Old Style

He looked at him. Stared while he slept. Snoring away. Television remote in one hand and the other resting. The old man had The Andy Griffith Show on. Going in and out of sleep, he’d laugh sometimes out loud, then fall back into a state of unconsciousness. A beer was on the table beside him.

Where did it all go wrong for you? the son asked in a whisper. You just fell apart. Maybe you were never all that together, boy went to the fridge and got out an Old Style for himself. Popped it open. You used to drink Miller, again, whispering. What happened to you? the old man laughed briefly then fell back asleep. Look at you. Passed out pretty much, the boy tried to take the remote from the old man’s hand. The father gripped it hard. Even in his sleep he wouldn’t give it up. The old man smiled.

I’m stronger than you, the old man said. Boy went and sat down on the couch that was falling apart. Had a dip in the middle. Wooden arms scratched up.

This place is a real shithole, the boy said. A real shithole, he got up and grabbed another beer.

Nobody asked you, the old man said. Nobody values your opinion, boy laughed. That’s right. Laugh. Laugh at me, the dad said. You think it’s funny don’t you?

That we live this way? No. I do not find that funny. This is a nervous laughter, he said. Nervous that the whole trailer could fall apart at any given second.

I worked for all of this, the old man said.

You got this off of Social Security Income dad. You never earned anything. Could never hold down a job. Mom always said you were crazy.

She was crazy too, the old man said. Besides. It’s how you define crazy that’s important.

You were never around when I was a kid. I remember visiting you in the hospital. I think the psych ward became your second home. It was either that or a bar. Drunk and delusional is no way to go through life old man, boy took a swig of beer.

I always provided for my family, he told him. And this is the thanks I get? You should be more appreciative. One day this will all be yours.

The son looked around the trailer. Saw pictures of his mother on the wall next to Crayola colored pages. Colorings of lions and rainbows. Dark clouds and lightning bolts. He knew his dad was never right.

I’m going to get some more beer dad, the boy said. You got any money?

Asking me for money. I don’t have any money. Ther’s plenty of beer in there.

There’s only one left dad. There was a pause. The two men looked at each other. Dad slowly got out of his chair. Passed the boy on the sofa. Uhhuh dad, boy got up and grabbed the old man from behind. You’re not getting the last beer, he picked up the old man and body slammed him to the floor. Opened the fridge and took out the last Old Style.

Get up dad, he yelled. I said get up, boy poked him in the ribs with his boot. Get up you old fucker.

The old man never moved. His body stayed there on the floor. Motionless. Boy took the remote from his father’s hand. Walked over him and sat down in the old man’s chair. Popped open the beer and flipped through the channels.

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