A conversation

Shoes removed, parka hung-up, coffee on the table. The amenities were done.

So how was the flight?” she asked.

Good, once we started flying. No bumps. Good landing.”

Yeah, good. I never thought you’d make it.”

I was worried. No bullshit, Connie. I don’t like flying, and the thought of coming back made the back of my teeth ache.”

She laughed. Or barked, Connie’s version. “Yeah. It’s been a long time.”

Too long?”

She thought about it. “Maybe just long enough.”

So how is she?”

Old. Failing. You know that. I didn’t want her to have the operation, but. You know Mom. Hoping for the best, waiting for the worst. She doesn’t want to outlive her usefulness, but I think that time has passed.”

That’s an awful thing–”

It’s true. You know it. I know it. She knows it. Maybe she wanted to hang around to see you again. That’s why I wish you hadn’t meandered.”

I wasn’t–”

Sure you were. You just said so. She’s dying, David. Could be days, could be weeks, but the inevitable is at hand. She wanted to see you. And no, there won’t be any great revelation, no grand statement. She just wanted to see you. Who knows, maybe she wants to spit in your eye.”

Could be.”

You deserve it, you know. All these years.”

Yeah. All these years. And by the way, Dad never thought I’d end up in a gutter. I didn’t start drinking until after he passed. After we moved here.”

Maybe he saw something in you. Your future. You were a moody little fuck after we moved. So how’s the drinking, anyway? Down to a quart a day?”

Less than that. Zero. For a couple of months. I’ve got a chip to prove it.”

That an a quarter will buy you zilch. You going to stay sober, or is this just a temporary readjustment?”

One day at a time, Connie.”

Bullshit.”

That’s all I have.”

Is that enough?”

We’ll see. So when can I see her?”

When she decided she wants to see you. She’s resting now. I’ll check on her in half an hour.”

All right.”

And I’m sorry about the lack of confetti and balloons. Wasn’t going to happen you know.”

I know. It’s all right.”

Damned straight.”

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