Twelve

Mum is said to have kept a photo album, a top secret album of photographs she had taken of my father passed out or crawling on the floor after a night of drinking. I never saw this album, its location such a mystery, but even the idea of it makes me quake. The narrative in my family’s early life was that Dad was a drunk and that we would do best to avoid him on Friday – always Fridays (pork chops, pay checks, pocket money, Man Mr. Nobody) – when he would thunder stumble in reeking of beer and Scotch (never whiskey). At some juncture the narrative changed — Mum was manipulating us, making us see Dad through her eyes for some unknown motivation of her own, as the story goes. There are so many holes here, surd conversation, exposed film; lacunae. I still am unsure, to this day, of the veracity of any of this. Mum was drunk – once. She is sitting on the floor of her sister Teresa’s apartment in Edinburgh. Mum is sitting spread eagle on the floor to keep her balance; tottering back and forth she eats greasy fish and chips from a newspaper funnel in her hands; she pushes her glasses repeatedly back up her nose. “Shut up Denis,” she says in a voice unfamiliar to me and never again heard, “Shut up.” Dad’s front tooth. Kevin lit the hotel room on fire. The first time I drank any amount of beer (capfuls) I lost my twelve-year-old mind; I walked three blocks to a corner store in my sock feet. Thankfully it was summer. Powerless, a restorative greater power, turn our will, the moral inventory, admit our wrongs, God removes defects, shortcomings & lists, amends & admit to being wrong. Prayer. Awakening. The darkness. The searing bubble burn on my hand. A bag of dope in my jean’s pocket. The half empty slosh of vodka. Randy and stupid dizzy crazy Irish saint at my niece’s apartment. Her friends love a fun uncle. In the light of morning I jog through the park, shovel up splinters of glass in front of my eyes and in front of my house, avoid the reproachful watch of Digger The Undertaker’s Dawg, shower and give up drinking. 1997. Not a drop since; no photographic proof.

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