Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Resolution: A Short Story
So I have been pretty sparse on this blog for the past few months. I've looked back and realized I've only posted a handful of blogs since my move to Florida.
Honestly, I'm ok with that.
I'm busy living. That's a complaint that I am definitely ok with.
But with the living I have also been doing a lot of writing. If I'm not writing skits with Nathan for Take 2 Films, or if I'm not working on a script of my own then I'm reading.One thing I've recently realized and talked about in another post, was my lack of reading. I have definitely done a great deal of reading since then and I am loving it! I have read Sarah Silverman's autobiography, started on Shakespeare's magnificent work Hamlet, and am on my 3rd Chuck Palahniuk book. If there's something I wish I could encourage more people to do is to read, read, read, and read. And I'm not encouraging that just because I sell books for my job right now. haha.
One of my last reads was the book, Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk. Haunted was an amazing read. I would not advise the book to anyone, just as I wouldn't advise the movie, also written by Chuck Palahniuk, "Fight Club."( I love the movie Fight Club, but its just so dark, you just don't tell anyone to see it even though you love it.) Although Haunted was sick and twisted at parts, it was an amazing read. Palahniuk has brought a new thrill to reading that I haven't felt in or a long time, or maybe even ever. He is very dark, and twisted with somethings, but he also stays very true to the love and art of Language. His books are so much more than just a simple piece of prose typed out. He plays will all sorts of writings in all of his prose. For all of you who have read Fight Club, you've probably noticed the Haiku's that are used throughout the book.
Haunted was 21 short stories all interlaced together with one story. Also, at the beginning of every story is a poem about the storyteller. It was a fascinating read, as I've said over and over again already. But one of the things it did for me was, it made me really appreciate the art of the Short Story.
As you have probably noticed, it inspired me to write a short story that I posted on here called, Aarifa. I loved that short story and was very proud of the result. So with my love for writing that story I sat down and wrote another story a couple of nights later.
I never got around to posting the story on here. Maybe because I thought the subject matter was a bit touchy. But recently a friend told me to stop filling my works precautions and apologies. So I'm going to take her advise and not preface this story with any of those.
I hope you enjoy the read! Enjoy Resolution.
“Right here, grandpa?”
“I’ve made it this long without a TV, why at 64, is it necessary for me to have a television?” I stop myself and realize I am speaking to my 12 year old grandson.
“Yes, that’ll be fine Gregory. Why don’t you go into the kitchen and grab yourself a pop and bring grandpa a bruisky? Then you can show me how to work this damned thing.”
Watching my grandson just go right from lifting a TV to getting us both some drinks, I can’t help but think, ...I’m so jealous. I can’t bend down to get my morning paper every morning without having to sit down and recuperate for the next 20 minutes. Really though, I can not complain. I remember being his age. I remember being 12 and being able to ride my bike down to the supermarket, and then being able to come right home and jump right back into work with my dad in the garage.
“What I would give to be in the garage again.”
“What garage grandpa?”
I look up to see my grandson staring at me, holding his cold Pepsi and my cold Yuengling. I must have thought out loud again. I swear I’m getting worse and worse at this getting old thing.
“Thanks buddy, take a seat.”
I take a sip of my cold Yuengling and can’t help but get lost in the memory of the first sip I ever took of my old man’s beer. We were in the garage working on the ’52 Caddy. That baby sure could roar with its 190HP engine. But the car isn’t the memory, its the taste of my dads cold beer. He looked around the garage to see if mom was around and he asked me if I wanted a sip. I couldn’t see my face, but I wish I could have. I must have been grinning from ear to ear. I knew that it was a big deal. So I manned up, took the smile from my face and took a sip like a man, and then handed it back to my dad. Sure it tasted like piss and grass but...
“Grandpa, you’re doing that thing you do when you think to much. You were saying something about a garage? What garage?”
“Sorry Gregory, you know gramps just an old fart sometimes.”
“No you’re not grampa. You’re not like the other old men I know. Most of them are so stupid, and don’t know how to drive, at least thats what mom says.”
“Well you’re mother is probably right. But you’re not asking about your mother or her opinions are you?”
“No sir,” he says with a smile on his face. Thats my grandson, always chipper as ever and always full of questions. But I love him for that, it shows character.
“Well, I was accidentally thinking out loud again. But what I was thinking about was my dad’s old garage. You see, my old man, back in the day, use to fix everyone in the neighborhood’s car. He was like the neighborhood mechanic. And you know what he charged everyone?”
