“The times, they’re changing you know, changing, changing, changing—faster and faster than you’ll ever be able to catch up with. No one’ll ever be able to catch up with ‘em. Who can? Who can’t? I can’t. He couldn’t. Well, maybe he could, yeah, maybe. But I think he had a hard time when he found out about it, you know. I would too, to find out about such a thing, to know what she’d done and know how you’d been screwed. His brother came back to his house I hear, after a long time, I don’t know how much, but it was long. L-o-n-g, long. He’d been out boozing and shit, you know, wasting half his money for school on stuff like that, stuff that you don’t really need. But I guess he started needin’ it after a while. Anyways, he came back home and told their Pa about this and he didn’t seem to care. They even had a party about the whole deal. Yeah, I don’t believe it either!
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“Yeah, that’s why were here and that’s why I sittin’ here with my free drink and a whole barrel’a last me the rest of the night. God, this music’s good, what is this? I don’t know, you? Naw, never heard it before, but I like it. Sounds kinda like that Davis guy, though. It’s got something, something I like and something I wanta hear again. Oh well, drink up. Damn this tastes good, you like it? Naw, I don’t know what kind it is eeeither. I hear the father go some expensive stuff, though. I’m just happy to celebrate, happy to celebrate even if I don’t know what were celebratin’ yet. Look, there’s the Pa now. Look at him, look at him with his big belly and his hair like that moon right out that window. Kinda like a big Santa Claus, don’t you think honey? Maybe or maybe not, I don’t know, never do. Look, they look the same. His son don’t look so similar though. Naw, he’s skinnier. Maybe cause he hasn’t been eating much since he lost all his money. I hear he was on one of them drugs, I think it was cocaine. Drained his money, probably. That stuff always seems to. Man, I tell you, if my son did something like this, I wouldn’t be a-celebratin’ that he’s back—I’d a slapped him upside his head and told him it was okay but he’s gonta have to work it all off. Every penny. Then I’d never let him forget my generosity. Nope, then he’d really be thankful.
“This sure is a nice place they got, here, honey. Big fancy everything. Come on, honey, let’s go say hello.”
Wow. Who’d thought this was going to happen. I just can’t believe it. I come back here after losing half my money to this bookie, have part of it stolen—alleyway crooks never bring a gun—why I can’t remember that—and here Dad just let me on it. Thank God, thank Dad. Wow: I’m so relieved, relieved that it was okay, just okay that I spent my money (it’s not like I didn’t try to earn something) that he so generously gave me, and whew, whew, whew. Whew. Oh here’s that couple that we see in church—or we used to see in church at one point—I used to see in church. Guess I kind of stopped going there for a while. Well, I didn’t have time; I was busy with trying to get that money back and trying to find a way out and studying and tending to Ms. Lucy, and just trying to survive. Guess I shouldn’t of bet that way. It was a sure thing. Great odds, no way it could’ve gone wrong. I’ve been through so much crap as it is that I’m just so glad Dad didn’t get too mad. Don’t think I could’ve taken much more yelling or cursing from anyone at me since that would have too much and I could’ve of dealt with it since I’ve already gone and wasted and gone and wasted everything. Oh, here he comes. What was his name again? We’d sit by them in church. But was the name?
“We’re glad to see you’re back alright. We was scared for awhile. You’re father’s a good, good man.”
“You oughta thank Jesus.”
“Yeah.” He grasped my hand and left, walking over to the drinks and pouring himself something. I’m not sure what it is. His wife stayed with me and just looked at me. She didn’t say anything. I tried to get her to talk, but she didn’t. I felt that rush, or at the absence of it, swelling up within me. I needed it, I needed it, but I couldn’t have it. I needed to reform, reform, reform.
“Oh, she don’t say much, alright, though. I probably do plenty talking so I make up for’er.” He laughed a crackling laugh. I laughed too to be polite though I didn’t think the joke was too funny. “Do know where the bathrooms are?”
“Oh yeah, end of the hall and turn to the left. Just go down there (I pointed) and take your second left.”
