Chapter 1: A Bare Knuckle Brawl With The Devil

Tonight I am out with a friend of mine. It’s not very often the two of us get to even leave the house, let alone spend any time with each other or any of our other friends. Thus far the night has been fun, if uneventful. We began by sitting down at an alleged “fancy” restaurant that serves terrible food with even worse service. Our waitress seemed out of place; she should have been serving truck drivers coffee that tasted like motor oil at some greasy spoon in the Middle of Fucking Nowhere, USA, rather than approaching nicely dressed men and women with a snarky, attitude-laden, “well now whaddaya want?” It couldn’t have been the somewhat awkward yet still stunningly attractive brunette girl at the door who could have served us instead? Wait, what about that guy? Yeah, the one with the faux-hawk? Shit, I would’ve gladly given him my number in addition to the tip. Whether or not he called would really be up to fate, but still. Alas, we are not so lucky. Instead, we get the displaced redneck who’s children will go on to great things as recurring guests on the Jerry Springer show.

The food did little to ease my mood. I’ve never tasted Italian food that tasted like take-out Chinese before, but there you go. Only in America, I suppose? The two of us quickly scarf down this greasy crap and get our check. This was a bust.

As we drive away from the restaurant, “Marco DiAngelo’s,” the two of us begin making fun of both the waitress and various patrons we had seen. I put on my best Southern drawl and begin describing graphic sex acts with farm animals in an attempt to get her to laugh or be grossed out or something. Of course, with human nature being human nature, I accomplish both. My friend asked me what was next on the agenda. We had every intention of seeing this new movie, some high class production about vampires that was all the rage with the kids today. It had all the makings of a bad film, something that we could make fun of. However, upon pulling up to the theater and seeing the winding line of pre-teen girls drove us away. Also the massive laughing fit I had upon seeing an ugly, acne-ridden “goth kid” who appeared to be well over driving age standing next to his rather large mother and looking menacing sealed the deal. We were not going.

Instead we drive around aimlessly for what feels like hours. We gaze upon the neon colored nightlife outside these car windows and listen to the songs of sirens within them. Our outing became an unplanned road trip in the middle of tourism central. Strip malls. Shopping centers. Government buildings. Churches. Seedy strip clubs. Everything a person could want, neatly contained in an Ouroboros of simple-minded bullshit. The never ending cycle of spend, spend, spend, give your thanks to the Lord and stare at the well-defined tits of a high school dropout. Hallelujah! The two of us, in this vehicle, had our own special place in Hell. We were terrible people, and we both knew it. We also didn’t care. This was not a night to reflect upon past mistakes and horrifying, selfish actions made in the pursuit of flesh. We were beyond that. I hope. The times, they were a changin’ and things were different now. Feelings never really fade away, but human nature quickly replaces them with something new to distract us.

In my contemplation, the two of us had fallen silent. Thankfully, she broke the silence before I lost my mind. There was an accident in the opposite lane of traffic. A bad one. Police tape and ambulances and guys getting their body chalk ready. I look to the car next to us on the right (our lane of traffic), and noticed a “Baby on Board” tag in the rear passenger window. If this were a movie, I would have walked out of the theater after seeing such a bad attempt at an “artistic statement.” Life and Death on opposite sides of the spectrum, constantly in a cycle of nature. That kind of shit. Yet this was no movie. This was my life, which seemed to straddle a fine line between Sincerity and Self-Parody day by day. And it always seemed like Self-Parody was winning out. It never really did anything to help the sarcastic, douchebag attitude that I have, choosing instead to hide my real feelings behind an always ready and always snappy one-liner.

Eventually, we make it past the traffic and end up at the lake. My friend pulls up by the fishing boat docks. Being that it was eleven at night in the middle of February, this place was dead silent. The two of us sit side by side over the edge, taking alternate stares at the starry night sky above us and the calming deep blue below us. It was the first sight I had seen all night that managed to settle me down. The hyperactive asshole with a big mouth became almost normal. Funny what Mother Nature can do to a person. It’s wonderful. The two of us, finally getting a chance to relax. No more uniforms. No more uppity superiors with Napoleon complexes. No more angry customers. No more ungodly hours. No more service industry. It was just two people who may or may not have been in love at one point, if not still now, sitting together on an unusually warm night. I just have to remember to keep my distance.

Of course, with my luck, our “moment” is interrupted. My phone rings. My mother is on the line, incoherently distraught. After a few moments of trying to calm her down, she finally breaks the news.

My father has just died.

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