Time to go home.
Taking a deep breath, Jason found it in his matured heart to, with some exertion, push a smile onto his face. As the seconds dawdled on by, his unyielding smile actually loosened up and surprisingly grew into a genuine one. He looked around the yard; the familiarity of his home after transient adventure was refreshing, he was surprised to realize. Beside the weeping willow was Marshall’s igloo-shaped doghouse that Shaitan built with Jason some years ago… In the front garden stood the thorny rosebushes that he had planted with Marina earlier that spring… wait a minute? Had Jason been so preoccupied by his parents’ annoying and discourteous qualities that he’d actually forgotten that there were times when he enjoyed their company? He recalled the look on his father’s face when they finally finished scraping the grooves into the outer walls of the igloo to create an ice-brick appearance.
“Look at you go, Jason! I bet you’d make an excellent Eskimo when you grow up!” A memory of the often obnoxious Shaitan Jason adoringly encouraged his son to pursue his at-the-time aspiration. Young Jason wished to make a living as an Alaskan Native when he ripened into adulthood.
Then a memory of his mother ramming the roots of a rosebush into a dirt hole surged to mind, “Look, Jason! Now you don’t have to be scared of robbers coming to our house! They’ll get massacred by the thorns before they can even reach the windows!” Marina pacified her son who had been unable to sleep some nights because he seemed to always think he was hearing the thumping of burglars beating up the furniture. It was actually just the mahogany squeaks of his parents being disgusting on the dining room table.
Goodness… Jason did love his parents. He loved them, and he missed them. Clenching his shaky fists in anticipation with excitedly happy eyes, he began to hyperventilate through a grin when he saw the doorknob gradually twist to one side. “I’m home! I’m actually happy to be home!” The door slowly revolved inward with a spun-out creak until a stale duo of parents were standing parallel to one another in the doorway.
Jason’s bright and breezy demeanor quickly crashed into a cold-sweating, skin-tone-whitening, pants-shitting state of terror. Never in his life had he seen his parents’ faces look this grisly; in a state of petrified delirium, Jason could hear the menacing screeches of stringed instruments squealing into his ears as Shaitan’s face transformed into the head of a pointy-bearded scarlet demon and his mother evolved into a ship-crushing giant squid.
“JUST WHERE THE FUCK HAVE YOU BEEN?!” Shaitan’s face slowly returned to its ruggedly dark and handsome complexion, but his unquestionable fury was very much present and little Jason was paralyzed with fear and found himself unable to promptly answer.
Shaking and sweating, “I… I… um,”
“No word?! No visit?! You didn’t even think to call on your birthday?! WHERE THE FUCK WERE YOU?!”
Struggling to respond, Jason tried to defend his inconsideration, “Well… did you guys even try to find me? Did you look for me? Did you call the police?”
“Of course we didn’t!”
Beyond slighted, Jason boldly snapped back at his father, “Well how did you know I wasn’t kidnapped?! How did you know I wasn’t dead?! How could you?!
“Ha!” It was an insulting and not-in-the-least amused “ha”, “Come off it, Jason! Your weird creepy Uncle called us the night you arrived. She went off on some rant about us keeping her a secret from you and a bunch of other unimportant shit-”
“Well why didn’t you tell me about her?!”
“Don’t change the subject!” Shaitan barked. “She said you looked like a fine project to take on and that she wanted to teach you to empathize, have fun, some gay shit-”
“What’s wrong with that?! I’d like to know!”
“Stop avoiding the real problem here, damn it! Your uncle assured us that after some time in her care, you’d come running back to us with open arms, some hippie shit like that! We waited all summer… ALL SHITTING SUMMER! And we didn’t get so much as a “Jason says hi” text message from Truck. You weren’t kidnapped! You weren’t dead! You were just being a dick!”
Jason shrunk as his mother’s rubbery squid-head and tentacles sunk inward and she took on the form of an angrily tearing up human.
“Look what you’ve done to your beautiful mother! She stood by the phone from midnight to the next midnight on your deplorable birthday!”
“Mom,” Jason reached forward to touch her hand. “I’m so sorry…”
“How could you treat us so thoughtlessly? How could you do this to me?” She cried.
