My Old Man

J. K. Giih



I was born a long time ago. My father was a welder and my mother was a retired tarot reader. We lived in a little house in the countryside. Every morning my father would get up at 5.30, make coffee, fetch the newspaper from the mailbox by foot, read the paper, drink the coffee, make six large sandwiches for lunch and drive to the city in his rusty red pick-up. When he got home at five in the afternoon he would have dinner, fill out a crossword puzzle, read a book and go to sleep at nine. I mostly saw him during the weekends and hardly ever heard him speak.

One day my father didn’t come home. It was six in the afternoon and mother had made mashed potatoes and chicken, both of which were already getting cold. She was just about to reheat the food in the oven when the phone rang. From what I heard of the conversation it was evident that my father had accidentally drilled a hole through his left hand, fainted of the shock, hit his head on the drilling machine and died instantly.

The funeral was on a Sunday. My mother and I went there on bicycles because we were in a hurry and my mother couldn’t find her driver’s licence. I don’t remember much of the event, but I do remember one thing: just when the minister was finishing his speech and preparing to toss a shovelful of dirt on the coffin, I saw an ethereal figure hovering up from the grave. It had my father’s appearance, but it seemed to be wearing a feminine dress. It floated in the air for just a few seconds and then faded out of sight.

I never did ask my mother if she had seen the same as me, nor did I see anything like it myself until many years later when I had moved away from home to dwell in a small rectangular room in the city. It was a freezing winter night and I was on my way home from the cinema where I had sat right next to a cute red-haired girl who had a blister on her lower lip. I was thinking of this girl and regretting not talking to her when I passed by one of those fancy nightclubs where the music is as repulsive as the beer is expensive, and on the brightly lit sign above the entrance sat the ghost of my father in a sparkly red gown.

He beckoned to me and I cautiously approached. He did not speak to me in words, but I could vaguely sense there was something he was trying to tell me. I’ve never been much of a psychic, and all I could make out of what he in his incorporeal state could not utter was this:

»Once all brought a well and an and where the found called every that thought perish took that I and I might Deadly me belated. Ah myself, butts. I fled springtime and in selfishness the treasure. Dreaming, chewing the idea and downed everything where steel shouts crime-infested care for me fool all my death. I myself, bitter, foul, seek Beauty in your form, my withered banquet waiting frightful. Damned, strangled, now every heart taken ready. Madness, memory, silent executioners, I too played with the devil, revealed my desires, oh to have you stay, this idiot laugh against the sand.»

I thought long and hard but could not grasp what these words meant. And before I could ask for a clarification, the ghost was gone. In fear that I might forget what I had been told I quickly sat myself down on the cold sidewalk, grabbed a pen from my pocket and wrote the speech on the back of a movie ticket as accurately as I could remember it. Ever since that day it has been a habit of mine to sit down at my desk every morning to examine this ticket and meditate on what the mysterious sentences written on it could possibly express.