My father hunted with my uncle. It’s all they ever talked about really. That and fishing and football. When I was younger, before the divorce, I was often forced to sit at the dinner table until I finished every last bite of the game my father had shot and brought home for dinner. “Why can’t I just have a bologna sandwich?” I would ask. I was sick of spitting out the shot. “Hunter Bartholomew Green!” my mother would say in exasperation with a nervous glance at my father. Then he would give me the lecture about the importance of providing for one’s family and how there was a long tradition of hunting in our family that I needed to respect and how years ago a gun meant having meat on the table and freedom from starvation. My uncle just smirked.
After dinner the TV would come on and my father and my uncle would drink a case of beer and eat a bag of potato chips between them. There was a lot of screaming about how stupid and blind the football referees were. I would sometimes force myself to barf on my way to do my homework after leaving the dinner table. I sat in my room and wondered how these two could remain quiet enough in their stupid blind in the woods to be able to hunt anything successfully. There was an old chest at the foot of my bed that grandpa had given to me where I kept a stash of candy bars, root beer, and the comic book sketches I was working on so it’s not like I went without eating- just without eating varmint.
The day I decided I was a vegetarian resulted in my being grounded repeatedly. No son of his was going to grow up to be a tree hugging hippie destined to be an art school drop out on drugs. Apparently I ruined Thanksgiving dinner that year too. I had cooked up a batch of tofu dogs and offered them to my extended family as an alternative to the turkey. My uncle spent the night laughing at my father about what a spineless art fag his only son turned out to be. My father slapped me across the face that night for embarrassing him but my mother never knew. The following spring after years of constant tension in the house she finally gave up on the marriage.
The last time I saw my father was after my uncle’s third heart attack had killed him. We were all at the funeral- me and my mom, my father with his new wife and new son. He told tall tales of their hunting trips together, about their glory days on the high school football team, and how it was just like my uncle to ‘leave the field’ before my father had a chance to even the score. His new son listened with wide-eyed wonder at how amazing our father’s adventures were. When he finally dies I imagine his new son will inherit his gun and so he should. As for me, I do not know what remains.
-Copyright C.M. Mounts, November 2014