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  • Joseph Corey

Bonding Time

“Have you ever beat the shit out of your dad? I’m guessing the answer is probably ‘no.’ Who would do such a thing? Me, of course. Now, you may be thinking, well, did your father deserve it? Did he put his hands on your mother? Did he cheat on your mother? Did he gamble away the grocery money? What could he possibly have done? I’ll tell you what he did. He ate my grilled cheese sandwich. The bastard. Now, the only problem with the whole incident of me beating the shit out my dad over a grilled cheese sandwich was that some lady saw the whole thing. Her poodle defecated in our yard and as she trespassed to pick it up, she saw us throwing blows in our backyard ring. You see, my dad and I like to fight. We always have, we always will. I guess at one point there was a blurry area where you could have called it child abuse, but I’m sixteen now and 180. I can hold my own against the brute. And the lady that lost her shit at the sight of us fighting today? Well, she only saw the part where I gave my dad the beat-down. She missed the part where he said, ‘hey, you want this sandwich?’ Then he slapped me across the face with it, laughing loudly. But really, its no hard feelings. Sometimes he wins the fight, sometimes I do. And we always end it with a big smile on our bruised faces. It’s nothing to worry about.” Officer Roberts looked at the teenager with a look of both concern and confusion. “You sure you don’t want us to help you? I think we need to contact child services here.” “No, no, no. That’s really unnecessary, sir.” “What does your mother think of all this?” “She doesn’t. Haven’t seen her since I was a baby, sir.” Officer Roberts sipped his steaming coffee. This was one of the more unusual situations he’d seen in some time. But, still, it matched everything the father said during his interview. They seemed honest, but Roberts still found it hard to believe. “You seem to be in a rough situation, buddy.” “But, the thing is, I’m not, sir. I make straight As. I’m team captain on the chess team-“ “What does your father do?” “Engineer.” “Do you get in fights at school?” “Never.” “Bullshit.” “Not even once. You can check with my school.” “I might.” “Look, officer. I know it might sound unbelievable. How could a dad and son turn beating the fuck out of each other into a damn stress reliever? But think about it: Was there ever a time you wanted to punch your old man square in the jaw?” Officer Roberts hesitated for a moment, then answered, “Plenty. But I didn’t.” “Exactly. I reckon there’s a lot of things that have been swept under the rug between you two. A lot of anger and resentment bottled up over the years.” Roberts said nothing. The boy continued, “My dad and I, our philosophy is not to let anything fester. We got a problem? We’re headed out to the ring, gloves on, until there is no problem. I love my dad. He loves me. We’re all we got. Sometimes violence is the answer, sir.” Roberts finished his coffee, trying not to think of his own father and all things he wished he’d said to him. “Officer Roberts, if no one is pressing charges, am I free to go? I could eat a horse right about now.” Roberts stood up from the chair, “Yeah, you can go, kid. Try not to startle any other old ladies. Build a taller fence so none of the neighbors can spy on your father-son matches.” “Will do, sir.” In the precinct lobby, Roberts watched the young man approach his dad, a mid-forties man with a black eye. They hugged. The dad handed the teenager a grilled sandwich. They both chuckled, then the boy took a bite. As they left, the father patted his son’s shoulder on the way to their vehicle, while the boy chowed down on the sandwich. Another cop approached Roberts and together they watched the father and son walk away. He broke the silence, “My dad never hugged me like that. He just ordered ‘boy do the dishes.’ ‘Boy, take out the garbage.’ Boy, you better not get your girlfriend pregnant.’ Having a solid old man is the luck of the draw, I guess.” “I guess so,” Roberts said. “Let’s get grilled cheeses for lunch.”


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