He is angry. So angry about something. So “Motherfucker” this. “Cocksucker” that. So “Cocksucking motherfucker!”
I don’t think it’s me. Doesn’t seem mad at me, but maybe mad at the situation involving me. Meaning time with me. Call it a vacation. I don’t know if he would call it that. Feels like more of another thing he has to take care of. Another problem to solve, something to fix. Since isn’t that what he is, a fixer? He’s often said as much about his job. Called himself a fixer. Kind of funny for a man who can’t even fix a flat tire. Different kind of fixer. Kind that keeps your name out of the newspaper. Keeps your drug-dealing kids from going to jail. The man that makes sure your wife doesn’t get the house in the divorce. No, that bitch can take care of the kids, but the house belongs to you. Men’s Rights yellow pages ad. He’s the one you call. Before there was Saul.
A few days away from the office is probably what’s stressing him out. He’s got partners and a longtime secretary who runs the place, but he doesn’t trust any of them “as far as I can throw them.” Only after we’re an hour or so out of town and quietly cruising south along the Interstate does he seem to have let go of whatever was bothering him. We don’t listen to the radio, just the road. Don’t talk much other than when to stop for a snack or if one of us has to go to the bathroom.
We do discuss Mammoth Cave, whether we should visit on the way down or on the way back. I’m more interested in fishing than the cave, so I vote way back. He says that’s fine by him. He’d rather get a line in the water as well.
We’ve done this before, if different lake and guide. There’s so many you can’t keep track. I don’t know the name of the town we’re in, or if it really is a town. Maybe more of just a lake with some cheap places to stay around it. Ours has a TV room. A small kitchen. One bedroom and connected bath upstairs. We get in around sunset and walk across the street to some lodge-looking restaurant. Fish sandwiches and fries in plastic baskets. Some iced tea.
We unpack in the bedroom. One bag each. He has a box of Fannie Mae Pixies in his and hands it to me. Somebody gave it to him at the office. “Help yourself,” he says before taking off his clothes to shower. I take the Pixies downstairs and see what’s on the TV. Not much until I, if by some miracle, find KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park. It’s just starting and I can’t believe my luck. Rock and Roll Over was the first album I got with my stereo, or, actually, the first of two if you include Elton John’s Greatest Hits. His first Greatest Hits, where he’s in the white suit sitting at the piano, but whatever. I am a massive KISS fan. KISS ARMY. KISS everything. I was even Paul Stanley for 5th Grade Halloween last year, parading through Downs, IL as the Starchild myself in a shiny pair of platform boots, black pantyhose and a long, frizzy wig. I might repeat the same costume this year, but it’s still a ways off.
I have a feeling he’s already up there getting ready for bed after his shower. We have to wake up at four to be on the water with our guide by five, but I’m not ready. Not even close. When will I get a chance to see this show again? Plus I’ve eaten half the box of Pixies already and couldn’t fall asleep if I wanted to.
“Early start tomorrow, pal,” he says coming down the stairs. He’s naked and reaches for his cigarettes on the kitchen counter.
“KISS movie’s on.”
He sits down on the couch next to me in front of the TV and lights a cigarette. He watches a little of it, nonsensical in his eyes, I’m sure. He sees how much candy I’ve eaten but doesn’t say anything. Once his cigarette is finished does he expect me to turn off the set and go to bed? He’s just watching me watch the movie. Does it mean I’m supposed to give him his backrub now? Here? He doesn’t say that either. He just sits there in the nude as KISS tries to stop the phantom.
I don’t remember how they stopped it. I don’t remember much else about that trip at all, or if there were others after, except that Mammoth Cave smelled like batshit and I never dressed up like Paul Stanley again.