Sunday, December 27, 2015

Birmingham Blues

  Birmingham during the holidays. A surreal experience. The streets were empty, the trees were bare. Brown leaves drowned in piss-filled potholes. Or maybe that was just muddy water. The temperature was in the high seventies and thunderstorms raged. Tornado weather. He had four days to spend with family. The first belonged to his father, The Hustler.
  The two men decided that a movie was the best way to reconnect. It had been a few years. They shared a love of movies and women. And Van Man was not about to split down on a woman with his father. The old man chose the new science fiction flick that was out. A surprise since The Hustler was not a space ship and alien type of guy. He was more of a breast and beaver connoisseur, but those kind of films did not play in Alabama theaters. It was Van Man's treat and his father provided the ride.
  Van Man opened the passenger door, sat in the four-door clunker and looked at his father, The Hustler. It certainly had been a few years. His old man was no longer the primped cocksman that cared more about his looks than being on time. In front of Van Man was a totally different being. A dishevelled, broken soul with large black moles on his temples and a mouth containing fewer teeth than the typical tramp.Van Man's smile faded. The Hustler drove on.
"How're you doing? ", asked Van Man, even though he knew the answer.
"Well, guess'm alright", replied The Hustler.
"Smile for me", said Van Man. The Father obliged and revealed eight, brown teeth which remained.
"Pretty, ain't they?"
"Don't need a Halloween mask. I just smile and scare people."
"What do the dentists say when they see that?", asked Van Man.
"Well...they wanna take 'em all out", replied The Hustler.
"Why don't you?"
"I ain't got the money for that shit."
"How often you brush your teeth?", asked Van Man.
"Hell, everyday."
"Well...sometimes once a week", said The Hustler.
The two rode on in silence. The only sounds were the car's straining motor and The Hustler's groans of life. Van Man took off the old man's ball cap and tousled his white hair.
"Well, you still got all your hair."
"Of course I do!", exclaimed The Father.
  The father and son sat in the movie theater. Too many previews of coming attractions brought out more than a few groans from The Father, then the film began. When the film's black male lead developed romantic feelings for his white female counterpart, things got ugly.
"Fuuuck", murmured The Hustler, very disappointed. "They better not have him with her."
Van Man was appalled at The Hustler's murmurs. There were families with many children in the audience. The movie seemed to drag on as Van Man prepared himself for another hate-filled remark from his old man. And it came.
"Oh yeah, she's gotta have that black!", stated The Hustler, very loudly. Van Man tightened his grips on the arm rests.
"If he kisses her, I'm leavin', boy", threatened The Hustler. The kiss did not happen, but a hug did. And that was all The Father could take.
"Fuuuck", said The Hustler as he hobbled out of the theater. And Van Man was relieved. He watched the remainder of the film, filled with thoughts of the bitter, racist gargoyle his Father had become.
  The parking lot was full of vehicles as Van Man searched for The Hustler. Rain drizzled down and he wondered if the old man had driven off in ludicrous rage. He hoped he did. Was The Father ever a good person? It seemed that he was a long time ago. Once upon a time, The Father cared about things. People, the future, his appearance. But that story was over. Too much had happened. Van Man looked up at the night sky. Rain splattered softly onto his face. There was something comforting about the rain, an innocence. One was tempted to hide when rain came. To hide and be safe. Maybe he would not find The Hustler. Maybe he could hide from the old man's vitriol and all the bad shit in the world. But that was not possible. That was not reality. His cell phone rang. It was The Father.
"Yeah", said Van Man.
"Where the hell you at?", asked The Hustler.
"In the parking lot."
"I told you I'd be in the lobby."
"Thought you said lot."
"Nahhh, I said lobby. I'm comin' out."
The Hustler hobbled out the front doors. Van Man just stood still and watched. The Hustler was a bigot. He was crippled. And he wore diapers. Getting old was hell and The Van Man wanted no part of it. 


  1. age is brutal bro. just ask goldie hawn, kathleen turner, michael douglas or burt reynolds or harrison ford even. all my heroes are ready for the glue factory.

  2. age is brutal bro. just ask goldie hawn, kathleen turner, michael douglas or burt reynolds or harrison ford even. all my heroes are ready for the glue factory.