My father was going through a divorce, from his third wife this union destroyed by the same younger

blond who had through her wicked wedge split apart his marriage to my mother (with whom he had been high school sweethearts and for 18-years-happily betrothed). This Alabama-bred hick had learned to honey-coat her twang to suit her Buckhead gated-community s affected southern cosmopolitan drawls. She delighted in the cultivation of her reputation as being a gold-digging soap star actress-reject who liked to repeat the mantra no romance without finance with a calculated frequency found endearing or repulsive by my father depending on the impulsivity of his mood, drug dosage and hostility-enriched love for her. The number of men she attested to having under her spell and financing her alleged romance were less than a dozen but more than half, varying in value although never less than a few million and left open to the imagination otherwise, since she thrived when her own identity was securely attached to the unlimited possibilities a beauty like hers demanded and always was granted. Fictions or not, my father reveled in her demonstrative obsession with her own bedeviled self-serving sickness. The madness was for him far more attractive than the veracity of her claims of even the authenticity of the love she declared with excessive volatility to be true and superior to any other he had or would ever elicit from man, woman or child. Half of him, maybe more than half, despised her mercilessly and with great, enduring prejudice; but the smaller portion which shamelessly cleaved to her ridiculous pageantry of self-love and flamboyant posturing in what he determined to be a schizoid-based terror of her true identity as a trailer park-born whore whose daddy got drunk every night and farted at the dinner table over Hamburger Helper and spewed sweetened ice tea the consistency of syrup out of his nose from guffawing at his crassness. My father had been born with a sorcery which was infallible the ability to draw from even the tightest pursed lips their deadliest, most pathetic confessions, their dreams still being fondled by the remnants of the child long-since padlocked securely behind the slammed doors of adulthood and its tacit resignation to failure and gradual devolution. They tended to tell him not their best but invariably their worst, as if they sensed that this was the seasoning , the meat and gristle slab of their guts he hungered for and felt compelled inexplicably to feed to him. Their downfall would be this entrusted treasure spat from their soul s viscera when, at the appropriate time, usually after some inflation of self-serving gluttony. The core vice of each who bestowed upon him the gifts of their malfeasance and perversity, depravity or sickening weakness would, at this time which always arrived, emerge fully unclothed, bared and vulnerable before him filled with the utter certainty that his lack of judgment and eager ear for their most hideous, grotesque and disfigured insecurities, confessions and desires made of his presence a mirror rather than an intruding eye. That is when his eyes would narrow to slits, reddened with an inky film thick enough to spill should he blink, and his voice would drop below the tenor s deepest chord, emitting a growl rather than words but decipherable still in spite of the chilly stone-dense distortion. You ain t shit, he might say, as he did to the blond whore whose romance she never railed to remind him he would never be able to finance. You re forty-two now. You ain t even gonna be pretty this time next year and you ll be back at your daddy s, sitting in his lap like you like to do even though you said you knew you weren t supposed to like

what he was doing to your little pussy. Born a whore, you ain t never gonna get rid of that hick shriek and your country, trailer park slut-cackle. She had almost drunk herself to death that night, and he knew the next day why only a black-our would perform the complete deletion of her conscious reflexes to recall his vitriol and betrayal Otherwise she might have killed herself and he liked this, even took time some days to remember it, rewinding and pausing to linger witnessing her emptying false bliss that hadn t been able to sustain its ephemeral hold, an apparition dissolved and faded as dust and fog.

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