It is the last day of school before summer break, and Travis is as happy as he is possibly able to get (which is not happy at all). Despite not having attended any AA meetings after the night on which he got his tattoo, he is able to keep his job as a teacher due to the lack of desire of the school board to search for another person who would work for nothing.
He walks into Principal Janelle’s office while the students are being dismissed and takes a seat opposite her. “School’s out, baby,” he says to her. “You know, I’ve always had this fantasy about naughty principals.”
“Travis,” Principal Janelle says, “we need to talk about your future here. Your drinking problem has not improved, but frankly, having you on staff has been something of a blessing. Your willingness to teach despite a lack of compensation has opened up a lot of doors for this school, and we wish that there were more people like you working here.”
Travis, once again too preoccupied with her ample dirty-pillows, hears only what he wants to hear, like the part about wishing there were more people like him. He misinterprets these fragments as a strong come-on and tries to get in on this game.
Travis takes his house key out of his pocket and slides it across the principal’s desk. “You get yourself a copy of this key,” he says, “and you shake that cute little fanny of yours all the way to my house whenever you want.”
“No, thank you, Travis,” she says, pushing the key back vigorously. “Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, we would like you to come back next year and permanently replace Ms. Buckwheat. Don’t worry about her, either.” (Travis never does.) “She will be taken care of financially.”
Travis feels nothing towards this proposal- neither happiness nor sorrow- and apathetically accepts. “Ok, darling,” he says. “So, do you give me my check, or do I pick it up somewhere else?”
“My checky-check,” Travis says. “The money I get for teaching. Come on, sexy. Don’t be pulling my penis chain.”
“Travis,” she says, very clearly, so that even he may comprehend this extremely simple concept, “I thought we had an understanding when you started working here. You will not be compensated for your work. This is strictly on a volunteer basis.”
“What are you talking about?” Travis asks, genuinely baffled.
“When you first started working here,” she explains, “you signed a paper saying that you would fill in for Ms. Buckwheat until the end of this school year- and that’s today, Travis- for no money at all, not a single penny.”
She wheels over to her credenza and takes a piece of paper from a large manila folder.
“How come I don’t remember any of this?” Travis asks.
“You were pretty drunk on wine,” the principal says, handing him the paper.
Travis looks at the document, utterly perplexed, one hundred percent sure that he has never seen it before in his life. He runs his thumbs over the surface of the paper. “Why is it so crusty?”
“You were drooling a lot,” she says.
Travis looks back down at the document, which reads as follows:
I, the undersigned, agree to fill in for the brittle and invalid Ms. Buckwheat, who is presently bedridden due to disability, for the remainder of the school year. I shall undertake all responsibilities previously handled by the aforementioned Ms. Buckwheat, and I shall perform these duties for no pay at all (not virtually nothing; not practically nothing, but NOTHING at all).
At the bottom of the page is Travis’s signature; there is no mistaking it. It is utter chicken scratch, scribbled in red marker with a cute little heart over the I. He gawks at it unbelievingly, feeling confused and angry, and a little horny. “I would never have signed to this paper if I had known what it said. Damn, I really messed up on this one.”
Principal Janelle smiles as she realizes that Travis is not familiar with laws regarding the signing of documents while under the influence of alcohol. She was betting on his ignorance (or, a lack of litigiousness), and Travis came through big time.
“Sorry,” Janelle says, on the verge of laughter.
Travis slams the paper down on her desk so hard that he hurts his hand. He tries to hide the pain (and the tears accumulating in his eyes), but it is difficult. “Fuck it,” he says. “I don’t need this job. I don’t need anything, because you’re all a bunch of faggots. I am getting ready to start coaching a peewee baseball team this summer, so I can’t be bothered with work or any of that shit. Good luck finding a replacement as attractive as me. So kiss my ass.”
He turns and lightly taps his butt several times. On his way out the door, he suddenly stops. “Oh, wait a second. I got a tattoo earlier this year and I forgot to show it to you. It’s so fucking sexy.”
Travis turns so that his back is to the principal as he begins to fiddle with his pants.
“What are you doing?”
Travis grunts in frustration as he gets stuck on the zipper. “Can you just give me a minute, please?” He tugs fiercely at the zipper, but nothing doing. On the verge of tears, he screams: “Can I get some help over here, for Christ’s sake?!”
Principal Janelle starts to rise in spite of herself when Travis finally dislodges the piece of fabric from between the teeth of the zipper. “Yes!” he yells happily. He slowly slides his pants down to his ankles and shakes his butt from side to side. He lifts up his shirt in the back so Janelle can see the tattoo.
