Tuesday, November 14, 2006
David's father kicked the shit out of him at least once a week from when he was five or maybe six or, fuck, maybe three, until he was fifteen, until we were fifteen. Usually Friday or Saturday night. Usually late. Or very late. When the bars closed he would come home and something, maybe a misplaced toy at the beginning or a bike left out or a dish not washed or a jacket not hung up or finally the car not parked exactly right or parked with too many miles or, well, in the end you know it does not matter, it has nothing to do with whatever it is about at the moment, and he would climb the stairs and burst into David's room. If David was lucky just he would come only with his hands or maybe his belt wrapped around a fist, if David was not lucky then the belt would be loose with the buckle flying or there might be a hurling stick or a baseball bat.
Most Sundays I'd get high with David sitting watching the water flow by, the slow gestures of the tides as they move around the world, the call of hunting seabirds, the way the wind might shatter the surface of this arm of the ocean, and he would be black and blue, and he would have a hard time moving, and he would talk about revenge – starting with specific ideas that might melt into generalities and then fall into pointless anger which I'd watch float into the sky on our exhaled smoke.
That was not saving David though. It was poisoning me, keeping me angry about too many things that had now receded into the past. Stuff I might otherwise have put away.
And so I was ready, probably more ready than he might have ever gotten, when the plot was suggested as we watched a scratchy print of Cagney singing in Yankee Doodle Dandy at David's house late on a February Saturday night. And when David's father stumbled in and saw in the movie his target, "fucking queers!" he yelled and went after my friend. I clocked him from behind with his own hurling stick. And somehow saw myself defeating two demons for the price of one.
The concussion put him in the hospital for four days. I spent two weeks in a juvenile lock-up where I did heroin for the very first time, until David's mother made it clear that no one would be pursuing legal action.
Neither of us ever got hit by a father again.
copyright 2006 by Ira Socol