He draws on his cigarette.

The unconcerned tv chatters local news behind the bar. A ticker tape crawls left to right- weather, sport scores, a fire, a lottery winner, a man in his …

That last item will loop back around in 10 minutes or so.
A table near us is paying a bill, they are complaining vigorously about a charge for extra ranch dressing -You didn't tell us there was a charge for that! We want the manager. The server sighs. Hassles.

They disappear and return with the item removed from the bill.

I know they only circled through the kitchen, debited the bill, and did not bother the manager. Tip saved. Problem solved. 

Recent x-rays show expanding pathways of concern in my dad's left hip. As I understand it, his own blood is the enemy. Over his left shoulder a plate arrives. Mine lands from my right.

I notice the break of customary service. It was obviously more convenient, but full plates should come from the right; empty, the left. Rules matter. Certainty. Assurance.

He eyes me eyeing his smoke. If it were related to smoking, I’d stop -he says.

I’ve done the research. He is correct. Would be simpler if he weren’t.

30 minutes ago he described the honeycomb-like decay in his bones as we transversed from hospital AC to July heatwave.
He offers little depth and closes with- Your mom keeps the details in a notebook. Her rulebook.
Should I confirm the details? I pivot and ask how’s he feeling. Without pause, he declares -I want a burger.

It’s 9:30 AM I think to myself. This is a problem.
And then I realize that this problem is not the problem.
My mom expects us back right after the appointment. That’s a problem too. But not the problem.

Back at the bar, I ask -Should we check in at home?

I reach for my phone, he wags his finger ‘no’.

The problem with cancer, he starts -is not how it changes you, but how it changes other people. Makes them unreliable, needy, and rigid all at the same time.

I get a bit of Holden Caufield vibe from his tone.

Really? I think, is that the problem? I guess that could be true. Perspective.

He continues -Before we left, she told me to come right home after the appointment, I told her no. She started crying.

The ticker tape slides back into view. … a man in his late 60's was pulled from Lake Ontario …

He bites into his burger. 

Some sauce runs down his chin onto his shirt. 

Nonplussed he adds -I like breaking rules.

One response to “burger”

  1. Great Father’s Day work Chris! So much to remember and uncover in those pathways of memory, hurts and joys. 👍👏


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