by | Jun 11, 2024 | Fiction, Issue Thirty-Nine

When my dad died, he asked me to write an intentionally mediocre fan fiction of his life.

I said, Dad, why would I do that? Why don’t you just tell me your memories and then I can ghost write your memoir?

He said, No, that can’t work for two reasons. The first is that I’m already dead and there’s no time to tell you my memories and the second is that it would be more fun if you imagined fictional moments from my life based on what you think you know about me. I would feel more important, he said, if I was speculated upon.

Why does it have to be intentionally mediocre? I asked.

So people don’t expect too much, he said. I don’t want anyone getting their hopes up.

He told me all of this while I was at the cemetery, St. Equinox Sebastian, over on Six and McNichols. A strand of six Hellcats drove by and knocked me out of my fugue state. It’s hard to know if my dad was really talking to me. I see his grave once a year on his birthday which is in April, the beginning of Spring, like the real beginning, because a lot of ugly things can happen in March, weather-wise, and I don’t like to get my hopes up, so I just compartmentalize that whole month as end-of-winter in my mind. A yellow flower that might have been a daffodil sprung up from the ground like the curve of a right-handed artist. It’s good to be alive, I said. Which is my catchphrase.

When my dad died, it was shocking. I had to reconcile the fact that I would never speak to him again in any state that wasn’t a fugue state. The material reality of him had ceased to be. In terms of survival, I had to do the acrobatic deed of somehow explaining to myself that it was somehow a good thing, that death in itself was somehow a good thing. And never being able to talk to someone that you love was, in its way, a justice.

I left my Kroger’s roses on the grave. I walked toward my car and heard the dull thud of my feet pitter-pattering across planet earth. The only planet I have ever lived on. Squirrels chased rats in circles. Butterflies flew at angles I couldn’t understand. My phone didn’t vibrate. There was litter on the ground. The Hellcats echoed through the mechanics’ shops and the old factories.

It was St. Patrick’s Day, or at least it had been recently, the glitter-green strand of plastic clovers that hugged the television in the nearest bar. A bar he may or may not have frequented. But now, as in all things, I had the sheer joy and the unilateral, absolutely uncontested responsibility of deciding what he had and had not done. I had to speculate. I was a speculator. Jameson? No, I think it was Powers. Christmas lights. Half of them were off, even though we all know, when one light goes down, down come all the rest that follow behind it. So it was magic that they could be mismatched and alight in that way. The whole damn strand of Christmas lights, broken and hopscotch and still going. It’s a powerful thing.

Pin It on Pinterest