Sunday, July 31, 2011

Whiskey and Wrath

His mother had stuck her head in the oven when he was just four years old. He often told me the story, told me he'd been playing with the family dog, Nanook, on the kitchen floor. The dog had been barking, and his mother had suggested they go outside to play, while she baked a buttercake. By the time he'd gotten bored and hungry, her lifeless body was draped delicately across the checkerboard linoleum of the kitchen floor. She was wearing a simple white dress, and her long, spidery legs were clad in black stockings, so that her form both contrasted and blended with the monochromatic tiles. He said he remembered being fascinated by her death, not afraid of it, and was always comforted by the smell of gas. Much in the same way that many have strong olfactory memories of their mother's perfumes, momentarily displaced to a woman's warm breast with a whiff of patchouli, he was very in-tune to gas leaks. He would close his eyes and inhale deeply, thinking of his mother and smiling. The events that followed over the next decade were by no means prosaic, but perhaps not surprising, considering what I have just told you. His father was a professor in Film at the local university, and had not wanted children. He had treated his son like an adult from the moment of his mother's death. They would watch classic cinema together until late into the evening, his father sipping on whiskey and wrath.