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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Sinking Ships

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"I hope that you like it in your little motel
And I hope that the suite sleeps and suits you well
Well I can see it as time and a sight through smell and
Thats why its nice to be by yourself

Cause thats what I'm waiting for
That's what I'm waiting for
That's what I'm waiting for, aren't I?"
-Modest Mouse, "Little Motel"

“I’m losing my room on Saturday. I spent eleven months homeless last year, and now I’m going that way again.”

My father is a proud man laid low. Once upon a time, he supported a family of six, earned six figures a year, and wallowed in middle class luxury, free to indulge his penchant for bourbon with nary a concern for the future. He coasted along, slowly self-destructing, expecting unimpeded comfort as he soaked and pickled.

That was before his industry collapsed, his employment options evaporated, and his savings dwindled away during a couple years of rent checks, car payments, wedding expenses, cartons of Bensen & Hedges De Luxe Ultra Lights 100’s, and nightly fifths of his holy amber poison. Now he rents rooms in boarding houses full of divorcees and parolees. He makes deliveries for an auto parts store. They pay him a pittance.

“Again? Jesus, Dad. What happened?”

My myopic sub-ambitious version of the American Dream was simple: all I desired was a walled residence inhabited solely by me: a place to eat, shit, sleep, masturbate, and consume illegal narcotics uninhibited by the obtrusive presence of other lifeforms.

I basked in that for one glorious month.

“Oh, a bunch of shit. I had to fix my car again and didn’t have the rent money. That’s the main thing.”

I used to loathe the old man. From my 14th to 22nd years, he was my chief tormentor, my nemesis, the bane of my existence. My hatred was deep and all-consuming. Sometime after I left the nest and began facing the sacrifices and hardships of adult life, I began to understand and appreciate the man. I learned to respect him despite his selfishness and addiction. We reconciled. I came back to live under his roof for six months while I was between jobs. That ended with fleas and eviction. The family scattered like dandelion wisps in the breeze. Four years ago.

“You can crash at my apartment for a little while for free, Dad. This way you can gather some money and get back on your feet. I guess it’s my turn to help you out.”

As soon as I hung up the phone I thought about what I’d just offered. While it might have been the nice thing to do, it sure as hell was going to ruin my fun.

This man has been kicked out of multiple shared residences for getting drunk and falling asleep naked in the hallways. This is a man who frequently confuses the refrigerator and the toilet. (No, he doesn’t eat from the toilet, but he does piss in the fridge.) This is a man whose internal organs are so seared and soaked that he clutches his belly and howls while he sleeps. (When he isn’t snoring louder than a helicopter.) And like most classic drunks, he knocks over lamps, stumbles into furniture, and unknowingly bleeds from the foot for several hours without realizing it.

When he came to visit and pick up keys, I sat him down for a good old fashioned son to father talk.

“I’m going to continue to live like I’m alone here. I’ll try to be considerate, but… I like loud music. You like Wheel of Fortune. My choices will come first. I work 80 hours a week for this place. You like to chat and chat and chat. I often want solitude. So I will send you to your room. Frequently. Try not to be offended by that. I’m glad I can help you out, but the fact that I’m losing my privacy and space is something I resent. Be prepared to deal with hostility from me. It’ll happen. Clean up after yourself, and leave my goddamn toothbrush alone. You can eat whatever’s in the fridge, but don’t pee in there.”

I thought for a minute.

“I’m not putting a time limit on how long you can stay here, but the purpose of this arrangement is to allow you some rent-free time to accumulate money and move on. This is not a permanent arrangement. I expect you to aggressively save cash. That means no upgrading to expensive booze, premium cigarettes, and fast food meals. You’ve been cooking at home and buying your vices from the bottom shelf for two years. I’m not doing this so you can be indulgent. Like I said, I work eighty hours for this place, and for you to get all lazy and casual will piss me off. Resist that temptation. I know I sound harsh, but I think it’s best that I’m upfront so we have no confusion. Okay?”

