Atlantic City

   We check into the Trop, where my grandfather and his wife are also staying. My father calls my grandfather and we make plans to meet for dinner at 5 at one of the restaurants. When he gets off the phone my father cracks—Your grandfather’s 87 and he’s got a cell phone before you do. When are you gonna get one?
   I’m not, I say, and feel obliged to once again explain my aversion of phones to him, with an even stronger disdain for a phone that goes where I do.
   One bed, I point out to my father.
   Yea, but it’s a a king-size, plenty of room.
   I can’t remember the last time I shared a bed with my father, or if I ever did.
   How do you like my new sunglasses, he models what looks like Terminator sunglasses with a silver tint.
   You look menacing, I say. And futuristic.
   They’re cool, huh?
   He removes the sunglasses and puts them in the front pocket of his shirt.
   I open the sliding glass door and step out onto the terrace. The heat comes over me like a woolen blanket. There is a view of the pool, which is crowded. A colored beach ball is being batted around. The blue of the pool shimmers, like a digitally enhanced postcard. Beyond the pool lies the beach, which is also crowded.
   My father joins me on the terrace, wearing his sunglasses.
   Beautiful huh, he says.
   I almost tell him that this sort of generic beauty, or glossy advertisement for beauty, did nothing for me, that standing on a terrace overlooking a sun-bleached pool was far less interesting or moving to me than sitting at a café on a rainy day and immersing myself in gentle melancholy, but instead say—Yea, it’s nice.
   My father turns to me—You need sunglasses? I have an extra pair.
   No, I have a pair. Do you remember I was wearing them in the car?
   Oh yea yea. Well if you wanna borrow mine, you can. They’re almost like these.
   My father indicates his sunglasses with a turned thumb.
   We can be like twins. Have our own gang. You want to borrow them?
   No I’m happy with my sunglasses.
   Alright but if you want to borrow them, let me know. I’m gonna go down and do some gambling. You wanna come?
   I’ll meet you down there in a little while. There’s some stuff I need to write.
  Oh yea, what are you gonna write about? Me?
    My father smiled.
   Partially, yea.
   When I’m dead and gone they’re gonna remember me through your stories. Except I’m always made out to the be the bad guy, right?
   My father smiled again. It was the smile of an innocent pretending to be a bad guy, or vice versa.
   You’re not the bad guy, I said. There are no bad guys. It’s not like that.
   Oh no? I read some of those stories from that book you wrote years ago, what was it called—
   Rabid Transit—
   Yea Rabid Transit. You threw me under the bus plenty. But that’s okay I probably deserve some of it. And you should write what you wanna write. I forgive you.
   My father playfully patted my cheek and smiled.
   Okay, wish me luck, I’m gonna hit the roulette tables.
   Good luck.
   But first.
   My father went into his duffelbag and produced a bottle of cologne. He dabbed generous amounts onto both side of his neck. Then he slapped his cologne-saturated folds of neck repeatedly, further activating the overpowering scent.
   It’s Polo, he said. It was a Christmas gift from Gina. I have to admit, she always gave the best gifts. If you want to use some, g’head. I’ll leave it out.
   He set the bottle on the nightstand next to the bed. Then he left.

About John Biscello

Originally from Brooklyn, NY, writer, poet, spoken word performer, and playwright, John Biscello now lives in Taos, New Mexico. He is the author of three novels: Broken Land, a Brooklyn Tale, Raking the Dust, and Nocturne Variations, and a collection of stories, Freeze Tag. His fiction and poetry has appeared in: Art Times, nthposition, The Wanderlust Review, Ophelia Street, Caper, Polyphony, Dilate, Militant Roger, Chokecherries, Farmhouse, BENT, The 555 Collective, Instigator, Brass Sopaipilla, The Iconoclast, Adobe Walls, Kansas City Voices, and the Tishman Review. His blog--Notes of an Urban Stray--can be read at Broken Land, a Brooklyn Tale was named Underground Book Reviews 2014 Book of the Year.
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