My age surprised Dad after he did the math. Twenty-one trips around the sun in this body made it legal for me to have a few cold ones with him. He insisted on going to Keller’s in Huntingdon because Jay was letting him back in after being banned three years from the place.
“I fucked his bitch,” Dad explained. “After he figured out that half-of the men in Huntingdon was doing the same thing, he forgave me, I guess. What kind of beer do you like?”
“I ain’t much of a drinker, Dad. Even in the Army, I didn’t drink much.”
“You don’t take after your Dad then,” he replied while opening a red, wooden door to the tavern. Ice cold air rushed against my face. I was dripping in sweat from the long walk from Mifflin Street. A beer did sound good. The windows of Keller’s were shaped like giant ice cubes. My mouth was watering. Dad ordered two Rolling Rock drafts before Jay had the opportunity to place two square napkins in front of where we were seated.
“Yep. They know your old man in this place. Remember when I brought you and Billy in here when you was kids?”
“I remember, Dad.”
“You was always your momma’s boy, though. Sometimes I wondered why you was always so quiet if you was my son. You told on me to your mom one time when we stopped in here on our way home from the grocery store. You remember that?”
“You told your Mom that I was talking to a pretty girl at the bar. Your mom was pissed at me that day.”
I quickly grabbed the tall, cold glass of beer and in one deep swallow, I drank it all, just to show my Dad that I could drink if I really wanted to.
“Get ‘em another one, Jay. This is my boy. My second boy, Charlie,” Dad boasted.
Jay wiped his hands on a white towel that hung from his hip like a pistol on a cowboy in an old Western movie. He reached his hand over the oak bar to formally introduce himself. He looked me in the eyes, seeming not to believe that I could have come from such an atrocious man.
“Your Dad’s a prick and a drunk,” Jay said.
My father remained very quiet for a moment, as if he wouldn’t mind slapping the shit out of the blue eyed, skinny bar tender when he said those words.
“Now Jay, this is my boy. That ain’t necessary.”
Jay stepped away to tend to the needs of others at the bar. Dad asked me what I thought about the two blondes that Jay was getting beers for.
“They ain’t bad,” I said, hoping that I was not about to have a father and son conversation about the birds and the bees at twenty-one. I grew up without Dad, without knowing him, only understanding from my mother that he’s a prick when he drinks.
“I fucked the one in the short hair,” Dad explained. “She ain’t got no teeth and she sucks a mean dick. You must get lots of pussy like your old man,” he implied. “Hell, look at ya! Yer better lookin’ than I ever was and I know how much pussy I done got in my life. What you say about us fuckin’ those bitches together?”
I looked at my father, wanting to explain to him about my own dark side, but I just laughed. I didn’t matter. It really didn’t matter at all.
“I don’t want to fuck a girl with my Dad watching,” I explained while reaching for my second beer.
“Hell, I wouldn’t either,” my old man replied while ordering a third round. He hit me hard on my back, perhaps to toughen me up a little.