“A hundred dollars?”
“Nope, he didn’t charge a nickel. He was nothing like those lying, corner cutting idiots you see at the Jiffy Lube your mother takes her car too. He wouldn’t charge anyone a single cent. You know why?”
“Because my daddy loved to work on cars. It was his way to relax when he got home from work at the factory. I spent so many nights in that garage with my old man fixing up the neighbors cars. I would bet there wasn’t but maybe one week out of a year that a car wasn’t in our garage getting fixed up by my dad.”
“Thats so cool grandpa. Did he drink beer too?”
Now where in the world did that question come from? Sometimes I forget my grandson is only 12 years old, but then he reminds me, just like that. But the sincerity in his face is so amusing. I can’t help but smile and catch myself laughing.
“Yes, he did. He loved to work on the cars, and drink beer when mom wasn’t around. She didn’t like him drinking beer very much.”
“Yeah, I can understand that. Mom doesn’t drink beer, she says its bad for your liver.”
“Oh, nonsense. You’re mother is just a woman. Women don’t like beer Gregory, they like sweet drinks, like apple martinis. Men like to drink beer.”
I take a swig of Yuengling and can’t help but see my little grandson eyeing my beer as it goes up and then retreats down to its restful spot on the chair arm. Poor guy, he probably hasn’t ever seen a beer except with me. That idiot of father of his, left way before he could ever start to create memories. That selfish jerk. Leaving my daughter and grandson, just to pursue an acting career. Whatever, his loss.
I look at my grandson and his intent stare on my beer. My God, his mother would kill me if she ever heard that I let her little angel have a sip of beer. But its not like she’ll ever find out...
I smile and look at my grandson. “You want a sip, Gregory?”
His eyes grow so big as the question leaves my mouth. I can see his little mind racing and popping capillaries at the thought. I can literally see the thought process crossing his mind. I’m sure thoughts of the taste are crossing his mind, but then are coming to stop at the thought of his mothers scorn.
“Its ok Gregory. Take a sip, it’ll be our little secret.”
Gregory hides his little smile and grabs my beer. He takes a mighty swig. I can see some of the suds pouring out onto his cheeks. He draws the bottle back away from his face and hands the beer back to me. His eyes narrow as the taste fully forms on his taste buds. Then he takes a big swallow. I don’t think he knows what to think, or at least that’s all I can gather from his silence.
“What did you think?”
“Kind of tastes like pee. Pee and grass.”
“Yeah, don’t worry, that’s what everyone thinks when they first taste it. You’ll grow to like it when you get older. By the time you can grow a full beard you’ll learn to really like it.”
“Maybe...” He says with his eyes still staring at the bottle.
I look into my grandsons face. I love this kid so much. Man, I really lucked out in this department. Sure I’ve had a couple rough spots. Couple memories I wish I could forget from ‘Nam, a brief stint with an idiot of a son in law, and of course the passing of my wife, but in this department, I’ve scored. This kid’s a sure keeper.
He sits there staring at me, waiting for me to jump into the next subject, or for me to accidentally think out loud again. But i’m not going to bore the poor kid to death with stories of my old man and the garage.
“So lets get this television going, whatta ya say Greg?”
“Sure thing grandpa.”
He reaches over and hands me the remote controller. “This is the clicker grandpa. It is how you turn the TV on and off. To turn it on you press this button.” He presses the button and the colored television comes to life. First the little Vixio letters at the bottom light up and then the flat screen comes to life.
“This is how you turn the volume up and down.” He presses the up button and the newswoman’s voice growers louder and louder with every press.
“Ok, Ok, I get it, turn it down.”
“Sorry Gramps.” He turns down the volume.
“This is how you turn the channel.” He presses a button and the image of the woman reading the news changes to a man toting a gun through the jungle. He then quickly turns back to the woman reading the news. He hands me the remote and then sits down.
Theres way too many buttons on the remote and way too many small letters. I just nod at Gregory and smile. I set the remote down and just look up at the television. The woman on the TV is talking about an oil spill that is taking place somewhere around Florida. I look over to Gregory, expecting to see him bored, but no. He is fully content watching this.
“Have you heard about this Grandpa?”
I look at the screen expecting to see that the story change, but it hasn’t. “The oil spill?”
“Yeah, the oil spill. Have you heard much about it?”
