Right now I’m in a dentist’s office waiting to be called in. I’m on the subway and my feet hurt. I’m in the kitchen; Mother is cooking spaghetti. My father is tossing my toys out the window. I’m kissing Pam Withers under a tree. I’m looking up girl names in the Internet. I’m in the waiting room of a hospital. I’m falling from the third floor. I’m watching her kill herself. I’m taking my first step. I’m in the library being lectured by my father about conspiracies and government spies.
My Father, he used to say that geniuses always thought there was someone after them. They thought every government satellite was programmed to track their movements. They thought their food was poisoned, their house bugged and their friends bribed. They thought someone was always following them.
My father, he was a genius.
My father was always being followed. He could hear their steps behind us. He could hear the soft electronic buzz of the bugs in our living room. He could feel the satellite moving with him. He had the waitress try the food before him. He gave my mother strict directions on which route to take to and from school in the morning. He never used a cellphone, a computer, or a GPS.
You wanna hear something good? The guy from that movie, John Nash, he was a genius; A real genius. He won a nobel prize and everything. He thought everybody who wore a red tie was part of a communist conspiracy against him. This writer chick, Virginia Woolf, she heard birds talking to her in greek. Her mother rose up from the grave and stalked her. Her husband and sister were always around her.
All the people you hold as brilliant were actually bat-shit crazy.
Let’s think about that the next time we solve an equation.
Me, playing games in my room, my father comes in. He is drenched in sweat. Not hot sweat, like the kind you get after running ten miles, but cold sweat; Nervous sweat. He looks at me. His pupils are dilated. What have I been doing, he says. Playing, I say. He asks, Do I work for them. He asks, Where am I hiding the bugs. Have I been paid. Have I been brainwashed. No, I answer. No No No. No dad. What are you talking about.
My Father, he was a genius.
My Father, he rips the toy cars from my hands. Where is it, he asks. Where is it. Where is it.
My Father, he starts throwing my toys out the window. My Optimus Prime. My tiny Ford Mustang. G.I. Joe parachutes to the freshly mowed lawn below my bedroom window. There goes my Buzz Lightyear with collapsible wings. My Game Boy. All the time yelling, where is it. Where is it.
My mother, she comes running. Her hands drenched in Barbecue sauce, or sweet-and-sour sauce, I can’t tell. She starts yelling. What are you doing, she yells. What in hell’s name are you doing. My Father, his face red with rage and drenched in confusion sweat, he yells I’m one of them. I’m one of them.
His own son.
One of them.
All the people you hold as brilliant are actually bat-shit crazy.
Completely fucking crazy.
It’s about this time that my mother tries to hold my father down. All the time yelling. Fighting. My father, he doesn’t calm down. If what’s coming out of my mother’s nose is blood or barbecue sauce, I can’t tell. My father, still holding my lego sword, he looks like a warrior. My mother looks like a beast. Across the floor lie my He-man action figures. My retractable light-saber.
It’s about this time that my father appears to come back to reality. My mother on the floor. Blood or sauce dripping from her nose. From the corner of her mouth. My father, drenched in cold sweat. His hands still trembling from the adrenaline. His eyes back to normal. He looks at my mother looking at me looking at him.
This is the moment I choose to start crying.