He blinked a few times, speechless. Lectured by his own child. Told he might be sent to his room without dinner, grounded, his allowance taken away. His pride took some serious hits over the past few years, but this was on another level entirely. Still, we’re good friends, and he knew I was not gleeful or malicious with my stern lecture.

Besides, his only other option was sleeping in his van at the highway oasis.

He thanked me and left to go get possessions from his last residence, which he had two more days to occupy.

Almost a week has passed since then. My landlord lives above me. Dad has managed to piss him off twice, and that would be three if he’d been seen drunk and stumbling, pissing out in front of the building because I was in the bathroom. He’s embarrassing me.

This is going to get ugly.

Fast.

No good deed goes unpunished.

1:22 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm

14 Comments:

April 04, 2007 2:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With sympathy and empathy long ago seared from my emotions, I must say this is an awesomely written piece. Write more you cunt.

 
April 04, 2007 3:29 PM, Blogger Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm said...

Thanks. I think everything I do in past tense is jumbled and clumsy, but that was the only way to go with this one.

My DUI is up next...

 
April 04, 2007 3:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not what I wanted to hear. But not surprised.
-C

 
April 04, 2007 6:02 PM, Blogger Mishka said...

That was awesome, you had me from the first word. I can relate to you so much....I had an alcoholic biological father who I didn't spend a lot of time with but still considered to be family. One of my biggest worries growing up was that I was going to have to take care of him when he got old (being his only child). This was not something I was looking forward to since he never took care of me. Anyhow, he died a few years ago from too much bodily abuse (drinking and drugs) and as much as I hate that I feel this way, sometimes I am relieved...I wish I could have gotten to know the real him more but the addiction always seemed to get in the way....maybe that was the real him.

I really hope it doesn't get too ugly...

 
April 05, 2007 11:38 AM, Blogger Alecia said...

I never know what to think of what you write. It's always keeps me there, waiting for the next unbelievable thing, but at the end I'm sort of staring at it going, "What the fuck just happened?", which I guess is the point. So good job.

And PS - I'm still waiting for my letter. What the hell man, let me down.

 
April 05, 2007 8:46 PM, Blogger Angie T said...

Stunning piece, sir. Exquisite, and all that. I admire what you did for your dad and I have my fingers crossed that the ol' goat doesn't screw it up. Good luck!

 
April 08, 2007 11:23 PM, Blogger Stace said...

Damn dude sounds like it might get ugly. I hope things work out for you and quickly. Thanks for stopping by, I haven't had much time to chill and catch up on EVERYONE'S blogs.

 
April 09, 2007 8:39 PM, Blogger Bobby said...

Man you gotta read this book called Another Bullshit Night in Suck City. Seriously.

 
April 12, 2007 2:34 AM, Blogger if_i_had_a_hammer said...

Hopefully one day you'll have the luxury of working less so you can write more. I hope things are going well with your dad.

 
April 12, 2007 8:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will you either give me a call or a fucking typed message, and give me the skinny on your recent brush or brushes with those nazi, pig cock suckers that misrepresent laws you and I certainly don't believe in. Was it Scamburg cops that gotcha? Fuck those dirty cunts. I'm happy that vegas cops aren't so scummy and petty. let a cracka know Gilo.

 
April 15, 2007 11:44 PM, Blogger daniel said...

Steve, an amazing post. Candid as it gets.

I can't empathise... and I wouldn't offend you by sympathising. I hope it has a speedy resolution - I find your honesty and strength inspiring.

 
April 17, 2007 10:29 AM, Anonymous andy said...

I LOVE THE HIGHWAY OASIS!!!!!

 
April 23, 2007 6:53 PM, Anonymous Trelvix said...

I'm new in these parts and happened upon your work very much by accident.

Finally an island of talent in a sea of mediocrity.

Very nicely done.

I await your next entry eagerly.

--Trelvix (no relation)

 
May 01, 2007 7:15 PM, Blogger Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm said...

Dad was out as of 4/19. Third offense, urinating on the dumpster. Sometimes I hate being right.

 

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