Shortly after I left my dad’s room, I got a call from Melissa. “Hey, we’re trying to work out craft services. I was wondering if you’d be up for just throwing an after-party at your house on Saturday?”
“My house?” I asked, sounding nervous.
“Yeah,” she said. “What’s wrong?”
“Well, my father’s been under the weather lately.”
“Yeah, I think he’s got a bad flu or something. I don’t think it would work.”
“Shoot,” she said. “Don’t be mad, but I might have already told them it would be okay.”
I became real still. “Why would you tell them that?” I asked, trying to remain calm.
“I don’t know. I just…I thought…Look, I screwed up. I’ll tell them we need to change it.”
“No,” I said abruptly, not believing the words coming out of my mouth. “Let’s do it. It’s fine. He’ll just be in his room anyway.”
“Okay. Thanks, babe, you’re the best!”
It was the first time she called me “babe” before. I liked it.
A loud bang woke me on Friday morning. The sound came from the ceiling, underneath my father’s room. For a second, I thought I’d get out of bed and check in on him, but when the noise didn’t return, I went back to sleep. Within fifteen minutes, the ceiling creaked continuously, back and forth, like a rocking horse. The annoying noise made it almost impossible to sleep at all. I slipped out of bed, tromped up the stairs, and knocked on the door.
“Hey! What the heck is going on in there?” I asked.
“Are you dead?” I asked.
“No, boy, I’m very much alive.”
“Listen,” I said, “I’m having guests over on Saturday night. I need you to keep things down while they’re here. Can you do that for me?”
He didn’t respond for several minutes. “You can’t have a party in my house,” he said finally.
“Well, It’s not up to you, so…”
“It’s my house.”
“Well, I need this and you’re currently not well.”
“My roof. My rules!” he barked.
“I’m not a little kid anymore! I can’t believe you still think I’m ten years old. I’m having this party whether you like it or not and you’re going to be quiet about it.”
“No, no, no, no, no!” he said, rattling off the word like a machine gun. “You do what I say under my roof, you bastard.”
An awful numbing sensation washed over my face and arms. He never called me anything like that before. I never heard him swear in his life. Yet, the way he said it, the way it snapped on his teeth, it sounded like he practically invented it.
“Get some sleep,” was all I could spit out of my awestruck mouth.
“You don’t get to have fun while I’m rotting away in here. You don’t get to party and play until we figure this out!”
“I tried to help you!” I yelled. “I told you to go to the hospital! Don’t put this on me!”
“I’ll put whatever the hell I want on you, you little shit.”
The nauseating chills overwhelmed me. I tried to breathe, to relax my nerves, but they only grew more fierce.
“You think my condition is bad? You have no idea what you are or what you came out of.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked. My fingers tingled and felt cold.
“Your mother wasn’t my high school sweetheart that died in childbirth. That was a lie. Your real mother was a strung-out whore. You’re nothing. I took you in because she was about to flush you down a filthy toilet. So don’t start demanding anything from me and don’t you dare think you have power in this house. I can end you right now if I wanted.”
My raw throat clamped. My skin felt like it was on fire. My eyes twitched and widened. “Last I checked, you couldn’t eat slop with your own hands. You’re too much goddamn fat to do anything. So, go to hell!” I barked and stormed off.