Hymn



   Through the door.
   "Hi ya, Pop."
   "So, there is a Russell."
   Silence. I close the door and drop my book bag on the floor. He's sitting on a kitchen chair set in the middle of the living room. He's reading some paper.
   Why doesn't he sit on the couch?
   I take the mail my roommate has left for me on the desk cluttered with papers.
   Bills.
   I hope Michael has paid him for the electric and phone.
   There is a note from my father:

I'm here. I am trying to sell car for ??

Dad

[then]

7:00 P.M. CAR IS SOLD. PUT CHECK IN BANK FRIDAY. I TRIED TO CALL MOTHER AT 12 NOON, 1:45 P.M. AND 7:00 P.M.

 

   Next to the note is a check for $200.00. "Pay to the order of Russell Taylor." Someone named Sharon C. Anderson. She lives in Anaheim.
   How could he sell the car so fast? He arrived from Vegas this afternoon while I was at school. Who is Sharon C. Anderson?
   "Everything under control?"
   "Yep."
   Control. Under control.
   "Feeling okay?"
   "Yeah."
   Okay.
   "How's the car running?"
   "Great."
   It's not the one you wanted me to buy. Don't ask about it. Don't fight.
   "No problems?"
   "Nope."
   "I tried to call your mother."
   Silence.
   What does he want me to say?
   "Michael wrote me a check for the electric bill and the telephone."
   Thank you.
   Silence.
   I go into my bedroom and remember how it used to look when it was his and my mother's.
   I need to clean this up.
   There is one of those free Vegas entertainment papers on the bed.
   "I left a paper for you on your bed."
   When he and my mother would go somewhere, like to the races or a show or a New Year's Eve party, I would always get a tote bag, or a program, or a hat and a noise maker -- it wasn't until I began going to the races, or the show, or to New Year's Eve parties, that I realized how much those things were worth -- and I would play with them for days. Treasures.
   One day I was in the den of the first house I remember, and I was playing with a fishing pole. I began to go through the house on the way to my bedroom, the pole raised before me like Excalibur. My father came around a corner suddenly and the pole struck his eye. I ran back to the den and sat at the piano. I sat there. I was about ten. I just sat there playing the piano. One key at a time as children often do when they sit at a piano. No harmony. Just melody. Making it up. Crying.
   What does he want me to say?

 

 

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