my mom took a picture of me walking to the car. she took a picture of me in the car. we drove towards eatonton, georgia.

i wanted to vape but couldn’t. or i could, but it would ruin the trip. i didn’t vape.

i read a few pages from black jacobins.

i asked how long the drive was going to take. five hours, my dad said. i thought he was joking. i asked if he was joking. he said he wasn’t joking. five hours isn’t too long, i said.

i drank coffee from a thermos. i finished the coffee. i ate a couple jolly ranchers. my dad asked for a jolly rancher. i haven’t had a jolly rancher in fifteen years, he said. fuck, he said. this is good.

my mom put the address into her phone, but my dad said he wanted to look at the directions on the car dash gps. but my mom wanted to take the scenic route. but the car dash gps would only take us the fastest route. but my dad really wanted to use the car dash gps, even though the phone gps hooks up to the car’s bluetooth, and can announce the directions over the speakers. i said we can take the scenic route and listen to mom’s phone, or take the short route and dad could use the car dash gps. he asked why the car dash gps couldn’t take us the scenic route and i said i didn’t know. we listened to my mom’s phone. my mom’s phone told my dad to get off the highway and onto a two lane road. my dad asked why we were getting off the highway and i said because we just agreed to take the scenic route. he got off the highway.

i decided to relax and look out the window at the united states of america. the united states of america looked shitty. we passed a lot of crumbling houses and dollar generals and advanced auto parts. the small businesses looked decrepit and old and were mostly no longer in business. we passed a pyramid shaped building that was all roof. it was a roofed pyramid. upon further inspection, it was a roofing business. they had multiple flags supporting the reelection of the sitting president.

eventually my mom had to pee. we tried to pee inside a dairy queen but the dairy queen was drive thru only. we can just go through the drive-thru, my mom said. but we came here to pee, my dad said. did you want ice cream though? my mom said. my dad said he didn’t want ice cream. i saw a popeyes chicken across the street. i said we could go there maybe. my dad said people have been shooting each other to get their chicken sandwich. i said i had the sandwich a couple months ago and that it was really good. my dad asked me if i had to shoot anyone to get the sandwich and i said no. i just drove through the drive through and bought it, i said. i ate it in my car. he asked if i fixed my car’s air conditioning and i said i hadn’t. you ate a chicken sandwich alone in your hot car? he said. yeah, i said. why? he said. i said i was doing laundry and popeyes was close to the laundromat. cool.

we drove to a gas station/tiny sandwich restaurant. i put on my mask and went inside. i vaped in the bathroom. i hit the vape four times. didn’t want to leave the bathroom. did a big one and left the bathroom, feeling light headed. to my mom i said, does dad want popeyes or should i get some tiny sandwiches from the tiny sandwich place? my mom told me to eat tiny sandwiches. i walked from the gas station part of the store to the tiny sandwich part of the store. i ordered three tiny chicken sandwiches. my dad left the gas station part of the store and entered the tiny sandwich part of the store. what are you getting? i said. he said he didn’t know. the lady said she was ready to take his order. he looked at the menu. i envied how quickly he was able to decide. tiny hotdog, he said. and a tiny chicken sandwich. i ate the tiny sandwiches in the car. my dad ate his tiny sandwich. my mom asked for a bite. she took a bite and moved her head away from the tiny sandwich and she had a whole pickle slice in her mouth. you took my whole pickle, my dad said. it slipped out, my mom said. there was a lot of mayonnaise on the tiny chicken sandwiches, but i enjoyed them regardless.

i fell asleep for a couple hours. when i woke up my dad kept saying piggly wiggly or publix, piggly wiggly or publix. publix, my mom said. we drove past the cottage/country club neighborhood where we were staying and drove eight more miles and then we were at publix. inside publix my mom said get whatever you want. i walked to where the soda waters were and got two twelve packs of soda water. what is that? my dad said. life source, i thought. soda waters, i said. soda waters, my dad said. we bought more stuff. there were a lot of people inside the publix. felt like too many people. we’re going to get the corona virus, my dad said. i was at costco the other day and this guy got mad at an employee. he said, ‘how can you tell me to wear a mask when you can’t even wear yours right? your nose is hanging out of your mask.’ they had to kick him out. i said i didn’t understand why people couldn’t just wear their masks without getting upset. i said i saw a video the other day where a dad and his teenage son were in a grocery store and the dad was yelling about not wanting to wear a mask and trying to fight the employees and his son had to literally pick him up and carry him out of the store. i said, he yelled ‘i’ll fight you pussies’ and then yelled ‘i’ll fuck a retard’ while being carried out of the store by his teenage son. my dad thought that was funny. we shared a laugh. i shared a laugh with dad. my mom took a picture of me sharing a laugh with my dad. she showed me the laugh sharing picture. you couldn’t tell we were sharing a laugh because we had our masks on.

we all walked toward the restroom. my dad walked in the restroom after me. i was in a stall and he was at the urinal. i wanted to vape but didn’t want dad to see the vapor. i peed and looked at my phone, hoping my dad would finish pissing and leave the bathroom so i could vape in the stall. he finished peeing and walked toward the sink. i thought that he might think it was weird if i stayed in the bathroom stall after i had already obviously finished peeing, so i walked out of the stall. my dad dried his hands and left the bathroom. i washed my hands and then dried them and went back into the stall and vaped three times. left the bathroom. didn’t feel like i had vaped enough. felt ready to be at the house so i could vape more leisurely and frequently.

