As I sit here, looking out across the reach of time and space, mostly time – but space too; the sky is quite broken up by trees here, but I know it extends to far places – I ponder that old, old question. Why did I do it? Why?

Perhaps it was for my father, that old geezer, who hung himself, let himself dangle from a rope, still as the Earth, like one of those damn toy things people hang on a string from their rear view mirrors.

How could a guy like me, making a decent go of it at this point, respond so stupidly – really, almost with evil intention – to a stupid band teacher, a woman who calls at night and wants to talk about the Wimp’s trumpet playing?

How could I go there, to that school, for this parent-teacher conference, and really hope to accomplish anything positive for my child?

Me, the parent who is just doing a little house sitting? Has no authority, no influence at all over this little girl I love? How could I expect to help?

Anyone would have been better. Margie’s mother could have done it. A simple explanation would have worked. Sorry, ma’am, but her mother’s out of town. She’ll be back in a couple of weeks. Talk to her. The three of you can hash it out, get some results. You’re talking to the wrong person.

How could I have expected to do anything with this?

Yet, I went for the conference. Talked for two hours about this infantile matter – “Rachel is not practicing her trumpet as much as she should. She’s getting behind.”

Big shit. But I took it on.

And then I took her out. Friday afternoon, the end of the week, and the beginning of the weekend, and we hit it off – two adults who felt like talking. Me? I was in a fairly calm, listening mode. No mania here. Sanity of mood, insanity of action. There was no need for this. This woman, obviously not right in the head, gave me the full scoop, spoon fed me my parental longings. The Wimp was a great student, just a little slack on her practicing since Mom left on vacation. The school? It was a tangled political web, all the bullshit going on there. I could relate. For a couple of years, in my working days, I worked in one myself.

This woman? Oh, she had her problems, and she told me about every one. At least, she filled up the time and space available. These problems could have expanded to fit any amount of time.

Her apartment, on a Friday afternoon and evening, was a simple place, a plain condo, nice, new – but…. This woman had problems with people – other teachers, the principal, the kids, even neighbors. Who knows?

We knocked down a fifth of bourbon, smoked some dope, washed it all down with a couple of beers, hit the town like the couple of buzzed out, burned out, drunken slobs we were. Did I tell you that she really was not good looking? Not when I was sober, anyhow. She looked okay after a little partying. She was an overweight, overgrown child. She loved to party, behaved like a baby. And when I was ready, she led me into her.

So that is not so bad, you say? It could happen to the best of us. Given who I am, it was a small offense, not surprising at all. You’re right. It was nothing, a trifle, another irresponsible act among many. A drop in the bucket. A leaf in the pile. Poof. Blow them away. Spread them out. Let them rot. Mow ’em under and then forget about them.

But the dots…. The dots…. The talk. The telephone calls. The buzz. The tears? The “Dad, you’re an asshole. Why did Mom do this to me. I’m quitting school and I hate you, hate you, hate you!”

Hate you hate you hate you.

Hate you hate you hate you.

But they seek me out, these people. I’m like a magnet to fucked up folks. The attraction is incredibly strong, dear, dear Rachel.

Hate you hate you hate you.

Hate you hate you hate you.

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