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Contemptible Eight: Flash Fiction by cam

Updated on March 28, 2017
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I was not the kind of person who would spit in the face of his own father, although, I may be now. But it's too late it seems. He raised us to be great doctors, lawyers, and business people, and each of us is at least one of those, some of us are two even three. It depends on how deeply our father scarred us. To misquote a Bible Proverb, Many fathers have done harm, but thou exceedeth them all.

When I was fourteen years old, I shuffled into the batter's box. I had practiced swinging that bat until I was sick of it, and then I swung it some more. Begging became the only way I could get people to pitch to me. Brothers, sisters, cousins, anybody was a target. Most of them struck me out.

I stood in that dusty rectangle and took a couple of warm-up swings. The first one, I let go by. Shouldn't have, though. Dad told me so from the bleachers. I took a good cut at the second one. Wrong again. I nailed the third one. Just from the way the bat felt when it connected with the ball, I knew it had gone far enough for me to make it to second. So I kept pumping my legs like mad. The center fielder and left fielder had just gotten to the ball, so I kept going, never slowed up. I got to third standing up. Didn't even have to get down and dirty.

He sat down on my bed the same night. I was still riding high on that hit. Two other runners on base and my triple won the game. High fives, pats on the back, I knew you could do it they all said, girls smiling, coach proud as he could be. And then there was Dad.

"You know, five more feet and that ball would have been over the fence."

"Yeah, I know, Dad, but..."

"Next time, son. You'll get it next time."

Then he just got up and left. Probably went to hit a home run of his own. I heard him talking to Mom later. Why teach the boy to settle for a triple when he can own the team?

"Settle for a triple? At fourteen years old? My god, Dad."

I have a brother who is somewhat effeminate. I think we all loved him that much more because of how Dad treated him. Some assholes followed him home from school one day and kicked the shit out of him in the front yard. Dad stepped out onto the porch and watched. At first, the jerks stopped, thinking they were in for it now. When Dad just stood there, they laughed and finished what they had started. I suppose Dad thought they might kick the sissy out of him if he left them to it.

I could go on and on. Sisters not pretty enough, not smart enough, not dating the right boys, too tall, too short, too everything, not enough of anything. As adults, we joined the wrong firms, bought the wrong cars, paid too much for our houses. And then he started in on his grandkids. That's when most of us called it quits. We just turned our backs and walked away. Until now.

What do you do when the biggest pain in the ass in your life dies, and he's your father? I'll tell you what we did. All eight of us, mind you, lined up at the reading of the will and signed it away to charity. Imagine that. Charity.

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"I'm the oldest, and they all still look up to me. Standing by the casket, I look at his face, the face that had contorted and sneered when I dared graduate from undergrad school, Magna Cum Laude. I spit in that face and walk away. Behind me, I can hear the others doing the same, all eight of us.

The funeral home staff glance back and forth between us and the mess we've left behind. The other guests stare open mouthed or mouthing some phrase of disbelief. My brothers, sisters and I meet in one of the small chapels and laugh until we cry. Then we cry until we're so emotionally wrung out we can barely say goodbye, have a nice life. Mom showed us how it's done. She got some morphine from a friend dying of cancer. Quick, easy, painless and free of that man.

I'll live the rest of my life with him in my head. There is no way it can be otherwise. But I really should end this story now. I've found some ways I can make things a little better in this head of mine and in this family of mine. Right now I'm going out into the back yard to play catch with my son. Then I'll pitch to him, and I won't care if he hits it or not. I'll just be glad I'm there.

Madonna, "Oh Father"

It's funny that way, you can get used

To the tears and the pain

What a child will believe

You never loved me

#

You can't hurt me now

I got away from you, I never thought I would

You can't make me cry, you once had the power

I never felt so good about myself.

— Madonna

Author's Note

I worked during a summer in the 1990s for Madonna's father. Most days it was just Tony (aka Silvio) and me. I have to side with Madonna on this one. I never witnessed an emotion other than anger or frustration that entire summer.

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    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 3 weeks ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      John, It's good to see you here today. Thanks for taking a second look at this tragic story. Yes, Madonna's father owns a vineyard and winery in the county where I live. He lives there full time. For the first week, I didn't realize who he was. He was never overtly mean, just never pleasant. Except for the one time he showed me some cougar tracks in the vineyard. That was the one time he actually seemed like a real person.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

      I just came back to read this wonderful tale, Chris. I never read the part about you having worked for Madona's father before, or her quote. Excellent.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 7 weeks ago from london

      A tough one, bro.

