Sickness (story by R.C. Peris)

And wasn’t he such a sissy. That’s what his Daddy told him. Drunk and tripping over words in his mouth like they were felled logs.

Sh…shis…shissy…sissy.” Daddy would pick him up and hurl him across the room. Wham. Thunk. His head always hit first. One time he thought his neck was snapped. He hoped that it was so his Mama could scoop him up and take him to the doctor. Maybe the doctor could excise Daddy like a tumor. Or maybe he could lie in a hospital bed and enjoy people caring about him and nourishing him. Mama certainly didn’t. It was his most cherished fantasy that she would pick him up and hold him.

His neck did not break that last time, but that’s when he began to feel sick. Feverish. Heart flip flopping. Maybe he had a heart ailment. He ate a bologna sandwich for dinner and vomited. Maybe he had an allergy.

Sissy, come watch this football game.” Daddy was only on his second beer. He was safe until his Daddy had the fifth beer.

I can’t. I have a headache. I think I have a brain tumor.” He really was in pain. The sissy boy. His head felt like a corn kernel in a greasy pan. He could explode at any time.

Stupid sissy,” Daddy yelled. And then his Daddy’s eyes went buggy. He gripped his left arm. “He…help.” He slid out of his recliner gasping for air. The boy watched. It didn’t occur to him to call for anyone. Mama was taking a nap and they had shut the phone off yesterday because his Daddy didn’t have money to pay the bill. 911 was out of the question. The boy just watched his Daddy shiver and moan. Suddenly. Silence. The sissy boy peed his pants.

We will all get sick and die. Life is the sickness that leads to death. If we didn’t have life we wouldn’t have death.” The sissy boy went to the kitchen and got an ice pack and an Alka Seltzer. His tummy was hurting. He laid down in his bed and contemplated a life full of unending sickness.

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