Father’s Day

My dad died back in January and, let me tell you, that made me one happy camper.  Mom killed herself years ago, but dad decided to linger on horrifically and be a general thorn in my side.  With that lingering, it really hit me how my parents – these two dark angels – had really made a fucking mess of their pathetic lives.

I think dad irked me the most.  He skipped town when I was 12 – cleaning out the family company’s bank account along the way.  And by cleaning out, I mean millions.  Including the salary and pension benefits set aside for the company’s employees.  Oh, and my little stupid kiddie bank account that just had, like, a hundred bucks in it.  He took that, too.  Forged my name.  And cleaned out mom’s personal accounts.

He reappeared 13 years later when mom killed herself – just to sue me for what little money and property she had.

At that point, he had developed emphysema.  Something that would eat him up for years…and that he would spend all the remaining money on.  I had a buddy at Social Security check things out – dad hadn’t paid taxes since he left in 1986. Nor had he held down a job.  He lived over 20 years on the money he took…and he lived well.  And he nursed himself through seven years of emphysema.  Now… His estate falls to me.  Last surviving heir and all that.  And what is he worth?  Nothing.  In fact, he’s in debt. Seven years of supporting a disease drained all the rest of the money away. The best case is that I walk away with about $5000 after selling everything and paying off the debts that just can’t be forgiven.

Well, of course, there’s only one option – to wash my hands of everything.  I’m able to do so, and have spent six months promising myself that I would.  Just shrug it off and say fuck it.  But I, too, linger on, in some hope that somehow I’ll get money.  That’s all it comes down to, in the end.  The dream of a silver lining.  Maybe all this shit will be okay because, magically, ten grand will appear on my door step.  Or more.  So I’ve spent all these months playing games…never really taking over his affairs, but sort of running them from the shadows while the lawyer figures out what the fuck.  But dad’s debts reach a critical point on July 3rd.  If various folks don’t get upwards of ten thousand by then, fingers start to break.  So the decision is made for me.  Cut and run.

As things come to a head, I’ve been going over my childhood.  These days are a time of renewal for me – I’ve been cured of a debilitating physical injury that’s shaped my life for over a decade, dad’s out of the picture, and I was psychotic enough to start a publishing company and am now releasing a second title. With this sea-change going on in my life, dealing with a rough childhood is easy.  Especially since I realize, with the clear light of age and experience, that my parents really should have been burnt at the stake.  I should have gone Pet Sematary on them when I was a kid.  “And then mommy came and I played with her…and now I want to play with yyooouuu!”

Every time I see a horror movie with a creepy kid it makes me want to celebrate being childless.  Do I want to settle down some day and raise children?  Fuck, no.  Ever see Children of the Corn?  Goddamned treacherous little shits running around.  I saw that movie when I was 10 or so and the whole devil in the corn shit really creeped me out.  I’m still suspicious of corn fields.

Though the big problem with Children of the Corn is that it was in the Midwest.  There’s nothing to do, is there?  What’s happening today, Malachi?  Huff diesel again?  I’m bored of that….let’s revisit the whole homicidal pact with the corn devil thing.

Things I regret from my childhood – lacking the masculine influence.  I’ve often thought it would have helped to have a father figure around.  Especially since mom was a hippie lesbian addled on booze and drugs all the time:   “Men are evil!”  “You are evil!”  “You’ll end up just like your father and betray everyone!”

Jesus…fucking corn devil.

This father’s day, then, I get to celebrate the death of my father.  I don’t even know where he’s buried.  I paid for it – three grand.  Told the funeral home jack-offs to go and take care of it.  Tra-la-la.

The larger problem, beyond the mess he left when he died, was that he died in Georgia.  Having now delved into the bureaucracy of Georgia in order to claim and bury dad, and try to figure out if the estate was worth taking, I can tell you without hesitation that the entire state is about 70 years behind the rest of the US.

I get friends who tell me to calm down because, hey, I come from DC and all those folks down there in Georgia are just senseless hill people and, thus, ignorant of their transgressions.  They should be treated gently and with an open heart, like a retarded child with a gun.  But, you know, anyone who has been to a city knows that DC is just a small town.  When the Democrats are in office, this city is sluggish and weird and mismanaged.  Though we may not serve sweet iced tea, there’s not a one of us who doesn’t dump a doting grandmother’s portion of sugar packets into the glass when it arrives.  We’re senseless hill people up here, as well.  Sheep in fancy clothing.  So it’s not my urban experience dictating impatience – Georgia really is behind the rest of the human race.

People think DC is a big city these days because we’ve had a Republican in office, so all of the interns and other fuckups are rushing around looking busy and being mean.  Why?  Because they’re hill people and convinced that this is the big, big city, so they try to pretend like it’s Manhattan.  Except without a lick of culture or elegance.  You can sit in a park at any given time during the day and watch the female interns walk like they’ve only just discovered heels the day before.

I was born in DC, so as I watch this town grow, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m a sort of true blood Roman and we’re inviting in all of the barbarians in the hopes of appeasing them.  It’s called gentrification.  Roughly akin to removing organs and replacing them with cancerous growths.

Which is the opposite of what I’m feeling today.  The cancer is dead!  It’s father’s day, right?  Saturday?  I haven’t ever had to keep track of it.  It’s just one of those things where I hear that it’s coming and I think, gee, where is that fucker?

I met him twice after he sued me for what mom had left.  The first time was just for a couple of hours, and the second time was about a year or so ago.  I spent a bit longer with him, then.  Marveling at how this man was still allowed to live free.  I asked him why.  What was the reason for it all?  I get leaving.  That’s fine.  Mom was a nutbar.  I left mom when I was 18 and never looked back until she offed herself.  I even get taking the money.  Hey – good for you.  Cunning criminal canniness.  If I had some sort of avenue ahead of me where I could take millions and live off of it for 20 years in anonymity, I’d take it.

But why not help out?  Just a little bit?  He had his lawyer call my grandfather – my mom’s father – every year, asking how I was doing.  I didn’t know about this until recently.  The lawyer would ask – hey, how’s he doing?  My grandfather would always say I was doing okay, and then the lawyer would hang up.  Dad told me it was his way of tracking my progress.  He was sorry for what he had to do.  He figured that the money wasn’t important.  He said that.  I still have trouble with that concept.  Oh, good…so why’d you take it all, then?  Maybe you could have helped out with college, eh?  Back there in the early 90’s when you still had the money.  Before the disease gnawed away at every penny.  Or it went to some screwball church.  That’s what my lawyer thinks.  Most of the money went to the crutch that allowed dad to forgive himself.

He had no answer for that.  No answer for why he didn’t send me a hundred bucks and a birthday card, even.  Or just a hello.  Just an acknowledgment, a sign of life.  So I moved back to the larger question  — why?  Why’d you leave?  Why’d you do it the way you did it?

His answer:  “I thought it would be best for you.”

Not even the corn devil can be that inhumane and clueless.  If you asked the corn devil why he wanted all those kids to capture and kill those unwary travelers, he’d answer honestly.  He’d say: I thought it would be best for me.

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