I was thirteen when my father moved in with his girlfriend. I guess they were dating awhile. She let him move in. Even at thirteen I didn't think you moved in together on a second or third date.
After he moved out it seemed like it was just me and my mom for awhile. I had three older siblings but they were always out and about in college or somewhere other then home. I didn't blame them. I probably would have spent more time elsewhere if I had somewhere to go. But when you're thirteen home is your base station and like it or not you're going to have to spend a considerable amount of time there.
For some reason my dad still used to show up at the house. He would come by in person to make good on his financial responsibility to the family. He might even stick around for a short time, maybe put up a shelf for my mom or change a light bulb that was up too high. Had my Mom asked me to handle these chores, or had I discovered on my own that these tasks needed to be performed, I would have handled them myself. There was nothing in the house that I couldn't handle. But I think she wanted him to do it. I think she saved up these little jobs to keep him around for a few minutes. I wasn't offended. I knew my role and knew it was secure. I would not deny my mother her tactical maneuvers nor would I make her feel guilty about them.
But there was a line and I didn't like it to be crossed. The old man had a bad habit of showing up at the house and barking orders. He was under the impression that he was a drill sergeant and this was still his base. His role however was now primarily limited to funding. I tolerated his attempts at exerting power outside his jurisdiction for a short period of time. And then I decided to put a stop to it. No more would it happen on my watch.
Every other Friday was payday and this was an "other" Friday. He got off of work a 5pm so I expected he would arrive with the funds around 5:30. I made it a point to be close at hand. I was hoping it would come naturally; I didn't want to have to bait him. I wouldn't feel right about that. It wouldn't be pure. It wouldn't be perfect. As it turned out no bait would be necessary.
He was in the house for less than a minute and I already knew his mood was right. He must have had a bad day, or an ordinary day, but he definitely hadn't had a good one. He was scowling and sarcastic and gruff. His black mustache was twitching angrily as he spoke. And then he made the mistake. He pointed out to me that the garbage was full and instructed me to take it out. Now, I know what you're thinking. To most people this would seem like a reasonable request. But he had not been occupying these barracks for quite some time and the ship was still on course, sailing smoothly, weathering any storms it encountered. And a lot of the time it was me at the helm, responsibility for guiding this vessel resting squarely on my narrow shoulders, and I did not take kindly to some washed up drunken sailer storming into my control room and trying to grab the wheel.
I had a small, controlled fire burning in me since he had left my mom. Truth be known I didn't miss the bastard but I knew she did and so I was pissed on her account. Now at this moment it was like someone had thrown gas on my small fire and I wouldn't be surprised if I made a whoosh sound as I ignited. I started with a question. It was a rhetorical one of course; I knew what kind of questions you were supposed to ask when you were angry.
"How long have you been gone?"
"What?" was his stunned reply.
"How long has it been since you've lived here?" I repeated in a much louder voice. I knew that at any moment he could snap out of it and take back control but I was on a roll, prepared, with a clear plan in place. I was going for it.
"I don't know how long I've been gone" he responded in a uncharacteristically timid voice.
"Well, let me tell you" I bellowed. "You've been gone six months. And in that time the board of health has not been here a single fucking time. There is no garbage stacked up all over the fucking house. And in fact everything and everyone seems to be getting along just fine."
The adult language was not part of my original plan but I felt good about it. It may have sounded a little contrived and pedestrian to an outside observer, like when a child who just learned to swear strings together ones that don't match well, like jerkfuck, but overall I felt pretty good about my delivery.
With my tirade now complete I stormed out of the house into the fading sun of a chilly but refreshing New York spring day. The cool breeze whisked past my confident face. My feet trod purposefully over the ground that was still damp with the spring thaw. I made it about fifty yards into my backyard when I heard my name called out with what I easily recognized as my father's angry voice.
"Anthony! Get back here right now!"
I ran as fast as I could. I ran right up to his fuming face. I was running so fast and the ground was so soft that when I tried to come to a stop I skidded to a halt like a cartoon character, almost plowing into my father. Even if I had he wouldn't have budged. He was quite a towering figure. And now I was in his face. I was as close to in his face as a pip-squeak my size could be. And I goaded him. I egged him on. I dared him.
I would have hit me if I were him. I would have hauled off and whacked this smart ass piece of shit in front of me. And I asked him.
"What are you going to do, hit me?"
Oh, I was practically begging him. How could he resist? What manner of mortal man possesses this amount of will power?
I didn't realize until much later how bad I hoped he would hit me. I wanted him to wrestle back control of his ship. Put down this mutiny. Extinguish this dissension among his ranks.
Instead, he turned around and walked back into the house. I turned around and walked back into the yard. I disappeared into the woods to stew in my peaceful sanctuary. This rebellion was complete, if only by forfeit of he who I rebelled against.Send us your comments on this article