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Daniel, then, questioned the possible outcomes his situation had harnessed. He thought about all his school chums of the past. Kenny was a successful drug dealer with no aims or aspirations to conquer anything besides making rent on time. Alan was simultaneously the premiere floral and compost adviser in the garden section of a Hall-mart, and Kenny’s number one customer. Marcus had a career as a high school nurse. He received a prestigious education, a prestigious degree, from a prestigious school, and now, at most, with vigor, applies band-aids and prescribes sleep in the nurses’ examination bed for an entire class period. He does so with undefinably prestigious passion. Even Daniel’s first high school girlfriend Kimberly, (which took place during Senior Prom, only) became a police officer and an internet wholesaler of unnecessary (ninja) equipment, and homemade jewelry. During high school, Kim tried out for both the cheerleading squad and the football team and stole a spot in one of those. She still, and has never never held a pom-pom. Daniel thought, all the things you could been could be found in the town you never had the intention of naturally dying in. The yearn for a meaning or a greater purpose in the world, only meant and amounted to how persuasive your excuses were.
Daniel stood brooding in the pick a cart, any cart section of the market lobby, brooding over the accomplishments people he knew had made, and decided he could get over his silly inclination to drink, and accomplish the goal. Daniel changed the ringtone on his cellphone to one that would encourage him, as he placed the Alcoholics Anonymous pamphlet into an unused shopping cart. “Baby steps, baby. That’s how accomplishments happen,” Daniel thought, “how pathetic would I look if I couldn’t fulfill the only goal I’ve ever wanted to accomplish?” Bells were not rung, not a single toast was made, and not a facetious soul cheered or tackled.

The cart he unknowingly claimed with a pamphlet had a wheel that steered slightly to the left, but angled the cart sideways to compensate the piece of crap. “It’s no trouble,” he thought, “There! Now I’ve conquered this bitch.” And that’s when his cellphone went off. Confused at first, Daniel then realized the improbability of anyone else with “Paranoid Android,” (by Radiohead) as a ringtone was strong, despite his intention of having “No Suprises” instead. He reached for his phone in his back right pocket, brought it up to his face, and saw digits to a phone number calling. The number wasn’t saved among his contacts so it only showed up at a number with a vaguely familiar area code. “Hello?” Daniel asked, with one hand holding the cart at course-compensating angle.
“I knew it was you, I saw you in the parking lot,” pause. “I can’t believe you still have the same number! It’s been like, ten years!” said the male voice in a dizzyingly enthusiastic manner.
“Yeah, my lucky set of numbers. They’ve always reached to me, in a way.” Daniel said dryly as he looked at the different sauces that were meant to change the way the fish tasted. Daniel believed everyone he ever knew were like fish with many kinds of sauces lathered on them which was meant to suppress much of the distaste they initially came with. He placed the sauce jar back on the rack. Daniel was always a black coffee, salt and pepper, on-the-rocks, kind of guy. He thought, “if some fucker took seven measly minutes to ponder then invent these things, how rude would I be to suggest they should’ve done this or that, instead? That’s like telling the bartender you liked his idea for a drink, respected the faith he had in it’s glory, and then telling him not to quit his “day job,” as you slowly finished his drink.
“Haha, you’re funny! I was afraid what they said was true about you
Hollywood types; you say what the writers say, and laugh when a casting director has something you want,” said the voice, “and plus the drugs and booze therapy that EVERYONE ELSE has to pay for.”
“I haven’t gotten to the drugs yet, but, the year doesn’t end for another six months.” said Daniel, after realizing he, and the world lurked in the birth-month of the first and only love he’d ever had.
“Yeah sure, what are you getting in there? Better be some fuckin’ sour cream and onion potato chips. I’m coming in to make sure.” After realizing the caller’s identity,
“Son of a bitch, I don’t believe it. Kenny? Is that you?”
“Yeah, baby! If you’re not in the Chips section, I’m gonna fuck your mom. How’s she doing?”
“Good question.”
“Sorry, I forgot. Come say hi and hold hold my hand, faggot.”
“That’s rude, even for you.”
“I said I forgot!” Kenny pleaded. “Sorry!”
“No, the other thing.”
“Oh. What, you went fag in Hollywood?” Kenny used fag in his daily repertoire, despite it’s context, though he did have shining qualities. He despised animal abuse so much as to not wear leather. Like a vegan. Kenny had no problem eating them.
“No.” Daniel couldn’t stand arguing with him over political corrections. They never ended, though each of Kenny’s points became less and less sensible. The problem with it, Daniel thought, was that Kenny believed every word he said.
“Whoooooa there, Mr. Hollywood, I’m just kidding. It’s fine if you’re a fag.”
“Things don’t change around here, do they?” Daniel said as he placed a bag of sour cream and onion chips on top of the twelve pack of the cheapest beer he found, which was on top of the Alcoholics Anonymous pamphlet. Drinking was like a camera lens filter, blocking or accenting the malicious and unnecessary elements of the immediate world for the photograph. Daniel drank to filter out the idiocracies and hopelessness of life.
“What? Everything’s changed, man. Hey, I see you.” They hung up. Daniel looked around and found Kenny. He was wearing fitted jeans, dark blue running sneakers, a plain white T-shirt, and his football Letterman from high school. Outside the new lip-ring, Kenny dressed like Kenny.

