My Father is a Good Man

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
"When the fountain of tears dries up and we can barely speak as if are mouths became hare-lipped, my mother will prostrate her husband in an oblong box, buried in the ground under a poplar sprouting willows, where he’ll be forever.
My father is a good man, for lack of a better statement."

Submitted: June 07, 2010

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Submitted: June 07, 2010

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He’s nervous and I’m nervous --- all the time. I think that’s why I like my father the most of any family member. Never does a fearful word come out of him, but he wears his anxiety in the lines on his forehead and the sweat collecting in his sideburns. He does, on occasion, worry himself into deep wide-eyed stupors about the inscrutable little details of the world when he falls weary in his armchair. Things like death and car motors. He never calls it anxiety, or nervousness, or the jitters; he may call it a “Man’s Struggle,” but my father isn’t the poetic type.
He’s the type to say many simple words that amount to one simple meaning. He would say, “If I don’t get up for work --- I’m gonna be angry! If I don’t get up, then I don’t get money, and if I don’t get paid, then we don’t eat. And you know: I like to eat.” I know he has a lot on his mind, but I’m never sure that all that he says is truly all that he thinks. Like the day he survived the riot, where fifteen cops had to barricade the end of a city block because of wild negroes shooting each other. Those uniformed, stone-jawed men beat anything that resembled a thug over the head with their truncheons. My father couldn’t put into words the terror he felt or how he felt like a minnow, drowning in a vast ocean in light of the violent situation. He still can’t talk of it deeply, except for a mild complaint about a gruesome abscess that he swore sprung up when he scraped his side when he slipped trying to outrun an officer. I cared what he thought, but he could never find the words to express such feelings. All he said was, “Thank God.” My mother and sister didn’t care; they gripped at him as he walked in the house on that fateful night, as if he were Jesus. My dad came home in sweat-drenched clothes and all he received was a busted windshield and a bloody hip.
My father works too much, trusting implicitly in the “power” of hard labor to fix all of life’s problems, and he drinks a lot, as if Elysian Fields could be found in the bottom of a whiskey bottle, and he doesn’t make any good amount of money from his janitorial position to satisfy us. He tries very hard in all he does, and for that he’s rewarded the half-pitiful and half-disappointed love of my mother in the form of cases of beer and big Sunday dinners with his favorite, baked macaroni and cheese. Her lassitude can be read in the lines on her forehead and the dryness upon her eyebrows. My father is a good man, for lack of a better statement.
I feel that one day my father will get the procession he feels he deserves - a poor working man’s parade. But they don’t give those. They give poor man’s funerals in small churches, graffiti-covered and unable to maintain the weight of their vaulted ceilings. He’ll get one like every other middle class black man in the “better” area of Chester, who rise to work sluggishly with wrinkled brows, who are aficionados when it comes to paying or avoiding taxes, and whose metaphysics include the belief that money can buy anything if you’re imaginative enough. He’ll get the euphonious but half-mumbled rendition of “Amazing Grace” poured from wrinkled mouths in the creaky church pews. He’ll get the poor man’s veneration: old relatives will say a few words in worship of his good deeds, and how he always dreamed of leaving the ‘hood behind, and how he brought up good children. The teenagers whose bikes he fixed last year will smoke weed on the front steps of the church in his honor, as if their smoking will fill the blessed censers in the sanctuary. When the fountain of tears dries up and we can barely speak as if are mouths became hare-lipped, my mother will prostrate her husband in an oblong box, buried in the ground under a poplar sprouting willows, where he’ll be forever.
My father is a good man, for lack of a better statement.

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