Did you hear what the old man said this morning? the older brother asked his younger brother. He was talking about being on Mars. Talking about walking on Mars. Where does he get this stuff? the older son asked. These stories. Out and out lies, he said.
He’s not well, the younger man said. Dad is not dad anymore. He’s some guy who used to know us. Now we have to remind him. Tell him who we are. Who he is.
But, the stories. These far-fetched stories. He told a nurse the other day he slept with Marilyn Monroe. Said he killed the Kennedys too.
What did the nurse say? the younger one asked. They both laughed. Come on, he said. What’d she say?
She asked if it was true, both boys howled. The older son got a beer from the refrigerator. Pointed at it. The young son nodded yes.
Was it that black nurse with the real pretty eyes? the young one nodded yes again. She’s really good to dad. Treats him real nice, the eldest said.
When we were kids we went to Mars. Remember? We used to play like we were astronauts. We’d get in cardboard boxes and pretend they were capsules, both took a swig of beer.
We were kids. Pretending, the older one said. Now dad’s pretending.
No, he shook his head. It’s all real to him. As real as that cardboard box was to us.
Yeah. We were pretty serious about going to Mars, they toasted each other. Our giant sandbox became one big planet.
Whatever happened to that sandbox?
It went away. Just like everything does.