“Oh, my……God,” is all she can manage. Right above his ass is this tattoo:
Insert Cock Here
“Travis, I don’t understand.”
“Yeah, you wouldn’t, bitch,” he says. “It’s Latin.” He walks out of the principal’s office, still shaking his butt, his lower half still completely exposed.
Travis spots the young girl whom he had spoken to on his first day down the hall near her locker. He pulls his pants back up and secures them around his waist as he approaches her swiftly.
“Hey, sweetie pie,” he says. She recognizes him immediately and tries to avoid eye contact as she zips up her schoolbag, but knows that she is already doomed. She stands frozen in place.
“Listen, I think we need to talk,” he says.
“I don’t think we have anything to t-”
Travis cups a big sweaty hand around her mouth and gently shushes her. “Don’t speak, my love,” he says. “Just listen. We can’t keep going around like this. I am a married man, and you are in, like, sixth grade. On top of all that, school is out for the summer, so it might just be best if we went our separate ways. Please don’t take it personally. We had some real good times: that first day I saw you in the hallway, right now. Yeah, good times. Just do me one small favor.”
Travis takes an envelope out of his pocket and gives it to the girl.
“Please open this when the time is right.” He waits for her to ask when that will be, but she doesn’t, and that hurts him inside, where he is soft like a woman. “You’ll know when the time is right.”
He walks away, on the verge of tears. The girl opens the envelope and looks inside. It is empty.
Travis walks home from the school, having completely forgotten he’d driven there in his Hummer. He would have to go back at a later time and pick it up, which would be awkward, considering he just told the love of his life off; it would be like a boy going back to his boyfriend’s house to retrieve records he’d left there after they were already broken up. Travis knows that feeling well.
Travis walks briskly down Pine Avenue when a bird flies low and quickly swoops by his head. Travis throws his hands up in great fear and confusion. He stares at the bird as it flies off, but he decides that he isn’t going to let the son of a bitch off that easily.
“What the fuck!” he yells angrily. “You’re not supposed to do that.” He removes his concealed weapon from his waistband (even though it wasn’t there when he’d dropped his pants) and begins to fire off shot after deafening shot, hoping to tank the bird.
Another bird flies through the sky (probably the other bird’s cousin or some shit like that, Travis reasonably reasons), and he becomes so disoriented that he closes his eyes and just starts to fire aimlessly above his head. The kickback of the gun makes Travis stagger like a drunken man (that’s funny because he is drunk).
Travis finally runs out of bullets. He looks around and sees no dead birds lying on the ground. “Fuck my life,” he says. He turns to his right and sees two young boys- one age five, the other seven- on the sidewalk clutching scooters. They stare at him, mouths agape.
“What’s the matter?” Travis yells at them. “Haven’t you ever seen somebody trying to shoot at birds in a residential neighborhood? Want me to pump you full of lead? I’ll let my pistol do all the talking.”
He growls and points the gun at their stupid faces.
They ride away quickly, too shocked to do anything else. Travis is thankful that they did not realize that the gun had no bullets left in it. He chuckles and wonders how little children can be so stupid and oblivious. Travis has a tattoo on his lower back that says Insert Cock Here.
Another day, Travis thinks to himself as he arrives home, but no fucking dollar.
The next day, Travis wakes up bright and early at 1 P.M. and decides he will capitalize on these extra hours by preparing for that night’s tryouts. Travis feels a throbbing pain in his head (maybe a migraine) and goes over to the mirror above the bathroom sink. He notices he has two black eyes and says, “Huh, must have a slow night.”
He goes through his morning ritual before calling all the players who are going to try out for the baseball team. When calling the kids he has known and coached for years whom he does not like, he uses an accent so that they will be fooled into thinking that they have a different coach this year, and then when they arrive at the tryouts they will be fantastically disappointed. One point for Travis.
Travis comes across three players with the same last name (it’s Scott, in case you give a fuck). Their father informs Travis that the three of them are brothers, and that they will all be at practice tonight, but Travis quickly forgets this, and he makes the mistake of calling the same number two more times. By the third call, the father is furious and decides to block Travis’s number.
Travis goes for a run after making his calls, and within five minutes, both of his legs give way beneath him from supporting so much weight. He falls limply to the ground and realizes that he needs to free up his hands to break the fall. But, he does not want to let go of the cigar in his one hand and the comically large wine glass in the other, so he holds tight to them and decides to take it all in the face. He does, and it hurts.
