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Momentum

Thanks for the whatsit, son, but...

By John E SimpsonPublished 2 months ago 4 min read
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[YOU HAVE.. (one) MESSAGE FROM (daddy)] (beep!)

Hey son, this is Daddy. Again. Voicemail tag, am I right?

But listen, son, one of us gotta actually say something besides Hi, call me back. Soooo… this is me, sayin' something.

First, thanks for the whatchamacallit. You know, my son the artist – always appreciate seeing your work. I guess that's what this is, right? And having it delivered right to my front door by that big old flying whatever-the-hell it was – that was a fun touch, I feel like the first kid on the block, right? Good thing your message the other day told me to expect it and be home.

But this one, well… think I'd really appreciate it a lot more, son, if you'd told me, well, how to turn it off.

Yeah, yeah, I know. You said don't even open it. You said wait till you get up here.

But now remember, son -- another man's moccasins, right? Walk in 'em. A big old box like that, who WON'T open it? I know I already said this the other day. Just saying again. Someday you'll be retired, out to pasture, then you'll understand. Things just get a certain, well, a momentum of their own.

Well, one corner of the box was mashed in. But I did like your message said: propped it up in a corner of the dining room to wait for you. And you know I never go in there anyhow since your Mama, well, since then.

But then your sister dropped by the way she does, said you'd just chased her up here from your place. "Just checking on you," like she always says. Don't misunderstand, I love Becky like I love you. But Becky, she's never just checking, always got a real agenda even if she don't announce it up front. "Oh by the way," she says, and it's head for the hills, Becky's here.

At least this time it wasn't like last month. The chimney, remember that? "Creosote!" she said then, before proceeding to "fix" it, goddammit and I'm sorry, son, I know you don't like when I cuss but it still torques me, family room still smells like Vesuvius, last days of Pompeii, half expect petrified bodies curled up behind the goddam sofa and now I can't go in THAT goddam room anymore. Sorry.

Anyways, this time she seemed harmless although whatever happened at your place had her pretty amped up. Said she wanted to count the china in the dining room. How many pieces and complete place settings, she said. In case one of you wanted it someday. Why didn't I come in there with her, sit at the table. We could talk, she said. While she counted.

So I sit there, and we talk, or she does anyhow, while she takes the china out of the sideboard. Piece. By. Piece. Got your mother's eye for details, I'll say that. Takes out a little coffee cup, say, turns it over, checks the label, insignia or whatever, holds it up to the light like she can see through it. "Talking" to me the whole time but not really talking like— well, like I said, someday you retire and you'll get it.

So my attention is off, and again I don't like being in that room anyhow. I'm not really thinking – it's like my eyes remember it before my brain does so I can't NOT look at it. Your package, right? Becky, she sees me see it and she looks over at it and she gets this Becky look in her eyes. I try to head her off at the pass, I say it's from you and you said not to open it. But forget the pass, she's already a mile ahead of me, says you told her you sent it up here and why did I need your permission anyhow. I tell her again you said WAIT. She says what if the inside is damaged, box smashed, maybe a FedEx claim limit or something, and I try to tell her it didn't come from FedEx, it came right here from YOU, but then Becky— well, like I said: momentum.

So then before I can stop her, she's got the box open. I look over her shoulder and see nothing's broken, you packed it good all right, just not good enough for Becky. She's gotta take all the packing paper out, get it out in the open she says, and right away she screams. I laugh of course, start to pick up the paper off the floor all around her, but while my back's turned she screams again and now the thing is really going… What'd you do? I yell at her and she yells right back Nothing! and by then it's out of the box and it smashes one of the saucers and, well. Momentum. So I—

Goddam. Now it's got the dog. Call me back, son. ASAP, okay?

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