You have to stop watching the telly!
No. I don’t.
Oh for bloody hell and gut boots, the ringling clam of an overarched drake, how beastly you sound without the aid of a goat! Nay, on my nether and under thy bed there will be a squirrel dancing on a dead mouse’s head. But if you think this will improve the view of your crude and inexcusable antics, then you are not a fine judge of situational discourse in this culture. If that is so, and I would know as you are my daughter—and I know you have always lived in this culture except for that one Christmas when you were nine and we went to—
I was twelve.
I was twelve years old!
Little woman, let me tell you how it is in this culture, one centered on the Good Lord Jesus Christ in a fine nondenominational church serving the God-fearing public for a good 20-mile radius in this Godforsaken land. Pastor Barney, he knows when the final days are coming. So you, Miss Queen of the Castle, shall not talk back to your father and ye shall do as I say or you will burn in Hell!
What are you blathering about, old man?
Being disagreeable with your father is a bell cow of bad tidings to come within forty yards of our barn. You need to make right with God and to do right by God, you do right by me.
You are so full of shit.
Another log on the fire, eh?
Piss on yourself.
Oh, very nice, this daughter of mine, the words that escape her lips, where do they come from? How did they become so filled with hate? When I was a child there were no cracks or retorts, and if there were there was only regret and remorse. But then, we were whipped something fierce by Pastor Jeremiah when I was a child. Drove the devil right out of me. Took him some time as the devil had his claws dug into me, but I got out with the help of the pastor’s fierce whippings when he done caught me doing wrong. You’ve had it easy, too easy. Should’a smacked you more as a child.
Oh, for fuck’s sake, Da, you smacked me plenty. How many have you had already today? And you speak to me of temperance?
Daughter, I’ve got a good mind to bring down all my imagination at once. You’ll be cuckoo-coddling and bubbling about Pipstones when they quanfigure your adenoids so slyly you won’t ever be contacted by school-hood chums. Doubt if you will, that’ll be your problem on the Dorfelstraat. Besides, what would I do with a quacky knocker sneaking up in me looking at them hem-haws you got hanging left and right throughout the house.
They’re paintings, Da. My paintings. The paintings you have never acknowledged except asa nuisance and a possible source of evil on the walls. You know how that makes me feel that you not only don’t appreciate the time and patience and skill I’ve developed as an artist, but you also think they are eyesores and messages from hell. How do you think that, Da?
Ah, daughter, you paint erotic filth, the devil’s mischief, cacophonies of irritating colors, and violence against Christians.
They’re realistic landscapes of mountains, ocean beaches, rolling countrysides, waterfalls, redwoods, and so on. How could you possibly mistake any of them for the crazy things you think they are?
Landscapes, you say?
Well. Why didn’t you say so? I thought they were demonic.
Look honey, it might be that you have no talent for painting because I just see hate and anger and violence against Christians and all loving peoples who believe in the Lord. Whatever time and effort you invested and whatever skills you think you’ve learned, I have to say that I think you’re probably no better now than when you started. Maybe worse. There’s no skill. Time and effort? Just a waste. You could have been doing something productive like working for a telemarketing outfit. They pay on commission, a lot of them, so you need hustle and drive. Hopefully, you’ve got talents outside of the arts cause you’re going to need them.
Da … I have sold nearly four dozen paintings in the past two years. The largest one, on commission, was bought for $12,500. Obviously, your opinion is not held by everyone.
Huh. Maybe they’re devil worshippers and they saw what I saw, but they liked it, the gore and the blood and the lakes of fire.
What, you mean my sunset over a lake, the one with the bright orange being reflected on the water? You take that as being a lake of fire?
I don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re full of hate and now you’re devil-tonguing me with a rapacity I do not appreciate.
You don’t appreciate it? How do you think I feel when you chastise me, condemn me, and dismiss me? When you’re coherent, anyway. It’s been a mix so far today. I suppose I should count my blessings.
Oh, dear child, chastisement is a well-recognized and mostly admired motivational technique. Worked well in my generation and those that came before. Your idea of dismissal is me letting you get back to whatever you were doing, not getting in your way. It’s sort of a silent, “See ya.” And condemnation, well, that’s just love.
Oh my God! Do you actually believe the bullshit that flows from your drunken lips?
You mean the wisdom? Of course! I crated it, refined it, designed it, developed it, trimmed the fat, ate the yolk, and polished off the eggnog. It was a heady process, one I did not discover overnight. I had to think, meditate, and experiment. I once used Ajax and Woolite as the primary ingredients in a concoction I meant to pour on the driveway thinking that could help me develop insight into what life is all about. I forgot, though, and your sister Maisy dumped it out. Oh, the beating I wanted to give her, but your mother—God rest her soul—pleaded with me and I gave in when she started with the tears. Oh, the tears that woman cried to protect your sorry little asses from a good whooping. You never appreciated her enough and you still don’t know that she’s gone.
I appreciated mom, believe me. Daisy and I, we both knew she was saving our asses. That didn’t mean we weren’t scared and that we felt guilty and ashamed that mom had to endure such abuse to help us. You don’t even understand that it took me over a decade of adulthood to forgive you. You went sober for eight years, and that was great, but now you’re drinking again and combined with the memory loss, you’ve become a cranky old boob. At least your physically easy to control now.
Now wait a minute. You think I can’t put a whooping on you now then you got another thing coming.
What, you’re going to get out of your wheelchair to … what? For crissakes Da, I have to bathe you every day! You think I like coming over everyday to get you settled in the morning and the evening? You think I enjoy paying the daytime caregiver to stay with you? You were a lousy, angry, mean drunk growing up and now you’re a cranky, ungrateful bastard who does nothing but complain as I do everything for you. Daisy won’t even bother with you. She hates you. You want to talk about hate, try Maisy. At least I’m here. You’re luckier than most.
Oh, yeah, I am basking in lucky charms and four-leaf clovers. Everything is beautiful and nothing is ever bad. I’m so thankful to be alive and served by the most doting daughter in the world, the one who hangs up Satanic images throughout her house to curse me and bring wraiths into my room at night to feed on my spirit, to slowly suck my soul dry before I go completely mad. You’re making sure of it. Damn you to hell, daughter, for giving me no spunky when there’s a battery gone haywire or fill up the gas tank before a long journey to the south of Mexico to visit a shaman I once knew.
First off, you’re horrible. Second, what?
Yeah, I knew a shaman. It’s a long story.
I’d like to hear it some time.
Another time. You’ve worn me out with your gallivanting about to and fro while spewing gibberish.
My gibberish? You can barely follow your own thoughts!
Many a snug little one has said such things to me. You think you corner me? My mind is like a diamond: clear, sharp, impenetrable. I give my left hand what my right hand already held, that way they each know what it feels like to hold the same thing. It’s also like saying, “Hello!” There’s no reason to be unbalanced. But, by God, girl, you’re pressing too hard on the golden minutes trying to squeeze a lemon into a margarita mix, but you fail to see the piñata for what it could be if you decided to place it on top of your car instead of whacking it with a stick. What day is it?
Look, Da, I gotta go. My shift starts in an hour and I have to get ready.
Sure, you leave your good old Da all alone with your hem-haw wickedness of Hell on earth! Cruelty, that’s what it is. Cruelty.
You think leaving my side is going to stop me? I’ll have you know I once THOUGHT a police officer into giving a guy who cut me off a ticket. I just thought, “A cop should pull him over and give him a ticket.” Sure enough, it happened not five minutes after I asked God to punish that man. So I’ll be thinking, “Daughter of mine, get you ass back here and take down these abominable emblems of the Devil!”