Club Dead

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Getting Better

Then my father talked to me.

Seeing my dad made me ache. He was hurting because his big brother died, and now he had to big-time worry about me.

I spoke easily with dad. He didn’t push like mom. He was good old dad. We still snuggled against each other. I couldn’t wait for those dark days to pass. I expected this talk to be part of that unfortunate passage.

“How’s it going?”

“Oh, you know dad…”

“Yeah, well, I don’t. Can you tell me?”

“About what? Anything specific?”

“I guess not. Just thinking about you and wondering, well, you know, how’s it going?”

I laughed.

“You’re not crying as much.”

“Anger is stopping up my tear ducks.”

“Why are you angry?”

“Weird stuff at school.”

“Like what?”

So I told him about Mrs. Stone and Club Dead, and Frank and Carrie and Fretwell, Emig and Tallie, and about Brink.

“Dad, Brink makes me wonder: am I a spoilt brat?”

“You don’t flaunt what you’ve be given.”

“I don’t mean material things.”

“Neither do I. You don’t care about that. No one in this family is greedy that way. We’re greedy, but for immaterial things.”

“Like what?”

“Like thinking for yourself. I’m not going to give you the answer. You’ve never wasted any moment of your life.”

“But I almost just did. That’s what Brink reminded me.”

We were quiet for a short minute.

“Dad, do you get tired?”

“I’m beat right now.”

“No, I mean, tired of ’it’?”

“What’s ’it’?”

“You know, everything that takes a toll.”

“That’s life.”

“Do you get tired of it?”



“Get to my age. You’ll want more of it.”

“Dad, what was it like growing up in your family with Uncle Grant?”

“In what way?”

“Was your family religious?”

“Not my parents. But their parents were missionaries, my grandparents. You know that. Your grandparents had enough religion from their parents so they didn’t press it on me and Grant.”

“Do you think you’ve missed something?”


“Not believing.”

“I believe in plenty.”

“I mean, religion, one religion.”

“I’m a scientist. That’s the route I took. Do you mind that we didn’t bring you to a church?”

“I don’t know. Maybe. I’ve been thinking about spiritual stuff since Uncle Grant died.”

“Me too.”

“Really? Like what?”

“Do you know that Grant was an ordained minister?”

“No way! Really? When?”

“In his twenties. He was a searcher. Studied anything that lifted him off the ground. Wanted to be an astronaut when he was a kid. Then he got very into Theosophy. That was a fun time. We’d always be holding séances and talking to the dead. Then he studied psychology and moved onto religions.”

“What happened?”

“What always happened to Grant: he didn’t find the answers.”

We were quiet again.

“Do you think he thought about his soul?”


“But what would happen to it after he died?”

“We never had those kinds of conversations. He thought my mind was limited, being a scientist.”

“I love your mind!”

“I don’t think he saw religion and the outcome for his soul as two peas in the same pod. I can’t say I understood everything he said. I don’t know if he was nuts or an original.”

“Oh, he was an original.”

“You loved him very much.”

“I was mean to you when I said I wanted him as a father.”

“Water under the bridge.”

“But you know that, right? You’re my dad and a very good one too.”

“You’re talking like a healthy person.”

“I’m getting there.”

“I see.”

“Dad why do you think he hung himself, and in our house?”

“That has no simple answer. He was in great physical pain. I don’t doubt he wasn’t thinking straight, either.”

“I don’t think he did it out of spite. I think he did it out of love.”

“That is an optimistic thought. How did you come to that conclusion?”

“A feeling.”

“I’d like to adopt that feeling.”

“Dad, you don’t have to worry about me.”

“Since you were born, I have been worrying for 15 years.”

“But I mean, you know, I’m getting through this. I can tell.”

“I’m still going to worry. And who’s this guy ‘Frank’?”

“What do you know about Frank?”

“Emma told me.”

“That fink!”

“She said you and Frank make a very nice couple.”

“I am not listening. This can stop now dad.”

“And that…”

“Not listening…”


I swished my hands against my ears and I hummed as dad kissed me on the head and walked from my room.

As the tinnitus resounded I wondered what a visit to a church would do for me. I looked outside and saw lightning and smell rain coming. Yes, it was possible to smell rain coming.

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