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That's My Boy by Metassus

"... an unbroken line,
a lineage of thousands of generations,
brings us to you ... and marches off
into a future yet to be determined."

A Ram thinks fondly of his son and all they have shared.
A tale of time, music and warm motor-cars.

The autumn sun slants warmly through the branches: soothing the scattered ruddy leaves clinging to the dregs of the summer; bathing the face of an elderly ram with gentle heat that sits in the passenger seat of a metallic-blue sporty automobile.

Through rheumy eyes, the ram peers at two younger men chatting and laughing in a doorway. Middle-aged – though hale and hearty – the one on the left is also a ram, with more than a passing resemblance; the other, a lean tiger: exotic and handsome. They laugh and bat at each other like teenagers, jesting and joking, teasing and grinning, and the old ram smiles.

My boy. I’m damn proud of him.

The warmth of the vehicle soothes his bones. The insulating silence lends a remote, detached sensation, as though the panorama outside is a vivid silent film played for an appreciative audience of one. The elder feels a wave of drowsiness overtake him and shakes it off with difficulty.

Getting tired is one of the signs of old age. I am not old.

With a groan of effort, he shifts slightly in the deep bucket seat to reach the stereo's controls and start it up. It immediately plays a track he likes – a Paul Anka classic, at a comfortable volume. He eases back in his chair.

Why these new cars can’t just keep the music playing when the driver gets out … puh … this 'energy saving' lark really has gotten out of control.

As he muses, he gazes for a moment at clear sky and fast-approaching sunset. Contemplatively, his mind drifts to a time when he – like so many of his peers – was enthusiastically committed to cleaning up the rivers and seas and campaigned for water conservation and an end to the all-too-common casual pollution. Yes, that was back in the day when personal pollution was just as common – either smoked, injected or taken in little coloured pills. He allows himself a little chuckle of embarrassment.

Not like his boy.

His offspring and most people of his generation doesn't need or care for drugs. Nowadays, waters and rivers run pure; nature is cherished. Even the car is powered with solar electricity that charge some class of special batteries under the floor. He doesn’t really know or care how it works, but no-one can doubt that his generation has left the world in a lot better condition than they found it. His son and his peers throughout the world have continued that work gladly, as though it is a sacred duty. The social engineering of the past and present has truly been for the betterment of all.

Music fills the car’s interior. It soothes and relaxes him as Roy Orbison croons the about Lana, his lost love. 'DAD&ME_FAVES' scrolls across the fluorescent display.

Just like him to have all my favourite music for when we travel together. Tracks I grew up with in the fifties and sixties. The Greats. The Hits. The Stars. Decent stars. Decent music. Music that had tunes. People who could really sing. What passes for music today? Boom-boom-boom and grunts of imbeciles, that’s what. Poseurs. But my boy likes real music: he likes my music.

The ram closes his eyes and recalls a time past, his fleece was whiter, his horns shorter, his eyes sharper.

The boy was maybe what … seven or eight? Yeah …

His wife, mother of the boy, rejected them and their pauperish existence a couple of years before. She wanted more – the bright lights, the shiny life of opulence of supermarket magazines and chat shows – but all he could offer was a blue-collar home with simple things, and the fear of chipped nails and sweat stains. He could never bring her the highs she craved, nor the respect she demanded. Though he loved her throughout – despite the fights, the drunken 2 am sobbing, the vodka bottle in the cistern – eventually she left, taking it all with her, and the house was silent. He still loved her.

No more lipstick-stained cigarette butts in overflowing ashtrays, no more cheap perfume, no broken dishes. He and the boy were alone. Safe.

He knew he wanted to make a real home for his abandoned son. Life became reliable, maybe dull, days passing like as comfortably as a soothing clock ticks off each seconds. No excitement, true, but neither was there drama. Good food was on the table for dinner, and the boy had a dad who cared.

The evening he returned from work to find the kid at his record collection, that was the best. Though they often listened to music together, it was, he admitted, more for his pleasure than that of the boy. He did not entirely trust his son with the task of handling delicate 78s and LPs, nor comfortable with the youth's ability to drop the stylus on his precious vinyl. But that evening … the boy, alone in the living room after school, waiting for dad to return from work, played tracks and albums, listening to the songs that both of them most enjoyed, and he did so expertly and carefully. Lost in music, he had the volume high.

