1. That’s Good Enough for Me
The old man sat in the living room, whittling and watching Cargo Wars on the television, only halfway paying attention to the knife as it missed the knob of wood he was working on and flayed his hand wide open. His wife and two grown children laughed heartily as he bled out all over the room, staining the already heavily stained couch.
“Haha, good one, Dad. You did it again!” His twenty-six-year-old boy, Hansel, chuckled.
“Yer dumb!” Said his twenty-four-year-old daughter, Gretel.
His glare said it all. He was not impressed. “Somebody get me a goddamned rag!” The old man yelled.
The wife rushed out of the room, hurrying back with a roll of paper towels.
“I said a rag, you ninny! Something to stop the bleeding!”
“Oh, you’ll be fine, dear. This happens every night.”
It was true. It happened every night, like clockwork.
“Yet you continue to whittle,” the wife said.
It was true. He did continue to whittle every night, like clockwork.
“Why don’t you give it up, Dad?” Gretel asked.
“Because,” said the father, “It’s my job.”
“Your job?” asked the wife. “You’ve been doing this for years and years and you haven’t sold one yet. This place just keeps on piling up with your little carvings. Have you seen the spare bedroom lately? We could never have anyone over for drinks and give them a place to sleep. You can’t even see the bed. You can barely open the door. It’s chock-full of the little nothings you’ve created. I don’t even know what they’re supposed to be.” She held up the piece he had been working on. “I mean, look at this. What is this?”
“It’s a battleship.”
“A battleship? It looks, like, the complete opposite of a battleship. If someone asked me to carve the complete opposite of a battleship, this is most likely what I’d come up with. You’ve been doing this long enough, honey. You should be honing your skill. Instead, you’ve gotten worse since the beginning.”
“That’s because I keep cutting myself!” he answered. “I have no feeling in my left hand.”
“Maybe you should get a real job, Dad,” Hansel suggested.
“Yeah,” Gretel agreed.
“Maybe I should get a real job? Maybe I should get a real job?”
“Yes,” said Hansel. “A real job. How do you expect to support us with those shitty wood carvings nobody wants to buy?”
“Support you?” the old man said. “Support you? You’re adults! Why am I still trying to support you?”
“‘Cause we’re your kids, Dad,” Gretel said.
“Yeah, well, that’s up for debate still.” He rolled his eyes at his wife. “Hey, here’s a novel idea. Why don’t you two get jobs?”
Hansel and Gretel looked at each other for a few seconds, then a rather large guffaw escaped the both of them. “Hahaha!” said Hansel. “Funny, Dad. Jobs. Ha!”
“I’m serious. I’ve had it with trying to support a family of four. When your mother gave birth to you two ingrates, I was under the impression that after eighteen long years, I’d be done with this shit. Yet here you are, still.”
“That’s ‘cause you love us,” Gretel said.
“Yes. I do love you kids. That’s why I think it’s time you grew up and became respectable members of society.”
“But Daaaad…” whined Gretel.
“Don’t but Dad me. It’s high time you made something of yourselves. You should be out there making your mother and me proud. You should be making you proud. Don’t you want more out of life?”
Brother and sister shook their collective heads. “Not really,” they said, in unison.
“You have till the end of the month to get the hell out of my house,” said the old man.
“But what are we gonna do?” asked Hansel.
“Yeah,” said Gretel. “We have no skills.”
A silence fell over them as they all mulled this thought over. It was true. They had no skills. Their attention turned back to the TV, where truck drivers were bidding on long-haul jobs.
“That’s it!” yelled the old man, joyfully. “That’s what you’re gonna do. Long haul trucking!”
The two grown children had another hard laugh.
“I’m serious,” the father said.
The silence once again crept in as the children mulled over just how idiotic their father’s idea was.
Until the guy with the big beard on TV won his bid to haul a truck full of dwarfs to some broad’s castle a thousand miles away. Twenty-six hundred dollars won him the bid, and with that, the children started salivating.
“Gretel, are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
“That our old man isn’t such an idiot after all?” asked Gretel.
Hansel looked over at his father and shook his head. “No. He’s still an idiot. But even idiots can have good ideas once in a while. Whaddaya say? You wanna do it?”
“Don’t you have to go to school for this? How are we gonna afford it?”
“I’ll cosign on a loan,” said the father. “We’ll get you your schooling.”
“Really?” asked Gretel.
“If it gets you out of my house, anything.”
So they came up with a plan. First, Gretel had to get her regular driver’s license. Neither of the kids owned a car, and only Hansel had his license. Any time either one of them needed to go somewhere, Hansel would drive them in their dad’s old turd-on-wheels. If Hansel didn’t feel like going anywhere and Gretel needed to get somewhere, her reluctant father would usually end up taking her. They were spoiled brats, it’s true; but they would be spoiled brats no longer.
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