Great Pretender

Friday December 2nd, 2016 – 4:19 pm 

“You were always the most like your father, both in sense of humor as well as… as well as… you know… you know what I am trying to say…”

“Personality?” I ask.

“Yes!” she replies.

“I had to be. I studied him from four years old on. I tried do the things he liked, at first to get on his good side, and then to excel at them, just to prove I was better than both him and Paul, whether it was guitar or chess or sense of humor or winning arguments.”

“Why?” my mother asks.

It’s 1:30 am in my cold, stinky Oregon garage. It is the far more obscene 4:30 am in New York. I just got done telling her that when I am at my sickest and cannot even tell who I am talking to, my voice gets very quiet and raspy. After a recent event, I was unaware of who Brittany was, as she kneeled before me to wash the blood off my hands. I become unaware of my surroundings for minutes after they happen. And my voice becomes a whisper.

Like Dad’s became.

Exactly like dad’s voice became before he completely lost it for good. It is going on two years that my dad has been attached to a ventilator and pinned to a hospital grade bed and four years since I have heard him speak to me. As he began to lose his voice, he also lost use of his legs. Just like I have for the last five months.

Thus, one might ponder and weigh and reason and pray about the events of the last few months and weeks and days and understand my fucking concern. And lawyer bills.

After making my mom laugh like she has not in a long time, so she would not have to cry again for a little while longer, I told her that when I am less sick as I was at that moment, it is almost always late at night after the medicine has had hours to kick in. Then I am lucid and articulate enough to even make a joke that hits the mark.

That’s another time I sound just like Silent Dad used to sound. Whenever I get silly and animated enough to make mom crack out her Brooklyn cackle.

But then again, it was 4:30 in her morning. Maybe she was running on fumes or being nice.

“Why what?” I ask back.

“Why did you always have to be better than Paul and your dad?”

“The reason I studied dad was not only to be better than him. It was to mimic him. To make him laugh. I mastered it even more as we moved to a new school every year. I became adept at making people laugh and imitating their conversational style and idiosyncrasies well enough to convince them I was just like them. That’s why I can make friends so quickly. I become so transparent that I am a mirror back to themselves. I closely analyzed the things that interested dad, like baseball and The Who and Monty Python. I studied which jokes he laughed at and I filed them under sarcasm or absurd humor. His two favorite humor types. He didn’t favor the cruel jokes as much. And as long as he was laughing… he… he wasn’t hitting. You know… I forgot he made you laugh most every day for fifty years. I forgot the hundreds of times he made even me laugh. But a thousand laughs can be erased with just one punch.”

After two too long seconds, I worry maybe I monologued over a disconnect again.

I do it all the time, with or without a phone. Sometimes I even do it without a second person in the picture.

“Hello? Mom?”

“Yeah… I know. I know what you mean.”

Win wins and rubs my hands that feel again

Pain, pain go away, I control bitter clouds better than legs

Pain is my vice and virtue as Pleasure once was

I miss Them both but can hear Their voices’ love

and mock and lull us each with our own ego

Mine broke many moves, many moons, many stains ago

Cry, far cry, I remember the little guy

The dark began when we said goodbye

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