a visit to the playground.


the father and child were riding the bus on a monday morning. the father looked tired, and he stared blankly out the window. "my god, you are tragic," the child said to his father. "you struggle for meaning when there clearly is none, none at all! what is the matter, you old fool?" the father coughed. "enough with your unfulfilled dreams and desires, old man. your time is up!" the father put his hand on the child's head.

a beautiful young woman with shoulder-length brown hair boarded the bus and sat in front of them. the child stared, mouth agape, nearly drooling upon himself. he elbowed his father's side. "old man, court that woman!" the father glanced at the beautiful young woman, then looked at his son. "do not confuse love with lust," he warned. the child's eyes narrowed and he slammed his fist hard on his father's thigh.

they got to the park, a dumpy little place with rusted monkey bars and a dented slide. the child needed help on the swing, and then demanded that his father push. "old man," he said, "why do you take me here?" "this is where my father would take me," the father responded. "your logic is as backwards as your take on life," the child said. the father's tie flapped in the breeze. suddenly, an ice cream truck emerged. "would you like a drumstick or an astro-pop?" the father asked. "will you slowly poison me now?" the child said. "drumstick."

they sat on the bench, the child eating the drumstick and the father eating an astro-pop. "it is rather good," the child said. the father didn't say anything. a spot of red dripped onto the lapel of his corduroy blazer. "father, what hope is there for me, if you continue to act the way you do?" the child rose from the bench, then stood on the playground's wooden border, a sort of improvised soap box. "what good do you do me at all? you are no role model! you have nothing to teach me, nothing at all!"

the father finished eating his popsicle, and wiped his hands with a blue handkerchief. "i gave you life," he said. "i'm not obligated to do much more than that."

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