Help Me With This
Vincent Craig Wright
Dante’s dad describes everything gone wrong in terms of what’s happened to Aerosmith. He’ll take it back to RunDMC and Walk this Way.
Even before he left we’d be looking over bills I’d want to pay off, he’d want to pay on, and he’d throw something and say, “Fucking Toys in the Attic cost five dollars in 1974.”
And if you thought you made a point with Denny he’d air-guitar in your face what he thought sounded like the beginning of Dream On and if that didn’t mean enough he’d scream “Dream on, Dream on.”
Denny’s always about to go into insurance like, sometimes with, his dad, but he’s a bouncer.
Thing is Denny’s the one needs bouncing.
Only person I know got bounced bouncing. At The Pinto. Fired then thrown out.
“Not 86’d,” he says, “I can always go back.”
He don’t though and what he does do I don’t know.
Teri-Lee looks a lot like an old Aerosmith video-girl and I give ten shits except when Denny talks about her modeling career. Now they want Dante to come spend the Summer in LA when he’s supposed to start U of O September.
When Phyllis Long brought this character-inventing exercise into Creative Writing where you start with ten things you like about people I came up with Lucky Maddox, pit boss at Pair-a-Dice Casino.
And nothing like Denny.
He looks better but that’s easy. Drives places besides the parts store every day when nothing’s wrong. And he really hates Aerosmith if he knows who they are.
Of course he does, but hates them. Never liked them. Fuck that shit he thinks.
He likes some sophisticated music I ain’t figured out yet or maybe old country.
Ray Adams who’s Adam St. Ray when he writes thinks Lucky ought to be solving a mystery.
“That’s it!” Phyllis Long says.
But Lucky plays golf.
I don’t know why except Denny don’t and I spend a day learning golf terms to end up he makes a birdie.
Ray Adams says stick with what I know and Phyllis says, “Yes!”
If it was that easy I’d write how all I do is wake up and go to bed.
But nobody wants to read that.
When Dante got in U of O Denny said he’d rather listen to Dude (Looks like a Lady) over and over on repeat than have a Duck in the family.
Denny’s dad’s Beaver head stone’s the biggest in the cemetery but he never went to college either.
I told Denny this wasn’t about football and he said you don’t use education against family that they got Dante a summer job but what Denny and Teri-Lee call work you can’t put down on a resume.
When I tell him Dante needs to be getting ready to go to Eugene, Denny says you get free college on the internet now don’t I know.
Dante listens to the new chapter and still says Lucky’s sexist.
“Flawed,” I say.
Dante says yea and again we’re talking and not talking about the same thing at the same time. I tell him he could write like Ray Adams, should take Creative Writing.
He does that thing with his eyes makes him look like his dad and says I should write “like people like” underlining both “likes” in my face.
A Prince and a talking horse won’t get me where I need though and neither will me acting like I can solve some mystery.
Regular’s hard enough.
Like Lucky trying to juggle two dates put to him.
Louise Rhime walked into Pair-a-Dice and asked would he take her to the driving range and not ten minutes later hostess Carly Leeds said something about Sopranos at Lucky’s and while this didn’t sound like a date-date it sounded as good as the driving range.
Dante says Denny’s fun like that’s it to being a dad and that’s fine.
I do know Dante rolls eyes at girls like Teri-Lee and sees the world in front of him.
Like when he was a kid, pulling out of the Wendy’s drive-thru Jeannie’s Got a Gun came on. Denny started in on the travesty and Dante said like he was the dad and Denny the son, “Things change,” and Denny stopped eating for a second but it never did any good.
He still left one morning while we were asleep.
Still didn’t leave a note so I didn’t know what to say, had to make up stuff until he called two days later and talked to Dante after I asked him to.
Still acts like I never did everything he asked me to.
We had Sweet Emotion for our wedding song even though my mom wanted Somewhere over the Rainbow and cried watching me try and dance to that shit.
When I got pregnant and scared and not sure Denny said I had my life and if there was anything he was religious about it was abortion.
I stayed in the bathroom two days and never knew if he was in the house.
But I came out ready.