my mom said she was getting really hot. my sister was also with us but didn’t do or say anything interesting so i haven’t mentioned her yet, but she was there the whole time. so my mom was talking about getting a hot flash. she said she needed to sit down. i told her to go sit in the car and give me the list and we could get everything else. she was sweating heavily and said she was feeling dizzy but didn’t want to go sit in the air conditioned car and drink a gatorade for some reason so she just kept saying she was hot and dizzy until we left. she ate a burrito thing in the car and drank a gatorade and said she felt better.

we stopped by a water sports place because my dad wanted to look at the boat we were renting. him and my sister went inside and i stayed in the car with my mom. my dad texted my mom and said we had to come inside and sign waivers. my dad and sister were watching a video on a computer screen and my dad said we had to watch. so we were just standing there because there weren’t chairs. a cop repeated a slogan about the importance of life jackets. something like keep it on georgia. not sure if that’s what it was. should remember because he said it many times but i don’t. pass boats on the left. if a boat is heading straight at you swerve to the right. the water cop said something about what green, red, and whites buoys meant but i stopped paying attention. my dad asked a teenage employee questions and he answered exclusively by saying i think so, until my dad asked if big people like him can wakeboard and he said, i think so… yes. drove and arrived at the cottage airbnb neighborhood where we would be staying for the next three days. it was in a gated community. a lady at the gate asked for the address we are heading to and my dad said 128 [something] and the lady walked into a shed-looking building to type something into a computer, presumably. my mom said it’s actually 129 [something]. my dad hurried out of the car and walked into the shed, which i wasn’t sure if he was allowed to do, but he came back outside and everything was fine, it’s fine to go in the shed i guess.

we drove to the house. unpacked stuff. i vaped in the bathroom. felt good. my dad opened a beer. or a twisted tea. not sure. my mom made a joke about how much wine she brought. we talked about the cottage. we all agreed the cottage was good. walked upstairs to where i was staying. there were two queen beds in the room, facing each other. i sent a picture of the queens beds to my friend and he replied obscenely haunted energy, then said i feel like this is the last text i’m ever going to get from you. i didn’t text back. my mom said we should fill our thermos with sangria and walk to the lake. so we did that. my parents sat on adirondack chairs on a small man-made beach. there was pool behind us. why are we doing this? we should be at the pool, my mom said. we walked back to the house to put on suits. i lead the way, cutting through people’s yards and a golf course. my parents doubted that i knew where i was going but i assured them that i have an incredible sense of direction. i navigated us flawlessly back to the cottage, unsurprisingly. i looked at my phone and it was 7:30. it’s 7:30, i said. should we go to the pool? my mom said. it’s gonna be dark, i think, but i’m down for whatever, i said. everyone said they were down for whatever. my mom said maybe we should just relax at the house. we all said that sounded good because we were all down for whatever.

my mom poured wine. i poured wine. my dad drank a twisted tea or a beer. my sister put on her roller skates and skated around. we sat on the porch. my mom told me to tell my sister that she’s good at roller blading. you’re really at roller blading, i said. my mom took a picture of me telling my sister that she’s really good at roller blading. i went on youtube and typed ‘how to..’ ‘how to uncork a wine bottle without an opener’ popped up and ‘how to get your dog to pee in a toilet’ popped up because i had searched those things on youtube recently. i finished typing ‘how to wakeboard beginner’ and watched videos. the idea to standing up is to let the boat do the work. let the boat do the work, i need to remember this, i thought. i searched wakeboard crashes and beginner wakeboarding tricks. my dad told me i should focus on just getting up. i said i wanted to watch trick tutorials just in case i was a natural. we went inside and my dad gave me a self help book. 12 rules for life by jordan peterson. i asked him if he’s read it and he said no but he listened to most of the audiobook. he said he’s trying to read things above his thinking level. said he didn’t understand the book but thought i would like it. um, my mom drank more wine and a line of conversation happened between her and my dad and they ended up having a push-up contest and tying with five push ups each. we sat on the couches. i noticed my mom and dad stopped drinking alcohol so i also stopped drinking alcohol. i looked at my phone for a minute and then i looked up and my family seemed to have disappeared. my dad yelled dough mahoney, which is my name, and i walked up stairs and they were sitting in the upstairs living room. dad wanted us all to sit in here, my mom said. we sat in the upstairs living room for probably 30 seconds and then my mom said she was going to bed. i said it’s like an hour past y’all’s usual bedtime, and my dad said he’s been staying up until midnight recently searching craigslist for a pressure washer and then said he was going to bed. i borrowed some floss and said goodnight. i locked the door and vaped heavily and opened twitter. theo posted a video of jordan peterson on joe rogan’s podcast talking about how he went on an all meat diet and then drank apple cider vinegar and couldn’t sleep for 25 days. i searched jordan peterson on youtube and watched two minutes of a compilation video of jordan peterson explaining why he refuses to call people by their proper pronouns. no further investigation of jordan peterson was required. i read a book about the stock market. i stared at the empty bed directly across from me and decided not to think about it.

Dough Mahoney lives in Florida.

Art by Bob Schofield @anothertower

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