I of course read the Sunday paper, so of course I had heard about it, but I wanted to hear about it through the innocence of a child.
“No, I haven’t. Whats going on with that?”
“Well, I guess the gas station, BP, was really stupid when they decided to drill for gasoline in the ocean, and one of their drills broke off and now its spilling into the ocean. My friend Bobby just came back from Florida and he said that when he was swimming, he got black goo all over him and then everyone had to get out of the ocean. Those BP guys are a bunch of idiots. Didn’t they know that they had to be safe when they were digging for gasoline?”
“Guess not buddy. How do you know so much about it?”
“Mom watches a lot of news. Actually thats just about all she watches. This station is always on in the kitchen. So I hear the news all the time.”
“Well aren’t you a smart boy? It’s a very good thing to be informed.”
“Thanks grandpa.” He turns and looks back over at the TV.
I wonder how many other kids his age even know that an oil spill is even going on? I’m sure they are all talking about their cartoons and toys while my grandson is talking with the other smart kids about real stuff. But I hope he doesn’t have too many conversations, he needs to be a kid.
“You want to watch some cartoons Gre...”
In the middle of my sentence a car horn interrupts my speech. I jump in my chair. Greg looks over at me. “Moms here. Gotta go grandpa.” He runs over, jumps into my chair and gives me a big ole hug. “Bye grandpa, love you, see you on monday.”
“See you monday. I’ll pick you up from school, like always. Love you too.”
I watch him as he grabs his backpack and lunch box and heads towards the door. He reaches for the door and I turn towards the TV. The same woman is going on and on about the same oil spill. Goodness woman, move on. Again why do I need this...
“What grandpa, everything ok?”
“Yes, I almost forgot. Tell your mom thank you for the TV.”
“Ok, will do grandpa. Love you” he says and then shuts the door. I can hear him running down the concrete steps and opening the car door. I turn back to the television, still focused on the sounds outside. I can hear the door slam, the car shifting and the pulling out of the driveway.
What a good kid.
I head to the kitchen to put my dead soldier in the trash can, and grab another cold one out of the icebox. I come back into the living room to see that stupid television sitting on the table. The same woman is going on and on about the same oil spill.
I sit down in my chair and pick up the remote. I don’t remember what any of these buttons do. Why do these things have to have 300 buttons, when we only want to adjust the volume, channel and power? Stupid. Part of the reason I haven’t had one of these things. God knows I wouldn’t have one of these things if it wasn’t for my worried daughter.
After her mother passed, she’s been so worried about me. She must think that I am just bored all of the time now. But unlike her, I can occupy myself with other things, other than a television. Nothing important has ever been accomplished from watching TV. But I’ll give it a try.
The newswoman is still going on about the oil spill. There is so much happening on the screen. She is speaking, a correspondent is in the top right conversing with her. All the while the bottom of the screen has a yellow stripe running the length of the bottom of the screen. I’m guessing that its letters that I can’t make out. Probably more news jargon about the oil spill. I swear these people are obsessed.
I spend the whole day watching and studying the television. To my dismay the channel that my grandson left the television on, broadcasts news all day, apparently. Sadly, I can also report to you that it runs the course of the night as well.
I don’t sleep well anymore. I sleep maybe a few hours and then wake up and read a little bit. But with the newest addition to my living room, I spent my waking hours staring at the television for the duration of the night and into the morning. I wish I could turn the television off, but I don’t remember what button to press.
I tried to turn the television off once, but only succeeded in turning the damn thing up louder, so I gave up on trying.
No matter how hard I try, I can’t help but hear that damn television set at all hours of the day. Oil spill this, killer bees that. An outbreak of bad meat. Political jargon constantly blaring. Polls declaring the distaste for the current President. Whatever happened to respect for authorities? Apparently with constant news, the decency of respect is gone.
I spend the whole weekend staring into that idiot box. I listen and study everything that they are saying. Every time I go to walk away from it because the story is getting old, they draw me back with some new shooting footage. Some new breakthrough in the spoiled meat story in Texas.
My whole weekend is spent studying and learning new things in the headlines. New updates in Congress bills. I leave the Sunday paper on the porch. No need for it while the television is going at full volume; I tried turning it off again...
I was so focused on the television I barely heard my grandson enter the house.
“Gregory, what are you doing here?”
“It’s Monday grandpa.”
“Well then shouldn’t you be at school?”
