Saturday, April 24, 2010

Last Call, Last Stand - Part 15

Chapter 6 - Rainbow in the Dark

My dad was the type that wore his machismo like a bullet proof vest; his swinging cockmeat alone was proof of his status as a badass, a genius and a working class hero. For a guy that would later burn to death in a meth related trailer fire, he had a mighty high opinion of himself.

My mother was a non-factor; a late blooming early 80's era flower child, sucked in by the rugged masculine charisma and plentiful drugs of Jon Mackey Senior. I don't remember her; she died when I was 3 or 4 of alcohol poisoning. You'd think, at that age, that I would have remembered her death or even a few details about her, but I don't. I have a picture of her somewhere, smoking a cigarette on the porch outside the front trailer in our yard, with me asleep next to Shitface, our black doberman. I remember Shitface clearly, and even his death-but as for mom, I got nothing.

The landscape of my childhood is a long tomb of mediocrity and deviant sexual exploration. I recall spending at least 90 percent of it alone. While Jon Mackey Sr. went off to the JB Weld plant to work, Jon Mackey Jr. was left in the care of Gramma Mackey. She was probably a fine woman in her prime, but relative to me she was unimportant-she mostly made tuna sandwiches and shat the bed. Between an invalid caretaker and the gorgeous Lovecraftian scenery of Kent, Indiana, (a rickety bridge of bullshit welded together with crack and child pornography-at least until meth caught on around 2003) I suppose it is no wonder that I turned out like I did. And in the end, it was convenient to me to always have an excuse for my behavior.

I was 13 when I realized the fundamental fucked nature of man, and it was the first-and only-lesson my father ever taught me that I truly took to heart. We had been clashing recently, as the lukewarm pink tide of hormones flooded my pock marked system. Jon Jr. was a faggot because he had no aptitude for tools. Jon Jr. was a faggot because he read those faggot fantasy novels all the time. Jon Jr. was a faggot because he wasn't Jon Sr. But when I turned 13 on a crisp and cold fall day in 1993, Jon Sr. was determined to show me how to make it right.

I was out of bed and making scrambled eggs. My clumsy pubescent hands still struggled with cracking the eggs and so I had yolk all over my shirt and pants, but I knew better than to try wearing an apron-Dad was home and he wouldn't stand for that shit. It was Saturday morning, and I was eager to get back to my copy of Dune that I had borrowed from the school library.

You could always hear Mackey Sr. get up; it started with a smoker's cough like a cartoon character, a wet hack-chort-hack-hack that signified that he had lit his first cigar of the day. He smoked those cheap white owls; I think if Gramma hadn't smoked Basic Menthols I could steal, I would have never started smoking, because I couldn't stand the fucking sweet flypaper reek of cheap cigars, and still cannot to this day.

Inevitably afterwards came the bangs and rustles and curses as he hauled himself out of bed and into the same pair of burn marked blue jeans and Dead shirt that he had worn the previous day. It wasn't long before I could hear him shuffling out into the living room to shout at Gramma to turn down the fucking tv and anyway that cocksucker on there was way over his guess for the jet skis on price is right. By that time I shoveled over an extra plate of eggs and hash with ketchup and hot sauce, and was sitting on my end of the table with my headphones in and head down. I had long ago learned it was best to avoid talking with him; none of our thoughts occured on the same plane at all.

He sat down at the table and began eating noisily; I could hear him even through the Ronnie James Dio tape in my walkman. Chancing a look up, I saw his expression was curiously focused, the movements of his fire hardened knuckles less haphazard. He was wearing his tool belt, hammer and screwdriver and other, more arcane bits that I didn't recognise (though I probably would have recognised a crysknife) hanging from his narrow hips. He looked every bit his age today, and there was blood from where he had coughed into his beard.

Still not saying anything, I gathered up the empty place and shoveled them into the sink to wash later, the remains looking oddly like blood and brains. But I heard his rusty voice behind me before I had a chance to scurry back to my room.

"Boy...Jon boy. Come on out here, boy-I got a birthday present for you," he grunted, punctuating with an epic fart that rattled the rickety kitchen chair he was sitting on.

What is that old saying? 'Beware of freaks bearing gifts' I think. No, I'm almost sure that isn't it. But even misquoted, it would have been damned fine advice that day.

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