Bring the Half and Half and Spill It
The Prodigal Son cannot wait for his old bathtub of a mother to croak. He says to the bathtub, Mother, I very much would like my inheritance. Unfortunately for us both, health smoothies continue to afford you a long, undeserved existence here on this earth whose moss nurses your cold veins and our cold, hard ice cream fortunes. The mother lifts a claw foot with both her thick, massive wrists. She stands, slowly, from the bathroom tile. It appears she is some of the furniture. She is.
Alright, my Bouncing Boy. You may liquidate your fortune.
She speaks in a low roar which pains her mouth to make.
Thirty-three hair dryers plugged together into a bouquet of hair-dryers. The Prodigal Son empties the deep freezer of its luxurious dairy content. The hair-dryers have diffuser attachments, being mid-grade, reliable hair dryers. Quite carefully, the prodigal son attaches each diffuser head, wiping a determined stream of sweat from between his shining, little eyes. He liquidates the ice cream, turning the ice cream into puddles of liquid. He digs through dairy mess with his eager parts, collecting scrolls of gold foil and entire diamonds, bits of priceless old masters’ masterpieces, pickled eagle talons. He pawns off fortune bits of the milky mass that is his very blood and name in our world.
The inheritance is rich in dairy and lean in terms of cold, hard cash. The ice creams are cold and hard as well, having been frozen for years in a giant freezer. Luxury ice cream had been the family’s bread and butter. Then the bubble burst and people so callously abandoned such frivolous food in favor of soylent on nitro et cetera. The ice creams were laced with priceless objects and very expensive versions of everyday foods for the average civilian. For example, hydrogenated soybean oil infused with the blood of free range, organic suckling pigs who were only allowed to feed on ocean pearls as well as sometimes freshwater pearls, chicken livers.
The earnings of luxury ice cream scraps are his.
The Prodigal Son takes off for mainland Florida, dreaming of a swamp palace lifestyle. Unlicensed firearms, chicken tenders. Citrus-smelling shit smells of stank static waters gone nearly solid and green. The Prodigal Son is a parable. But he also resides inside an empty water tower on blessed Florida swamp. For the most part, he just lives on his phone. Teeth bared. Cagey. Restless. He orders foods and trades invisible currencies and matches with potential mates while throned in the towering, decrepit vessel.
The Prodigal Son decides he will travel. He packs his things, he travels far and wide.
The Prodigal Son is hard at work on an organic farm in Argentina. The Prodigal Son hopes to attend law school after making mediocre grades at an esteemed, liberal arts college which he also plans to attend. The Prodigal Son helped invent Facebook as we know it. The Prodigal Son couldn’t believe it wasn’t butter and so continued his life with disbelief in his cold, dairy heart. The Prodigal Son was fed as a Wee One on Root Beer Float. He is toothless, tough as old ocean plastic in a gull’s throat. The Prodigal Son has left Argentina and taken to writing personal checks for things like sausage, designer socks. The Prodigal Son is incarcerated for writing bad checks. The Prodigal Son quits dairy. Everything he knew before this moment is proven a lie. The Prodigal Son buys a twelve-dollar health smoothie and two years later, hits his forehead with his palm in disbelief that he ever committed such a foolhardy and terrible act.
He moves onward, to Brooklyn.
The prodigal son moves from Brooklyn to Portland and from Portland to Detroit and from Detroit to Austin and from Austin back to the Bay Area from which he comes.
Squander-er that he is, the Prodigal Son squats in a boxy condo in Austin, awaiting news of his indebted debt owed to varying debtors. The Prodigal Son has bet on losing things many more times than one could or should hope to do so. Losing horses, losing retail space, losing bonds and stocks and things, losing teams and land and women. The Prodigal Son attempts to pawn off his many possessions and fails miserably. No one wants the Prodigal Son’s old Google Glasses. No one wants to purchase shoes that an asshole once wore. The Prodigal Son, he loves only fanciful and time-ridden things, having been raised upon such a frivolous and frozen dairy fortune.
Once more in the old-world charm of the fine tall hills of Oakland, The Prodigal Son, he is swathed again in loving claws of old Mother Tub. She keeps him rosy and warm. She calls out at his arrival, bring the Half and Half, and spill it! She spills all of this heavy cream and the Bathtub and her Little Boy, they lap it up off the floor and laugh, knowing that it is fallen cream that will not be made into ice cream as there is simply no need for the tub’s kin to ever seek a profit again. The riches are many, the hive is full.
The oldest son, he is bent at the joints from keeping books for all these years. Ever faithful and ever-bachelor, the family and the name from which he comes is likewise the driving passion of his adult life.
Mother, he says. His face screwed up in a disapproving screw. Baby Boy has fucked it all so terrible, and yet you squander cream upon his return. For shame!
Old Son, says the Mother. The Bouncing Boy was lost. But now, here he is. There is more reason to rejoice a large change of circumstance in a fuck-up child rather than to sleep well and never not account for a faithful bore of a child.
Bathtub and Prodigal Son, they erupt in quaking, happy laughter, tickling the entire bay.
Kate Jayroe is a bookseller at Powell’s Books and serves on staff with Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Work by Kate appears in Vol. 1 Brooklyn, NANO Fiction, Juked and elsewhere.