An’ my belly felt good, all fruity and warm. I ‘member burpin’ orange soda and it tickled my nose. Mostly, though, I ‘member feeling good and warm and my stomach was all filled-up and happy. Mamma was s’posed to call later that night. Daddy left the phone on the hook and sipped his beer and ate pork rinds most of the day. He didn’t smile much, but he didn’t yell much, either. Just sat in his La-Z-Boy and talked about how Mamma would be real good actin’ as a dead whore. I didn’t understand what a ‘whore’ was, but it made Daddy smile, so I smile back at him, happy and proud as a rain cloud.
Daddy were in his weekend clothes, wearin’ loose jeans an’ his shirt was opened up, showin’ his chest hairs. His chest looked like a map, like some African country, all thick with hair and sweated down. He took a swig of his beer and watched me color, shakin’ his head sometime, whistlin’ somethin’ that sound jazzy an’ rumblin’ at the same time, like Puerto Rican music. He didn’t say much – he never really did say very much when he weren’t yellin’ – but it was like there just weren’t that many words in his head. I dunno know if I ever saw Daddy… well, happy, I guess… but I thought my Daddy looked happy for the first time in a long time. We were just enjoyin’ the sun together, waitin’ to talk to Mamma later that night, just sittin’ an’ not mindin’ the time.
Sometimes, I look up and see Daddy just sittin’ there. He had the cleanest blue eyes you’d ever wanna see, like the color of an ocean. His eyebrows was straight and fine, like his jaw, and he shaved every mornin’, hungover or not. He’d shave even ‘fore he had his mornin’ coffee. That was his quiet time, he say, when he ain’t got no wife, no kid, no job. It was his wakin’ up time. He liked to listen to the hiss o’ water comin’ from the faucet and feel the steam risin’ up and cleanin’ his face. Mamma and me, we weren’t s’posed to make a single noise when Daddy were shavin’. She’d pour his coffee and set it on the table, an’ me, I’d just sit quiet with a glass o’ orange juice and a bowl of Cap’n Crunch cereal, only the cereal always get all soggy and Bobby Durro once tole me that’s what they feed the worms at the trout farm in Pocomoke City.
Excerpt from Cronic – Coming 5/1/15