Our Step-Father Who Art In Vietnam
In the thousand hours of conversations I had with my sister Vicki since we buried the axe, and the paint brush of our malcontents, alas I had to hang up the phone so I could cry. We had been talking about Robbie, the Vietnam Veteran who met my mother in the Balboa Lounge in Reseda just before he went off to do battle with the Viet Cong. He had fallen in love with Rosemary, and promised he would see her when he returned. He was a man of his word. When he came home, he asked her to be his bride.
Robert Miles is six months younger then me, and a year and six months younger then my older brother, Mark. Shortly after our sister Christine’s funeral, I expressed concern that when our mother dies, Robby may go on a killing spree, and off her children because we were so cruel to her. This was not farfetched, because when I went down for my annual visit to mommy dearest, I met Robby for the first time, who then invited me outside so we could have some private words, and throwing out his arms, he knocked me on my ass. On the ground I am looking at this man whose face is full of rage. He is ordering me to get up and fight him, make his day. Robby was in the 101 Airborne, and wore a neckless around his neck made from the severed ears of the Vietcong. Consider Van Gough – if you can! Art – anyone?
I deduced Rosemary had told her husband about the time I shoved her in the closet while clutching Christine’s hair in her hands that she had just pulled out of her head. Rosemary had caught her in bed with Larry Sidle, the boy down the street she would one day marry, and born one child by, Shannon. Rosemary’s favorite story about Larry, involves she knocking him to the floor of her living room, jumping on his chest, and taking his tie in her grip like a noose, begins to strangle her son-in-law. To watch Rosemary reenact he manacle grimace as she repeated the vicious words she spoke the Shannon’s father, was chilling.
When Robbie’s post traumatic strees disorder got too much for him, he rushed off to the bar down the street, bought a drink, and then looked for some hapless dude to pick a fight with. He never lost a fight, according to his wife, who was afraid of her husband, as were all her children. But, we all did our best to hide our fear, because, Robbie was family, the man of the house, our new father – and God knows we had much practice oppressing our fear when Vic was King of Hamburger Hill.
Yesterday, I found one of my lost paintings from the Lost Years. It was on the wall in back of that snapshot Vic took of his second wife, Crazy Dee-Dee. I did this painting when I was seventeen. I titled it ‘The Arguement’. Vic told me that when the wife of one his private investors came to visit, no sooner did she walk into the house, then she is transfixed before my painting. She then begins to sob. She got it. Right off the bat. She would tell my father it reminded her of her traumatic childhood. Her parents argue, constantly. I’m sure Vic feigned sympathy, because, he could not relate, because, he never argued with any of his wives.
Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’ was one of my favorite paintings because it is heavily textured to the max. Nothing is left inside the tube Munch let it all out. He had to go back of the house and bury his brushes. “It is finis!
I considered ‘The argument’ my masterpiece, because it was High Soap Opera. To my knowledge no one had ever rendered an argument before – or hence. Yet, it is what we do, all the time. Some of us do it well. In my family, arguments were an Art Form, where in the end it was not a matter of winning your arguments, but how to lure you close kin to you, so you can really sock it to them. One could say this novel is the intricate web I weave – to cease the day!
There are three figures in The Argument whose goal in life is to get to the top of the hill while traversing this zig-zag road. They perhaps began their journey walking side by side, but, as time went on, they became separated. There are two women and one man. Their mouths are open, and there is much worry on their brow. They are yelling at one another, but, each one is facing in a different direction due to the twist and turns in the road. Their anger is directed into thin air. No one can hear the other’s words. They are forever in argument, frozen in time, never reaching their goal.