B.C. by Patrick Reid

B.C. by Patrick Reid

I am running as a conservative in the primaries. My name is a big one, recognizable throughout most of the world. Last month I was on a cruise with my wife and her family. There were two formal nights. My belly. My belly heaved and burst over my belt, and on sauce night, I dropped a splash onto my button down, right on the part of my belly that, when I sit down, has the same presence as a balance ball.

In college, a friend and I used the balance ball to do sit ups, 35 each, 3 times, on Fridays, back when my core was titanium.

Crumbs sneak in and around my button down, so when I stood up on those cruise dinners, I left a warm, heart-shaped, crumb-outlined impressions in the leather. I couldn’t wait to get off that boat. My wife encouraged me to talk to the natives on St. Maarten, people selling coconuts on the side of the road with a lost look in their eye. The jungle was right behind the main road along the beach where, in the bright woods—it was a windy and overcast day, and the silver tropic air trembled—I saw a few natives kneeling, shirtless, in a clearing, in what looked like a prayer or some voodoo ritual. Off the ferry from the pier to the island, one who had dreadlocks down to his waist shouted at me from faraway. I turned and saw him staring at me through a crowd, pointing, a wild person with a rabid look.

I am still sensitive about taking off my shirt. In St. Maarten, I swam, even dunked my head under. I am 54, young for a politician. I was out of breath quickly.

“It’s like a zoo, but all the animals got loose,” I muttered in the general direction of my wife, who floated 5 feet away.

“What’s that honey?” she said pleasantly.

“It’s like that Jurassic Park movie.”

My voice is often called rich, a deep, gravelly melodic baritone.

People come from all over the world to hear me speak. My expression conveys just the right amount of dry humor, but mostly a sense of severe gravity. I usually have a straight face which appears to many as a scowl but comes from lionheartedness rather than coldheartedness.

I share my rhetoric gravitas and sense of humor with my brother, a (now retired) Miami Dade police officer, who helped us get a massive discount on this cruise, and who texts me daily, finding some of the funniest race- and police-related videos on the internet. I do not know where he finds the stuff. I would go on to text him that night about my day.

Last week I visited my son at Boston College, at his dorm. He said he was completely moved in but needed a desk chair, and our neighbor had been about to throw a perfectly usable one in the dump. My son is 19 and a political science major. He is taller than his father and in better physical condition, though not in as good condition as I was at his age, a little doughy, soft at the haunches, with round, flabby love handles despite a well-toned upper body and core. At Boston College, he minors in Libertarianism, and the two of us discuss what to do about the state of Liberalism in this country. There are people at his school, he tells me, he just wants to pummel. “FAGGOTS!” He sometimes shouts, mid-sentence, even mid-word, a kind of Tourette he has developed since college, which brings his face to shuddering, reddening, then cooling, like a coal, eyes shooting off past me, just over my shoulder, then gradually holding in that phantom direction, as if some enraging and fearful vision squeezes him like a whole-body cramp, then slowly releases its grip.

Bringing the chair to his room, I walked in on him having sex. He was having sex with a girl in the doggystyle position, facing away, so I could only see his ass, her ass, and the back of their heads. I noticed his hair had been cut in an immaculate fade since the last time I saw him. I made an awkward “o” with my mouth and closed the door as quietly as possible. That night he was crying in my lap, apologizing, saying I never should have seen that. Finally I told him all young men experience this. My old man, in my Yale days, walked into my room while I had 3 girls naked at once. I felt ashamed until he told me that his old man walked in on him, his old man on him, and on and on. Of course, this was a lie to console him, and it worked.

I am a very smart man. Always have been. In middle school in the 70s, my best friend was a retarded kid who I would beat up as often as possible. He would try to fight back, but I was too big and strong. I would push him to the grass, put his arms around his back! The fights would often be over wiffle ball games. If I won, he would throw the bat at me! So I would get the bat and chase him throughout the yard! His yard went into the woods, and I would chase him in there, beat him up until he was moaning in the dirt!

I would laugh because he mixed up b’s and d’s. I was always at the house when his parents were fighting. There were several theories that accounted for his retarded state. One, he fell out of a shopping cart three feet onto tile floor as an infant. Two, when he was three, his head was half eaten and clawed into by a Rottweiler. One time he locked me in the shed in his backyard. It was so dark. I was so angry!

Patrick Reid is a writer.

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