Travis arrives home four hours later (he would have been home much sooner if all those people that had passed him had done the fucking humanly thing and helped his fat ass up), drenched in sweat. He goes over to the mirror in the dining room and disrobes. He flexes his muscles and is utterly furious when he finds that he doesn’t have any. Why does Travis eat the ass-end of everything?
Travis dresses in full baseball attire (he has to borrow one of his son’s old uniforms, the biggest of which has to be ten sizes too small)- hat, jersey, pants, cleats, jockstrap, the works. He takes a huge wad of chewing tobacco and shoves it in his mouth, but immediately spits it back out and decides he would rather lick a dirty asshole than ever put that shit in his mouth again.
He and his son Michael, who has played for the past several years, drive to practice in the Hummer, which mysteriously and serendipitously found its way home from the school.
“So, Dad,” Michael says, “how many kids are going to be on the team this year?”
“Well,” Travis says, giddy as a schoolboy, “I called about a hundred and fifty kids, but by the time I am done with everyone, we’ll have that whittled down to about eleven. Twelve, if I’m feeling good.”
“Wow, you’ll have to make a lot of cuts.”
“That’s the whole idea, dumb-ass,” Travis says.
“But you’ve never done it like this before,” Michael says.
“Michael, the world is a different place today than when I was a kid. We used to smoke pot all day and have unprotected sex; we didn’t bother with condoms or stupid stuff like that. We were much more relaxed, but today everything is go-go-go. Everything is so competitive. And you guys need to learn that at a young age. It’s dog eat dog, no room for pussies.”
“But I’ll definitely be on the team, right Dad?”
“Ever heard of nepotism, son? Hm? No? Well, that’s ok, because I haven’t either. I heard it on television earlier and I have been wondering all day what it means. But I was way too lazy to look it up. Anyway, there is a one hundred percent chance that your being on the team is a possibility, but no promises. I’m not playing favorites, because if I was, you definitely wouldn’t make it.”
They arrive at practice twenty minutes late. A swarm of young boys runs about the field in a completely disorganized fashion. Travis calls them all together, and they promptly obey, which is surprising because Travis barely has control over his own life, let alone a bunch of kids.
“Ok, ladies,” Travis says, “congratulations! You all made the team.” He pauses for dramatic effect. “Just kidding- most of you will be cut. In fact, the chances of each of you making it are so slim that I would probably just give up hope. Questions?”
Several kids raise their hands.
“Ok, anybody with a question please step off to the side.” They do so, and Travis looks at them happily. “Ok, you’re all cut. First rule of this team: never question my authority. Got it? Ok, guys, goodbye.”
He turns to the rest of the kids. “Now,” he continues as the sad group of inquisitive young boys drifts off, “like I said, your chances of making it are very slim. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. So I need you all to work your tails off- through tryouts, at practices, at games, when you’re sleeping, all the time. Playing for me is not going to be fun, but I will make men out of you. I can assure you of that. So buckle up if you’re in it to win it, because when I’m done with all of you, you’ll be begging for death.”
The boys stare at him, dumbfounded and a little scared. “Ok,” Travis says, “is there anyone here named Travis?”
One small boy at the back of the mass raises his hand and waits to be acknowledged.
“Well,” the coach says, “you are certainly blessed to share your name with a God-like figure such as myself, but unfortunately, this team ain’t big enough for the two of us Travises.” The Coach waits for any of the players to laugh at his referencing old western films, but is struck by silence. This makes him angry because he now knows that every single kid here is dumb. “Ok, Travis, get the fuck out of here. There’s only room for one of us in these parts.”
The young boy walks away, hurt. It is a shame that the coach cut him, because that boy is the best one there, and he would later grow up to play in the MLB and be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“Ok,” Travis says, “now that we got rid of the deadwood, let’s give me a hundred laps around the entire field, and I’m not even kidding. If I see anybody cutting corners, I’ll slap you in the face with my dick.”
“Shouldn’t we stretch first?” a black boy asks.
“I don’t know, chocolate rain, should we?” Travis asks. He taps his forefinger to his chin several times and says, “Ok, yes, you and you alone will stretch- got plenty of time to do so now that you’ve been cut.”
The boy walks away, knowing it would be futile to try to change his mind.
“Stretching is for pussies,” Travis says. “It serves no purpose. Now run, guys, come on, hey, let’s go.”
