by George Anderson
I was sitting
at the kitchen table
with the old man
laced to his beer
& listening, once again
in a caustic way
to his crude repertoire
of jokes & one liners.
‘I’m not prejudiced’, he typically tells me.
‘I just hate niggers, wops & jews’.
He repeats the joke,
5, perhaps 10 times during the night
& after each occasion
slaps his knee & turns bright red
like he’s going to swallow death
until the air bursts with his laughter.
He likes to put his booze
in between the two back doors
to keep his ale ice cold in winter.
The phone rings-
it is for my twelve year old sister Stacey
she is already in her pink sheep pajama
Dad, she asks, can I sleepover at Beatrice’s tonight?
The old man looks up, bug-eyed & yells at her:
‘YOU’RE TOO YOUNG TO FUCK!’
Stacey scurries from the room in tears
he grabs another beer from inside the back door.
Dad, don’t you think what you said to Stacey was inappropriate?
‘She’s too young to fuck’.
But dad, she’s only going to Beatrice’s
A block away. They want to watch a movie.
‘That’s what you think.’
I tell him I need to go to the toilet.
‘Don’t piss on the fucking seat’, he grumbles.
Early next morning, the old man is propped up in bed
clutching a Molson Export Ale.
When questioned about my sister Stacey
he recalls fuck all from last night.
You bring in those beers? I ask.
He jumps up like a man burning in lime.
He opens the back door
two burst quarts
lie liquid hardened.