Note: This scene between Gentry and his father has four parts. This is the second one. The last one will be posted on Friday (they're short.) These scenes were hellish to write! The type-o's have also been eliminated.
Circles. Everything seemed to go in circles. Thoughts, visions, motives. Sons became fathers, fathers died, the world still spun around its orbit.
Things did not change.
Everything moved in circles. Smooth, round, circle. It was supposed to be endless, with no start and no end. Yet when you walked in one, you had to have started somewhere, at some point. For Gentry, this point was birth. Somewhere, on the other side and the hazy future, was death. Yet since Gentry lacked direction, he was never sure which way he was going.
He liked line segments better, because there was a start and an end. Birth, death. If you weren’t one, you were the other. Fantasy, reality. When you were dreaming, it wasn’t real. It was always one or the other. Yet it was never that simple, since circles were more complicated.
Some things could not be explained. This was why, sometimes, he had nothing to say.
Now it stood before him, as it did so many times before, holding its grave silence and dark gaze. Eyes firmly fixed forward. Gentry always saw him in fragmented pieces, and whenever he tried to picture him as a whole, no face formed. He found he could do it when he didn't try so hard, when he was half-asleep. Yet even then, something was always missing, or he was out of focus; a walking blur of a man. At times Gentry doubted it was real, and wasn’t sure if he’d dreamt all of it. Some days, he wasn’t sure if he was looking at his father or staring down a bizarre figment of his imagination.
The quiet lingered in the room like an unearthly presence, held by both but fathered by none, and ultimately destroyed by the sharp pain of a hand slapping against his face.
“When was the last time you saw it?”
“Don’t know.” Gentry inhaled sharply.
Another slap hit his face, but this one was more decisive. Although he recoiled, Gentry didn’t feel it the way he had the first one. The skin had already thickened itself. And now Johnson was now red in the face, panting quietly through urgent gasps of air, almost wheezing them past his dry lips.
“Where is it? Don’t play your games with me.”
“Carly has it. He threatens me with it. That’s it.”
“Is that all?”
Johnson groaned softly, but resisted the urge to clutch his chest. He pulled away and staggered back to his desk, leaning over it grimly. The blood quickly drained from his face, returning it to its original dimness as the wheezing subsided.
“How’s your situation working out for you?” Johnson asked him casually, although his voice was strained. “If you need money, let me know.”
“That goldfish is dying.”
“You shouldn’t keep a goldfish in a bowl.”
Johnson leered at his son’s hand, up the lenth of his arm.
“You care about a goldfish? You can hardly take care of yourself, much less an animal.”
He then fell silent, hatefully leering at the swollen red burns which mottled Gentry’s skin.
Gentry noticed him watching, and looked back at him in the same way.
“You have no right to be like this.” Johnson scolded him. “It’s not your place— Stop looking at me like I’m the freak. I’m not a monster.”
“You know what you are.”