Tonight I spoke to my dad on the phone, and he regaled me with an anecdote about how once, many years ago, a tow truck driver had angrily pointed his finger in my dad’s face. This gesture was a tremendous slight to him, as I imagine it is for most people in Western civilization. And then he said something that sent a chill down my spine. He said that he had told the driver: “You’d best get that finger out of my face right this second or else I’m going to break it.”
It shook me because my dad had inadvertently paraphrased a line from a literary hero of my own creation, being the seven-foot-tall super-soldier called Gritt Calhoon. I have written about Gritt many times. He stars in three tremendously stupid and insane books I have written. Like my dad, Gritt will not suffer a finger in his face. In my forthcoming novella (lol), GRITT CALHOON AND THE BLOODBATH BENEATH MOUNT TERROR, a finger-pointing confrontation takes place, albeit a more benign one.
The old man smiled. He poured a beer from the tap and held it aloft. With his other hand he pointed his index finger at Gritt. “For you, my friend,” he said. “Drink up, and be glad.”
Little did the old man know, pointing a finger at Gritt Calhoon was often a fatal mistake.
“Ya best git that fanger out my face,” Gritt barked, tensing his thighs to the rhythm of the bongo drums he heard inside his head—an old death march number from his time as a POW on the moon of Ananke. The dark melody which only he could hear had been droning on ceaselessly inside his skull for decades. “Unless yer itchin to have one less fanger, that is.” Gritt spaced out just then. He remembered a chili dog he’d eaten fifteen years before.
The old man did not waver. He stood there smiling, still holding the beer. Foam crept over the side of the glass and down onto his brittle fingers.
Wut’s this old shit stain up tew? thought Gritt. This wily ol dog ’n his fuckin kinship with all mankind. Hell, I ain’t gunna fuckin pretend I ain’t at least a li’l bit curious ‘bout what makes a man’s heart smile. . . .
“All right, all right,” said Gritt finally, squinting at the man with bloodshot eyes. “I’ll drink yer stinkin beer and eat yer lousy meat, if’n it’ll gitcha ta put that there fanger away. ’N jus eff-why-eye, last man who pointed a fanger at me done got his nuts shipped back to Kansas in a dirty diaper.” Gritted grunted and offered no further explanation.
Yeeeaaaaahhhhh!!! I guess I really am my father’s son after all.
I guess one of the “”themes”” of this book is father / son relationships. I know that sounds insane, given the bewildering passage you have just read, but it’s true. It was a beautiful accident that this theme emerged. I mean, Gritt is haunted by many thousands of nightmares that play out in his head, and chiefly among them is the death of his beloved son, Andronicus “Andy” Trebuchet Calhoon. He’s got a complex. You’ll see!
(Would you read 130 more pages of stuff like this?? I guess we’ll all find out soon.)
Anyway . . . love you, Dad~