Dipak

2 May

–I see him every now and again walking around town.
–Do you now?
–Yes. With a little, leather backpack.
–That’s him.
–Funny, he doesn’t look like a father.
The one with the jet black hair laughs.
–Yea well…
–Do you know what I mean?
–I do.
–He’s just this…
–When’s the last time you saw him?
–I don’t remember really. I was eating at a Chinese take-out and he rushed by. He had on earphones. Big, padded ones. Looked very resolute.
The one with the jet black hair laughs again.
–That’s him all right.
–But, do you know what I mean? He doesn’t…it’s like he’s not a father.
–I do. And it’s true.
–It’s like he’s Ghandi or something. Walking on water or…hot coals or something.
They both laugh.
–You know, I got him a Tomish, black hair says.
–What?
–A Tomish meter. A pedometer.
–Oh. What’d you say?
–A pedometer.
–No, what’d you call it the first time?
–A Tomish meter. I think it’s named for Thomas Jefferson, who invented it.
–Ghandi with a pedometer.
–And poofy earphones…
–And a leather backpack.
They both laugh.
–I swear to God, there’s just…something about him. Calming. It’s like he’s not your father. Do you know what I mean?

–Dad? Dad.
The little, brown man doesn’t look at him. He has one small earphone with a very long chord attached to the television. The chord traverses a chair, a dining table, the length of the room before it dead-ends into a hole just below the screen. The slack on the wire is great and it’s pulling the earphone out, slightly.
–Karmy?
–No. Dad, it’s me.
–Karmy?
–No dad. It’s me.
The man rubs on his knuckle.
–Did you write to Natasha? he says.
–Yes. Dad?
–Tell Roger he needs to call the World Bank.
–All right. Dad, do you know who I am?
The man pushes hard on the earphone, adjusts it back into the canal, and then clears his throat.
–Karmy, we have to get your mother to start exercising, he says. –She’s diabetic. We have to get her moving.
–It’s me, dad. Your son.
–How did you get here? The car?
–No.
–Who has the car?
Fucking everyone, that’s who. Everyone in the bloody city has it.
–Aha.
Did he say that outloud? It doesn’t seem to matter. It doesn’t look like his father heard him.
–Four miles a day Karmy, the man says. –At least four. At least. Ten thousand steps. Eight kilometers. What’s that…that’s…what? In miles…
He reaches for his pedometer, on the couch pillow next to him, and clicks the Reset button.
–Five.
–Five, the man says. –It takes discipline, Karmy.
–I’m not Karmy.
–Karmy’s dead.
–That’s right.
–Aha.
He doesn’t want to be here. He doesn’t want to see his father this way. The old man keeps rubbing at his knuckle. Looks toward the balcony. Then back to the screen. Two monkeys are copulating. It’s a nature show of some sort. The male is very fast. Extremely fast.
–They throw cow parts in the rubbish, the old man says. –Before eight at night.
–What?
–Cow parts. The ones they don’t eat. The scraps.
–Who? Who throws them?
–The immigrants.
He won’t fight him on this. Not now. He’ll let the immigrants take one for the team. This day only. It takes the flak off of him.
We’re immigrants, the old man says.
–That’s right, dad.
–Bullshit. Don’t talk to me this way.
–All right. Should I put on some tea?
–No. It will just make me go to the washroom.
–All right.
All right.
–Do you want to try to walk outside for a bit? Before it gets dark.
–Not today, the man says and re-adjusts his ear piece. –Sometimes there’s garlic smells coming through the air conditioning vents. From other units.
–I’ll talk to them about it.
–Will you, son?
–Before I leave. Maybe they need to change the filters.
The man pushes buttons on his pedometer. Looks toward the balcony.
He says: –Never let them open you up like they did your mother, on that table.
–I know, dad.
–Once they open you up, nothing but bad things happen.
–I know.
They sit in silence for a while. One close, one far away.
–Rommie said he saw you walk by on Elmo, in College Park.
–When?
–I don’t know. Recently. He doesn’t know for sure.
–Aha.
The man fusses with his pedometer.
–Dad, are you waiting at red lights? Dad.
He doesn’t want to be here.
–Are you? Dad.

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2 Responses to “Dipak”

  1. Slyboots 02/05/2008 at 7:32 PM #

    Truer words were never written- once they open you up, nothing but bad things happen.

  2. (S)wine 05/05/2008 at 5:11 PM #

    Indeed. The Sicilians believe in that profusely.

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