It’s 1972 and the war, unpopular now even in the suburbs, sputters on. My father, not a Buddhist monk, nonetheless flirts with self immolation. Slumped on our blacktop drive next to the Roadmaster, he’s poured a quart of Fleishman’s gin down the front of his chest and his left hand toys with the wheel of a Zippo. “Alice,” he shouts to my mother. “Alice, get out here.” When my mom, beehive blond and rayon-ed, comes rustling through the screen door, he smears some of the gin into his hair, a splash across his whiskery face. “Have this baby,” he tells her, “I swear I’ll go up like Dresden.” Even as my mother sprays him down with the garden hose, calls for my uncle in the house across the street, my father is laughing. “I can do this any time, Alice,” he says.
art by America Martin