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Animosity has always been the emotion premiered when i thought about my father. It’s not like he did anything to purposely hurt me, it’s just the way i’ve always felt. i didn’t meet him until i was eight. Up until then, i was drowned into the early promotion and responsibilities to adulthood. i was passed around different friends of my mother’s until i was five. some, better caretakers than others. but who was i to complain? who was i to have an opinion? i took care of my 2 year old baby brother at the age of 5. We couldn’t afford a sitter and my mother had to work 7 days out of the week doing who knows what, in order to keep the house. she was always sweet to my brother and i, but personally, i think she was too tired to yell. i was man of the house at 5. not in that, “you’re so cute, but daddy’s away for the weekend,” type thing. it was more like, “you don’t have a choice, so don’t let me down,” type way. fuck… just my luck…

then, when i turned eight. a strange looking man appeared. he had an eighties mullet, in a nineties world. a mustache that screemed bloody murder with tattoos that looked tougher than the rambo trilogy. he extended his finger to the buzzer from the front gate, and i was the eight year old bouncer. i was petrified because the only visitors we had gotten, were bored little school children who had loved the extracurriculars of teasing, yours truly, so much, that they followed me home in order to give me extended assignment sheets of, “we’re gonna make your life a living hell.” those were my schooldays and schoolnights. 16 hours of ridicules and having to tell my mother not to worry because they were just friends having fun. why couldn’t it just stay that way? now this guy from last decade shows up, ringing my bell. i ignored him, because there isn’t much authority delegated to you at the age of 8. besides taking care of the livlihood of an even younger child barely graduating into the stage of toddlerism from infancy. no sweat.

The story does, however, change drastically when an unidentified stranger hops your front gate and walks slowly to the house your eight year old self is in with a five year old brother. what do you do in that situation? well, you don’t call the police. because mother would be in trouble for leaving my eight year old self with my five year old brother at home. that would be a big no no. a neighbor perhaps? nope. because when an ye ldcalls a neighbor sounding like he’s about to have his house broken into, he’s automatically assumed to be playing a prank. jeeze it sucks being eight, and more mature than some thirteen year olds. what is ther left do? hide!

since that day, that fun-filled day of medeocre easter egg discoveries, i’d found out the tattoo’ed fence-hopping stranger was my father. actually, he a was a very gentle gentleman, never beat my mom, or pillaged anything or anyone. however, when you become a man at the age of 5 with your own child to take care of, letting a stranger into your life is more impermeable than one would think. Of course, it’s not like we didn’t try. I remember endless outings with old friends of my mothers designed to assimilate a father figure into our family. i also remember being disgusted everytime someone said i looked just like him. i’m glad my baby brother was unaware of all this, otherwise, he’d have turned out like me. fortunately, he’s grown up to be a normal person.

Today. i went out into the living room. i had never really dwelled into the living room of our houses because i knew that creature resided there. he was always there. that… thing with the mullet and the tattoos, it breathed fire in the medium of cigarette smoke, and captured innocent villagers in the form of my only mother. either way, with sword in hand, i crept into its forbidden lair. i pointed my nose everywhere, like a puppy would do at a strangers house. though this creature was responsible for my creation, i had hardly felt a bond to it. we were more like friends than family. but even more so like acquaintances than friends. we had never done anything a father and son would do, he never taught me how to bat a baseball, or drive a car, or pick up girls, or even shave. he was there to nod his head in acknowledgment, even if i had taken a life i unrightfully took.

“you made it in AP english? that’s cool mickey.” “you got your license? that’s neat mickey.” “your score was 92% on your MCATS? good job mickey.” “you ran over a baby in a stroller then reversed onto it’s mother ruthlessly? i couldn’t be prouder, mickey.”

in that living room however. deep within his throne of nonchalance, i discovered something. one of those kitchen tile tablets with a tiny handprint on there.

it reads, "i love you, dad"
it was in my favorite color, navy blue, and the handprint was soooo tiny. i smiled at it for a moment then tried to reminisce the schoodal whence i created this strong gesture. then i remembered, i had never done anything for him. then i wondered, if my baby brother was the one who had made it for him. i remember him not possibly being old enough to have remembered him being an outsider into our three muskateers union, yet his less than triumphant return from something was my first childhood memory… perhaps my brother was a young genius? i started to feel jealous now. i had no idea why. i snagged the tablet, and looked for a signature.


who the fuck is Dylan?! why is this kid leaving my father handprints?! and at that moment, all fourteen years of my animosity subsided and turned into regret. i could have spent those fourteen years getting to know my father again. but i was simply an idiot kid revelling in his adult splendor. i wasted fourteen years on a hatred that was only meant to be a brief exchange of hateful words. my mother waited, why couldn’t i have shown such patience? what i understood from Dylan’s handprint was this; our family doesn’t know a Dylan. adult or otherwise. Dylan’s handprint tablet was purchased at a secondhand thrift store, along with the new old looking flower vase that incidentally popped up at the same time that tablet did.

...son of a bi*ch...

...son of a bi*ch...

at the moment i pieced that together, is when the regret set in. the fact that he would buy a child’s handprint at a secondhand store, was enough to exemplify the mutual regret he shares. he didn’t want this to happen. but it did. not only did he lose part of his life in a prison, but he had lost a two sons. He’s the one who’d lost the most in this family boardgame. and now i’m worried it’s too late to change that… a measly fourteen years later.

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