By Thomas Michael McDade
Weber closed his eyes a moment then began picking apart his dead cigar. “They should have gotten a new stone instead of spackling my name and using the other side for the Vietnam dead.”
“They said they were short of money,” said Pat. “What were you doing out there today, anyway? Not much chance destroying it with a tack hammer and broken chisel.”
“Destroy hell, rebirth! I planned to chisel out the filler in my name and add “Jr.” He’s the hero. That’s why he’s beaming. Two of his victims were Legionnaires! He’s avenged me,” said Weber making a fist in the air.
“Bullshit, Weber, I know him too well to believe that,” said Pat, wiping his brow with his handkerchief.
“You don’t know shit, Pat,” said Weber, enraged. “All you know is what you’ve heard in confessionals and on your talk show phones. Did you know your shitty radio station fades twenty damned miles away? Your world was all talk until June introduced pussy. Did you ever think she might have been a whore in another life, learned all that good fucking in Babylon?”
Pat shot up and kicked Weber in the side. He gasped and curled up on the floor. Pat stood over him. A cop gazed through the bars. “Want a club, Mr. Hunter?”
“Not yet,” answered Pat.
“Better take it, Pat. Sissy Eyetie loafers won’t do the trick.”
“You’re pitiful,” said Pat. I don’t know why I wasted my time.”
Weber held out his rosary cross sword to Pat. “Carve your name in the wall, Father Pat. Everybody’s guilty! Doing time symbolically is better penance in a pinch. Even a name painted many times over will remain. Something of you will stay. It’s the palimpsest advantage. That word might pop up in a crossword someday: “‘Used Papyrus’ will be the clue.”
“Take your pop philosophy and shove it,” said Pat.
“I’m just a parrot, Pat. I learned it from one of your callers. You probably only remember what you say.”
“Didn’t help you, did it, scum?” raged Pat.
“Hey, Father Fuck-my-wife, tell Weber Jr. I’m the proudest daddy alive.”
Pat kicked Weber in the face and was gone. Weber cried for a while. He broke the crucifix off his rosary, made a belt out of the beads. The kick had knocked one of the teeth off his bridge.
“It’s a fucking Weber o’ lantern I am!” he shouted.
“Shut-up, piece o’ shit,” yelled the cop.
Weber tried to remember if he had whisky in his room over the Laundromat. He imagined showing up at his son’s trial in his Army uniform, some fat fuck of a judge on the bench who couldn’t get an ankle in his.
After three tries, he was able to stand. He wanted to pace the night away but he was in too much pain. He held the crucifix up to a fly buzzing the ceiling light and he saw a clear solution. Sitting down at the wall with the least writing, he carved a replica of the Vietnam Monument. He etched Weber Scanlon Jr. on it. He closed his eyes like a graveyard mourner.
In a burst of goodwill, he inscribed June’s name to the left of his version of the Memorial. What the hell, he included Pat, the dead Legionnaires and every Red Sox player he could recall.
Occasionally, he prayed a bead or two on his rosary belt. He truly believed that good works alone could not slip a man through the pearly gates.
Copyright ©2011 Thomas Michael McDade. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce in any form, including electronic, without the author’s express permission.
Thomas Michael McDade lives in Monroe, CT, married, no kids or pets. A computer programmer in Meriden, CT, he writes and maintains software used in the wholesale / retail plumbing supply field. He served two hitches in the U.S. Navy. He is the author of three poetry chaps: E Pluribus Aluminum, Liquid Paper Press, Austin, TX; Our Wounds, Pitchfork Press, also Austin; and Thrill and Swill, Kendra Steiner Editions, San Antonio, TX.