Issue 12, Spring 1956
Father was still drinking on Saturday, a few days before the Junior highschool graduation. He hadn't worked in over a month and he had been drinking nearly two weeks.
He looked terrible. His face, which was a lean hard brown when he wasn’t drinking, was puffed and red. His eyes were bloodshot, his one popeye stuck out more than ever, and he needed a shave. But his hand shook too bad to use his straight razor and ordinarily he wouldn’t use a safety razor. He hardly ever came home before midnight and he always woke me up with the noise he made in the next room. He would sit on the edge of his bed and roll brown-paper cigarettes with tobacco from the pound can that Grandpop, his father, gave him each month and put the cigarettes on the chair beside the bed. He would smoke and drink and talk to himself, always getting ready to fight someone. He was good with his fists, but he could only last a few minutes because of his asthma. After a while he would quiet down and go to sleep. But he shored loudly and his coughing shook the whole house. He coughed a lot at night, and there was a tearing sound about it as if he were trying to drag up something down inside him, something that wouldn’t come loose. He wheezed and gasped and choked and spit into a cardboard box that was filled with strips of torn newspaper. And in the morning when I looked in at him before going to school, he would be asleep, his head and shoulders propped up on two pillows so he was almost sitting. There were always ten or twelve cigarette butts in the ashtray and two or three whole cigarettes on the chair, and an empty pint bottle of whiskey on the floor beside the bed.