“I already went to school grandpa.”
“Oh no, what time is it?” I stand up and give my little grandson a hug.
“I’m so sorry buddy. How did you get here?”
“Mrs. Palmer, the principle gave me a lift here.”
I can hear the engine of her car driving out of the driveway. She apparently is in a rush according to the speed that she shifts from reverse to drive when she hits the street.
“Buddy, I am so sorry. I just lost track of time.”
“Its ok, grandpa. Why is your TV so loud?”
“I couldn’t get it to turn off and I kept turning it up.”
I watch as Gregory so easily picks up the television remote and turns down the TV. He takes his seat on the other chair and starts looking into the TV. I take my seat next to him and look into the television set with him.
“Have you heard about all the spoiled meat they found in Texas grandpa?”
I look over at my grandson as he stares into the television.
“Yeah, I did hear about it. They think that most of the stores across the nation have probably gotten a case of the spoiled meat. Corporate Foods are recalling all the beef that they have sold over the past two weeks in over 30 states.”
“Yeah, I heard that. We had steak this weekend, well, tried to. Mom grilled us some steak and when she set it on the table she turned the TV on. As we were starting to eat, mom heard the news story. She made me spit out the steak and she threw it away.”
“Are you ok?” I ask fully aware that my grandson might be coming down with this food poisoning that taking over the nation.
“Yeah, I’m ok. She didn’t even get the steak from Coporate Foods, but better safe than sorry mom said. But I would have rather had the steak and not the cereal.”
“Yeah, well, your mother is right. Better safe than sorry. You wouldn’t want to get sick. Somebody died in Arizona from the spoiled meat.”
I look over at my grandson. He is watching so intently on the television. I look over at his small fists and see them tighten. I look back at the television to see news coverage of killer bees starting to migrate from Mexico into North America. I spent my whole weekend hearing about it, some African bees were brought over from Africa and mated with South African bees, creating a pissed off bug. They were calling it a “Killer Bee” because of its aggressive nature.
“Do you think the Killer Bees will make it here Grandpa?”
Just as he asked the question, a chart comes on the television screen that shows the rate of speed that the killer bees are migrating. It shows that it should reach us in Fresno within the next 3 months.
I watch as my grandsons fingers start to tense into a fist and his legs start to figet a little bit. It is clear that something is wrong with him. He looks uncomfortable staring into the television.
“What’s wrong Gregory?”
“I don’t like bees. “Me neither. But cheer up buddy. They are just bugs.”
He continues to sit there legs twitching side to side. His fists are gripping tighter and tighter. I can’t even watch the television anymore with the reaction of my grandson now taking the spotlight.
“They are just bugs, buddy.”
“Do you think they might kill us grandpa?” He breaks his glance on the TV and looks directly into my eyes. The sincerity in his face doesn’t make me laugh this time. It shakes me at my core.
“No buddy. They are just bugs. They’re not going to kill you or me. I promise.”
“Are you sure? They have already killed a man down in South America.”
I look at him. He is truly scared. His lip is quivering a little bit. His hands still squeezing tight, and his stare is still so sincere. He is staring me down waiting for an answer.
I look at my grandson, and then I look the television, then back at my scared grandson. This whole thing is getting ridiculous. This damn television is driving my grandson to fear. He is asking me if I think some bugs down in Mexico are going to kill us? “This is nonsense.”
My grandson looks down into his lap. Dammit, I must have thought out loud again. I’ve got to stop doing that.
“No, son, you have no reason to be sorry. I wasn’t talking about you or your question. No, I don’t think we are going to die. I am positive, that we are going to be fine. I promise you Greg. Have I ever lied to you?”
Greg looks into my eyes and starts to shake his head. I can see his little hands starting to loosen their grip. This is ridiculous. I stare into the television and then back at my grandson. What is this?
Why am I spending the time I have with my grandson sitting in front of a television that is reducing him to fear? Why have I spent my whole weekend in front of this idiotic thing? What has this done to me?
I look down at myself and realize I haven’t showered since Friday. I’m still wearing my nightgown that I first put on Friday night. I look over to my left to see my grandsons book bag and lunch box.
“I somehow forgot to pick you up today.”
“Its ok grandpa, i’m not mad. We all make mistakes.”
“No Greg, that is not acceptable. This is not ok. This is definitely not ok.”
