Family and Relationships
As the train slows down approaching Sunnyside, I look out the window for the spot where Harry jumped to his death. It’s marked by a tree still pinned with a few tattered ribbons and plastic flowers in Harry’s honor. “You fat fuck,” I whisper. “Who am I supposed to jam with now?”
Sundays were the worst for the smallest monkeys. The fathers who had the day off would get drunk and beat their boys, who would dash out their front doors to pass it on down. On Virgil’s second Sunday on Blue River Avenue, right after he told everyone how he’d once shot a cougar between the eyes, Wally flipped Virgil over his back, and Virgil’s head hit the pavement with a sickening thud.
We did come upon a low cave, ten or so feet to the back, but there was nothing inside except empty beer bottles and a white paper bag shaped like a cat. So we sat like castaways at its entrance, knees touching, and watched the hourglass glitter of the moon on the black surface of the ocean. That was all. It was my first experience of nervous teenage heaven, and I doubted I would ever know anything so fragile and sublime again.
My family, in particular, was in danger. We were the wrong religion (Presbyterian) for our neighborhood, and my father had a reputation as a Darwinist. To many of our neighbors, Christians and Muslims alike, his belief that humans had evolved from monkeys was blasphemy, and he was careful not to show his face in public.