Drop#112: Over Hot Chocolate

chiaroscuroJake is visiting his folks for the weekend. He hasn’t seen them in three months. Having gotten up to fetch a glass of water at 2 am, he finds his father, 73, in the kitchen, sitting over a mug of hot chocolate.

‘Couldn’t sleep?’


‘Make you a cup?’ Dad asks all smile and brow.


They sit with their steaming mugs for two minutes in silence till Jake says, without looking at his father: ‘Why have we never talked about anything interesting?’

‘What’s that?’

‘One day you’ll be dead, or I’ll be dead, and the line of communication between us, between these two people on this planet will be cut forever, and we will never be able to share anything interesting again.’ Jake keeps his eyes down. ‘But you know what? It won’t be very different from now, cause we never discuss anything interesting anyway.’

His dad asks what exactly he wants to discuss.

‘I don’t know. Anything. Like whether you ever slept with other women while you were with mom, and if not, why, and did you want to? Like whether you still love her. Like whether you are into prostitutes, black chicks, friends’ wives, obese women.’

‘Obese women! No!’

‘Oh, forget the fat women, Dad! I’m just saying, I’m 39 and I’ve never known anything about you- nothing interesting. What’s your drug of choice?—I know mom’s is booze, but what about you? Did you ever smoke weed, take acid, cocaine, morphine? Did you ever kill someone, beat someone up, suck someone’s cock?’

‘Heavens, no!’

‘Do you fear God? Or something else? I have no idea what you fear, what you regret, if you are happy with your accomplishments, your children, your imprint on life.’

Dad shrugs and says he is happy enough, and Jake repeats that isn’t what he’s after.

‘I want the shit, the details, the vicious truths that taint the blood.’

‘Have you been drinking, son?’

‘No. No more than usual. Come on, Dad. Give me something!’

‘I wouldn’t know what to say.’

‘And you’ve never asked me any of this stuff. Why?’

‘It never struck me to ask you if you’re into obese women or if you’ve beaten somebody up.’

‘Oh, let that go, now, will you? I want to hear something real cause all this holiday crap is one big act. One badly acted scene. Give me something, old man, for Christ’s sake! I can take it! Did you resent me when I was a child? I know I must have annoyed you, I remember you were often in a bad mood. Did you hate Roy Smith for taking your job? Did you ever fantasize about hurting him?’

‘Why on earth?’

‘Did you ever contemplate suicide?’

‘No. Never. There’s nothing to tell, Jake. My life has always been what it is, what you and everyone else has seen. I’ve loved my children and my wife and never strayed from her. I never was one for drugs. Your mom likes her wine but she handles it fine. My job was never a great reward but that’s most of the world, now isn’t it?’

‘Fuck, man. Can’t you even give me one measly thing?’

‘Well,’ his dad says, pausing to validate his intent.


‘There is one thing.’


‘In fact, it is a terrible thing. A thing so heinous I have never mentioned it to anyone, not even myself, since I did it. I think I forced myself to shut it out. But this feeling in my throat, full of guilt and regret, doesn’t lie. I know very well what I did, even if I haven’t looked it in the eye for 56 years.’

‘What did you do, Dad?’

‘This won’t do anymore,’ his father says, sliding his mug away with the back of his hand. His green eyes seem three shades darker, creeping towards an opaque black. ‘This calls for the single malt I hid. If I’m going to tell this tale, I’ll need the devil holding my hand, and you will too.’ He gets up and walks swiftly to the cupboard by the fridge. Jake hasn’t seen him as spry in years. His shoulders are broad and upright, his arms carved up by sinew and explicit vein. ‘Here we go,’ he smiles another man’s smile, and pours two large straight drinks. ‘To the telling of tales. To vicious truths that taint the blood.’ Those veins seem to throb with the delivery. He drinks the drink down and fills it up again. ‘I hope you are ready.’

Jake mumbles that he is.

‘Then let us summon old ghosts,’ father stands and states in a voice like falling timber, ‘and tear this night in twain.’

Jake gulps as his towering father begins lashing the air with words: ‘I was seventeen when Guthro Gore bought the old Parsons ranch down the road. I seen him the very first night, sitting on the stoop, drinking yellow moonshine and biting the heads off field mice, his gray teeth perfect little guillotines. I was drawn to everything overtly sinister about the man. I was destined to have him fill me with ill will…’


*Writer’s note: Sometimes, I just write myself into a corner I have no intention of getting out of. This is obviously one of those times.

About EM Vireo
flooding the world with fiction

5 Responses to Drop#112: Over Hot Chocolate

  1. pi says:

    All famous authors who were killing off their heroes or leaving them in impossible, inextricable, hopeless, perilous, predicaments eventually wrote sequels extricating them. But your corner is too navigable to be unintentional. You succeed in baiting x2.

  2. I suppose you wouldn’t want it to make too obvious. He could die or what he said would have to be unbelievably shocking or unbelievably lame. I can understand the corner

    • EM Vireo says:

      yeah, i just went with a kind of ‘dark presence/sell your soul’ undercurrent till i was like ‘enough of this- i’m not gonna write a whole short story.’

  3. Laura Besley says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who gets stuck! 😉

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