The kid’s father poured himself another scotch and water and returned to the sofa. His wife had a healthy head start on him, so he was trying hard to catch up. But it wasn’t easy; she’d been practicing all day.
“So, was he any better today?” he wanted to know, tapping an unfiltered cigarette from a pack on the coffee table.
“Two f**kin’ guesses,” she growled.
“Watch the mouth, okay?” he countered. “Maybe that’s part of his problem. Maybe if you tried a little harder, he’d get better. You ever think of that maybe?”
She muttered something angrily under her breath, then tried harder, “No, he’s not getting any better. Satisfied now? He’s pulled the same sh*t today that he’s been pulling for weeks now.”
“There’s that mouth again. Give it a rest, will ya. At least until he’s in bed,” he ordered. “Now, what was he like today?”
She took a deep breath, leaned back on the sofa and began, “Remember all last week when he was talking like Bogart in ‘The Maltese Falcon’ and ‘The Big Sleep.’ Well today he changed it up a little. He’s not in the 1940’s anymore. He was walking around talking like Jim Rockford, you know, from the ‘Rockford Files’.”
“Hmmm. When I was twelve, I was out all day on my bike shooting birds with my BB gun. Kids today. Whatta ya gonna do?” he mused.
“When I was twelve, I was locking myself in the bathroom trying to escape my step-father’s grubby paws,” she admitted. “Twelve year olds don’t know how good they got it today. And what does he do with it? Escapes into a fantasy world of being some hard boiled private eye. Jesus, what a little sh*t-bird!”
“Okay, I’m just saying.”
Just then their son walked into the living room deep in character and oblivious to their presence. He pretended he was Jim Rockford talking to his Dad, Rocky. “Hey, I'm sorry Dad, you just caught me at a bad time. Reading that detective fiction doesn't help. I mean things aren't like that you know? They're not black and white. There aren't any heroes left, they die young. That book you’re reading. His gun is deadly? Mine's in a cookie jar.”
The two parents silently watched the boy, sipped their drinks, and waited for him to leave the room. When they were alone again, the boy’s father reluctantly admitted, “You know, if you listen really close to what he’s spouting, it does make sense, sort of. Maybe this is just his way of figuring things out. Maybe someday he’ll just walk out of his bedroom one morning and he’ll be a normal kid again.”
“Yeah, but in the meantime . . .” she worried.
“Hey, it could be worse. He could be doing what his friend Jimmy down the street is doing,” he added.
“Yeah, that kid's walking around all day pretending to be Marjorie Taylor Greene, for Christ's sake!”
“You can say that again!”