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Her Old Man


Juan Alberto Rogue

It’s never pleasant when her old man comes over. Sylvia has repaired her relationship with him to the point that they see each other once a week. Thursday nights. So, every Thursday for the past six months he comes around, sits on my chair, turns on my TV and drinks my beer.
Her old man likes to talk a mean talk. For example, he supports the war. As he sits in my chair he mentions that killing them is exactly what we need to do. He looks around as if he’s misplaced something. I don’t ask him what he’s looking for. He takes a swig of my beer, puts it down and begins to ask me when I’m going to buy a house. “Prices keep rising, you know,” he says with authority. "A man needs to have his own land; ownership, son."

“That may be so, but it’s just not the right time for me,” I respond.
“Well, that’s just fool talk, son.” He says this with an uncompromising gaze.
I detest it when he calls me son. It never occurred to me just how much that irritates me. He continues to look around as if he’s trying to find a misplaced object.
“Can I get something for you,” I ask.
“You can get a home for my daughter,” he barks.
These are our conversations, a series of meaningless demands on his part followed by unspoken responses from me. But on this particular afternoon I respond with a question of my own.
“What about Montana?” I retort.
He gives me a rather bemused look. That’s when I knew I had him. I mention that land is cheap up there. “A teaching job will be easy to obtain in Helena,” I say.

I walk over to the kitchen and grab myself a beer. I feel his eyes on me the whole way. He realizes that the game has curved on him. As I turn to return to the sofa I meet his gaze. I stare right into his bloodshot eyes and say to him that I’ve been thinking about Montana for quite sometime now. I explain to him that Sylvia will have the type of home she’s always wanted and what great a place to raise a child Montana is.
“Nobody lives up there,” he says. “Why would you go to a place like that?”
“You just told me that I should buy a house. Prices are rising and Sylvia wants a home. You’re right. This is the time to make a move. My move is in Montana, that’s all.”
“Why can’t you buy a house here? What’s wrong with here?” He looked around my living room still searching, perhaps for an answer to his question, as if the answer lurked somewhere within his reach.
“It’s simple, I can’t afford one here, nor do I like it here.” My response was simple. But, her old man didn’t see it so uncomplicated. For him, leaving this town would be absurd. He had never been anywhere else. In his estimation any place outside of here is not an option.
"Your problem is you've always had the need to be at odds with the rest of us," her old man noted this with disdain in his voice. "It's always been you against us."

"You truly believe that don't you?" My response was meaningless to him. He went on about how Mark, Sylvia's ex, was hard working, hometown supporting, and straight shooter voting stand up kind of guy. As he went on about the old days with Mark, he finished my last bottle of Canadian beer.
"Son, even your beer is a protest. Why can't you drink our stuff? Why this? You need to find peace within. No need to go to Montana for that." His advice was nauseating me. Either that or the fact that all I've had to consume all day is that foreign brew is making me ill.
We stare at one another for what seems like an eternity, but I'm certain only a moment passes. Ever since his second wife died of cancer he's taken up drinking. For the most part, it's usually in controlled quantities. Not today.

I suppose I’ll always hate him. And I like to think that maybe I can one day rid my self of him. But that depends on myriad things. He may have a final victory. There is no doubt of this.
It seems that we are all bound to the same days. In a disjointed way I’ll always have the same condition every day.

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