They start to run, and for a while the group stays fairly tightly packed together. But over time, the fat kids (or fatties, as Travis likes to refer to them as) begin to lag behind, and they are promptly cut. Several kids pull hamstrings between the 42nd and 44th lap, and Travis cuts them and tells them they should have stretched.
The tryouts continue, and Travis cuts people left and right, and with no emotion. He feels melancholy when he realizes that there are only twenty kids remaining, and thus fewer kids to cut. He wants to savor this last bunch, chase that feeling until it dies.
He pulls three young boys aside while the other seventeen run more laps. He plays eeny, meeny, miny, moe because he can’t decide which of them is the ugliest. Before selecting one of them to cut, however, he realizes that leaving it to chance is an unfair way to determine one’s fate, so in his infinite goodness, he cuts all three of them.
He calls the remaining seventeen over and grabs three baseballs from an orange bucket near the gate.
“Now,” Travis says, “I am going to throw these three balls up in the air, and whoever can catch one is guaranteed a spot on the team. Ready?” He doesn’t care if they’re ready and throws them straight up in the air. The boys (one of whom is his son Michael) push and shove as the leathery testicles descend.
Three boys each catch a ball and jump joyfully at the certainty that is theirs. They approach Travis and hold the baseballs up to him.
“Ok,” Travis says, taking the baseballs back, “be proud that you know how to catch. But I don’t think I am going to carry three fools who are dumb enough to fall for the oldest trick in the book,” (as Travis likes to call it), “so you’re all cut.”
And then there are fourteen.
Travis calls the remaining kids together and asks if any of them can do a back flip. One boy does, and he demonstrates this talent. His ability to do a back flip, however, makes Travis uneasy because he doesn’t like somebody that can do something he can’t, so for the good of the team, he cuts him.
“Ok,” Travis says, “I have to cut one more kid, and I just want you all to know that you have done a mediocre job here today-” He suddenly stops upon spotting his son. “Michael what are you still doing here? I thought I cut you a while ago. Ok, no worries, guys. Michael, you’re cut.”
Michael starts to bitch and complain, and he is excellent at it because he learned from the best: his father, Travis fucking D’Angelo. But his dad quickly shuts him up. So Michael resorts to crying like a bitch. But robotic Travis is unfazed by his son’s sorrow, because when you’re too busy basking in your own misery your whole fucking life, you start not to give a shit about how other people feel.
“Ok,” Travis says to his son, “you can be the wine boy.”
That night, Mrs. D’Angelo arrives home from the wig shop, having found nothing. Her hair is growing back nicely, but still one would not want to be seen with her in public (as Travis often reminds her).
She spots several rose petals on the ground, and then realizes that there is a path of them creeping up the stairwell. She follows them up to the second floor and down the long hall to their bedroom. She opens the door and finds Travis standing there in her pink robe. Barry White plays on the radio, and a bottle of wine sits angled in an ice bucket on the headboard.
“Hey, baby,” Travis says, slipping deftly out of the robe. He lets it fall to the ground softly.
“Oh, my, god,” Mrs. D’Angelo says. She stares at her naked husband, in utter disbelief, her jaw on the floor.
“Didn’t your mother ever tell you it’s not polite to stare?” Travis asks, spinning on one foot like a ballerina so his wife can get a panoramic view of his goodies. “Do you want me?”
“Travis, what is that on your back?” she asks, pointing.
“Oh, this old thing?” Travis says, turning again. “It’s just a little rat-a-tat-oo-ey I got in the beginning of the year. I really like what it says, you know? I feel like it so perfectly captures my personality.”
“Are you out of your mind?”
“I’m not out of my mind; I’m out of my clothes,” Travis says, biting his forefinger suggestively. “I’m sorry, sweetheart; I would offer you some of that wine behind me,” he gestures to the ice bucket, “but I drank all of it.”
Mrs. D’Angelo, on the verge of vomiting, runs out of the room, back down the steps, and out the front door, taking in huge gulps of some much-needed fresh air.
Travis is baffled by her sudden departure. He wonders what he did wrong as he looks down at his private parts, or, as Travis likes to refer to them as, the best friends a guy could ever have. And then it dawns on him, smacking him over the empty head like a sack of tissues- he now realizes what all those medical commercials about erectile dysfunction were talking about.
Travis puts the robe back on and heads all the way down the basement where Michael and some of his friends are hanging out. He figures maybe they’re doing something fun that he can jump in on.
He descends the steps and finds his son and three of his buddies sitting in a small circle throwing back cans of beer. Startled, they all half-stand at the sight of Michael’s father and mutter curses under their breath.
