The Twist Inside
Fiction by Victor Wolzek
They're pissed, I imagine -- No...concerned. They think he is on drugs, and they want him to come home.
He was upset. He wrote them a letter. A long one. Part typed and the rest scrawled by hand. Two letters then, I guess, really. He typed it up and took it with him in the tub, you know, with his other books and titty mags, headphones, and a flask of whiskey. Like usual.
So he's checking it. I mean I guess he is; it makes sense that he would. Checking it for spelling, grammar. He was like that. Precise. But what was there to mess up? It was just a few sentences to let them know everything was okay. You know, all's well, love and kisses, the end. But then...then he decided he forgot something. He had something else to say, something to add. So he started writing right then and there in the tub; look, the paper is wrinkled like he was writing on his knees or on the ledge, and the words at the bottom -- and some up here in the corner -- run.
So he adds this postscript:
PS -- Mom, Dad, do me a favor and tell Grandma that everything is fine, except I'm older now and I'm thinking a lot about my life and my family and it makes me want to cry when I think how none of us really know each other, not really, you know?
Or maybe it's because we know each other too well. I don't know. But we don't talk, not really. Sure about Seinfeld and food money, but never about important things. And I know it's mostly my fault, because I lie and tell them everything is "fine" or "just great."
Please don't get me wrong, Grandma, it's not that things are bad, really. It's just that that's the way I answer my boss when he asks me how it's going. Fine! Great! I say like clockwork, no matter how tired or hung-over or pissed off or depressed I am. And I am a lot.
But they're my folks, Grandma, my folks, my parents. And most of the time we forget how special that relationship is. And they're good parents too, ones who love me and whom I love and respect more and more everyday the more I see what they made and what they made it from. And when I think of that triumph...all else is forgiven.
Yes, if Dad wants a confederate flag on his car, even if he is stone racist now, it is not enough for me to reproach him. Can we never earn the right to hate?
Sometimes I imagine if something happened, like that crazy nigger attacking him and him killing the guy on purpose or by accident or whatever, with that gun he started keeping in his glove box, and him going to court, and that fucking Jew lawyer making him look like a white trash racist bastard good for nothing piece of shit scourge of the PC planet, talking about the flag and gun and that he's on Prozac, and was in the navy and so MUST be a crazy fucking redneck in principle, by law, "de jure." And no matter how nice a suit they'd put on him, Grandma, he'd still have ink stained into his hands from the "good old days" before the paper mill closed. They'd have him fold them on his lap, so no one could see. His work, his past, his pride, now a sign of guilt. His blue collar slowly tightening into a noose. Betrayed.
And of course they'd forget that he had to get on Prozac because that fucking foodstamp parasite gave Dad so much shit at work because he thought Dad was coming down on him just because Dad's his boss -- the school's head janitor! Jesus, what a joke. Dad was just the fucking lackey, the voice of the principal who complained or something when his toilet wasn't shiny enough after the lazy fucker was through with it.
They'd fuckin forget that Dad put the battle flag on his car only after no one listened when he told them he was being threatened by the guy, only after he was told to "deal with it" himself, and deal with it quietly, when he felt no one was on his side or even wanted to hear it. When he knew no one would protect him, and he'd be ruined if he dared protect himself.
They hung him out to dry, a bureaucratic lynching of political rectitude. Dad felt fucked and abandoned. Jesus, Grandma, he was fucked and abandoned. And he was afraid. Afraid. So he put his chips in with ghosts, that's right, ghosts, dead confederates who stood for something he always taught us was wrong. ...God, he's so different now... Everything is so different now...
They'd ignore that Dad bought the gun only after that fucker started warning him and dropping "watch outs" and "gonna get you, muthafuckas" and telling Dad that he knew where he lived. Yeah, they'd trash Dad's character, make him look like a violent racist redneck, but you know damn sure they'd say it was fuckin not only legally irrelevant but even morally repugnant to bring up the other guy's character. They'd ignore that the son of a bitch was in fact an alcoholic, supposedly in AA, and that he was on work probation -- Probation! -- for smoking pot on the school's roof, the same roof I used to climb on with my buddies when we were kids, when the school and the neighborhood were still white. None of that would matter, Grandma. Reporters would ignore all of it so their Jew editor could make the dirty useless shitskin a headline-stealing "Victim of Racism." They'd run it in ALL BOLD CAPS.
Yes, the media would write like they were reporting "the facts," but the mantra would resound between the lines, shaking all details until they crumbled. Good guy, Bad guy. Black, white. Case closed. That savage's mythical past would count for more than Dad's real one. Forget that Dad didn't have a Dad, that he grew up as a "bastard" in the '40s and '50s when broken homes and fatherless kids were rare and viewed with contempt. And that he lived in the inner-city projects, always moving because his mother was a drunk and missed rent, and his job selling newspapers before school each morning wasn't always enough.
Forget that they are both janitors in a public elementary school where even the fuckin teachers don't get paid shit; both doing the same shit day in day out, making the same shit dough. Forget that the differences in their lives were differences in character and choice, the kind of differences that aren't won through any kind of secret "white privilege." Dad never had any trust fund paying the bills. No stocks or market investments -- hell, he wouldn't know how to invest in the market even if he had the money to risk. No nannies dealing with the kids. No shrinks to make shit smell pretty or marriage counselors keeping things nice with Mom.
They never had shit, Grandma. But for Dad and Mom it was the same: Work. Priorities. Loyalty. Love for their children, respect for themselves. A sense of duty, obligation. A belief that we shouldn't hurt each other or take others' kindness for granted. A fair shake. Period. A helping hand: given when possible and received when needed. Respect for education and the belief that it could allow their kids to be "happy" in a way that they've never known but pray to God every night is real and possible, even though Jesus knows they have no reason to believe it.
They'd forget or ignore, they'd never admit even if they knew, that this is why he has what he has, why he owns a small home -- a small, two-bedroom row-home in the poor "industrial" section of town -- and a car. This is why his kids went to college, why education erased their "aints" and "ums" and braces straightened their teeth. Because he and Mom worked and saved and earned and gave. This is why, dammit. Aint no one doing them any favors.
This is why he needs Prozac, because somewhere along the line he became the bad guy, he became the shit of society, its scapegoat, the whipping boy for a political agenda conjured by academics in schools he was too poor and overlooked to attend. Schools he traded his life to offer his children, to offer me. Somewhere along the line someone got the idea he was part of the team conspiring to keep others out of a corporate world he was never allowed in! Somewhere along the line someone decided Dad -- and his "kind" -- were not only fools but also an affront to moral goodness itself. And by the same stroke he was stripped of any voice to defend himself.
Grandma, I just want them to know how much I love them, Mom and Dad, how much I wish I could really know them, understand them, really talk and share things with them. As a child, it was so easy to take them and their efforts and love for granted. This ease, it seems to me now, was the greatest gift they ever gave me, the greatest gift any parent may give their child. But I am no longer a child, Grandma. I am a man, a 25-year-old man, and now I live in the world and tremble because I see what they have given me, the choices and sacrifices they have made, and I wonder if I will ever be strong enough to...
My love and respect for them grows each day as too many others in the world teach me, always in some sad new way, the ease of simple abandonment, the false liberty won with a well-placed shrug.
I'm tired of shrugging.
And that was it. The end of the note. That's what I found in the trash. That, an empty liter of Old Crow, and a check for this month's rent were all he left behind. I have a feeling some niggers and jews are in for a surprise.