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Mr. Father & Ripov
by Albert Russo

All births are to a certain degree accidents. In Ripov's case it must have been an earthquake, conceived as he probably was during a tidal wave. Yet he survived relatively unscathed. Freud took enough pains in describing what we know as the Oedipus complex, so we shan't dwell on it. Where Ripov was concerned, the accent had to be stressed on the third syllable of the Greek hero's name. For indeed, put in front of Mr. Father, Ripov felt one huge sac of ... pus. No one really noticed it, but his complexion would turn slightly yellow. And as if this weren't sufficient, he'd be prey to vicious attacks of pruriency, like a teenager who'd just discovered his manlihood. With the difference that Ripov had long lost his virginity: he was over forty.

“Keep still when I address you!” Mr. Father would summon him. But Ripov had the jitters. You could almost hear his bones rattle. In spite of the numerous diagnoses to the contrary, Mr. Father believed his son suffered from epilepsy. This is what saved Ripov from being a victim of infanticide. How many times Mr. Father would raise his fist, shouting: “It's because you're not normal, otherwise I'd twist that stupid neck of yours with my bare hands!” To which he'd add such niceties as: “epiperplex ... I'll episquash you ... epiclod!” He would avoid the word: 'epileptic;' it sounded too noble for his son.

But why this antagonism between Mr. Father and a Ripov loved and respected by his peers? Because Ripov wasn't a girl and Mr. Father couldn't forgive nature for having deprived him of a daughter. What irked Mr. Father to no end was Ripov's physical resemblance to him. He just couldn't bear to watch his younger double breathe, let alone jitter. If Ripov at least had blue eyes or, better still, those of an albino! And why did he have to grow a mustache too? The epischnook!

On the phone people would constantly mistake one for the other. That son of his even married a woman who looked like Mr. Father's late wife. The nerve! When Ripov never even had a sister. The daughter Mr. Father had waited for in vain. And would you believe it, Ripov begot a male child who was the spitting image of Mr. Father. Mr.Father's only consolation in this whole sickening affair was that he, Mr. Father, was not an epileptic.