5am the coo coo clock announces, enter my uncle stage left, right on cue.
“ What the Fuck are you doing here?”
“That is a very long story. But first things first, coffee.”
We settle around the kitchen table coffee mugs in hand. We take the first couple of silent ritual sips.
“What the fuck are you doing here?”
“As I said it’s a long story. It’s funny, if you listen to the whole thing, even if you don’t believe a word of it. And you won’t. But before you start screaming and calling me the worst sort of bad liar, listen to the whole story.”
So I told him what had happened. “It all began when I rented an apartment from a very bad man.” I only got through the highlights of the first part, Boccie, mobsters, drugs, murder and arson, when he snarled Bullshit and stalked off with his coffee. I never got to the part about me being a recently released mental patient or the explanation as to why I was there.
I sit alone in the kitchen sipping my coffee. In my head I hear the soft muted clack of pool balls colliding in another tricky bank shot neatly sunk. I am the pool shark perfectly in the zone running the table from the break.
My grandmother soon woke up. She has reached the age where liner time no longer exists. The that was then this is now past and present all collide together in a misty water colored dream. So my presence at the kitchen table caused her no alarm.
I found a ball of yarn and an old crochet hook and spent the day crocheting a scarf watching tv with my grandmother.
I kissed my grandmother goodnight and wished her good dreams and she shuffled off to bed. I settled on the couch and waited for my uncle.
My uncle has spent the day rehearsing the argument he was going to have with me.
“You don’t have any money do you?”
I almost laughed. I have told him of mobsters and murder most foul and the not so small matter of arson and his first order of business is to insure I am not going to scrounge him for money.
“Not much.” I confess. (Just enough for the cab to the bus station and a bus ticket to San Francisco)
“Well you can stay the night but in the morning you clear the fuck out.” He took a breath and waited, the lightening pausing for the thunder.
“As you wish.”
He blinked at me, twice.
No thunder clap no raging storm just three small soft words like pebbles dropped in a still pool. As you wish.
As so often happens when someone has spent all day working up to a grand temper tantrum he continued on with the argument without my participation. I was in a theater watching a grand drama as my uncle threw himself into playing both parts with spittle flying gusto.
We argued for quite some time. Life time of disappointed romanticism had left him with a deep well of rage from with to draw. A never ending Ginsburgien howl of family pain that I was if not the originator of all I was their inheritor.
The performance took on the aspect of a religious service. He would rant and rave his moral outrage over some past ill or slight form someone then conclude with the , “ In the morning you get the fuck out.”
Then he would pause in his howl awaiting the benediction,
“As you wish.”
“Quit it, quit it, quit saying that.” He screams at me after it seems the hundredth reparation of the pattern.
“You told me to leave, I have said I would. I really have nothing more that needs to be said. You however do. So please go ahead I’m listening.” I sit hands folded in my lap looking up with a face of bland polite interest. He is a ball of fist clenching rage.
He wanted to stop but he couldn’t. He felt like he was walking into a trap, knew it, but couldn’t stop. His howl continued. He tried to stop himself. He wanted to slap his hands over his mouth to keep the words from escaping. But they do.
“In the morning you get the fuck out.”
“As you wish.”
He screamed like a lost soul facing the gates of damnation and fled from the room.
As anyone who has ever read a fairy tale will tell you, be careful what you wish for.