Disturbing dinner conversation
Once at the modest brick and vinyl Midwest bungalow, Max Pine took a seat in an uncomfortable chair near an unlit fireplace. The mantel above was littered with framed photos of Christine as Chris, images of another time that Max scanned with wild sick eyes. An old clock quietly ticked away in the middle.
Mr. LaBrush was fixing drinks at a small wet bar on the other side of the room. Max could hear ice being dropped into a glass.
“You drink whiskey, Max? Or does your kind prefer a wine spritzer?”
“My kind, sir?”
“Well, you’re porking my son so technically that makes you queer, right?”
“I don’t think you know me well enough to make such a brash and insensitive statement, Mr. LaBrush. And what makes you so certain that Christine and I have had any sexual relations? I mean, we haven’t known each other that long. I’m not a pig… And I’ll have a whiskey.”
Mr. LaBrush dropped another round of ice and poured whiskey in a glass. He walked across the room and roughly handed it to Max.
“I wasn’t born yesterday, Max. I spent over 30 years in the military, and I know a thing or two about human behavior. I’m not accepting of any of this at all. It’s wrong. It’s ungodly. I’m not going to cave in and be nice about it either.”
Mr. LaBrush took a deep gulp of his drink, picked up one of the photos on the mantel and studied it with disappointment in his aching eyes. “Just look at what my son used to be. When I think of all he could have become, all he could have accomplished. He’s destroyed his life and soul. It hurts my heart. It truly does.”
“But Christine is still your…”
“I demand you refer to my son as Chris in my house!”
Max sighed with frustration. “Chris is still your child regardless of what he or she accomplishes or doesn’t accomplish in life. If I could be so blunt, sir, you talk as if she has absolutely no value anymore. It’s untrue and sad.”
Mr. LaBrush chuckled as he took another gulp of his drink. “Wow. You certainly are bold. Maybe you could lend some of your balls to my son.” He came closer to Max and hovered over him in a threatening manner almost. “But let me just make one thing nice and sparkling clear, Max. Once you leave this house tonight, I don’t ever want to see you again. I don’t want you back in my home and I definitely do not want you screwing my son. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll just walk away. Walk away, Max.”
Max gulped down his drink, held up the empty glass to Mr. LaBrush and smiled. “May I have another?” he asked.
Mr. LaBrush snatched the glass away, set it on a nearby table and disappeared into the dining room.
The dining room hummed with an uncomfortable quiet as they gathered at the table to eat Swedish meatballs.
“Max,” Mr. LaBrush began. “It’s customary in our household for the guest to lead us in prayer before we eat our meal.”
“Actually, I’m not religious,” Max let it be known to those gathered. “I’m afraid I don’t know anything about praying.”
Mr. LaBrush shook his head in disbelief and dismay.
“What do you mean you’re not religious? Everyone is religious. Don’t you believe in God or his little friend, Jesus?”
“No sir, I don’t.”
Mr. LaBrush slapped the tabletop with a meaty hand and the dishes jangled. “Well god damn it! I never thought I’d have a real live pagan sitting here at my supper table. I’m really at a loss here, people. Seems everything is going to hell in a hand basket. The problem is, you young people have no standards or religious morals anymore. You young people just think you can go off and do anything you want. If it feels good, you just go and do it no matter the consequences to your body, mind or soul.”
Mr. LaBrush glared at Christine. “Take my son, for example. He didn’t want to be a man anymore because it didn’t feel right to him… So, what does he do? He decides to turn himself into a girl. Well, I call all that bullshit! Now look at him — he’s got manufactured body parts. He’s defiled God’s own work. It makes me sick.”
Christine started to whimper within the cloud of his berating. She dabbed at her tears with a napkin.
“Herbert!” Mrs. LaBrush screamed. “You stop that right now or I swear I will leave you! This is our child! No matter what, this is our child!”
Mr. LaBrush snorted.
“You’re going to leave me? Hah! That’s a laugh. You wouldn’t survive one day out in that crazy world without me you silly bitch! Those pagans and hippie liberal assholes would eat you up like a bowl of dog food.”
Max started to get up from the table. “I think we should leave, Christine. I feel very unwelcome.”
“Sit down!” Mr. LaBrush barked. “My wife went to a lot of trouble to cook you this meal and you’re going to eat it!”
Max grudgingly sat back down and plunged his fork into the plate of the worst Swedish meatballs he ever had. He looked around the table at the startled, dying eyes as the people there ate the food without any hint of real purpose in life.
“By the way, Max,” Herbert LaBrush started up again, slushily talking with his mouth full of food. “What kind of a person are you?”
“What do you mean what kind of person am I?”
“I mean your background, your ethnicity. Your skin seems a little… Off.”
“Daddy, stop it!” Christine cried out. “You’re being awful.”
“Zip it, girly boy! I want to hear what he’s got to say.”
“Well, if you must know, my father was black, and my mother is Chinese.”
“Holy dog shit!” Mr. LaBrush bellowed. “God damn, this just gets better and better! But it explains a lot.”
“What the hell do you mean by that!?” Max asked, his blood boiling to the point of overspill.
“I’m talking about consequences, Max. Consequences.”
“Yes. You’re the unfortunate consequence of the sinful mixing of skin types.”
Max slammed his napkin down on the table. “You know, Mr. LaBrush, for a man who constantly spews talk of God and righteousness, you sure are one hell of a hateful bigot!”
“Don’t you dare talk to me that way in my own house you little son of a bitch!”
Mrs. LaBrush suddenly shot up from the table, her arms raised above her head, hands violently shaking in the air. “Just stop it, stop it, stop it right now!” she wildly screamed and stomped. “No more! I’ve had enough of this ugliness! Now, we are going to act like civilized human beings or there will be no dessert for anyone. And I’m serious. I’ll go throw it in the garbage!”
“Don’t you dare touch my schaum torte!” Mr. LaBrush warned. “I’ll stick a fork in your face!”
“Oh, shut it, Herbert!” she said, breathing hard as she looked around the table at them. “Understood?”
Mr. LaBrush grumbled under his breath. Christine hung her head in embarrassment and shame and pain.
“Yes, mam,” Max said. “I agree we should try to be a bit nicer to each other. And I apologize for the role I may have played in the disruption.”
“Thank you, Max,” Mrs. LaBrush said. “I’m glad you are willing to make this evening work… Herbert?”
“Don’t you feel you owe us all an apology for your cruel antics?” his wife asked.
Mr. LaBrush sucked on his teeth for a bit as his eyes went from Max to Christine and then up to his trembling wife. He scooted away from the table, got up and walked off into the other room and poured himself another drink.
TO BE CONTINUED