The Authentic Eclectic
Slippin’ Into Darkness
When dad was dying from cirrhosis of the liver and renal failure in the summer of 2007, I was just making my final moves to the UK. I lingered to see him go. He had always been a big man, over 6 feet tall and with a full red beard that greyed like an evil vizier’s as he aged. Dad was a man’s man. He drove a big blue Ford pickup truck with a tool safe in the bed and a gun in the glove box. He was the IT admin for a local college. He always had a hammerless nine millmetre about his person, too. Dad was a Vietnam War veteran and had done something for the Navy. He didn’t talk about it.
The only story he ever told me was this one:
“We were having a barbecue on the beach with some leave time we had and suddenly there were fireballs raining down from the treeline near the beach. We were being attacked with flaming balls of pitch so we grabbed our barrels of beer and dragged them into the sea where we floated out of range. But we saved the beer, so it was alright in the end.”
What the fuck kind of Vietnam story is that? I ask you. But I digress.
Dad was on his way out. He was now a frail man, white haired from his illness and shrunken away. The man who lay on the bed before me was a shadow of his former self. The man who taught me to build bullets, how to hold a gun, what Buddhism was, how to forgive your enemies, how to drink, smoke, spit, swear, recover, insist, and tell right from wrong — he lay there mute. He couldn’t speak from the illness and was parched. I gave him a sip of water from a glass with a straw in it by his bed. His little beagle, Dusty lay beside him.
I held his dry, cold hand and he looked towards the closet beside his bed. He motioned with his head to the closet. I asked him if there was something up there he needed. He gasped and I leaned in closer. He tried to speak and I gave him another sip of water. He said “grimoire”. I tried to find something up on the shelf but it wasn’t there. I asked his wife and she said she didn’t know. He looked glazed over and distant after that. I held his hand.