Writer in Residence · 12/06/2011

Wrestling with Genetics

The sports gene I get from my dead father. He returns to me now as a scent. Water-logged leaves. He’s the tetherball attached to my pole, the flying trapeze of my soul. He runs a bar tab, then turns to me and says let’s hit the road, son. And when I argue with him about the keys, he says that’s a bunch of horseshit. But then I bluff. I can see his ailing pickled heart sitting in a laboratory glass jar on a top shelf too high to reach. I wrestle him to the ground, grab the keys, load Dad into the back seat. And for once, just this time, he won’t barrel down a back road at one hundred miles an hour, straight into the side of a quarrelsome train.

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KF: Robert, are any aspects of this flash drawn from life either directly or indirectly?

RV: The title is from my life, I grapple with what my genetics are whenever I catch a cold, slip a disc, or can’t remember what streets we lived on. And the alcohol is somewhat drawn directly from my dad, he could drink (and it’s in the genes). He also had a foul mouth, only with the guys, loved words like “horseshit.” The laboratory glass jar might be a nod to his career in medicine? I never wrestled my Dad to the ground, unless I’ve blocked that memory. We did have some physical battles, though, so I may have drawn from that. And the train at the end I recalled from an incident during high school- my younger sister’s boyfriend was killed instantly when the car he was in hit a moving train.

Robert Vaughan’s plays have been produced in N.Y.C., L.A., S.F., and Milwaukee where he resides. He leads two writing roundtables for Redbird- Redoak Studio. His prose and poetry is published in over 200 literary journals such as Elimae, Metazen and BlazeVOX. He has short stories anthologized in Nouns of Assemblage from Housefire, and Stripped from P.S. Books. He is fiction editor at JMWW magazine, and Thunderclap! Press. He co-hosts Flash Fiction Fridays for WUWM’s Lake Effect.  His blog: http://rgv7735.wordpress.com.

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posted by Kathy Fish