“Dad,” Michael says. “I didn’t know you’d be coming down here….”
“Yeah, well, here I am,” he says. “I was upstairs ready to give your mother the business when she just bolts out of there, like she was on fire or something. I swear, I get limp dick at the worst possible times.”
Travis walks closer to them and notices the alcohol. “Is that beer?” he asks, pointing.
“No,” the four of them say in unison. They quickly try to make a kind of barricade so that Travis will not see all the empty cans behind them. But the old owl is wise, and the scent of alcohol is so strong (and so familiar to him) that he persists.
Travis shuffles around them and sees all the empty containers scattered about in a terrific mess. He picks up one of the cans, holds it upside down over his head, and cranes his neck back. He closes his eyes and sticks his tongue out, waiting for any stubborn droplets at the bottom of the can to fall straight into his oral possession. But that sucker is bone-dry, and Travis crushes the can in his hand upon realizing this. He turns to look at Michael and his friends.
“I’m hurt, son- really hurt.”
“Dad, we’re sorry, okay?” Michael says hurriedly. “We don’t do it that often, just once in a while. We don’t go out and do it in public or anything. We stay safe and all that.”
“You’re down here getting shit-faced with your friends,” Travis says, “and you don’t have the decency, the simple decency…..to ask me to drink with you? Come on, buddy. This could have been a great father-son kind of bonding experience.” He sighs. “Well, no worries. Judging from the looks of it, this ship hasn’t sunk completely just yet.”
He parks it on the couch and cracks open a cold beer. “Come on, guys, sit down,” he says. “Is there a game on, or were you guys too hung up watching that ballet shit?”
“We weren’t watching anything,” Michael says. He and his friends sit down cautiously around Travis, extremely confused, maybe even suspicious that he is trying to set some trap into which he wants them all to fall.
Flipping through the channels, Travis is struck by the most brilliant idea he has had since he decided to add a little more cream to his coffee in the mornings. “Wait right here,” Travis says to the boys.
“This here is child’s play. I’ll be right back.”
He leaves the room and comes back several minutes later carrying a huge keg. Michael and his friends stare in utter disbelief as Travis’s muscles ripple against the extreme weight of it. He grunts loudly as he sets the keg down right in the middle of the room.
“There,” he says. “That ought to hold us for the next hour.”
Travis points to Bobby, Michael’s red-haired friend. “You,” he says. “You’re up first, buddy.”
“What are we doing?” he asks.
“A keg stand. Get your hands on the rim of the keg and put that plump ass way up in the air. Wave it like you just don’t care. Come on, fellas, haven’t any of you ever done a keg stand before?”
The four of them are silent.
“Looks like I got my work cut out for me,” Travis says. “Boys, today you become men. Get ready for me to pop the proverbial cherry of alcoholic ignorance that resides in each of your pussies, because you are about to drown in some serious booze.”
Bobby complies. Travis and Michael both take a leg and lift him up off the ground so that his body is perfectly perpendicular to the floor. Stan and Rick, Michael’s other two friends, ready the keg tap, uneasy about the entire thing. They start to pump the tap, per Travis’s instructions, and Bobby sucks in the alcohol. But the feat proves difficult, and after only a mere several seconds does he remove his mouth from the tap, sputtering and breathing heavily.
“Please let me down,” Bobby says.
Travis scoffs, embarrassed that his son associates himself with such a lightweight faggot. “Pussy,” he mumbles under his breath, immediately letting go of Bobby’s leg. All the weight from his lower half falls on Michael, and he and his friend tumble to the ground in an untidy heap.
Travis grips the rim of the keg and looks at the four of them. “My turn; let me show you how to do a real keg stand,” he says. “Come on, guys, team effort.” Michael and Bobby each get a leg and lift him up; however, due to the difference in their heights, the boys are only able to raise him up to about a sixty degree angle. Stan and Rick ready the keg tap again and put it wholly in Travis’s mouth. Then they run around and help Michael and Bobby hold up his legs. Even with the four of them, they have difficulty supporting Travis, because he is incredibly heavy.
“Don’t let go,” Travis says around the tap in his mouth. He sucks the sweet booze down like it is his last day on earth (Travis prays that it will be). The belt of the robe comes undone, and the silky gown falls entirely downwards, covering the back of his head, his entire body now exposed. The boys look away, Travis’s junk hanging in their faces.
