“Where are the s-scissors?”
“You’re running around this house like you have ants in your pants!” the fat woman says in mock irritation. With her fat stubby fingers she tears into a two pound mass of hamburger and rips away a chunk. With her over-inflated hands she forms the raw meat into a patty.
“W-where are the s-s-scissors?”
“Goodness, Joey, calm down. The scissors are in the junk drawer, right where they always are.”
The boy yanks open a kitchen cabinet drawer, roots through the pencils, batteries, candles, coupons, string, matches—finds the scissors. He drapes the sheet over his head.
“Mom, c-cut out the eye holes.”
“There will be plenty of time for your costume after dinner,” the fat woman says as she slaps a hamburger patty onto a grimy cast iron skillet.
“B-but Mom, I want to leave before D-d-d-dad gets home!”
“You know you can’t go without your dinner, Joey.”
“B-but D-d-d-dad will r-ruin everything!”
“Joey, why would you say such a thing about your father!”
The boy tightens his grip on the scissors. He stares at the back of the fat woman as she tears into the mass of the hamburger and rips away another chunk. She molds the raw, red, bloody meat into a patty.
The things I saw that night. “No, Joey!” “No, Joey!” Fat spurting blood. “No, Joey! No, Joey!”
The boy loosens his grip on the scissors, pulls the sheet off his head, walks slowly out of the kitchen. He sits on the floor in front of the TV. He stares at the blank screen.
'Joey, supper’s ready,' the beautiful thin young woman calls. 'It’s delicious, Mom.' 'Son, I bought you an expensive new Chucky costume on the way home from the office.' 'Thank you, Dad.' 'Nothing is too good for my boy.'
The small apartment begins to stink of burning meat sizzling in hot liquid fat.
5:48 pm, 31 October 1992—The man spits a mouthful of partially-chewed hamburger onto his plate.
“Can’t you get the grease off these goddam burgers before you puttem on the buns? Lookit this fuckin thing!” The man peels the top half of the bun from his hamburger. “Goddam brown greasy lump of bread. Like something outta yer asshole. Is that it? You wanna shit in my mouth, bitch? IS THAT IT?”
The fat woman stares down at her plate. Her fat cheeks flare bright red.
“I can’t eat dis CRAP! This shit outta yer ass!”
The man fires the grease-soaked hamburger bun at the fat woman. It clings to the side of her head. The man laughs.
“You look like Kennedy with half his fuckin head blown off! Ha ha ha ha. Oh, man! Clean yer fat ass off and get me a can!”
The fat woman gets up from the table, dejectedly plods to the kitchen sink. The man laughs as she peels the greasy bun from her hair and dabs a damp paper towel against her head. The fat woman’s shoulders heave.
“Get my can first, then you can cry.”
With tears hot as the liquid fat from a frying hamburger burning down her fat red cheeks, the fat woman dutifully opens the refrigerator and brings the man a can of Busch.
“Yer too sensitive,” the man says as he pops the tab on the can. “Lighten up a little, will ya? Christ, I come home from a hard day’s work and hafta eat a crappy dinner with a crybaby. With two crybabies. Why am I so fuckin lucky?”
The fat woman sits down, digs her spoon into a pile of mashed potatoes, lifts the spoon to her mouth, her mouth opens, her three chins sag down to her shirt collar. She feeds herself. And she digs her spoon into the mashed potatoes again. The process repeats. Again and again and again. When her plate is clean of potatoes, she scoops another giant mound from the serving dish and begins anew.
The man drinks from the can. Shortly thereafter, the first “buuuuuhhhhpp” of the evening.
The boy closes his eyes, takes a deep breath.
“C-c-can I g-g-go tr-tr-trick-or-tr-tr-treating now?”
“Yeah. Go. I can have some peace and quiet for once.”
The boy gets up from the table, goes over to the junk drawer, grabs the scissors.
“Whaddya need those for?” the man asks.
The boy tightens his grip on the scissors.
“Answer me, boy.”
The boy looks at the fat woman. Her fat cheeks bulge with potatoes. She chews slowly, eyes cast down. Gravy leaks from the corner of her mouth.
I saw the Blood just pouring from the sky. But I didn’t know who the Blood came from. Hate is a small thing a toy for the unbelievers.
“Whaddya got those shears for, boy?
