Daddy Issue 3
Re: I’m outside your building
From: [email protected]
Re: I’m outside your building
10 July 2022
Upper East Side
If a stirring on the street outside caused you to rise from bed, look down from your window at precisely 1:36 this morning, squint at the guy standing under the streetlight typing furiously into his phone – that was me, of course. Wipe your blurry eyes, half-lidded sleep. I could scream your name. I imagine the violence of my noise rising far above my head, seeping through the window you always keep cracked when you sleep in the summer (what a waste of air conditioning just for that bit of ambient city noise) but of course I know anything that comes out of my mouth could never carry.
“Daddy, look at me!” I type here instead. “Check your email!” Ha. Since you haven’t answered I still can’t be sure you’re even reading these. I didn’t want to come here, but I was on the way home from the bar, scrolling through Instagram, and thinking about the guy I was just playing pool with when muscle memory took over until I was standing on the sidewalk next to this building that I no longer live in.
I was sitting at the bar sipping a PBR and scowling until I caught his eye, nodded towards to table. “Wanna play?” He was about your age but much worse for the wear, thick cheeks and a coarse face under his receding hairline. When he smiled the tongue stuck out pink a bit more than was natural. He looked out of place but I wanted to devour him. Does my hunger make you uncomfortable, Dad? My voice and attention startled his jaw into a slight twitch as he looked in my direction with a soft glint in his clouded eyes.
“Can’t. I’m here with my son.” There were a couple of guys about ten years older than me sitting in suede loafers and polo shirts ignoring the guy, and neither of them bore a family resemblance to him. I shrugged, left my barstool, and started racking the balls. See, this is the most important moment if you’re luring someone in at the bar. You pretend to be unbothered as you carefully place the 8-ball directly in the front point of the triangle. Any man who plays pool will never be able to resist correcting such a flagrant display of inadequacy.
Yes, Dad, I did pay attention when you taught me. I just pretended not to remember so you could teach me again every time. Then, two solids in a row. Remember when you taught me the exact way to hold the cue, how to bend at the hip and line up the shot, hold my breath for a second too long and then empty? Three stripes. That breathless lingering when you straighten and let the body tell you what to do: Impact. Before I could finish my little performance of blatant ignorance, this man abandoned his own son to play pool with me. You taught me the ideal number of inches in a follow-through. I let him show me every single one of his tricks and guess what? He was so much better at pool than you ever were. I made him so happy.
I hope something woke you up in the middle of the night just in time to look down and see me doing absolutely fine without you.
*Note: This is a work of fiction. Unless otherwise indicated, all the names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents in this Vocal series are either the product of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
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