The boys’ arms tremble under the extreme weight, their knees buckling fiercely. “Keep it steady,” Travis manages, going at it like a champ, sucking at the tap like a calf going to town on his mother’s teat. His genitals swing through the field that is his pubic hair, causing the boys much discomfort and shock. Stan, who is supporting Travis’s leg from the side, notices the tattoo on his lower back, but regards it as commonplace, and rightly so, considering the freaky turn this night has already taken.
Finally, Travis polishes off the keg and gestures to be put down. The boys do so, slowly, and Travis stands on his two feet while refastening the robe around his waist. “Huh,” he says, “that one must have only been half-filled.”
Stan, Rick, Bobby, and Michael collapse to the floor, clutching their arms in agonizing pain. “You guys did good tonight,” Travis says. “Why don’t you boys let me drive you home? Give me your car keys.”
“Aren’t you going to put something on?” Michael asks.
“You know, son,” Travis explains, “in some cultures in Europe, people don’t even wear clothes- ever. So consider yourself lucky that I am actually making enough effort to put something on.”
“And what cultures might those be?” Stan asks.
“You’re cut,” Travis says, almost robotically. But he catches himself and adds, “Sorry, force of habit.”
“Well, ok, thanks, Mr. D’Angelo,” Rick says, handing over his car keys.
Travis laughs. “Oh, please. Call me Mr. D’Angelo.”
Rick looks at him, somewhat baffled. “Uh, ok, Mr. D’Angelo,” he says. “The three of us all drove here in the same car, so we can come pick it up tomorrow or something.”
“Good,” Travis says. He walks up the stairs and out the front door, the boys following right behind him. Travis ambles across the lawn and tosses the keys into a small bush in his wife’s garden (in the black of night, mind you). “Good luck finding those bad boys,” he says. “I’m not going to waste my time driving you faggots home.”
“Dude, seriously?” Bobby says.
Travis and Michael walk back into the house while Stan, Rick, and Bobby search frantically for the keys.
“Dad, I think I should help them look for their keys,” Michael says.
“Nonsense,” Travis says, laughing heartily. “Listen, Michael, forget about them for a second. You and I need to have a little talk. I think now you’re old enough for it.”
“Is it about the tryouts?”
“Oh, no,” Travis says. “It’s about the birds and the bees.”
At this, Michael’s heart drops into his stomach. Just when he thought he could not take any more craziness, any more surprises, his father hits him with something like this. “Dad, can’t this wait till another time?”
“No, we’re doing this now,” Travis says sternly. He and Michael sit down on the couch in the living room. “So,” he begins, “Michael, you’re ah…..what are you, fourteen, fifteen? I can’t even keep track anymore. Anyway, you’re getting older, getting to that age when you start to go through some changes in your life. I’m sure you’ve gleaned a lot from your friends, things at school, on television, and-”
“Dad,” Michael interrupts. “I know all about the birds and the bees, ok? I understand it; I don’t need anything explained to me. So, no offense or anything, but could you please spare me some shame and embarrassment and just let this go? I don’t need you to teach me anything.”
“Me teach you?” Travis asks. “You think that’s what this is about? No, no, Michael…..I need you to teach me.”
“Michael,” Travis says, “it’s no secret that your mother and I have lost a certain kind of flare in our marriage, and lately it’s really been getting to me. I keep trying to do romantic things and stuff, but my plans always go awry. She keeps suggesting all this stuff we could try, but I’m too ashamed to admit to her that I don’t understand what she’s talking about. Michael, what’s doggy-style? What does it mean to have an organism? And, where did you come from? Your mom just keeps saying vagina. Is that code for something?”
“Ok,” Michael says, “let’s tackle one question at a time.” He wipes the profuse sweat from his brow and tries to steady his heartbeat. “Doggy-style is uh……when a man and a woman love each other very much-”
“Hold on a minute,” Travis says, grabbing a pen and a pad of paper from off the end table.
Michael contemplates how he is going to broach such a topic with his father. He wonders whether any of his friends have had the misfortune of having had to explain the birds and the bees to their parents.
“When a man and a woman love each other very much-”
“I hate to interrupt again,” Travis interrupts again, “and I certainly wouldn’t want to question your knowledge, but I’m not interested in love or anything like that. We’re talking about sex here, Michael- two completely unrelated subjects.”
“How’s to this?” Travis interrupts for a third time. “Actions speak louder than words, right? So why don’t you show me instead of tell me? Like Benjamin Franklin once said: ‘Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn. Freedom and pussy for all.’”
