I Mean, Seriously, What Are The Odds?

Other than death and taxes, they say, one of the most basic truths in life is that we eventually become our parents.

For some of us, this is a blessings, but for others, a curse.

I Mean, Seriously, What Are The Odds? by Beau Johnson

“Dad, what’s a motherfucker?” 
I’m not saying I believe in coincidence, not on the whole, but seeing how things have played themselves out these last few days, I may have some adjusting to do.  It’s more than likely the entire reason I hadn’t even asked Duane where he’d heard the word.

Dishes in my hand, drying them, my boy sits there at the table, cut up apples in a bowl to his left.  His hoodie is as it always is, up, and his blue eyes remain wide.  Wasn’t no thing with him and me, Duane asking questions and such.  It’s really the only way it should be between a father and his boy.  I’m not saying I corner the market on such observations, but I am saying I know what not to be when it comes to being a parent.  Learned that shit straight up, belt buckle and all.            

Enough about that---back to my boy’s question and the answer I knew he wanted but I was unable to give.  I could have given it though, just so we’re clear, but it wouldn’t have been right, not from a parent who truly holds their child’s best interest at heart.  He’d be curious, sure, as would anyone who saw their mother’s mouth half full of some guy’s cock.  Full and flush, my wife’s face is half turned towards whoever snapped the shot in this picture, her hand up in the A-OK position Duane and I had come to expect.  This was pre-cancer Diane too, and from the looks of her hair, about a year before she is diagnosed.  But would my boy’s eight year old mind truly understand what was happening within the frame?  And really, is this even the type of question I wanted to be asking?
Context indeed.
So I’m going to start over and forget that showing my son the picture even passed through my mind and just say it’s a month ago that I find what I find and that even though I wanted to stop looking at it, I couldn’t.  That about sums this shit up.  Except for the scar on the upper right thigh of the man my wife was throating.  You can’t actually see who the man in the picture is, just my wife’s exuberant expression.  I’m not sure if I’d mentioned that or not.  I’d grown up with that scar though, so that I will mention, and I knew exactly how it had come to be.  Funny how things like that happen; how what you help create can turn and rip your shit apart.
The scar belonged to Barry, my goddamn twin.

And of course if it had been anyone else it would have been better than this.  I wouldn’t have been able to know who it was, only guess, and somehow come to terms with the fact that the woman who died as I wiped her face decided to blow some random dude during the course of our marriage.  I’d even stopped myself from worrying if someone else had been there at the time, taking the picture, or if a timer had been used.  Either way, what was the point?  But then the scar comes into focus, there during the moments I was unable to put the picture down.  Like a little half-moon but jagged at the end where I pulled the nail free.  I picture a different picture then, one from fifth grade, the day Barry and I pulled down our old tree fort even though we were told we could not.  I want to scream.  I want to cry.  Instead I do the very thing I have rallied against my entire life: I become my father.  I embrace my rage.

Belt buckle and all.


Should I?  No.  Not outright.  As I’ve said, it wouldn’t seem proper, not from a parent who truly cared.  I select a different picture instead, one from an album I hadn’t paged through since before Diane succumbed.  In it Barry is wearing his lumberjack garb, a rifle over his shoulder and his leg upon a stump.  The smile below his mustache is the one I’ve been attempting to obliterate since the day before last.  In my basement is where I do this, during the time that Duane is at school.  

Not that I expected him to, but my son says nothing when I hand him the still.  He doesn’t understand.  Then again, neither do I.

In Canada, with his wife and three boys, Beau Johnson lives, writes and breathes. He has been published before, on the darker side of town. Such places might include Underground Voices, the Molotov Cocktail, and Shotgun Honey. He would like it to be known that it is an honor to be here, down in the Gutter