He turns to me when we pull onto I-95. “Listen to me carefully, Eddy, I want you to roll me off the dock.” I wipe my fingertips against each other. “We’ve had this conversation before.” “As soon as I hit eighty-five, eighty-six, just push me out to sea.” “What if you say you want to live?” “Don’t listen!” My dad slams the steering wheel. “Wrap some duct tape around my senile mouth. I’ll tell you what, my father would have put a bullet in his temple a long time ago if he knew he’d wind up in this place.” My dad is one of those self-educated libertarian types who reads a lot of biographies of Albert Einstein. He’s technically a housepainter, but I can’t tell if he ever works. He mostly makes sketches of flying machines and takes a lot of naps. My dad’s naps were one of the things that drove my mom crazy. She used to say she was married to Garfield the cat. Now she’s living in Oaxaca with a retired financial consultant who doesn’t seem to do much either. “I just want to go into the woods on a January night when I’m ready. Like the wolves do. And wander around until I get delirious from hypothermia.” “Yeah.” My dad agrees. “Hypothermia is a good way to go.” He pulls into the hospital parking ramp. “Caution: Low Clearance,” I read just as my father’s roof rack scrapes against the yellow bar. When we get to the room, there is an oldish nurse with yellow hair fiddling with my grandfather’s wires. She gives us a surprised smile which makes me feel guilty for all the times she comes in and there’s no one here. He’s hooked up to a machine but he’s not on life support or anything; the machine just measures his heart rate. My dad says the problem with modern technology is that we can now measure more things than we will ever use. I think the problem with modern technology is that you can see someone’s cute Halloween costume on Tinder, and then exchange above-averagely witty messages about Snowpiercer and memes and tacos, and then go out for drinks at the outdoor bar on Broadway, and then have mediocre-to-good sex and then hang out again the next FICTION | 19
Fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and art selected for phoebe's Winter 2019 issue.