“Hi Shaitan! Hi Marina!” Like a mystical elf, Trakina gleefully emerged from her hiding spot behind the trees whilst carrying a red-ribbon-wrapped Chip Chodesworth. Upon sight of her relatives’ horrified faces as they remained in the doorway and shifted their ghoulish eyes in her direction, her smile disappeared when she piped, “Oh, oh, oh, shit,” in an unruffled manner.
“Oh, hi, Uncle Shithead!” Marina’s tears dissolved, as her boiling anger evaporated them.
“Hi, Marina!” Trakina hoped her unsure smile would lighten the mood. It didn’t.
“Don’t blame Trakina! Please don’t blame Trakina! She urged me to come home multiple times – honest!” Jason kneeled down and pleaded, “You don’t know what she’s been through… she’s gotten so much better, please leave her alone-”
Jumping to his own conclusions, an incensed Shaitan accused, “You tried to kill yourself again?! With the boy present?!”
“Goddamn it, Truck!”
“Well, if you’d just let me explain – it was actually kind of funny-”
“Funny?! You being clinically insane and trying to off yourself while hoarding our son is somehow funny?!”
“Well, it kind of was!” Jason defended Trakina. “Well, the first one wasn’t… but the other two-”
“Three times?! Are you shitting us right now, Truck?!”
“Yeah, I guess I fucked up a little bit.”
“No, Trakina! No!” Jason shifted his attention back to his parents, “If you had seen what she has seen… you wouldn’t have been as strong – she’s a survivor, Dad!”
“Dad! It was the worst-”
“I don’t care; I’ve had enough of this! Come inside and let’s pretend we all don’t hate each other and make a goddamn cake with buttercream icing whilst we sing a cheerful belated birthday tune to the little shit that is our pride and joy Jason Jason! Let’s! Are you coming, Truck?!”
“Yes’sir!” She scuttled through the door while clutching a squirming and m’yaoing Chip Chodesworth tightly against her side.
The unplanned birthday celebration was heated as well as awkward. It was tough to say which description was the more fitting than the other. Jason was silent, as he knew just by the design on his cake that something was not right. Marina Jason was a baker; she was known for her intricate and statue-esque cakes-manship. Her customers often requested pastries in the shape of unicorns, dinosaurs, theme parks… you name it. Every now and then she would stumble across a dumbass who would ask if she could make a cake shaped like Colorado, but the vast majority of her works of art were worthy of a time slot on the food network. On this day, Marina created a plain and unimpressive circular white cake with no sprinkles, miniature Disney character figurines, or artificial dyes for playful charm… the only design was a passive aggressively sketched smiley face with black icing.
“Oh, yeah! We need a candle!” Shaitan Jason roared, evidently still pissed. “Marina, do we have any goddamn candles?”
“No, Shaitan, this is the twenty-first century and all we have is lamps!” Marina bitched.
“Ok, ok, cool! I didn’t realize that in addition to today being Jason’s unwarranted belated birthday, it’s also “Everybody Take a Huge Shit on Shaitan Day”!”
“It was your idea to make the cake and I’m the one who ended up busting my ass to make said-cake with no say in the matter while you decided to get naked, crack open a beer, and sit on your FAT ASS!”
Shaitan was not entirely naked; he was wearing a ball-contouring pair of dark gray briefs and a lemon-colored polo shirt. And on that note, the body-hugging nature of his revealing garments only brought attention to the fact that Shaitan did not at all have a fat ass… it was as flat as a ceramic tile and if anything, it was almost a concave ass. “For starters, you fucking love making cakes! Secondly, I hate beer and I did not enjoy the act I committed in the slightest! And thirdly… you just had to go for the ass! Had to go for the ass!”
Trakina and Jason were sitting side-by-side on a satin floral-embroidered settee. Trakina did what a normal person would do in an awkward situation in another person’s home and pretended to be asleep. Jason placed a crystal-glass candy bowl in his lap and anxiously ingested M&Ms one piece at a time. His parents continued their screaming match as they tried to stomp up the stairs boisterously when the plush carpet made it so the stomps were completely unheard. In between accusations and unchangingly blaring yells, Jason began to hear a mattress squeaking from the upstairs. The squeaking lasted maybe two minutes, but the anger lingered for some time after Shaitan cut himself off mid-shout to ask in a straightforward tone, “Did you get off?”
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