“T-t-t-to make m-my cos-costume.”
The boy nods.
The man picks up the Busch, takes a long swallow, sets the now-empty can down, wipes his mouth.
“Buuuuuhhhhpp. Get me a can.”
GET ME A CAN GET ME A CAN. I was a giant. Hate is a look on the puny unbeliever’s face or a wasted thought that stinks in his self fish mind. But I was a GIANT. I took action. I did not twist my face and think. I executed.
“A halloween costume, huh? What kinda costume?”
“A g-g-ghost,” the boy says as he stares into the cold white light of the refrigerator.
“Lemme see if I can put two an two together,” the man says as the boy hands him the Busch. “You got your mama’s shears in yer hand and—” the man pops the tab on the can, brings it to his mouth, tilts it, drains away half the beer, “and you wanna make yerself a ghost suit. Sounds to me like—”
“Are we all done with our supper?” the fat woman asks as she gets up from the table.
“What the hell? You don’t innerup me when I’m talkin. I’m puttin two an two together over here, you understand? YOU UNDERSTAND?”
The fat woman nods, her three chins bob up and down. The boy stands two feet from his father, scissors in hand.
“It’s rude to innerup someone when they’re talkin. CHRIST. Yes, we’re done with our fuckin dinner. If you wanna call that crap dinner. We been done. We been sittin here waitin for you to eat yer fill. Sittin here for God knows how long watchin you stuff yer fat face. And that ain’t a pretty pitcher. Believe me. Believe you me. Fat. Go on a diet. CHRIST. ‘Are we done with supper?’ Yeah, we’re done. CHRIST. Do these dishes. Get some fuckin exercise.”
The fat woman has an empty look on her face as she clears the table. Clumps of generic fat melted on a skull.
The man stares at the boy, brings the can to his mouth, tilts it, drains away the rest of the beer.
“Your mother,” the man says with feeling, in a genuinely sad tone as he shakes his head. “I’m sorry. I know it can’t be easy havin that thing for a mother.”
The man looks at the boy.
“Well, such is life. Get yer ole man a can, will you?”
The man surveys the scene. He sees the boy go to the refrigerator. He sees the fat woman fill the kitchen sink with hot water and pink dish soap. He sees the boy walk toward him—Busch in one hand, scissors in the other. He sees the fat woman’s fat soapy hands wipe a dirty, crumbling sponge over the greasy, chipped dishes. He sees the boy holding out a can of Busch. He sees his big, hairy hand take the can, pop the tab. He sees his hairy hand bring the can to his mouth. He sees himself drink the whole can in several long gulps. He sees his lips puff out as he burps.
“As I was sayin, two and two equals you cuttin up a sheet for yer Halloween suit. But I don’t work my fuckin ass off all day long so you can waste my paychecks on sheets. Not the way you piss yer bed every goddam night. We don’t have enough fuckin sheets that you can go around like some fuckin Casper. I can drink twenny canzabeer a night an I don’t piss in my sleep. When you can do dat, then you can be Casper.”
“B-but D-dad, I n-n-need a cos-costume.”
“CHRIST. If you knew how that baby talk killed me.”
“I’m s-s-s-sorry, D-d-dad. I c-c-c-can’t h-help it.”
And I truly couldn’t help it brother I will never forget how the old man said CHRIST the poor doomed unbeliever. I didn’t believe then either of course I was a giant but not of faith I was an executioner and I meant to execute all.
The man winces. He puts both hands to his head. He slaps his hands against his head.
“I c-c-c-can’t h-h-help—”
“SHUDDUP! Gimme those!”
The man grabs the scissors out of the boy’s hand, springs up from his chair, gets caught between the chair and the table, shoves the table, kicks the chair away, pushes past the boy, thunders around the kitchen, yanks open drawers and cupboards.
“Can I help you find something, dear?” the fat woman asks in a mechanical voice. She wipes the dirty, crumbling sponge back and forth, back and forth over a plate.
