"When's the last time you saw Dad?" she asked, and Sean cocked an eyebrow, folding his sleeping bag. "Sometime before I started practicing Idontgiveafuckism." His sister sat, very carefully, in a club chair. Sean didn't notice it. For his sister this was nothing new.
"I don't even visit him on his birthday, or Father's Day. I just send cards. It's ridiculous. I don't want him to think I'm avoiding him." Sean stared with a crooked grin: "You are avoiding him. You hate Dad."
Sean nursed his ribs and stood, to go; he thanked his sister for her "somewhat toxic, but oddly charming hospitality," and she begged him to go. Sean would rather, he said, masturbate with a cheese grater. Sean's nephew agreed, begging not to go in turn. Sean changed his mind and appeared again: He had unfinished business at home too. She was delighted. "Uncle Sean's going. So now there's a protective layer between us. Go. Get your suitcase!" Adam sat on the stairs, complaining, and his mother looked up and to the left. Fine.
"You do what you want to do," she said, and Adam fell back like a seesaw dropped, like a tug-of-war abruptly ending. "You're just leaving me here?" What would he eat? Where would he go? She didn't mind. Sean was impressed.
"Nice to see you finally cutting Adam's umbilical cord," Sean said, but he didn't mean it very harshly. He looked at his sister's face. "When he gets hungry enough his natural survival instinct will kick in. If you haven't already beat it out of him." She wondered about that last, and called her ex-husband.
"Cathy, you finally decided to return my calls! Thank you!" Paul didn't mean it very harshly. "Oh, I didn't mean that in a snarky way. I know sometimes I use sarcasm as a weapon." Paul was still seeing his therapist. Paul was still sleeping on his own sister's couch, for reasons he couldn't see yet.
"I'm lashing out at you because obviously I'm having a hard time coping with the fact that I went outside the bonds of marriage for sexual gratification." Sean and his sister rolled their eyes.
"If you're not too busy getting a handjob, would you go pick up Adam and watch him while I'm gone?"
Sean liked it when his sister talked that way. Sean liked the little shocks, the ways you could sometimes see behind the curtain. Every shock is an echo and a memory of the first time it rolled back.
Paul's therapist told him, and he could feel it was true when she said it, that the handjob only happened because his Self was splitting. Paul and Paulie. Behind the curtain and before it. "Would at least one half of your Self go pick up our son? Thanks." Joking about their relationship was their relationship.