by Beau Johnson
My father stares at me, bubbles rising from his nose. I tap the glass and conclude that the soul must exist once the body has died. His head sits there, the thick black hair he’s always had momentarily waving in accordance to my tap upon the tank. His eyes are open and they freak me out, so much so that I turn my wife.
“Can we do it doggy-style? Him looking at us is starting to get to me.”
Sure, she says, and we finish in-between the coffee table and couch.
My mother is the one who wanted him in the fish tank, said a prick like him deserved no better. He can sleep with the fishes, she’d said, and then laughed that queer laugh of hers; always too high, always too long. Poor soul, my mom: even in her dreams her dreams won’t come true.
“Why doesn’t he decompose?” In all fairness, it was a relevant question.
“I don’t know. Maybe evil is beyond ending.” Sarah looked at me from the counter, came over and poured me another cup of coffee.
“Do you think he still sees?” And that was how my wife and I started fucking in a room that now held the head of a man who’d ruled in absolutes. Sarah—she is the craziest woman I know. Not insane crazy, just, you know, weirder than most. She knew about my father, his organization, and the way I’d been raised. This didn’t bother her, not in the least. Most times this made me smile. Sometimes though—sometimes we all need a little alone time to let out the air.
You gonna mind me, boy. It wasn’t a question, not really, but it made its way into my day quite often. It was the tone which accompanied the saying, however. To Anthony Carmichael, tone was everything.
I wasn’t the only one who took the brunt of my namesake. I was specific, yes, but so was my mother, each of us a pet project to my father’s special ways. I concede that my mother’s life has been worse than mine, her going through things I will never know about—things she would choose to never tell. In my book this makes her my favorite, looney tunes or otherwise.
“Come on, let’s do it right in front of him. Let’s pretend he can see.” So we did, there at the beginning before we knew he was still alive; Sarah on her knees, me within her mouth. If I remember correctly, her cheek at times touched the glass. This is when I noticed the bubbles. No biggie, I thought, just left over air. When I noticed the glare, and then the deepening of his brow.
“How?” I couldn’t answer her, not outright. I thought of things though—things that go around and come around; of fathers and mothers and sons; of life and death and rage. And then I thought of the shots he had been taking. The ones he never missed. Might be a scam, sure, my father had said, but what the fuck, we only live once, right? Whose it gonna hurt?
We laughed as I remembered this, though Sarah far harder than me. Her exact words being: wow, hypocrite much?
And so now we sit, sometimes a cloth over the tank, sometimes not. Sometimes we feed the fish, sometimes we have to go out and buy more. I will not lie: it makes me happy either way. Happy he is unable to judge and happy I can finally make him see; that he can only ever watch me now, at my choosing, a man who is the complete and utter opposite of everything he stood for.
For so long I had sought his approval. This even though he was the way he was. I often believed that made me weak, he the most obvious reason for my doubt. But we are given two parents. Most of us, anyway, and I’m supremely fortunate for such an event. I see that now, my mother half off her rocker notwithstanding. In truth, I am glad he pushed her as far as he did, that finally there came a time where she could be pushed no further. I imagine it came as quite a surprise to my father that he went out the way that he did, and by the same signature he chose when taking out rivals. That the man was made, that we are made, is what makes it all the sweeter.
“We can start trying to have a child now, then?”
At this I realize how perfect my wife is; she’s there inside my head. She smiles as I enter her, but I only see this because of the reflection from the glass. I pump. I pound. I thrust. My father watching this all from his side of the tank. Finished, I concentrate on his bubbles. That and, of course, his glare.