“Found it!” the man says. He tears one bag free from a roll of fifty gallon plastic trash bags. The man cuts off the two corners at the sealed end of the bag and then makes a semi-circle cut in the middle. He slings the bag over his shoulder, reaches into the junk drawer, pulls out a box of safety pins. He bends down, grabs the handle on the cabinet door under the sink, pulls, the door bangs into the fat woman’s leg. “Get outta my way, stupid.” The fat woman steps aside, wiping the dirty, crumbling sponge back and forth, back and forth over the same plate. The man takes out an overflowing garbage pail. He sets the pail and the box of safety pins on the kitchen table, opens the refrigerator, takes a Busch. He returns to the table, sets his chair straight, sits down. He opens the beer. Takes a sip, then another sip, then a series of long gulps. He bangs the empty can onto the table. He rubs his hands together, wipes his mouth.
“Let’s get yer suit on you, boy.”
The boy stands there.
“C’mere, c’mere, I ain’t got all night.”
The boy stands in front of the man.
“Put yer arms straight up.”
The man drapes the plastic trash bag over the boy, pulls the boy’s arms through the two holes at the ends, and then works the boy’s head through the hole he has cut in the middle of the sealed end of the bag. He pulls the bag down over the boy’s body. The boy is clothed in the brown plastic trash bag.
“We gotta be honest aboud ourself, boy,” the man says as he reaches into the garbage pail. He pulls out a rotting brown banana peel, takes a safety pin and pins the banana peel to the trash bag. “Yer not scary enough to be a ghost,” the man says as he reaches into the garbage pail and grabs the greasy hamburger bun he had thrown at the fat woman. “Examine the facks,” the man says as he pins the grease-soaked bun to the plastic trash bag. “Yer a studdererer, a bed wedder, you get lousy grades, yer always sick. The fack is, yer garbage,” the man says matter-of-factly, his beer breath carrying the facts into the boy’s face.
Of course he was truthful there brother he was a truth teller and it was probably the only thing he ever got right.
The boy stands silent and still as the man finishes designing the boy’s halloween costume with an assortment of rubbish: the blood-soaked paper the hamburger had been wrapped in, broken egg shells, a bit of fried egg yolk, crumpled, dirty paper towels, a soggy coffee filter caked with grounds, a juice can leaking orange concentrate, a wadded-up ball of junk mail, a small piece of swiss cheese and a sliver of ham, three chicken bones.
The man studies his work, shakes his head.
“It’s not quite right. The body is garbage but de head is too clean. Mama, bring some of dat gravy over here.”
The fat woman sets the dish she has been scrubbing for the last fifteen minutes into the sink, dries her hands on the front of her shirt, picks up the gravy bowl and plods expressionlessly to the table.
“Pour de gravy in de boy’s hair.”
The fat woman turns the bowl over the boy’s head. The brown liquid spills onto his hair.
“Now mush it around. Like a shampoo. Be creadive fer once in yer life,” the man says as he walks to the refrigerator.
The fat woman massages the gravy into the boy’s scalp with her fat stubby fingers. The man opens a can of Busch. The fat woman works the boy’s hair into a pointy clump. A half-giggle escapes from her mouth. The man hears the sound, stares at her huge rear end, drinks the beer in one long swallow. He walks over to the woman, stands behind her, whispers in her ear. She wiggles her fat ass against the front of the man’s pants. The boy stands silent and still.
Soon I’ll have a bag full of candy Soon I’ll have a bag full of candy Soon I’ll have a bag full of candy Soon I’ll have a bag full of candy.
The man whispers in the fat woman’s ear again. She turns and tramps out of the kitchen, a crooked grin on her face.
“Buuuuuuhhhhpp. You jest about ready, boy. You wait here an I get the rest of yer suit.”
I saw myself eating the candy after I had executed one and all. I was alone the giant of the universe.
The man leaves the kitchen, walks down a hallway, he passes the bedroom, peers in, sees the fat woman taking off her bra. He continues down the hall, enters the bathroom, unzips and drops his pants, urinates into the toilet bowl, though a stream or two splashes onto the toilet seat. After he pulls up his pants, he roots around in the bathroom trash can, pulls out a blood-stained sanitary napkin, walks back down the hall to the kitchen.
“Yer mother’s dirdy rag will make a nice collar,” the man says as he pins the sanitary napkin to the top of the trash bag around the boy’s skinny neck. “There. You look like one of them priestez. Father Garbage. Ha ha.”
The boy looks down at the soiled napkin.
“C-c-c-can I g-go now?”
“Get me a can. Den you can go. An don’t take off yer suit when you leave. An don’t take off any of dat garbage. When you come back, yer suit better look de same.”