Now I wonder does Lucky need a kid. All grown and successful. But how we want to be don’t have bearing when it comes to people and love which makes everybody think backwards.
That’s why Lucky plays golf, which I’m thinking of changing to fishing and I’m not sure he needs to go on any dates.
All I know from fishing is I went to some mountains with my grandparents before they died and camped in a cabin without electricity and with an outhouse I thought was the coolest thing in the world and one morning Grandpa got back with these shiny fish he ate for breakfast.
We hiked to a waterfall feeding chipmunks Saltines I licked along the way.
We heard what Grandpa said was commotion and I said that word in my head over and over as we got closer to this woman screaming her head off, people throwing tree limbs and a cooler in the water, running up and down the bank, jumping in.
Grandpa went to see could he help and I went back with Grandma far enough away we couldn’t tell what was going on but close enough we could.
We played tic-tac-toe in the dirt.
Grandma taught me how if you go first you can’t lose until we couldn’t hear any more commotion.
Just the waterfall going through my head how Grandpa’d say everything went through one ear and out the other.
It don’t matter what somebody says when they say it right.
Last night Dante looked in my room and said my writing doesn’t suck and I laid there letting as close as it gets wash over me long enough to decide I’m letting Lucky do what he wants on this date thing so now he’s taking Louise Rhime fishing but Miss Carly Leeds shows up in this little blue number Lucky’s never seen hang like that on anybody and this new episode’s on that night and she’d love to stop by with tacos and Dos Equis.
When we first started having sex I’d stare at the Aerosmith poster on Denny’s wall and picture how it’d be with one of them.
When we got married Denny put the poster in what ended up Dante’s room who left it up until his goth phase when Denny hung it on the inside of the living room closet door where he’d swing it open, screaming, “I’m back in the saddle again,” like his fucking cat he left here to pee on everything until I drove him where he and Teri-Lee were staying and handed the nasty thing to her in the middle of their cook-out.
He jumped out of her arms and ran into somebody’s garage but I was gone.
After Denny left, one night I thumb-tacked Aerosmith above our bed.
I liked that Denny didn’t like them any more.
I wanted somebody sold out.
Dante still sees love out in front going the right way and that’s the thing’s going to take him right to LA.
He doesn’t know how we slept in the car when Denny’d say get out.
How Denny told me like something you hear on a tv in another room if me and Dante disappeared he’d barely notice.
When Dante says he’s thinking about it I don’t say anything about college because I can’t think past the first day he’ll be gone.
Louise and Lucky catch bass until she tries to kiss him on the boat and he smiles and asks does she really want to do that and he sees she does but she doesn’t and that night he and Carly roll around the floor until the coffee table breaks and the knock a few minutes later I think’s the police is not in a Ray Adams way.
Dante’s asleep on the couch with one shoe and World’s Funniest Videos on.
I slip off his other shoe and go to turn off the computer but don’t want to wake him.
I can’t help myself. I look at the history, scared what I’ll see.
And it’s Aerosmith stuff until I wonder how the world got so big and what possible use there could be for a story about somebody I don’t know when I don’t know what I’m going to do, never know what’s next.
Then World’s Funniest Videos.
I watch this young dad in his driveway smiling and waving at the people he thinks will watch one day while his kid walks up crotch-level, swinging huge Hulk hands.
And I know what’s going to happen.
Everybody does. Or everybody not there. Everybody there don’t know.
But the laugh track trickles in. The laughing people know.
The host says something and the laugh gets louder.
And right when I wonder why it’s funny the computer freezes.
The beachball spins and nothing’s happened.
The dad looks how good art’s people look. They don’t know they’re art.
They don’t know what’s about to happen because it never does. They just showed up in something like that.
The beachball keeps spinning no matter how much I move it around or click.
I sit there that way, everything stuck.
Dante’s breath sounds like the waterfall when I was little.
When Denny’d take Dante to the river I couldn’t go. I couldn’t bear him going under where he couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t see him.
On the screen the beachball stops and the whole thing disappears.
I feel on my heart Dante brushing his hand across his face and listen to him in another place and with me.