The Old Man
by Charles R. Bucklin
parents split up - I had hoped we could stay
living in our beautiful home in Los Gatos.
Unfortunately, the Old Man, furious at being
exiled by Mom put the kibosh on that dream pronto.
No, things were never the same the day the
Mayflower Moving Company arrived to take our
furniture to a smaller home miles away. Trying to
economize we moved into a small house on Pimento
Avenue in Sunnyvale.
There was nothing "Sunny" about
Sunnyvale, still I guess you can't name a town
Hell and expect people to live there.
For years, Matty and I suffered from
repercussions of that divorce. Matty shrank in
size and I got fatter. After a while, we began to
resemble the comedy team, Laurel and Hardy, in
The Old Man became emotionally distant and that
was fine by me. Familial rumor had it that he had
taken up with some hare-brained peroxide blonde
floozy in his apartment complex.
Turns out the rumors about the Old Man were true.
His new wife was a bitch. She hated us on sight
and the feeling was mutual.
It wasn't long before I stopped returning the Old
Man's phone calls.
Meanwhile, Mom without any anchor began to engage
in self-destructive affairs that usually
culminated in us having to move more than once.
Soon all three of us were crammed in a two-bedroom
apartment in a crummy town called "Cupertino."
Cupertino was such a flyspeck of a hamlet back
then - that even town residents had trouble
finding it on a County Map.
If Cupertino was small - our apartment was even
smaller. To give you an idea of how tight our
quarters were - If the dog wagged her tail
or someone farted - someone or something was
usually knocked over in the process.
from New York was a pain in the ass but it felt
good to be back in California. I had just
finished unpacking my last book box when the
In the package was a videotape labeled "Legends"
and a letter from the Old Man. The letter read:
I know it's been almost twenty years since we
last spoke. But you've moved several times and it's
hard to keep track of where you are living.
As a peace offering, I am sending you a
collection of our Family Home Movies, I put on
Watch the tape and call me. My number hasn't
Fondling the tape I grumbled, "I was hoping
for notification of an inheritance but...ok."
Popping the tape in the VCR, I kicked back in my
Lazy Boy Lounger and sipped black coffee out of a
On the TV screen, a man enters a woman's
Plumber: "I hear your pipes need cleaning,
Hugely Breasted Blonde: "Yes, come this way
- they're in...THE BEDROOM!"
Music - "Bow-Chicka-Bow-Bow!"
Movie Title obscenely flashes across the screen:
Coffee sprays everywhere out of my mouth - "What
the Fuck! The Old Mans' gone senile and sent me
the wrong goddamn tape!"
Moments later I'm on the phone hearing the Old
Man's familiar laugh.
"Well, it got ya to call me!" he
"Come over, Son. I've missed you."