Sunday, 16 June 2013

Pork Chop Night

He sat in his recliner waiting.

Where in the hell was she?  He was hungry and the sun was getting low. 

What did she expect him to do? Cook his own friggin’ meal? 

After all today was Pork Chop Friday. 

He watched the 5pm news for another few seconds before his eyes drifted to the front door again and he grunted as he pushed himself out of the comfortable recliner and walked to the old, rusty screen door.  Squinting out, he strained his ears for the car engine, but there was silence on the road.
“Dumb bitch.” He turned away, burped as he looked at the empty beer bottle in his hand and shuffled into the kitchen to get himself another from the fridge.  He threw the empty on in the sink where it clattered next to the other five he’d drunk over the last hour or so.  He’d guzzled down a quarter of the new beer before the fridge door closed, belched loudly, let off a fart and walked back into the lounge room where he was about to sit back down when the car pulled up.  He wiped his nose on his dirty sleeve as he kicked the screen door open, “Hey about time you got your lazy arse home, you dumbarse bitch!  Where’s my dinner!”

The cab driver didn’t stop for long as he unloaded the boot quickly at the front gate and drove off.  He hated it when they didn’t help her with the groceries… but then, maybe he scared the shit out of them too.
“Sorry, Dad.” Bethany’s face was down.  Shit he was drunk again, why did he have to drink so much? “Pork Chops tonight?”
“Yeah.” He snapped walking to the gate barefooted and downing the rest of the beer, then throwing the bottle across the yard where it smashed against the side fence, “Come on, I’ll get the rest in.  You start on dinner.”
She hurried inside and looked at the kitchen.  She had left him at 8am this morning and this place was tidy… within nine hours, he turned it into a pig-sty.  Exactly how he managed to do this was beyond her, but she worked fast; and had the kitchen back to its near-former tidiness by the time he came in with the bags and dumped them on the table. 
“So?” he asked standing in the doorway of the kitchen.
“What?” she turned from the sink she had just emptied of bottles.
“Where’s my fuckin’ pork chops?”
Bethany pointed at the bags, “In the bags.”
“Well cook ‘em!” he shouted taking a threatening step toward her, a fist raised.  His face began to turn red, the stench of beer on his breath, “I’m hungry!”
“I’m tired!” she screamed stomping her boot.  She threw the bag full of beer bottles on the floor where they shattered and she kicked the bag across the room.  They sounded like bad bells as she began to scream at him, “Has it ever crossed your mind that I’m your goddamn fucking daughter and not your friggin’ wife!  That I’m studying my arse off at a university across town and staying here to save money to get my arse out of this shit-arse place, and all you’re doing is drinking and screaming at me when I get home to feed your lazy, fat stomach when you could be out there doing shift work or pushing a broom around a high school or fixing a car for somebody or… or…” she burst into tears turned from him, hands balled into tight fists and bashed the steel of the sink, leaving a couple of dents in it. 
Her outburst broke his heart into a million pieces – just like his wife’s death had the year before from a sudden stroke in the middle of the night.  It had taken her so quick; and yet he had dumped the running of the house and his life and, well, everything on his wonderful, talented daughter without a second thought.  Roger turned into the most rotten father around… and how did this happen?  He simply stopped giving a rat’s arse about himself and allowed himself to wallow; and poor Bethany was left to pick up the pieces every time he drank himself into oblivion… or to bail him out at the cop shop… or pick him up out of the gutter out the front of the house on Saturday mornings.
Either way, he was running her into the ground, and this was his wake-up call.
“I’m sorry.” He whisper reached her ears as he walked toward her and touching her shoulder, “I’m a bastard and a drunk and an arsehole and you shouldn’t have to put up with me.”
Turning from the darkness outside, Bethany cried hard into her father’s smelly old shirt, “Oh, Dad what happened to you?” her body convulsed against him as he kissed her head, “I miss her too… but I’m trying to get on with it.”
He pulled away, “How about we get takeaway tonight?  Pork chops can wait until tomorrow… when I can actually remember them.”
Smiling through her tears, she nodded, “That sounds great.”
“And I’ll cut right back on the booze and find a job.” He reached over to the phone and grabbed a couple of takeaway menus, “Pizza or Thai?”