      Well written though. In fact it read like the truth. A credit to you, Bro. Excellent Flash!

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 7 weeks ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Shauna, good parenting makes all the difference in life. We have enough struggles without dealing with the ghosts of the past. Thanks for your comments on the story.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 7 weeks ago from Central Florida

      Chris, I can't imagine a parent being so critical and cold. I'm very fortunate to have been raised with lots of love and support from my parents. It's sad that too many children don't have that. I was shocked to learn that this story was prompted by Madonna's dad, with whom you had first-hand interaction.

      This story is very well written. I enjoyed it despite the story line.

    • profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 months ago

      Chris

      Very powerful, I really loved the story.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 3 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Genna, thank you. I want my characters to begin to take on real personalities. This was an experiment with that challenge. Clearly, I have stepped over the line into and extreme expression of inner pain, but I'll balance it out in time. Thanks for reading and for your comment.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 3 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Yves, Regarding the spitting into the casket, somehow, that was the scene around which the whole story was written. I have no idea why that came into my head. It is clearly an extreme and has probably happened on a rare occasion. But I know people who wish they had the courage to do it. This is an external illustration of what some people endure internally, and I believe it is worth bring into the open for discussion.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 3 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Manatita, We come with a package and add another. Yes, that is so true. And I can only effectively focus on what I bring to any relationship. Regarding what the other brings, if I accept it, then I live with it. But I learned a few years ago, that if a red flag goes up in life, a warning is what it is, and if it is concerning another person, I can multiply that red flag warning many times and the increase will be the extent of its effect on my life.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 3 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Perfectly written, Chris, in that it is so true to life and believable. Your characters are real, their thoughts and emotions. Parents can be emotionally abusive to their children in ways that they carry with them for many years. "I'll live the rest of my life with him in my head." Well done.

    • savvydating profile image

      savvydating 3 months ago

      You made it very easy to picture each scene, and quite powerfully at that. That being said, I hope I never witness anyone spitting into the casket of their father or anyone else. However, the imagery made the anger of your characters very believable. Nicely done.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 3 months ago from london

      About the parents, to a large extent, yes. In addition, we come with a package and we add another. So the trick lies in being careful what we add. One can keep going to the sea by the river, or drive by car. Choices are always available. Tuesday's reflections, Bro. Don't take this too serious. You done well, as they say.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 3 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      jgs, I hope that in the future, I am able to continue to stir emotions in my readers. Not only anger, but also the more uplifting emotions. But it takes effort to put real characterizations together, and I have not put forth that effort before. I appreciate you taking time to read and give me feedback.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 3 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Ruby, I am focusing on deepening the personalities of the characters in my stories. It may seem overdone at times as I move forward, but hopefully, it will result in more believable characters in the future. Thanks for reading.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 3 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Becky, this man was a compilation of a few people I've known. The eight children, at least the few I referenced personally, were also based on some real people. The effect of this kind of constant pressure to be more or to be who you are not, is devastating to the developing personality. I appreciate you reading this dark story.

    • jgshorebird profile image

      jgshorebird 3 months ago from Southeastern U.S.

      Got right into my anger on that one. Life is tough. Raw even. I sense that the father was a lot worse than the story lead me to believe. I've tried to delve into it -- what I felt about the characters. And then I realized that I would remember this story, even if the scenes irked me. And that was the point, maybe. So I gave up trying to psychoanalyze it. Still, it irks me...

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 3 months ago from Southern Illinois

      Wow, this was raw and dirty. My sister was married to a man like that. They had a daughter, she could never please him. This was a great flash fiction!

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 3 months ago from Hereford, AZ

      Some people are just miserable and have a need to make everyone else that way too. I feel sorry for them, but still have been known to tell them off for abusing their families verbally. Wonderfully written.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 3 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Hello John, Thanks for visiting. How is the move going? I'll visit your profile and see what you have posted. I appreciate your thoughts on this story.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 months ago from Queensland Australia

      What a wonderful story Chris. It was so real and heartfelt that it didn't seem like fiction. Great job.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 3 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      manatita, I'm experimenting with my characters now, attempting to make them come to life by showing their emotions. It seems to me, we are what our parents have made us to be.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 3 months ago from london

      You pushed that dark button hard bro. A poignant, but truly artistic piece. 99.99 percent real. That's scary!

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