Monday, June 7, 2010

From "Found" (1/5)

I'm cheating here, catching two birds with one stone, or rather possibly ten birds with five stones. The next few days will have entries plucked from the short story/novel chapter that I am currently writing called "Found." Today's bit focuses on Eddie and is the introduction scene for him in the story. Also, I'm tearing this unedited out of Word, so it might not read perfectly. If I get around to look through it on blogger then I might make the changes, but they are probably only going to happen in the Word file. Just a disclaimer. And now, I'll give it over to the omniscient narrator...

It begins like every horrible film you’ve ever seen with a doorbell ringing. The man of the house is getting up slowly, waiting on another pitch, and swing, he’s timed it well, because they are mid-inning. His wife is still in bed, because the dog woke her up around three and she couldn’t get back to sleep, so now it’s three on the other side of the dial and she’s napping, which doesn’t bother him in the slightest, because the image of his wife asleep in his mind is a very beautiful one. Now, however, is a bit of a moment of truth. This is a big deal of sorts, according to his eldest daughter, who’s said that the man he’s about to meet is effectively his son-in-law, that she thinks his relationship with her sister is that involved. For Eddie, this is a bit much to take in so suddenly, but this isn’t new, because this generation that was born after the internet was a commonplace phenomena, well, Eddie has decided that he’ll never keep up with them by this point in his career as a dad.

Answering the door, he’s a little unsure of how to proceed, if there’s some new social jargon that he doesn’t know or if the handshake will suffice which apparently it does and the lad, name of Carl, says to him, “It’s a pleasure to meet you, sir.” A bit of a throwback, the sort of thing that Eddie likes; if this is a microcosm of the macrocosm that is this kid, then things will go well, if not so much, then at least it looks like Selena definitely could’ve done worse. Carl’s out of the way quickly so she can run up and greet him with a daughterly hug that only betrays a little bit of immaturity for her age. Eddie has always thought that once you made people go to college, basically extended the school years by four-ish, then you also expanded childhood by about fifteen percent, so he has never been looking for his girls to simply turn into women and so far he has not been let down.

“My wife, Miss America,” an old pet name that his daughters always found cute, but now brings a flush to his child’s face, “is unfortunately passed out at the moment. And with good reason, because her night’s rest was cut in half by the disgruntled mutt, but I can show you what room you’ll be in, Carl…”

“Thanks for putting me up for a few days, um, Eddie’s all right, right?” A quick nod, he’s smiling inside, talk about kids not growing up. “I, um, I don’t mean to live off your hospitality or anything…”

“But that’s exactly what you will be doing, now, isn’t it?” Eddie is sizing him up—the kid might be a little too high-strung for his liking, but what he thinks doesn’t matter and the girl looks happy, which is something of a personal win for him as a father. “I absolutely insist on it,” he champions, attempting to appear magnanimous. He is having a certain out of body experience while leading Carl down the hallway to Monica’s old room, remembering his own time spent on the other side of this equation, meeting his wife’s father when he was a spry young man of 22, himself. Now that recalled image has a few years on the boy following behind him, but not a few pounds. Eddie is sidetracked by thought of fighting this kid; who would win? He is certainly more fit, but the kid is stocky and young.

Then he opens the door and starts to wonder how his mind got turned on to the violent train of thought. “I hope you don’t mind pink,” he says the figure in the doorway, “because we’ve only recently acquired the guestroom when our eldest got her own place—a house I hear you are familiar with.”

Success! He has brought the boy to a flush, but wait, why is attempting to put this kid down, to deconstruct him and find his weaknesses? Eddie is somewhat off-put with himself. “I’ve been to her house, yes,” Carl says, Eddie being able to tell that the boy is walking on eggshells.

“Now, I know that y’all aren’t young’ns anymore,” he says to the young’n, “but I talked to Mona, the wife, and we agreed that we’re going to put in a curfew here…err,” funny that now it is him stumbling over his words, “we mean that you don’t have to stay in this room after 11, if you’ve got to piss or are thirsty or what the fuck, we’re not being outrageous…” The vulgarity comes back surprisingly quickly, reminding him of conversations with his buds in college or certain drunken evenings with friends from work. He reflects on the masculinity of the words in his mind and then stops for a second to trace that misogynist thought and admit his own bias; there is nothing essentially male about those words, he thinks to himself, we just picked them up as kids because we overheard our fathers saying them when we shouldn’t have been listening and to be quite frank we just didn’t listen to our mothers, that’s why we thought they were so manly!

The kid is looking at him somewhat dumbfoundedly. “Yeah, got lost for a minute there,” Eddie says, “but I’ve found myself again. Me and the missus, we’d just rather that you two use the two rooms that we’re providing for you. And if either one of us is up, well, then do what you want, but if we’re off to bed and it’s post-11, well, scout’s honor if you know it.”

“Understood, sir,” Carl says, and drops his bag down. “Thanks again for having me…”

“Thank one of the women,” Eddie states with a smile, “they’re the ones who run this place anyway. Even Monica, who doesn’t even live here anymore. Let me ask you a question, boy, are you an angry man?”

“I…I don’t think so.”

“Well, I’d hope not, because it’s a stupid thing to be. Especially if you are ever going to love anything, because that’s what it’s all about,” he notices the boy blushing again, but this time he wasn’t trying for it, “you can’t really run your life after that point. Or rather, you never run your own life, and it is only when you love someone that you find a person to run it for you. And from my experiences at the water cooler and the gossip corner, not to mention the barber shop, angry men, well they don’t adapt to that life well at all.” He pouts, considering what he has just said.

“I’d figure that any anger at all is a bad thing…” Carl almost whispers. Eddie looks up at him and for the first time they have a direct look at each other, then the old man nods curtly and leaves the room and the camera follows him offstage.

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