While taking my shower, I detected the water gradually escalating in temperature. Not terribly hot. Just hot. I continued swaying under the spray of water, thinking.
I was thinking about my father.
My father came and went from my life—from the lives of everyone close to him.
He was hilarious when sober. As funny as any comedian that might pop into your mind. His own laughter sounded like the best mountain creek prancing down a mountainside.
My father was also very dark. He often lashed out at some imprecise unfairness that haunted his life.
He was a mean drunk.
He pushed everyone aside in nightly drunken binges and then tried to draw everyone back in when he sobered under in the first wash of morning light. When I was a little kid, I could not understand this. As I got older, I wanted to disengage.
Enveloped in water incrementally rising in temperature, I thought about how three of us kids brought him back near the end. And then he turned strange. He wanted me to give up my life—my job, my wife and daughter—so I could go help him fight his cancer in Hawaii. He’d found a fringe treatment using hydrogen peroxide.
“Why doesn’t Stella go with you?” I asked him. Stella: wife number four.
“She can’t go!” he snipped. “She has to stay here and take care of the cat!”
So that ended everything for us. A cat.
Off he went to Hawaii to die. Small man alone.
By the time I finished with my shower, my skin was red from the heat. I almost burned myself, Dad. You sonofabitch.