“Roo, let him out of the cage.”
“Come on. He’s had enough. It’s a new year. Let’s go.”
“I don’t think I’m ready to move on.”
“If you don’t let Bennington come out of the basement so we can open the presents, I’m going to scream.”
That was enough, I said it was fine, I understood this, no problem, I am sorry and I apologize Ms. Monica developed a defense technique during her time in the jungle, a scream with some frequency that can leave everyone in a medium-sized room permanently deaf. That means there is no audience. Forever. Last week at church (come on now), an old prick was approaching Monica in the bathroom (she said, “You know, I find you like a fascinating Fortunately, he was unable to press charges because he died of a heart attack, and all we had to fix was the mirrors that Monica broke. Now he knows how to use his power with care. “With great responsibility,” I said. He never liked Spider-Man. “Ooooh, Waaaah, my uncle Ben died!“
My wife can be very mean sometimes. But also so much fun. I love her.
I let Bennington out of the basement and he rushed upstairs with a muffled “thank you” and headed for his plate of food. When it was empty, he looked at me, confused and scared: would the torture continue? No: “We have a seat for you at the table.” Benny pointed his left wing into his wide, small eyes. “Me?” he pointed silently. Yes, Benny. You guys. You can join us now. We are having dinner and it is your favorite: fried mango and trout.
Before threatening to make me deaf, Monica prepared a plate for four people. He was afraid to ask what he was doing, but he knew that Bennington was malnourished and needed to be filled. “This is your breading time,” he told me. “You must have a feast.” At the table, we ate as a family for the first time in years. After the initial icebreakers (“Sorry I jailed and tortured you.” “All good”), we had a great time, laughing, singing, and throwing food at each other. It was the proper Christmas / New Years party that we never got to have. “You know I have Covid there, right?” We both shook our heads. Did this son of a bitch just break quarantine? “I’m fine now, almost everything was just before Christmas. I haven’t had any symptoms for a week. “
Reluctantly, I let him stay on the table. But Monica never stopped glowing that night, and I kept looking at her looking at Benny, making sure he didn’t eat too fast or feel too awkward. I was still not ready to forgive, but something he said in the middle of the fifth course (venison), said something that made me change my mind: “When I was there, I thought about writing. Like you, Gallo. Novels Books. Articles. Magazine pieces. Think-parts. Medical journals. Academy. Academic art criticism. Brochures handed out at the hospital. I think I could do that. Not like you. But I think I could do it. My way.”
He is high? Whatever, it’s the Christmas / New Years Spirit. “I’ll help you get started, Benny,” I told him. I put my wing on his. “I’ll teach you to write.” I looked over. Monica was smiling.
Bennington fell asleep in his own room that night, after opening the presents. We got her a PS5, some games that she had never heard of but that Monica’s mercenary friends recommended to me, and a couple of remakes of games she used to play, like Final Fantasy VII. I tried to get her a Wii, but Monica said they were discontinued (don’t think they are…?), But Amazon gift cards really came in handy. Benny can spend his money however he wants now. You’d better spend it wisely and responsibly, but that’s your decision now. That is your cross to bear. I believe in him. I think you can do it. I will help you write; I may not enjoy it, but I will, because he is my cousin and I love him.
Monica and I were doing the dishes later that night, after Benny had gone to bed. It was almost dawn. He leaned in and said, “You did well tonight, Roo.”
He put down another plate and smiled. “You did it well.”
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