This mad fucker rolled by him real fast, which was stupid, because he
was carrying an ice cream cone and he almost dropped it. His mother
would have been pissed. He would have dropped it right on his shirt. Why
would that be his fault anyways?
Stupid. But he licked the purple ice cream quickly, in case there
were other skateboarders on the way. In fact, never mind. He sat down on
the curb to eat it. Who cares?
His father was walking up the street. Oh no. He was late. Wait, his
father would be by him soon. What kind of place is this where a man
wears a dark suit like that here in the suburbs on a sunny day.
Question? No. A statement. But you don’t need a black suit, that’s for
sure. An ice cream cone is what you need. Purple. That big book his dad
reads while he chuckles madly to himself. Never mind. Get ready.
Who is that coming out of the door? Oh Christ, it’s that dumb old
lady from church. His dad would stand and talk to her, though Ronny
heard every Sunday evening that she was a hypocrite. He heard it through
the walls, along with stuff like take that hat off. It’s inappropriate.
And so on. Why? Not in this setting.
There was a lot he wanted explained.
"Hello Mr. Wilson," the old hypocrite said. Ronny licked the ice cream and watched his dad’s moustache.
"Good afternoon, Minnie," his father said. "I am just walking home
by my son on the sidewalk. He’s enjoying this purple cone while sitting
on the curb."
"Of course," she said. "Now listen. We have to get a few things straight here."
"Absolutely, straight is the best way, I am sure," he said. He
needed moustache wax or something. Ronny saw old guys in cartoons with
sharp-ended moustaches big as some kind of wild animal’s horns. Instead,
his dad wore a new-fashioned moustache that was shaped like a broom.
Sometimes when he laughed it looked like his teeth hung directly from
the moustache. Now that is cartoony in a bad way.
It appears he has no lips at all. Ronny shook his head sadly and
imprinted his own cold lips on the purple cone. Who invented purple?
Some people would call it pink but he knows it’s purple. Some people
His dad was going on and on. They would both be late. But at least
on the car ride over, his father would tell stories about the sorry old
bitch he was jabbering to now.
"Listen, Ronny. Do you hear what Ms. Smith is saying?"
The old woman shaking her head, tsking, tsking.
"It’s not really the sort of thing you tell a boy, Mr. Wilson."
The big toothy smile opened up under the moustache and his dad said
"Oh, that’s my mistake then. He’s right here after all, a part of this
very environment. If I were to describe him I would say he fits in quite
nicely. A boy with an ice cream cone sitting on the curb while his
elegantly dressed father speaks to one of the elderly ladies from
The old lady with her old dress and her big dumb nose just stared at his father. Ha.
"Yes. I suppose you’re right. An intervention is not best subject for a boy. Drugs, right?"
"Booze," she said.
There is a lot of stuff that is bad but booze is the worst.
Sometimes the kids that make him smoke are drunk. Sometimes they must
be. You see it on TV. Sometimes he hears about the booze through walls.
Wait a minute.
He stood up off the curb and stepped close to his father. With his
coneless hand he reached for his father’s free hand. Wait a minute. A
quick lick of the ice cream before his father leaned down. If he did. He
He leans down to kiss him on the top of the head when he’s been
drinking. That’s the booze alright. He can smell it. Step a little
closer you old hag. Why can’t a man enjoy a drink with his friends, and
so on. The bottle, his old aunt called it. But she lived in a different
province or state. Here they call it booze.
He kept missing pieces of the conversation. But this is good ice
cream. Glad to get the waffle cone too. Old cones are stupid; they only
get their flavor from the ice cream. This is from the cone itself.
Waffle. Not really waffle but still. Waffle.
"Hey buddy, this nice church lady is coming over to our house tonight."
"What?" said the boy.
"Mizz Smith," his dad said. "Mizz Smith is coming to our house."
Both those characters stared at each other not saying anything. Can
the booze just hit a man like that all of a sudden? The old woman wasn’t
wearing anything on her feet. That’s odd. But, odder still is the look
on her face. That’s right. He had two more bites left on his cone.
That’s right, my dad is on the booze. He’s tied one on after work, I
guess. Now mom will have to drive—
"Aren’t we going out to the Mediterranean Inn tonight?"
"Oh no," his father said, rubbing the top of the boy’s head. "Oh no.
Your mother has invited this fine woman over for the evening. We musn’t
be going to that local pizza place tonight after all."
The teeth under the moustache get bigger and bigger. But that’s
right, Mizz something—Smith—you keep screwing your mouth up like that.
No lips on her, either, just a colorless hole like the one under the
The cat at her feet. Get the cat back in the house Mizz.
She didn’t notice anything. She leaned ahead and hissed in his father’s ear.
"Oh fuck. Just for your years of service then, sure," he said and
hugged her in his arms. The purple cone was all gone as the old lady’s
face went blank and white.
Oh Jesus, the booze. It was alright. It’s the booze never mind. No problem.
"I am so tired," his father said, and took his jacket off. "It’s the sun."
Well, it is inappropriate to wear all that black in the sun. It’s
not right. Not walking home like that. Where’s the car? How could they
go to the pizza place anyway? Where’s the car?
That mad fucker made him sit down on the curb with his ice cream
because you don’t want that purple on your shirt when you’re going out
to dinner. Your mother might not be as nice as your dad.
"Let’s have the intervention right here," his dad said.
Not here. Where is here? Only two blocks from their house. Let’s go home.
"Yup. That’s a great idea," his father said. He kicked his shoes off
and stepped onto the lawn in his socks.
Then he sat down and took his
socks off. He didn’t want to get back up. Ronny sat beside him and the
nosey old bitch’s cat came to lick his fingers.
"I don’t want to stand up," his father said. Leaning back to stretch
fully out. He stared at the sky. Ronny did too, but the old woman was
on the phone. Soon his dad was snoring and Ronny was lying on the ground
looking up at the clouds. There were only two and you can’t say they
were any shape at all. One of them wanted to be a square and one of them
wanted to be a circle; neither of them wanted to be a duck or a horse.
Mizz whatever, did she? She must have thought his eyes were closed.
She must have thought she was wearing something under her skirt, who
knows? The older boys who make Ronny smoke talk about things but this
can’t be the thing they talk about. Why did she have to walk over him.
Never mind. She was in her house.
This nervous guy who plays with his watch at the back of the church
drove up in a wine-colored Lincoln. He honked the horn and his sleeping
father woke up. When he saw the car he smiled and had a burst of energy.
"You want to sit in the front, Ronny?"
Not really no he didn’t. It’s hot and the seats are always heated.
Why can’t you turn the seats off? Why can’t you turn the heat off? His
father started snoring in the back seat.
"Let’s go get some pizza you mad fucker!" Ronny yelled. "Let’s get my mom."
The man said don’t say fucker and also Ronny’s mom didn’t want
pizza. But we’re all going to get some coffee and some pizza, sure. Why
Was it the last straw? Ronny asked the man. Was his sorry ass out of here? Was it high time he stopped fucking up?
The man stared straight ahead and handed Ronny a piece of gum. It
was mint. Who wants minty gum? Grown ups like old-fashioned flavors, not
stuff that makes your tongue purple.
But doesn’t he love her? Isn’t it going to get better? Ronny wanted
to ask. What about the things he can’t hear? What about the way they
come out in the morning with red eyes and embarrassed smiles, making
pancakes for him even though he already had toast? What about the
cartoons he watches while they smile for some reason across him?
His father and mother always agree those hypocrites don’t know a
thing about love. What about all the windows being open and the air
being fresh as hell while his father stands bare-chested in the kitchen,
smiling in the morning?