Written by Bernard Cooper
The Bill From My Father, 2006
I was thirty-three and still living in the neighborhood in which I’d grown up, fifteen minutes away from my father’s house. Stucco apartment buildings had risen on lots where postwar bungalows once stood. Billboards for safe sex and neon signs for businesses like the Tanning Institute had started to crowd the eastern end of Hollywood Boulevard. The streets where my father threatened to leave me as a child — See how long you last — had become the ones in which I lived, and driving through them that day seemed like fresh exile. I resolved, as before, to fend for myself, and swore his absence wouldn’t matter. Mr. Divorce my mother had called him, her sarcasm having clarified, over years of marriage, into a feeling as strong as love. How quickly I’d thought of an alibi when she’d handed me his boxers. My innocence was as laughable as his.
While stopped at a red light, I reached a verdict: the man was a bastard.
© 2006 Bernard Cooper; New York: Simon & Schuster