Dream of: 02 January 2001 "A Family Meal"

As I rode up to the House in Patriot, I reflected on how much time had passed since I had last been there. The Swivers' house across the street appeared to have deteriorated, and meter-high weeds spotted the yard. After I had stopped the car and stepped out, I noticed that the House in Patriot also looked different; small trees which I had never seen were growing in the yard. The trees appeared bulbous and somewhat deformed near their bases. The whole atmosphere was a bit foreboding.

I walked into the kitchen where my mother and her mother Leacy were preparing a meal. I was hungry and impatient for the food to be served; after waiting a while, I began complaining about how late it was – I figured it was probably 2 p.m., well after the time the noon meal should have been served. But when I looked at my wristwatch, it was actually even later than I had thought – twenty till three. Satisfied I had already waited longer than I should have, I grabbed a plate and loaded it down with typical fare, including some mashed potatoes and gravy. I then sat down at the head of the long table, which was covered with a white table cloth, and prepared to eat.

Instead of digging in, however, I waited for everyone else to first be seated. My father sat down on my right, while my mother, my grandmother, and my maternal grandfather Liston took their places at the table. Other people also sat down – about ten of us in all. Just when I was about to begin, I remembered that before I had sat down, I had been drinking some whiskey from a shot glass, and I stood up to look for the glass. I looked all around the room and walked over to the window sill where I thought the glass might be sitting, but I couldn't find it. When I finally did find the glass, it was empty. As I carried the glass back to my seat, I said I thought my mother had drunk the whiskey, but no one responded.

I sat down and picked up a piece of cake, which I was just about to eat, when I happened to pull the table toward me just a little, and to my utter chagrin, the table collapsed, the legs falling out from under it. I could see the problem – the legs were just flimsy little pieces of metal, hardly sufficient for such a large table. I didn't think the collapse of the table had been my fault, but my father immediately exploded in anger, accusing me of knocking over the table. I looked right at him and asked him if he were going to hit me the way he used to when I had been a little boy. I also became angry as I began recalling the way he had mistreated me all of my life.

We both stood up facing each other. He was probably in his early 30s, his hair was still dark black and he was thin. Just when it looked as if he were about to attack, I held my fists in front of me and pushed him back on his chest, screaming, "I hate you! I hate you!"

When he stepped away from me and left me alone, I turned my attention back to the table, where I was now surprised to see my crippled uncle George lying stretched on his back on the table, covered with a white sheet. His legs were stretched out straight, not bent back with polio the way I had always seen him during his life. He appeared to be in need of help and when I walked over to him, he spoke to me. Clearly he also disliked my father. He told me that my father had been living for a while in the House in Patriot, and that my father never did any work, never helped with anything. I was somewhat surprised to hear this, because I knew my father had a business in which he worked. But then I thought to myself that my father didn't actually do much work in his business.

I didn't want to be like my father, not working. I wanted to work. But the kind of work I wanted to do was unclear in my mind.

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