They say with age comes wisdom and youth is wasted on the young,
but sometimes getting older just makes you colder ...
but sometimes getting older just makes you colder ...
Some Solid Dick by Ryan Sayles
The old man takes his time lighting the first cigarette of the day; his hands tremble with a palsy a little too pronounced to do anything quickly anymore.
With a deep inhale he stares at his grandson through the veil of rising smoke. Studies the kid’s long hair, the scar on his chin, the way he never makes eye contact. At eight-four, the old man considers his thirty year-old grandson a kid. Doesn’t like much about him.
“Stop huddling over your damn cereal like I’m going to stab you for it,” the old man says. “This is my home, not your summer camp.”
Linus, who never liked talking so early in the mornings, hates his grandfather for waking around four AM and never shutting up after that. “It wasn’t summer camp, grandpa,” he says and makes a conscious effort to un-guard his food.
“Prison, then,” Grandpa says. “How about some coffee, eh?”
Linus gets up and passes his still-standing grandfather. “Have a seat, grandpa. Stay awhile.”
Grandpa sneers just a tad. “I will in a second.”
“Hard time moving again?”
“Just sitting. It’ll pass in a day or two.”
“Okay,” Linus says and goes to the pot. Pours a cup for his grandfather. Stares at the back of the man’s head for a moment. Studies that last vestige of a comb over he has. Thin, straw-like wisps of hair that’s been gray longer than it was ever brown.
“What’re you doin’ back there?” His grandfather asks, head turned as best it will to look over his shoulder.
“Just getting you your damn coffee. Jeez, grandpa.” Linus comes back over, sets the new cup down and plops back into his chair.
Grandpa takes his time easing himself down into the chair before him, takes a sip and savors the heat as it crosses his tongue. “Sour,” he says. “You use the old grounds again?”
“I dunno, grandpa. You have like ten cans of coffee in that cabinet.”
“Well, stop using the one you’ve been using. I buy fresh cans. This one is gonna give me another one of my spells.”
“We don’t want that,” Linus says as he pours the old man a bowl of cereal. Milk and spoon and Linus leans back, runs his hand down his face. “Grandpa, I think I’m going to look for another place to live.”
“Have it your way. Your momma ain’t gonna take you back. Not after what you did to that guy. You’re lucky as hell I need live-in help.”
“We both benefit, grandpa.”
The old man leans forward, glowing cherry of his smoke stabbing the air as he speaks. “Linus, time for some solid dick.”
Linus coughs a single, incredulous laugh. “You’ve got to stop saying that. It means something else nowadays.”
“Straight talk, kid.” Grandpa puts his elbows on the table, snarls. “You used to be a good kid. What happened to you I don’t know. Drugs is what your momma said. Some fairy dyin’ of that ass-disease got you hooked on drugs. And now, look at you. Felon. No job in a bad economy. I’m sure you still go find drugs somewheres. Long hair. When I die you’re gonna have a helluva time makin’ it. Time to get your head outta your ass.”
Red swells up from Linus’s neck. Touches his jaw, fills his eyes. “Wallace wasn’t no damn fairy. You might not understand but I knew him. He was a good man. He was wonderful to me.”
“He was doper. And he poisoned you. Pure and simple.”
“I make my own decisions. And I’m deciding to look for a new place to live.”
“Keep acting like a punk and you’ll go right back to livin’ at your summer camp.” Grandpa leans back, sips his coffee. Grimaces. “Is this how they make coffee there? Tastes like it might be.”
Linus looks away. Twelve years of his life, pissed away at Loggins State. Twelve years. Only took him one year after Wallace died to spiral down far enough to drug that guy he met at a party. The one guy in the whole city without enough shame to stay away from the ER afterwards. What luck. That one year culminated where he lost himself, struggled to find his way now that he was alone, Linus found himself at his bottom and then added on twelve for good measure.
“Besides,” Grandpa says, the strange old bruising on his forehead like a third eye staring accusingly at Linus, “I give you money. I don’t ask much. Now that I’m having my fainting spells, these times where it’s hard to get up and down, I need somebody. And your momma ain’t gonna help me neither.”
“Because you’ve been terrible to her all her life. Just like Grandma. Just like me.”
“I don’t apologize for sayin’ what needs to be said.”
“You were terrible to grandma, and in turn she was terrible to my mamma, and in turn she was terrible to me. You can’t treat folks like that. It’s a cycle.”
The old man glared. “I don’t apologize for sayin’ what needs to be said.”
“You don’t apologize for your solid dick?”
“Nope.” Grandpa says. “Hell no.”
Linus watches his grandfather take another sip of coffee. Finally, his eyes roll back and his head falls forward, forehead smacking the table like a loose brick falling off a rooftop. Freshening that bruise.
“Now,” Linus says as he rises from his seat, the look on his face gone stone cold. “Let me give you some solid dick, Grandpa.”
He moves over to the old man, face down on the table. His grandfather’s bowl of cereal shifting around in its milk from his head falling forward, a little more listless with every toss.
“When you spend your life taking a dump on people, eventually they decide they’ve had enough.” Linus takes the coffee cup, tosses the brew into the sink and washes it down with hard splashes from the faucet. He drops the thing in the dishwasher and fires it up. No evidence of the drugs he’s been lacing the old man with.
“And I started having enough about the same time you started having your fainting spells.” Linus makes air quotes around fainting spells. Takes the small brown bottle out of his pocket and taps it on his grandfather’s head. “Your coffee is going to be sour until the day you die.”
He effortlessly picks up the old man. Twelve years of lifting in the prison yard pays off. Walks out of the kitchen. “Now, let’s get you in your bed and start working on your next can’t sit spell.”