? Where’s Mom?” By now, I’m crying. He pulls me close and quietly whispers in my ear.
He tells me Mom was at a hotel and there was an explosion. All I can remember is my lies to Patsy and my calling my Mom a bitch. I can’t hear anything else.
We’re both crying and sobbing so loudly the rafters are shaking. My Pop is as ugly as I am when he cries. We hear the phone ringing, but neither of us wants to get it. I’m reminded that it had rung a few times earlier, but I chose not to answer it. I was hoping it was Pop, so I could be the good kid without having to be checked on.
Pop finally gets up and whispers hello. He straightens up. Then he turns and faces me. He’s beaming. “Son, you want to speak to your Mom?”
As I hang up the phone a few minutes later, I decide to listen to the messages. They’re all from Mom. She’s telling us she left the hotel early, but still managed to miss her flight. Now her cell phone was going dead. She felt like such a ditz. I smiled. I felt like I finally fit in.