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Tuesday, 01 April 2008

A Bad Ending

By Marvin Waldman

Some day I will like opera. Some day I will be thinner. Some day I will make love better and write better and putt better. Some day, I will take my father, frail bones and all, and hug him to my chest. Hug him so hard he morphs into Walter Cronkite. But today, I'll settle for beating him in a game of pool.

He's killing me. It doesn't seem to matter that it's my table, my basement, my second wife upstairs and my bottle of Johnny Walker Black that's nearly gone.

"I win again," he said, "rack them up, schmuck."

"What kind of father calls his son a schmuck?"

"The kind that has one. You want to go double or nothing?"

"No," I said, "and I'm not going to pay you, either."

"Just like your mother," he said.

"You played Mommy pool for money?"

"No. We played for sex. Oral sex. It was kind of rare back then, but she never paid up, anyway."

"Did it ever occur to you that children might find it revolting to hear about the sexual proclivities of their parents," I said as I scratched the cue ball.

"Sorry. But she was kind of hot in bed, even without the BJ's."

"Would you cut it out?"

"Just kidding," he said. "You know, you don't laugh enough." It was incredible how the tremor in his hand stopped when he stroked the ball.

"How do you know I don't laugh enough?" I said. "You've come back maybe a half dozen times in the last thirty years and suddenly you're an expert on my levity status."

"See, what I mean?" he said. "A person who laughs doesn't say levity status. A schmuck says levity status.”

"I've got to admit," I said, "you are funny. You're a miserable prick, but a funny one at that."

"What kind of son calls his father a prick," he said.

"The kind that has one. I have to ask you a question. A couple of questions."

"Oh, no," he said, "not the questions again."

"I have a right to ask the questions. And you have the obligation to answer them. You're my father, unfortunately, and a father gives his son answers, you son of a bitch."

"I can't give you answers, I'm dead."

"I know, I know," I said.

"But nevertheless the story is getting better" he said. Especially the beginning. The stuff about the opera and Walter Cronkite. I like that. But it has to be a hell of a lot better before I let you hug me.”

"I know," I said.

"You going to write the same stupid ending again?" he asked.

"Yeah, I guess."

"All right," he said, "get it over with."

"Andrew," my wife called from the kitchen upstairs. "Who are you talking to down there?"

"No one," I said.

"You've got to work on that," he said.

I know.

[The vault of new stories is running low again. If you are interested in contributing, the guidelines are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Good job! I was right there.

Me too. Although I can't imagine talking to either of my parents about sex.....LOL

Clever and funny, Marvin.

There are a few unresolved issues that I discuss with my deceased father from time to time, but he wouldn't want to hear them and I don't think you would either.

I'm sure you had a great relationship with your father and it shows in the telling of this story.


We should all have the companion, albeit arms length, with our parents especially a father and his son. Men bond by one ups and one downs. Keep the dialogue going; your getting closer than you might imagine.


You've inspired me to have that kind of conversation (well, not exactly THAT kind!) with my father. I'll let you know how it works out.

reading this makes me think that there's broadway playwriting in your future. loved everything about it. i laughed, and was touched by your story. i truly think you are a brilliant writer! thanks for sharing. keep me on your list!

Wonderful yet painful telling of a story to which so many can relate. There is no "bad ending" to a legacy of fond memories.

I remember your father, and he was no prick, you schmuck.
Actually, I loved the piece. I'd like to get advice from my dead father as well, but he is too busy as usual with his new girlfriends to answer my calls.

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