“His Parents’ Child” – a short story

Hello everyone! February keeps dragging on and winter just won’t say goodbye. Things are progressing much more slowly that I would like. But this is not the place to complain about my life.

So instead, I wrote a new short story, and once again it’s dialogue-only (I love that format). Oh and it’s heavy on profanity, so if that’s not your kind of thing, you better not read on.

His Parents’ Child

“Hello and thanks for tuning in tonight, I’m Johnny Goode and this is my show From the Shelf. As usual, I’ve invited a current author to talk about their latest book and to discuss it with you, the audience. So if you got a question or a comment, give us a call and you might just end up live on air!

“My guest tonight is a young man who has recently made the headlines around the country. The New York Times calls his book ‘a timely reminder of the dangers our youth is exposed to’. The Boston Globe says ‘If we didn’t know the very pillars of our society were crumbling, this book is proof of it.’

“Please welcome to the program, the author of Down and Out: Life on the Streets of America, a young man only known by his acronym, G. F.!”

“Hi.”

“You know it’s slightly awkward to call you by those two letters. Maybe you’d like to use the opportunity and reveal at least part of your name?”

“No.”

“Erh… Okay. So, G.F. … A few months ago, you were living on the streets of San Francisco and now you’re giving interviews to all the major media. They’re even talking about making your book into a movie. How does that feel?”

“Crazy.”

“Ah. Maybe you would like to explain that in a little bit more … detail?”

“Whatcha wanna hear? I was fucked up, nobody gave a shit, and then comes that crazy guy who wants me to write it all up. And I say ‘Man, go get the fuck outta my life, ‘cos you don’t care, just like everybody else.’ But does he listen? Nah! He keeps naggin’ me and finally I give up, we write that book together and POOF I’m transformed into a celebrity. That’s some crazy shit, man.”

“Well … You know, we, I mean your critics, we were all fascinated by your blunt way of describing things, but … Well, this is a radio show and I’m wondering whether you could try to be a little bit less … vulgar?”

“Why? You worried ‘bout the poor kids who could listen in to this shitty show and pick a few new words? Tell you what, they don’t have to. They already know this country’s kickin’ the bucket. Why d’ya think they refused to fight in your stupid war?”

“Maybe we can talk about that later in the show. Anyway, G.F., I guess some of our listeners tonight haven’t read your book yet, so maybe you want to tell them a little bit, what it’s all about?”

“Sure. It’s my life, really. First chapter’s about my shitty family. My parents got divorced when I was like one or so, I lived with my mom who married a super important rich guy, my dad—yeah, whatever, he can’t keep his pants on. When I was ten or so, my mom sent me to boarding school ‘cos she didn’t want to take care of me any longer, and when I was 14, I ran away.”

“That was in… 1979?”

“Yeah, the year Sid Vicious died. That dude was my teenage hero. He just did what he wanted. Such a cool guy.”

“Who died of an overdose of heroin.”

“Yeah, those baaaad drugs, ruining all your kids. Whatever. He knew what he wanted and he did somethin’ with his live. That’s more than many people your age can say of their lives. I mean, my mom, for example, what did she ever do? She was married and had housemaids doin’ all the work for her. Housemaids! What is this, the 16th century? Yeah, so, anyway, my mom never did anything. She just sat around, read her stupid magazines, smoked and waited for her man to come home. When she dies, all that’ll be left of her will be a closet full of pastel dresses and a bunch of makeup.”

“But she gave birth to you.”

“So?”

“Well, you could say that she has given you to the world. Isn’t that something?”

“Nah. That’s just biology. You fuck without a condom, you make kids. Nothing miraculous ‘bout that.”

“I bet your parents don’t see it that way.”

“And how d’you know that? They had kids because everyone had kids. They didn’t think about it and so they became bad parents. They were never there when you needed them and when they were there, they ignored you. Go ask ‘round, bet there are millions of American kids who’d say the same thing about their parents.”

“If I may say so … When I was reading your book, I … got the impression that you were blaming your father for a lot of things that went wrong in your life.”

“Betcha. That man was the shittiest human being I ever met—and I was working as hustler. No, seriously, my dad was unable to love anyone. Didn’t keep him from trying and hurting us all by fucking everything that came under his nose. But yeah, that man thought that money gets you everything and that solely because he had a decent job people would do whatever he told them to.”

“If he were listening right now, what would you tell him?”

“You think he’s listening to your fancy show? I’ve never seen him read a single book. But okay, if he were— Hey dad, wherever you are right now. Serves you right you now got cancer. Or maybe you’re already dead. I don’t care. You never loved me or anyone else. You were just at work or in another woman. So yeah, whatever happened to you totally served you right. And don’t send me cards or money, ‘cos I don’t need your apologies. We’re done. Oh and whoever is with you right now—he fucked up two marriages, what makes you think this one will last?”

“That … was probably not what he wanted to hear.”

“I don’t give a shit what he wants. He needs to know that he screwed up everything. That he’s a total failure.”

“In your book it says that you have an older sister and an older brother. Do they feel the same about your parents?”

“Dunno. Last time I spoke to them, they were on vacation in Hawaii. They love the money our parents stuff into them. Really, they pay for every shitty thing their kids are doin’. But I mean, they’re not doin’ anything meaningful! They’re just sittin’ on the beach sippin’ cocktails and getting’ massages. No thanks.”

“Isn’t it possible that … you’re a little bit jealous of their lives? You’ve been living on the streets, you had literally no money and all this time they led a life of luxury.”

“Nah. Look, if I’d do what they’re doin’, I’d be just as shitty as my parents were. I wanna do somethin’ meaningful, like Sid Vicious. Have you ever heard of Sid Vicious sittin’ at the beach and sippin’ martinis? I haven’t.”

“Well, I’m sure he has had quite a few cocktails in his life.”

“Yeah, but he knew what they were: liquids to fill the emptiness of your life. Have you ever listened to Pretty Vacant? That’s exactly what he describes: laughin’ people sippin’ alcohol and not having a clue about what to do with their lives.”

“I see. Speaking of the Sex Pistols, in your book you describe at length the various drugs you used during your life on the streets. Would you like to share a few thoughts about that?”

“Yeah man. Pot is cool, heroin is shit, and LSD is crazy shit. That’s all I gotta say.”

“If you had to choose again whether to take those drugs—how would you decide?”

“What kinda question is that? Man, if you live on the streets, you don’t get a choice. It’s take it or die, understand?”

“I don’t believe that.”

“Well then don’t. Not my problem. If you believe I ever had a choice you’re foolin’ yourself. None of this is my choice. It happened because my parents abandoned me, because—”

“Could you turn that off please? Oh, and bring me another Old Fashioned.”

Comment: Admittedly, this is technically a Mad Men fan fic. I’m wondering what will become of Don’s kids and I suspect that at least one of the will end up at the bottom of the social ladder. Here, it’s Gene.

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