“Not for me, though. For my wife. You got it honey? You know where to go?”
She nodded and began walking.
“Actually, we remodeled,” I chimed in; I came from the table talking to my other son and found my newly returned Son come from giving some of our guest wrong directions to the bathroom. He would definitely be in a better mood.
“What?” The women, Mrs. Abram, stopped.
“Well, the bathroom is on the third right.”
“We just relocated some things. You know, moved the bathrooms, changed one of those extra bedrooms into an office. It works out great. I thought you would have figured that out by now. You haven’t been in there yet?”
“No, I guess not.”
“Well that’s okay. Do not worry about it.” He looked a lot like me, without maybe the belly and a little more hair. He looked delicate like me and delicate like his mother did when she came in sick and talking nonsense. It is okay, is it not? That’s what I have money for, to help and to hold, to love and to let live. To hope. I hope he’d turn out a little better, but I cannot control him. She always though I should but I never agreed. Nah, how could I acquiesce? Couldn’t, just couldn’t. Have to let him do what he wants to do. Oh well, we’ll see how it goes from now on. But the time is now, and the time is to celebrate that he’s here—I’m real glad. Are they running out of wine over there? No, they look okay. We wouldn’t want to let guests go thirsty; we don’t want them too drunk either. Just don’t worry about the supply of drinks. It will figure itself out. I should pay attention to my son here when I can; he is home and I am glad and we need to celebrate such a joyous occasion and since he has learned his lesson.
“I’m glad to see you’re such a forgiving man.”
“Yes, thank you. I love my son very much and I just couldn’t fathom not forgiving him. Everybody makes mistakes.”
“Well, I wouldn’t be as forgiving as you, Paul. I’d a probably told him he wouldta have to get on and get his own bearins’ in life. Honey, you back. You find it awright? That’s good.”
What the hell was he thinking? Son of a bitch. There he is standing and talking to God-knows-who and who-cares, with that other—Jesus, I’ve worked and worked and worked and worked, time and again just trying to get everything done dad wanted me to and then he came back and did nothing and dad just welcomed him back and threw this big party and let everyone know how happy he was to see him but no one remembered about me, I didn’t do those drugs or gamble away that money that dad gave me or nothing and I didn’t come back begging for forgiveness and money and help when dad had already given him money in the first place to try and do something and he already failed. Does everybody know that that other son of a bitch, my brother, spent all his money on booze and couple of prostitutes and not mention the cocaine or the meth. Eck-eck-eck, emm, emm. But no, ‘don’t worry about that, we’ll help you out.’ YOU’LL help him out, dad. I sure as hell won’t. He screwed me over be-cause now that father is helping him out, I have to do twice the work and no thanks, not even an appreciation but of course he did from dad, dad seems to thank him everyday. What’s in this drink? Good stuff. Wow she looks good tonight and I might as well make this a little better because I sure love a little bit healing especially love healing.
“Oh hey baby. Can you believe this? No, neither can I. Eck, I mean, he just lets him waltz in on here. Where’s the wine? Oh, eck, there it is. Thanks. Good good stuff. Yeah, waltz. Happy party, party happy, good enough to let me drink but not good enough for me to enjoy it in any way since the whole this is screwed up, you know. I know. I would. But its too late be-cause the party is already happening and I’m here drunk and you’re looking good and mad at the whole situation which I can’t control but there’s work to be done be-cause I’ll never get my work done in time to finish in time and in time I will learn to forget it won’t I or maybe I won’t but either way I’ll just drink some more now while I still can, okay? No, don’t take the cup away, please, please, please? Okay, you can have it, fine. Eck-eck-um, take it, yeah you like that, don’t you? I’m going for a walk.”
I sure got him by ruining the party and all their faces were so shocked and everybody was silent dropping their drinks and staring not knowing what to do next or why I had done what I did so I bet that they’ll remember this son instead of the other one who really doesn’t deserve any credit be-cause all he did was waste money not work hard like me…never again…time wasted…apart…changing…too… fast…I…just…can’t…ta…ke…i…t… …a…n…y…m…o…r…e…