(Microphone distortion): Hi. Hi, I’m Michael. I know that’s not the way you’re supposed to start a story—
WITH INFORMATION. But, hey that’s my name.
Alright. So there I was.
I’m talking really small. I mean, I’m the size of a skin cell and—
WHY ARE YOU CLAPPING?
And MY FATHER! Well, he’s just standing there, thundering like a watch.
I had sold a priceless family heirloom on the black market.
IT’S TRUE! A painting that cost like a million and two dollars.
But I only got 500 for it.
I was 8. Okay.
I was 16!
And I needed some money to pay for my BAD DECISIONS…
COULD SOMEONE ELSE SAY SOMETHING BESIDES ME?
I’m not gonna get into my bad decisions.
basically they all involved ERICA.
More on HER later.
Anyway I’m like this infinitesimal little shard of butter and my DAD is making his lawyer face, like:
Like, his face is saying I’d rather be working than dealing with this stolen ART business!
You know the face.
I wish I had a scarf to twirl around up here.
Know what I mean?
(Whispering) Why are you laughing?
Okay. Did you ever—were you ever for sure certain that:
YOUR HEART WAS SWEATING!?
But Erica said we could take all the BLACK MARKET MONEY
and buy pot.
P. O. T.
I said no no no no no way.
My dad would kill me.
And then flashback-forward here he is KILLING ME!
I mean not yet.
A lot of people don’t know what that word MEANS.
Right now he’s just looking.
Um. I can hear someone’s glass clinking. Against what I don’t know.
Isn’t that funny?
THE THINGS YOU NOTICE.
And my dad is way bigger than me and rich but he’s upset about this painting.
I say Dad.
I’ll find it.
And he starts saying HOW MANY MOTHERS AM I GOING TO GO THROUGH BEFORE SOMEONE WILL RAISE MY SON?
He was always at work.
Erica picks me up that night. And she says we can’t get the painting back.
Let’s Run Away!
We went to the movies.
Remember the one with Martin Short where he’s an amnesiac sculptor who yells and screams whenever he sees dust?
Yeah right. So four hours later.
I say MOM.
I’m on the phone. That’s why I’m holding my sneaker to my ear.
I say. Could you buy me a painting?
And she says don’t whisper I have a migraine. Send me some electronic mail.
Thank god for mom right?
Sure. I send it away. And ERICA
who’s not my girlfriend exactly but like CLOSE
is scratching her initials on the usher.
As though he won’t even notice.
We’re still at the movie theater somehow.
SO LATER: I mean YEARS. I didn’t know what to major in in college and my RA says
what do you like?
That is such a tough question.
So I told him the story I’m telling you and
So I do.
Gives my father something else not to talk about.
(Sticks microphone in his mouth to drown out applause).
Gregory Lawless is the author of FAR AWAY (Red Mountain Press, 2015) and DREAMBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA (Dream Horse Press, forthcoming).