Family and Relationships
My dad’s name was Ed, but his friends called him Eddie. In old photos he is Jack Nicholson handsome, with devilish good looks and a mischievous gleam in his eye. I can see why my mom fell for him.
One can die in cleanliness, or one can die in filth. I’m not talking about your soul. At the Prince Hotel — an old Bowery flophouse — the men paid a few dollars a night to live in stalls, four feet wide and six feet deep, with chicken-wire ceilings.
It’s pizza night. Dad went to pick it up, and my mother is using our time alone to take subtle jabs at me, encouraging independence.
Eventually, when it was clear that things could not go on as they were, and it was obvious to everyone that matters were now completely out of hand, that something had to be done, we had a meeting in the town hall, all of us crowded in.
One winter, years ago, a stray cat lived under my rear deck. He was long and skinny and had a tattered gray coat, a whip tail, a block head, and a set of elephant nuts that hung low off his hind end. He survived by eating scraps of leftover food my mother threw to the birds. The sight of him disgusted me.
A friend tells me, Back pain is always anger. I don’t believe him. Maybe, though, grief settles in the muscles there. That, I could believe.
Gingerly, creeping, my mother drives her “safe” back way home, winding through the subdivisions bordering downtown Orlando, Florida. The little truck doesn’t have air conditioning. I stretch my arm out the window as if I might be able to feel the Spanish moss hanging from the trees like witch hair.