I stand up from my spot in the chair. Greg just stares up at me from his seat and then turns right back to the television. I grab the television remote. Trying desperately to read the small writing on the remote to some how turn it off. I look down and see my little grandsons hand start to tighten again.
I honestly could not tell you why I did it, or what caused me to do it. But when I saw my grandson grip in fear again, I couldn’t take it anymore. I wasn’t going to subject myself nor my grandson to this nonsense anymore.
I took the remote control, gripped it tight and then threw it as hard as I could at the television. The television screen went completely black except for a bright blue spot where the remote had made contact. The television was making a very loud buzzing noise.
My grandson looked at me.
“Why did you do that Grandpa? Why did you just break your new TV?”
“Because I love you Gregory. You don’t need to be in my house and be scared. You don’t need to hear this garbage. Its not going to affect you. Its not even important. What does killer bees or spoiled meat 400 miles south of us have anything to do with us? Nothing! Nothing at all Gregory.”
“But Grandpa, that was a new...”
“Gregory, I don’t care. I don’t care at all. I am better off without that damn thing. I spent pointless hours staring into that screen as it told me things that I thought I should care about, but really I shouldn’t. Its just garbage. They are just feeding you the newest thing they get their hands on to keep you watching. Nothing about this is important at all.”
“But Grandpa, its the news.”
“No son, its Bullshit.”
“I’m sorry Gregory, but it is. Stay away from that. I’m going to speak to your mother about her watching it too. Greg, listen to me. There is nothing to be scared about ok?
I look into my grandson’s eyes and see his body loosen up. As I am staring at him I realize I am still standing and breathing very heavy. I take my seat in my chair next to my grandson.
“Gregory, why don’t you go into the kitchen and get yourself a pop and grandpa a bruisky?”
“Ok Grandpa,” he says. He stands up staring at me. The kid is clearly shocked that I would throw a television remote hard enough to break my brand new TV.
How could I have subjected myself to this nonsense for as long as I have? I apparently have forgotten the very reason that I didn’t have a TV in the first place. My wife, Margret and I had a television in our house while Gregory’s mother was growing up, but we rarely watched it. Margret would always say, “Television is for when there is no chance at conversation.” With Margret, and Cynthia always in the house, I never had any reason to watch television. Neither did the two of them. So after Cynthia grew up and moved out, we gave our television set to her. We knew she could use it more than Margret and I. We had each other.
But even when we had our sparse moments with the television back in those days, the news wasn’t on all hours of the day. The news was only on once a night, and it was just a repeat of what you already read in the morning papers and then local news. Nothing like this new all day and night news coverage. Nothing that could instill fear in you, or at least nothing that could instill fear of the same caliber. We had scares, but we didn’t live crippled in our fear all hours of the day. We never spit out food out of fear that it could be spoiled meat from Texas or wherever. We always ate in peace. Life itself is hard, why would anyone add the fear of the world constantly ending, on top of it. But we do. That is what this brand new, so convenient news coverage is doing to us... Margret would be ashamed if she we were here.
“Here ya go grandpa,” Gregory says as he hands me my cold Yuengling. He opens his cold Pepsi and takes a sip. I open my beer and take a big swig.
I look over at my grandson as he sips on his drink.
This is what really matters.
These times, these precious hours that I have left with my grandson.
These moments sharing drinks and talking about the things that really matter. Not sitting in front of fear induced machine.
I hold my beer out towards Gregory. “You want a sip?”
“Not this time Grandpa, I’ll try again when I have a beard.”
I can’t help but laugh. The sincerity on his face brings warmth to my soul and sends my whole body into a fit of laughter. That tickle in my stomach. That feeling I haven’t felt since he was last here.
This feeling. This feeling in my stomach. The tickle and warmth in my belly. Its genuine. This is what living is really about. Life is about being around the people you love and sharing experiences with each other. I didn’t spend my days with my old man in front of a television. We spent our days talking, and working on cars.
“Oh what I would give to be back in that garage.”
Gregory turns his head towards me. Apparently I thought out loud again. Getting old just sucks.
“Tell me about it grandpa. What kind of cars did you and you’re dad work on in your garage?”
I smile at my grandson and take a big swig of my beer. “We use to work on all sorts of cars. Cadillacs, Pontiacs, Chevy’s, more cars than you could imagine Greg...”
Media Associated With Post:
Song: How To Save A Life(Instrumental)
Artist: The Fray
Album: How To Save a Life