“I don’t know how comfortable I’d feel-”
“Get up,” Travis interrupts for the fourth time. Michael reluctantly does so. “Ok, Michael, you be me, and I’ll be your mother, and you position me correctly. Ok, this is going to be fun.” It wasn’t a question.
Michael hesitantly instructs Travis to get on his hands and knees when he realizes that his father’s eyelids are fluttering.
“Man,” Travis says, “this is so weird. I’m getting lightheaded all of a sudden.” All fifteen gallons of the keg smack him over the head at once, and Travis drops to his knees, then falls flat on his face, completely passed out. He is so out of it his state might even be considered comatose.
Michael is relieved that he has been pardoned from this unusual task. He looks at his father lying prostrate on the ground and figures he should be alright for a little while. He goes back outside to help his friends look for their keys.
Sure enough, Stan, Rick, and Bobby are still out there, looking for they keys in the total darkness. Michael joins them in their search, but their efforts are fruitless. His three friends have become extremely agitated by now, and they are so overwhelmed with emotion that they are on the cusp of crying.
“Why don’t you guys just spend the night here?” Michael suggests. “We’ll look for the keys tomorrow.”
“No way,” Bobby says. “I am not going back in there.”
“Don’t worry,” Michael says. “My dad just passed out on the living room floor.”
“Oh, then, definitely. Let’s go, fellas.”
The three of them follow Michael back into the house and walk past Travis lying completely still on the ground and down into the basement. Little do they know that Travis was actually legally dead for about five seconds, his heart having stopped cold in his chest. But (unfortunately for Travis) it managed to kick back into life and resume its work.
The next day Travis wakes up with an inexplicable headache. He gets off the ground and wonders how in the world he had gotten there in the first place. Only after several minutes of dazed confusedness does he remember that he has his first baseball game tonight. He needs to make all the necessary preparations, and, since he’s been a good boy, he decides he will treat himself to a little pre-game box of wine. After all, how often does Travis let himself enjoy a nice drink?
He gets his list of phone numbers from off the fridge and starts to call all the players. He threatens to bomb their houses if they do not show up to the game at least an hour in advance (even though Travis plans to get there without only a minute to spare).
Jimmy Fitzgerald, the fifth boy on the list, sadly informs the coach that he will not be able to make the game tonight. “I’m sorry, Coach,” he says. “My grandmother is in the hospital. She is very sick. Things aren’t looking good at all.”
“That is unfortunate,” Travis says genuinely. He pauses, then adds: “Anyway, game is at six. I’ll see you there.”
He makes the rest of his calls and gathers together everything he will need for the game tonight.
Later in the afternoon, Travis goes to a men’s clothing store and rents a very expensive tuxedo. “Gotta look good for any young girls that might be at the peewee baseball game,” he tells the salesman. “That’s the thing I like about young chicks. I keep getting older, but they always stay the same age.”
He comes home to find his daughter Stephanie sitting at the kitchen table with one of her girlfriends. Travis tries to hide his giddy excitement (and his erection) but finds it difficult. Time to go American Beauty on these fresh little butt cheeks.
“Hi, hon,” he says to her friend, holding out his hand. “My name is Travis. And what is your name? Or do angels have names? Wait, that one angel had a name. Was it Gabriel? Is your name Gabriel?” This is not the best first impression Travis has ever made, nor is it the worst.
“Samantha,” she manages.
“Dad,” Stephanie says, “what is on your face?”
“A look of easy confidence, I hope,” he says, smiling slyly.
“I think you better take a look in the mirror.”
Travis walks over to the mirror and looks at his reflection. On his face are many small, crudely-drawn penises in all different marker colors. “This is odd,” he says. “I don’t remember doing this.”
“Have you been walking around all day like that?” Stephanie says.
“I guess I must have been,” he says. “That would explain what the salesman at the clothing store said to me.”
“What did he say?”
“He said ‘You have penises on your face.’”
“And what did you say?”
“I said ‘I know.’”
Travis realizes that that probably had not made much sense, but he isn’t going to let himself be hung up on the semantics of it, especially when he has many other fish to fry, like getting the penises off his face or making a great second impression on Samantha to counterbalance the badly blown first one. He runs upstairs to wash off his face. He does a half-assed job of it, completely removing only some of them, the rest of which are either still clearly there or merely faded.
Upon finishing, Travis goes back downstairs to try to woo Samantha, but she and his daughter are already gone. After a long ten minutes of frantic searching, he calls the police and reports only Samantha missing, but not his daughter.
“What is her last name?” the operator asks.
