My father, Marshall Taylor, does not like me to be so punctilious.
He lies across the davenport as a walrus might recline across a rock.
I bend down to adjust the tassels of the Persian rug. Thank goodness for my rule about slippers within the boundaries of the house. At least my father abides by it. His muddy boots are upended outside the front door, to air. I will not have them within my home and my father knows this.
He also knows I do not like him sprawling across my davenport. However, after a quick intake of breath to calm my nerves, I remind myself that this is one point he may well have forgotten.
My father has not been within my house for two years and one-hundred-and-fifty-seven days. Within this time span I have received only one phone call from him, but it was quickly ended – by him – after he claimed a headache and hung up. I trust that this particular interview will be similarly brief. I have already planned what to do upon his departure. I will vacuum the davenport extensively and utilize copious amounts of Lysol spray.
“Got anything to eat around here?” my father asks.
“Of course,” I reply. “But perhaps we could remove ourselves to the dining room to partake. I never eat in this room.”
My father makes a snorting noise through his nostrils. “Of course you don’t.”
He sits up slowly, gripping the back of the davenport to aid his ascent. I notice there are dark lines of dirt under the beds of his nails. Perhaps the treatment of the davenport will require more than Lysol spray.
“Through here,” I say, directing him with a wave of my hand.
My father walks ahead of me, his shoulders hunched. “You don’t let a man even take the weight off his feet for a minute, do you?”
“I have prepared both spice cake and flan,” I say. “Which would you prefer?”
“Flaaan?” my father says. He stops walking, and turns to arch a bushy eyebrow at me. “You’ve got to be joking. What’d your mother torture you with all those years, anyhow, to make you turn out like this?”
I blink, only once, then puncture him with my gaze (a technique quite effective in the workplace when employees fail to file the proper paperwork on time). “I beg your pardon, but anyone who has the gall to find fault with a woman who was deserted by her spouse, and left to raise two children entirely by the sweat of her own brow, why, if any person dares to find fault with such a woman, especially when she is his own erstwhile wife, whom he abandoned solely because of his own selfish whims and desires, then that person should be ashamed, and that person will not be permitted within this house, or even within the boundaries of this property, so help me God!”
My father’s expression has not changed, except that perhaps his eyebrow arches even higher. “Good God,” he murmurs. “It’s a nuthouse around here.”
“Spice cake or flan?” I repeat.
“I’ll take the cake,” my father says. “Don’t even got a clue what flaaan stuff is, anyhow.”
Thanks to Marty (full name Marshall) who gave me the three inspirational words erstwhile, punctilious and flan. These might have been the most challenging words to date because I had to look up ALL THREE OF THEM, but, knowing Marty, his intent was to stump me. He is my pastor, after all. It's part of his job to challenge me. However, what Marty meant for evil (just kidding, Marty), turned out to be the best part. The word erstwhile actually helped me discover this female character. I wondered to myself, "What kind of person would use the word erstwhile?" ... and this lovely, OCD character was born. And, in the beautifully Christian spirit of REVENGE, I named the other character after Marty.
And I made a mistake. Yesterday was story #30. Today's is story #31. See? Serious math issues.