Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The One

Greetings WYMOP readers!

This is late, I know, and I'm sorry. I actually had it written, but this past weekend I was at the Granite State Comicon huddling behind a couple of sale tables with some of the other members of the New England Horror Writers, and both Saturday and Sunday nights I was pretty tired... and I forgot to post anything.

My bad. I'm sorry. So here's the story:

~ ~ * * ~ ~

This weekend at the Granite State Comic Convention Handsome has decided to accompany me for one of the days as Neo, from the movie The Matrix. He got the clothes and he got the shades, and he actually looks quite a bit like the character of Neo from the movies… but a blonde Neo.

Neo (for those of you who never watch any movies there under your rock) is played by Keanu Reeves, not an actor noted for his golden locks. Rather the opposite, I fear: that Canadian bastard has some of the blackest hair never to come out of a bottle.

Out of a bottle… now there’s a thought!

So I shelled out $3 and picked up a can of spray-on hair color —  basically spray-paint for the head. I’ve never used the stuff before (not even way back in the past when I had hair) and the thought of experimenting with it at six in the morning when I was just trying to get out the door and to the convention just did not appeal. That was not the time to find out it didn’t work, or was just a terrible mess, or some other television sit-com disaster, so instead of waiting until Sunday morning…

...I waited until Handsome was firmly ensconced in his chair in front of a game of Minecraft, and I pounced! Before he knew what was happening I had whipped a towel around his neck like some back-alley barber.

“Hey!” he said. “What are you doing?”

“Just sit still and play your game,” I said, shaking the can as per the instructions. The rattle-ball inside the can (See? I told you it was spray paint!) clattered away, causing the boy to ignore his game and twist about in his chair in fear.


“It’s black hair coloring. I want to test it out a bit before we have to use it to Neo-ize you Sunday morning, okay?”

“Oh. Okay.” He turned back to his game. “Just do the back of my head or whatever.”

“I will,” I lied, and started spraying away. In a series of short bursts I painted the back of his head black, then moved around to stand beside him, cupping a protective hand around his ear.

“What are you doing?”

“Keeping this stuff from getting inside your head. You’re welcome.”

The spray hissed. The ball rattled. The spray hissed some more as I worked my way around to the other side, leaving blackened hairs in my wake.

“You might as well do the whole thing,” he said, leaning a bit to the side to keep his screen in sight.

“Now why didn’t I think of that?” I said as I finished the job.

I hit a few spots a second time, throwing a little better coverage onto places where the natural blond was struggling through.

“Okay,” I said. "Hit pause, or get to a safe spot or whatever you have to do, but I want to take a look at you.”

He did what he needed to, then turned in the chair to face me.

“Not bad,” I said, doing the nodding thing combined with the raised-eyebrow thing: the impressed look thing.

“Lemme see!”

He flailed off into the bathroom, then came back demanding some eyebrows. I obliged. He went back to stare into the mirror again, and when he came back to me he was all smiles.

“I’m getting the coat,” he said, hustling past me to fetch his long leather jacket. When he tried to breeze by me again on his way back to the mirror I put out a hand to stop him, then held up his thin black shades. He too them and, grinning like a fool, slipped them on as he stepped into the bathroom.

“I am so Neo!”

He was, too. He strolled around the house for a while dodging imaginary slow-motion bullets, but then it was time to clean up.

“Can’t I just wear it to bed?”

“Nope. I know how well it goes on now, and how well it stays in. Now I want to know how easily it comes out.”

So I sent him in the bathroom again, sans leather and shades, and told him to take a shower and wash the hell out of his hair. With water. And soap. At the same time.

Sometimes you have to break it down for him like that, be that specific.

The door closed. The water ran. This had all gone splendidly, so much better than I’d expected, and I began to think it was going to stay that way. I began to think that God was going to let me have this one.

I should have known better.

“Dad? Can you come here?”

I went to the bathroom to find a naked, towel-wrapped Handsome standing in the propped-open door. His hair looked… different.

“Have you been through the shower already?”

“No,” he said, and he looked a little embarrassed. “I was trying to wash it out with a facecloth first.”
I looked past him to the sink: the full-to-the-rim sink. Full to the rim with both water and suds, and some of those suds were a bit black.

No, they were pretty black.

So were the puddles along the vanity top and the floor.

So was the facecloth draped and dripping over the edge of the sink. The white facecloth. Well, it used to be white. Now there were some white-ish parts left around a pitch-black center that seemed to be spreading fast.

“Yeah,” he said, seeing my expression. “I think the sink needs to be cleaned.”

I heaved a big sigh, then looked down at my toes for a minute and made a quick count to ten. Handsome wisely chose that moment to get into the shower, which had been running all this time, just steaming away. I drained the sink and started cleaning the vanity. I used the destroyed washcloth to clean the counter and wash out the sink, then I started trying to clean the cloth itself.

I soaped it.

I rinsed it.

I soaped it.

I rinsed it.

I kept doing this again and again, not really paying attention to how long I was standing there at the sink, just using the repetitive motion as a kind of meditation exercise, just soaping and breathing and rinsing and repeating until I was perfectly calm.

Then a voice came from the shower, penetrating my calm like a bullet through glass:

“Hey Dad? I think the tub needs to be cleaned…”

My sneakered toes came into view as a sigh cut through the room, and I started counting...

Yeah. Fatherhood. It makes me laugh.

Talk to you later!

....and, just for the fun of it: Babies!

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