13 February 2011


“Aloha!” our waitress matched the temperature in a brisk, tropical 6:00 morning breakfast. “Coffee for you two?”
“No I’m fine-- just my dad.” I replied thinking I was a man.
My dad added, “And could you bring some cream and sugar too, please?”
She neared a shout as she was already speeding towards the kitchen. “No problem, it’ll be right out!”
We stared into our respective sides of the table. The well-known long pause, so long it was not a pause, but a spell. My dad eventually broke it; I appreciated it immediately. I was the son of a crafty wizard.

The dissipation came in an innocent form: “So I’m gonna head out here in a little bit to hit the golf course with Larry and Dave, but I’ll be back by noon or so.” He said this anxiously, magically, nervously tapping his black sandal against the tan concrete, like a wand.
I noticed he didn’t have much hair on his legs, but his chest hair overflowed the newly purchased, bright white polo shirt. I figured he was splurging on account of Larry Gates, the president sponsoring this trip. My dad did, after all, bend his morals a bit: I knew he hadn’t had the chance to wash it; as a kid, I was told I could get diseases from sweatshops that are spread through fabric worldwide. I learned the words lie, liar, nonsense, poppycock, and embellishment as I grew up. At eighteen, I no longer washed my new clothes, but I didn't let him know that either.
The dark hair woman returned with the requests, even adding the unneeded service of refilling my dad’s full cup with a few drops of coffee.
“Is that the resort here or the one down the street?”
“What? The golf course?” He looked surprised and confused for such a simple question.
“Oh, alright.” Our waitress and an older cook sat at the front booth, talking in their native tongue. The gentleman said something that made her laugh, and I didn’t know what he said, but I’d bet that if I did, I would think it’s funny. He never answered my question. I feared the magic was wearing thin.
“Who is this Larry guy, again?” I inquired, fully knowing I’d receive my dad’s spiel on Larry, the president of the company which was sponsoring this trip. But it's noise, and noise will get us through this.
I could tell my dad didn’t think I had heard him tell me this on the shuttle bus last night by the way he tightens the skin on his small face. He did this through the work of muscles; we were arm wrestling; I was fighting against silence; Fuck you, don't you know I love you?
“Oh c’mon. You know Larry. Larry Gates. He’s the one with the company sponsoring this vacation deal. Like, the whole idea is they reel in our family company’s business by giving me and Dave sweet deals like this. But Larry seriously is a really great guy. Definition of a people person. He’s so funny, too. Last night he told me this joke where it’s Jesus—“
At this point in the story, one might expect the crashing of dishes to interrupt my father, or perhaps a spilt glass of pineapple juice, but no. He has rather been interrupted by a fellow tourist passing by whom was wearing a powder blue shirt that looked somewhat similar to the one Larry had on last night. He mentioned it, and it was about to set up the serve of the horrifying pause, when I accidentally set the conversation on fire. 
“You know, I'd like to ask him to play tennis. I mean he looks pretty fit for a 50 year-or-so old man, plus did you see those shiny white kicks he had on? He looks ready, you know?"
I could see his thoughts digesting; to be sure, I was a prickling in his head. These were not my intentions. 
Like an attended channel changing unexpectedly, he was extremely pissed. He had concluded. We are adjourned. I had been charged upon rousing rabble for the sake of being a rabble-rouser alone. The sanction of being misunderstood was uttered harshly, “Don’t be a prick, Henry.”
His gaze shifted intently into the half-empty coffee mug that was surrounded by his palm, looking deep in thought. It reminded me of cowboys and indians. And this conversation was like playing blocks.
Snorting his nostrils, he glared at me. “In all honesty, he’d probably beat you anyway, bud.”
The motives were good, the joke was bad, but there was love. I finally felt okay to play too. Jubilation was coming on.
“Are you kidding me? You actually think Larry Gates could beat me, tennis extraordinare, at the ultimate athletic competition of all time? I feel a bit of a challenge coming along!”
 I played wrong. He was fearful of me actually confronting Larry with a friendly invitation of a few matches, so steps back. “Well I don’t mean that you should actually do anything about it." 
Okay. Okay.
"Just accept you’re a big loser and that Larry will serve you up like my mom’s turkey on Thanksgiving.”
“Dad, I’d easily kick Larry’s ass. Easily. My backhand would put him to shame. He might have to offer me his firstborn in order to justify the ass-kicking I would share with Mr. Gates.”
“Alright cool guy, you’re right. You’d totally, um, 'dominate' him, as you say. Well I’m going to get going, can you handle the check?” Watching the little brown island birds flutter up to an abandoned food scraps cart, I slowly nodded. So I imagine my dad and I leading a giant island bird parade on the beach, with satchels slung over our shoulders with those stale French toast slices, tossing them every which way, the birds gobbling, scarfing slices in seconds while we laugh about it. Crazy birds.
“Did you hear what I just said?”
“No, sorry. I was looking at those birds. They puff out their chest feathers when they are aggravated or want something I think. They look fuzzy almost, I imagine them living in nests of coconuts.”
“Yeah, I can see that. Um,” 
Leftover salmon skin graced the plate with some color. The round-trip went quick. I cannot figure out another word to say that can help what has happened here. My words were like pathological numbers. 
“Well, when the check comes, just write the room number and 'Gates Heating and Cooling,' then sign it, and that’s it.”
“Do I sign my name or your name?” What kind of a stupid question was that? I just wanted to speak.
 “Uh… your own name.. why?” My dad said this questioningly, slowly, like a boy inching his way across a fallen log over a creek bed, being especially careful of the slick green moss. 
Like me.
“Well, I don’t know.” This was a usual answer.
He was backing away from the table. I scrambled for some parting words, but by the time I thought of some, he had backed too far away. I’d of had to shout for him to hear me. 
The cheap Pontiac rental car simmered in the hot sun, storing his clubs, nervously waiting to get out on the green and work their mysterious distraction. I pictured him turning the key, and I whispered, “See you.” I became unstuck when I thought the waitress heard me.
And suddenly, I hated her. She did what I couldn't. She could make remarks while heading the other direction for a purpose, telling my father something and him trusting it, then delivering those words. I wanted to bring him the fucking cream, bitch. I wanted her courageous shouts.

I just sat in our room, tasting the atmosphere where the air was so clean it seemed suspect. Hawaiian music from somewhere lamented and strummed into my head. I began to think a place like this  can get too happy, and places should not be the thing you lean on for happiness, as they are too stable. It bugged me that paradise was so excessive. I turned on the television and watched Maid in Manhatten until I fell asleep. 
The shrill pitch gnarled at my ear drums like a rabid dog. I don’t like rabid dogs, so I answer. “Hello?”
“Hello?” my dad inquires at a half-shout. “Henry?” I imagined the front desk lady giving him a dirty look for the volume of his voice.
 “Yeah, Dad, what’s up?” I looked at the clock. It claimed a little past noon.
“My key didn’t work,” he began. “Why didn’t you answer when I knocked?”
“What do you mean. Were you up here earli—oh, I was sleeping, I guess I couldn’t hear it.”
“Alright. I’m coming up now. What do you think about doin—“
I hung up.  As soon as the receiver clicked, maybe even on the way down to being hung up, I knew he took it the wrong way. I swung open the door and stuck the security lock in between the door and the jamb, leaving the door unlocked. I sat back down on the bed. I understood at this point it might be a good idea to cry, but I didn't. I just sat there instead.
I thought about my father. I hoped that golf went well.
Sometimes, moments lack, and the best thing you can in life do is sit on a bed and hope that golf went well.

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