Monday, August 15, 2011

DGI: Second to Last, v.02

It had been over three months since I had seen him or talked to him. I already knew if I didn't make the effort to show up at the club or call him at home every once in awhile, I would simply never see him again.

And that bothered me. Wasn't I his “son”? His favorite child? The only one he had ever chosen? The one he had consciously selected? I was. I knew I was.

But I also knew the nature of his days, the type of life he now led: up before the sun to get his two young boys out of their beds and into the shower, then dressed and groomed, before making hot cereal or eggs and bacon for their breakfast. While they bathed and ate, he had a scant few minutes to write down his work notes and finalize his schedule for the day, while smoking a quick cigarette and gulping down a cup of coffee. Then he had just enough time to drive them the twenty blocks to St. Augustino Catholic School For Boys before making his way to the office, being sure to make it to his desk before Jim showed up at seven each day.

Once he got to the office it was an endless barrage of requests, complaints, scheduling gripes, gossip, and paranoid supposition from an endless stream of naked strippers as well as clothed staff, until finally around eight in the evening he could sneak down the block to his former office for a quick couple of belts and maybe a spindly little toothpick of a joint before his long drive back across the city, in darkness and silence, in his old black Caddy.

The phone rang and rang. I anticipated his crappy cassette tape answering machine picking up at any moment. I could almost hear the warbly old taped voice of his soon-to-be ex-wife on the machine as I waited, hoping that someone would answer. Finally, on the sixth or seventh ring, someone picked up. A weak falsetto voice said, “Yeees? Heellloo?”

He was playing with me. He must have been able to see my number on caller I.D. or something. Always the wise guy, that Vince. Always the joker.

I chuckled to myself, then responded in my own overdone falsetto: "Yeees, it's Scott! Are we doing funny voices today? Playing little baby games?” Then in my own voice, “Cummon, Vince, I know it's you!”

There was a long pause. A gap. Just dead air where I had anticipated his breathy, rasping laughter.

"Helloooo?" I said again in a mocking falsetto.

He sighed heavily before speaking in the same high, unnatural voice. His speech was slurred and he was obviously making great effort to get each word out. “You. Fucking. Asshole. This is. How I. Talk now. I can't. Do any. Better than this. I have. Brain cancer. They had to. Cut out. A big chunk. Of my brain. This is. My voice now. What the... fuck do you... want?!”

The blood rushed to my face. My ears began ringing and my mouth went dry. My whole body felt weightless and heavy at the same time.

“Heellloo?” he asked.

“I'm so sorry, Vince” I mumbled.

“Not as sorry. As I am, kid” he replied.

“I love you, Vince” I managed to get out, suppressing sobs.

“I gotta... go now,” he said and hung up the phone.

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