writing chapter 11.4
One night Mom came home to fix dinner before rushing off to her second job, quoting some wacko theory she’d probably heard from some guy. About how the super rich (one of which owned Big Behemoth Inc.) were plotting to reduce the population by some huge amount by putting contraceptives in the food. Something about Roundup and Monsanto. Whatever. He gave her the third degree over that one (list from chapter 10), and called her a slut as she walked out the door.
Dad was very complex inside. Wait and see. He modeled himself on the ideal soldier, sort of a swat team cowboy – stoic and self sufficient (PTSD, alcoholic, addicted to pain meds). Restrained (inhibited). He would never admit fear, but he was frightened of everything fearful, and vigilant and watchful (anxious and paranoid). He fed his self control with a belligerent self righteousness, and refused to admit to a fault or mistake. So he always put the blame on others, and became hostile and violent, rejecting and punishing.
So bouts of rage and violence would alternate with anxiety and depression, each leading around to the other in a twisted, stupid kind of life. Which he felt was appropriate to force onto his son, who persisted in being a balanced kind of teenager. These days Nuthin was completely normal. Dad never heard a peep from him, he never crossed anybody, did what he was told, and never asked for nothing. Sometimes Dad worried about him. Where was that teenage rebellion? He seemed lethargic, less of himself. Like he’d had too many thumps on the head.
Dad put some effort into trying to cheer the kid up. Maybe the doctor could proscribe happy pills to cure his depression. Nathan said no thanks, he was just studying so he could get into a good college.
Dad suggested a boot camp. “Basic training did wonders for my attitude. You’d sail thru.” (He hated it and was almost kicked out). “Well, why don’t we go to a game together, then?”
“That’d be great, Dad. I’ll work up a pair for the two of us, right after I’m done with this asisgment.” It was the middle of the summer. School was out. But Nathan was pretending college prep summer school so he could go to work every day. He could get tickets to an afternoon Braves game.
“Make it good seats this time. Last time I went you put me in the nosebleed seats.”
“Yeah, Dad, you don’t want to end up with a duplicate ticket, right? There’s always lots of seats in the stands. I’m just thinking of you, Dad.”
Nathan was keeping his nose down and striving to get a full scholarship to somewhere far away. Maybe he should ask the family doctor to put him on antidepressants. He could bribe Sis with them and get her to leave him alone. She was continuing to torture him with his secrets, the latest being his so called summer school. He really was doing advance credit courses, but he took them online in his bedroom at night, not out at the local technical college during the day.
Sis wasn’t afraid he’d expose her extortion. She was confident in her control of Dad. She was skipping school and hanging with gang members who’d been kicked out of school and were now professional drug dealers, regularly turning in notes from Dad. Mom was so inattentive and stressed out that she didn’t have the energy to notice. Which suited Sis. And Dad, too. Together in the living room at night, they celebrated their victory over the sad faces and dull personalities of Mom and Nuthin. Actually, Sis was practically never home now that it was summer, and that left Dad and Nathan at home alone, each in their own world – Nathan’s ambitious and secretive, Dad’s resentful and prurient. Like the celebrity home thing he was watching. Someone with too much money taking gaudy and tasteless to new heights. It never failed to make Dad feel dissatisfied with his lot, which made it all the easier to take it out on Nuthin or Mom.
He didn’t live as well as his father, Nuthin for sure would be a pauper. All that crap about how he could be rich if he worked hard enough. It was easy for rich people to say that. But the really rich didn’t actually work, did they? They paid others to do the work for them and mainly lived on stocks and their inheritance (new material). Unless he was whatshisname who built Big Behemoth with his bare hands. But he used prison labor as a model. Hiring temps because they had nowhere else to go, and working them to death. Was it always like this, with the rich eating the poor and nobody giving a fuck? Dad didn’t know history, but he suspected that it was not the steady march of progress with justice for all and an ever-growing piece of the American pie, because his piece of the pie got eaten before he could so much as taste it. He felt disposable. But that was how they were supposed to treat those others who didn’t deserve a piece of the pie. He was supposed to be one of the favorite sons.
But where did he get that idea? When did he start including himself among the rising stars? What made him think they meant him? Maybe it was the “anybody could be president” idea, because of how they were letting just anybody be president these days. Or the old rags to riches story, the celebrity lifestyle shows. Of course it could happen to him. In his dreams.
Ex Kurt did a lot of dreaming now. His life was a dream.