G-Mah nods her head slowly, eyes closed, fingertips together, allowing the words she was just read to digest in her mind.
“So that was Roadtrip, then?”
“Yep,” I announce, closing my laptop. “That was Roadtrip. What did you think?”
“Honestly dear?” as she picks up the partial glass of alcohol that was next to me and sips it, “I think it was kind of boring.”
“Yeah. You said that you’re going to include the part where you read it to me though, right? Our visit is going to be in the book?”
“Yeah Gram, today’s visit is going to be in the book. It’s the whole reason I’m republishing it, to be honest. You’re giving my work a whole new life.”
“Well that’s wonderful,” she says, taking herself another sip of the maroon alcohol she poured for me. “And I’m going to be a character?”
“Yep,” I beam. It’s wildly cool that grandMother is so interested in my work like this, I’ve never had somebody care this much before.
“Good. I’ll probably make your little book so much more interesting than it was already. So uh, are you going to drink or not?”
‘God damnit,’ I think to myself. “Ummm…” I say, stalling. “I don’t know, I mean, I have to drive like a half hour home, and I’m probably going to work on slapping this together all night so I can submit it for publishing tomorrow.”
“So uh,” she says, placing the eighth-full glass on top of my laptop. “Are you going to drink or not?”
I look at the glass. It’s very little. Smaller than the mason jar full of spiked tequila that Uncle Skylar was drinking the night I tried to step on a sharp piece of shale and the shale disagreed with my life choices. The liquid inside is thick like the blood that spewed from the laceration in my right foot, leaves a coating on whatever part of the glass it touches – I know this because I’m holding it in my hand, swishing the liquid around, painting the inside of the glass just to watch it clean itself so I can paint it again. Am I going to drink?
“Nah,” I say, placing the glass back on the table. “Just give it to Uncle Bill, he’ll drink it.”
“Uncle Will, you mean?” G-Mah asks, genuinely sounding concerned. “He won’t be here for a few days, only comes to visit his mother once every two weeks. He’s a scoundrel, hun, never listen to him. Always the victim, I swear to God.”
“What?” I ask, bewildered. “He got here a couple minutes after I started reading, what are you talking about?”
G-Mah says nothing.
“He’s in the bathroom right now. I mean, he went in there a while ago, but he probably just fell in or something.”
“Hun… honey, your Uncle Will didn’t come here today. It’s just been me and you. And Mango, but she’s a cat.”
“What?” I ask, falling into my head for a moment. That’s impossible, I saw him walk up the road. He was reading a newspaper, he was… oh shit, he was half naked the whole time, wasn’t he? Ohhhh boy.
“Um…” I say, trying to find the words. “Was uh, was… was Mango, like… floating?”
Grandma looks at me like I just said the dumbest shit I possibly could have said. “Yes hun, obviously. You were staying here the night she ate all those magnets off the fridge, you know she can float. She kept hiding your crutches on the roof, remember?”
“Oh yeeeaaahh, because consuming magnets in this Universe makes you float for whatever reason. I wouldn’t have been able to get my crutches back otherwise.” *wink*
“Yeah… did you forget that or something?”
“No. I don– I mean, I just felt like saying it aloud like that.” *wink*
“Why do you keep winking?” grandMother asks me, nervous.
*wink* “I don’t know,” I say, my eyelid twitching uncontrollably. *wink* “I can’t stop,” *wink* *wink* “though,” *wink* *wink* *wink*
I slap myself in the face, hard. Not hard enough to leave a swollen handprint across my cheek and eye, but plenty hard enough to scare grandMother into a temporary state of incontinence. Despite the collateral damage, the slap seems to have cured my involuntary muscle spasms.
God damnit. Moving on now, “So uh… Uncle Bill really wasn’t here today?”
“Will. And no, he was not,” G-Mah says, looking at my glass. “But you are, so… are you going to drink?”
Am I going to drink?
“C’mon hun, you were seeing things again, don’t you think you should? Maybe it’ll help you, all those other medications clearly don’t.”
“But I don’t take any medications, Gram,” I say, weighing the alcohol against my morality. “Besides, isn’t alcohol a gateway drug or something? Like we–”
“Okay, listen. Gateway drugs? That’s all bullshit, dear, and here’s why: I’ve done more drugs than you even know about, honey I’ve put shit up my nose that you don’t even know exists, and you know what I tried first? Dihydrogen monoxide.”
I grimace, as that sounds nasty. “What the hell is that?”
“It’s water, dear,” G-Mah says, remembering the time I told her I got a forty-something on my final exam in high school chemistry. “I drank water before I drank alcohol, or smoked marijuana, or dropped acid, or rolled ecstasy, or–”
“OKAY! Sorry, okay Gram I get it. Maybe I will take a sip… I don’t know. I have to get going, I–”
“Honey. Drink the fucking alcohol.”
I drink a little, tiny bit of the alcohol.
“EUGH!!!” I enunciate with my burning throat. It’s terrible, disgusting, the worst thing I’ve ever tasted, the berry flavor is nice but the rest… what the fuck is this shit?! It hurts, it makes my tongue want to shrivel up, it… oh, my throat’s all warm now, that’s kind of nice. And I feel… like… I don’t know, words man. I don’t even care right now.
“This is alcohol?” I ask grandMother, the woman looking prouder than I’ve ever seen her.
“That’s alcohol, son. You’re welcome.”
“Thank you, Gram,” I say, overcome with a lack of sobriety. I don’t even know what to say, I– oh wait, yes I do.
“If this is alcohol, what’s the rest of the stuff like? Like, what’s pot like?”
“Oohhhhhh no!” G-Mah warns, clipping my waxy wings. “Oh no, you don’t gotta be worrying about all that quite yet. You have a long way to go before you’ve mastered the alcohol, young man.”
“All right all right, fine,” I say, but inside my head, my brain begins to rapidly spin over the possibilities of alter– of enhancing my consciousness with drugs.
grandMother pours a little more liquor into her bottle and she and I finish our drinks together as the sun sets. Eventually, when my head stops spinning and I feel capable of walking again, I pack up all my things and prepare to head out. Mango runs in (I guess she finished up the catnip) and hovers off the floor to give me a proper hug. Then I hug Gram, and then we all walk to my car. Well, G-Mah wheels, but you know what I mean.
As I’m about to man the driver’s seat, G-Mah grabs the tattered collar of my shirt and whips me back outside, as if I forgot to give her a hug goodbye.
“Hey hun, before you go, remember that other thing you wrote about me?”
“The other thing?” I ask, entirely uncertain about what she speaks of.
“Yeah, it was about Trump. You read it to me a couple days before Uncle Skylar crazy glued your foot back together.”
“Oh, uh… OH! Yeah! Yeah, A Street Sign And A Bumper Sticker, right?”
“Sure, why not? Well, the reason I was asking, since your new book is going to be about me anyway, can you put in that little thing? I think its safe to say I was your inspiration for writing it. Technically, I wrote it for you, if you really think about it.”
My grandMother, the one and only G-Mah, looks at me with more hope in her eyes than she’s held all day, not quite pouting and not quite pleading. There’s little-to-nothing I can do.
“Sure Gram, I gotchu. I added an appendix to the running book, might as well add one to this one too.”