It’s Back To The Future meets Doctor Who in this epic Science Fiction Trilogy by A.R. Rivera!
Gerry Springer is going to be dead in three weeks. He knows exactly when and where–he’s trying to manipulate the ‘how.’
How to plan every detail of his demise to ensure that Daemon, his nemesis whose acting as Gerry’s personal Angel of Death, doesn’t close-in on his son too early. His boy, G, will need time to understand what has happened and why, time to make the choice Gerry hopes he will make. The one choice that might change everything.
When G crosses paths with a man he recognizes from the bus accident that sparked this crazy trek into insanity, G is sure he’s found a new ally.
“I don’t want to be scarred, just clean shaven. I need to look good in my casket. I won’t if I’m covered with scabs.”
Despite the fact that I’ve successfully shaved my own face for more than a decade, Dad is convinced I’m going to screw this up.
“Okay, Dad.” I concede smiling like the idiot he believes me to be.
He’s sitting in a wheelchair he doesn’t really need but prefers for the sake of convenience. I stand behind him, waiting and watching, as he leans back to nestle his head into the crook of my arm. Now I’m staring down into the abyss of his right nostril where years of overgrowth have compressed the stout, tree-like hairs into a mangled forest of gray packed inside a black hole.
“Hurry up,” he instructs, adjusting himself.
“Don’t move.” I raise the small, pen-like shaver to begin the process of deforestation.
At the first sense of vibration, Dad jerks up, forcing the dull blade against the rim of his nostril. “You’re gonna bleed me dry! Give me that!”
A last second defensive move saves my right cheek. His blow glances off my forearm.
“Dad, you’ve got to stay still.” I thrust the micro-shaver at him and step to the opposite side of the bathroom, out of patience as well as his reach. It’s no use arguing when he gets like this. Dad is always right and I am always wrong.
There’s no sign of blood, but he’s sure there should be so I hand him a tissue.
“Two weeks from Thursday, huh? You want potted flowers at your service or will a wreath suffice?” I’m smiling, but there’s nothing humorous about my tone or the way his mouth hardens beneath the rumpled tissue.
“Two weeks from next Thursday, smart-ass. If you can’t remember, maybe you should write it down. Death is nothing to joke about.” He continues wiping at his nostril and checking the tissue for blood. “Hear me, kid: no matter what you do or where you go for the rest of your life, you will remember this conversation.”
“Change the subject.” My gaze shifts to the ground.
I don’t have to look to know he’s staring. I can feel his eyes burning into the side of my face; feel them measuring me as his retort consumes me. “Let’s talk about the floor, instead. Never know what it may do next.”
His sarcasm doesn’t bother me but the timing feels cruel. I’d dismiss the topic entirely if not for the pointed alarm in my stomach, driving up into my chest, and piercing me with a knowledge that few others would make a connection with.
See, my dad is almost always, eerily, right about this sort of thing. He insists he isn’t psychic, but over the years his peculiar instinct has proven to be little less than second sight. ‘Call it intuition,’ he’ll often say, but no other explanation is plausible. From minor occurrences, like every time I fell off a bicycle to the stock market collapse, the train bombings in London, the tsunami in Thailand, and the Red Socks winning the Series (no one could have foreseen that). All of them, he’d predicted. At the time, I refused to believe. Mainly because there were other things he said would happen that never did. In this case, I have to hope for the latter. He is right about one thing, though: that no matter how old I live to be or how many women I marry and kids I manage to screw up along the way, I know I’ll never forget this conversation. No matter how hard I try.
However, I should be grateful he is being his usual, belligerent self. I don’t see that side of him often enough anymore. If not for this most recent morbid prediction, I might be very glad to have this time together.
“The hair will grow back before your funeral.” I take a marker from my pocket and write on my palm. “‘Thursday after next—Dad dies.’ Did you say how it would happen?”
“I’ll tell you whennn . . .”
The last word drags from his mouth. Light leaves his eyes like someone’s flipped a switch. A countenance of absolute vacuity is suddenly staring at me from where my father used to be. No doubt this look will keep me awake tonight.
Sighing, I lean back against the bathroom wall. There’s nothing to do but wait for the episode to end. I can’t look at him like that, all helpless and empty in his wheelchair. My eyes wander towards the clock hanging over his bed. The time is a blur so I stare at the fluffy pillows and crisp sheets.
No wonder he wants to live here. The retirement home gives three squares a day, laundry and turn-down service. There are even a few cute nurses in this wing. Ramblings about electrical outages in Burbank float from the flat screen mounted over his dresser. I shake my head. Even his television is nicer than mine.
To me, Dad has always seemed unconquerable but watching the constant decline, the pieces just vanishing away . . . it’s like watching an eagle being plucked. He hates the way age caps his usefulness. I hate the way it makes him feel and especially his tendency to take his frustrations out on me. He says on the inside he’s the same he was at my age, that it’s his reflection which doesn’t match. He believes it with every fiber of his being, too. I see the shock on his face sometimes, when he looks in the mirror or catches sight of the deep wrinkles in his hands. His body’s changing without permission and he is powerless to stop it.
I need to be at work by noon, but it feels wrong to think about leaving. Dads journey usually picks up where it left off and I hate the idea that, were I to leave now, to him it would seem as if I disappeared. But there’s no way of knowing how long he’ll be gone. Sometimes its a few minutes, other episodes lasted hours. The latter seems more common lately.
When I look back at him, I can tell by the slack of his jaw that he’s still off someplace else, his one shaking hand still clenching the hair trimmer. He’s not the only one trembling now, because I know one of these times, he won’t come back at all.
“Dad?” I test, reaching for his hand.
My touch stops the empty gaping. His face fills with a haunting, childish wonder as he examines his own raised hand. It’s as if he’s never seen his fingers move before. The thin shaver drops into his lap.
“I got it.”
“No, I’ve got it. You’ll bleed me dry!” He complains, picking up the conversation and the shaver. The light returns, burning brighter than before.