“Let’s keep it on a first name basis,” Travis says. “I mean, do you really deem that relevant at a time like this? Come on, we’re in crisis over here.”
“How long has she been missing?”
“Ten minutes,” Travis says.
“Ten minutes?” the operator asks. “Ok, we normally wait twenty-four hours after the person is missing to begin searching. However, we may be able to make an exception, especially if Samantha is a minor.”
Travis is feeling a bit more relieved now that he hears this. “Oh, hell yeah, she is most certainly under eighteen. I can tell by the perkiness of her cannon balls…I mean personality. Is this call being recorded?”
“Yes, calls are recorded for training purposes and are to be put on file for the record,” the operator informs Travis. “Now you said she is a minor? How old is she exactly? And do you have any reason to believe that she ran away or has possibly been abducted? Also, what is your relation to Samantha?”
Travis becomes infuriated at this point. “What’s with all these questions? She is fifteen and has an ass like a perfect apple. I would be thoroughly surprised if she hasn’t been abducted yet. She is my daughter’s friend and they left without the courtesy of leaving a fucking note, and that’s assuming they left of their own accord. I’m worried about her.”
“Where is your daughter now?”
“Let’s focus on what’s important here…Samantha. I don’t have time for this shit!” Travis slams the phone down hard on the table, even though it’s his cell. He doesn’t know you can’t hang up cell phones that way.
In a mad panic, Travis runs outside and searches the entire neighborhood for her on foot. He asks passersby if they have recently seen a young girl walking the streets, and when they ask him to be more specific about her description, he flies into a mad rage and demands to know how God could have created something so incredibly stupid.
After several hours of looking, Travis returns home and drowns in a flood of his own tears. He loses all hope, finally acknowledging that she is gone forever. He knows he’ll have to call her parents and break the bad news to them, but his deep sorrow prevents him from doing so (also, the fact that he does not know her house number or her mother and father makes this feat difficult).
Travis walks down the basement steps, looking for a little Comfort (which is the name of a brand of wine that he is especially fond of). Upon reaching the landing, he spots Stephanie and Samantha sitting on the couch watching TV.
“Oh, my goodness!” Travis exclaims. He runs over to them and throws his arms around Samantha, pushing his daughter out of the way in the process. He coats her head with many sweet kisses and tells her never to scare him like that again.
“Where in the world have you been?” Travis asks.
“We’ve been down here for the past few hours,” Stephanie says.
“Silence, thing,” Travis says, never for a second taking his eyes off the lovely Samantha. He repeats the question to her and squeezes her nose in what he hopes is a very affectionate manner, but he does so too hard and hurts her.
“Just like she said,” Samantha tells him, massaging her own nose and squinting against the tears.
“Well, I’m just glad you…and you alone, are ok,” Travis says.
“Hey, Dad,” Stephanie says, “don’t you have a game tonight?”
Travis spins around and looks at the clock on the far wall, which reads fifteen minutes shy of the sixth hour. As if in confirmation, he looks at the nonexistent watch on his wrist (he never replaced the one that had been stolen months before) and jumps up excitedly.
Though not achieving much vertical distance, Travis comes down badly on his right ankle, pain coursing through his entire foot. He stumbles onto the ground, but the girls do nothing to assist him.
Travis lifts a finger up over his head and clutches at his throbbing ankle with the other hand. “To the…fucking…..” he stammers through the sharp pain, “Batmobile!” He is proud that he can maintain a sense of humor even when things are tough, but seriously, he better haul ass if he wants to make it in time to the game on time.
Travis quickly throws on his tuxedo that he bought earlier and sprints outside. He grabs a box of wine for the road on his way out.
On his way to the Hummer, he pours some wine into his comically large glass. Travis is thirsty as hell and is beginning to experience symptoms of withdrawal because he hasn’t had alcohol pumping through his sorry excuse for a liver in over three fucking hours.
The wine is about to touch his lips when Travis stops and remembers that while searching for Samantha, he made a promise to God that if Samantha was ever to be found, he would give up drinking. Travis’s urge to drink is so strong, however, that he quickly reasons to be an atheist. If God doesn’t exist, then I made a promise to no one, and I found Samantha on my own. I must celebrate by guzzling down this wine. Besides, I already poured it, and you know the old saying that Dad used to scream: ‘Drink the fucking wine, ya pussy!’
Travis remains completely unfazed by the fact that he just compromised his faith over a glass of wine and finally makes it to the game forty minutes later. He got lost several times on the way over, even though the field is only four blocks from his house.