At first he didn’t even know I was there, and he was singing. A clear voice – true and sweet. I stood quietly in the hall and listened as my kid sang along to my favourite music, and truly realised for the first time that he had learned things from his dad. He was getting the same pleasure from my records as I had when I bought them first as a music-mad young buck. In his own sweet way, my boy was telling me: hey, old man, you got taste, and it's good enough that I agree.

The ram gives a wistful smile as he blinks moisture away from his eyes. He could see the boy standing the centre of the living room, singing along to Elvis and Marvin Gaye and The Everly Brothers; his fleece long and shaggy – the fashion of the moments with the kids, in those tail-end days of flares and bell-bottoms. Singles and albums were scattered all over the floor by the record player; their sleeves piled up in a small stack.

He closes his eyes to dream some more of the past.

By the time his son moved to middle school, their music was irreversibly entwined. On the shelf over the cherished and well-used gramophone was the elder’s collection of what radio DJs were beginning to call “golden oldies”, jumbled together with his offspring’s more cutting-edge albums and cassettes.

His new music and my old music. Good times. And some of his stuff was good. I didn’t like a few bands, but he has a good ear for decent music.

A new track begins on the car stereo, and the ram – roused from reverie – chuckles quietly. It’s very familiar.

That reminds me so much of when he went to college, all nerves and excitement. He brought tapes of all his favourites and, as he unpacked his belongings, I flicked through the neat inlay cards he always hand-printed with his cassettes. Most of it was our music: the songs I grew up with that he played and loved as a kid: the same old tracks that he sang when he thought he was alone, or when we were driving in the car. The Big O and Johnny Cash, the Beatles and Aretha. His roomie flipped on the radio and what played? “I Heard It (On the Grapevine.)” Marvin. A great, great talent. It was getting some serious radio-time again because a new TV commercial used the track. The kids thought it was a brand new song. Well, my son and I, we duetted and belted that old familiar song out for what ended up as a corridor full of freshers. They were spellbound. My son gave me a huge hug when I set out for home that night, telling me that all the other students agreed I was the coolest dad of them all.

As I drove back to the empty house, I loved the kid even more than I ever thought I could, for giving me a sense that I had passed on something special to him. Something I had loved became something he grew to love in turn. It made me shiver under my fleece on my lonely drive, for – and this was the first time I felt it – I could imagine time passing. I felt I was really was getting older, and my son – my boy – was now a young man who, in his turn, would share and teach his children about everything that was special to him, some of which was special to me before that, just as I picked up from my father in turn, in a family chain that stretched out into a white point of perfect brightness: a place where Forever offered its hand to me. This huge expanse of eternity scared me. I had to stop the car, hands shaking, and I cried and sobbed for the first time since that night when his mother left.

When he was invested with his degree he was chosen by his class as Most Likely to Succeed. I was proud as punch. He had asked the band to play a particular song. Standing at the lectern with a scroll in his hand and a gown on his back, he spoke of his first day on campus, and his cool dad, then dedicated it to me: it was “Grapevine”. I got called up to the dais, where he and I sang along with everyone in the auditorium and hugged. I was so, so very proud of my boy.

After college, he took a year to travel and back-pack around the world. I was anxious, but he rightly said that all the conflicts I had known were long ended, and the few remaining danger spots that Peacekeepers had not assisted were not on his itinerary. Some thirteen months later, lean and fit, he came back home safe and sound. He brought a friend. That’s when I met Sanjeev. A tiger. He was exotic alright, just as lean and fit as my boy, with that hint of predator that marks the feline race. Sanjeev was polite to a fault and smelled faintly of spices. That was when my only son told me that Sanjeev was his lover and life partner. I wept for the third time that night.

The driver’s door opens and shakes the old ram from his thoughts. The younger ram smiles and asks if he is alright, to which the elder nods and points at the stereo approvingly. The younger male laughs and hums along with the music as he waits for the tiger to lock their front door and join them in the vehicle.

As Sanjeev climbs into the small back seat he squeezes the old ram’s shoulder in a familiar greeting, and receives a friendly pat on his paw in return. The tiger is big in computers. Brilliant mind. The old ram is pleased. Sanjeev is a nice boy.

The boys have chosen a new Chinese restaurant to try this week. I like Chinese food. Not too spicy. My stomach is like the rest of me. It’s not as good as my hearing and that’s like my knees, my bladder and my eyes. All part of getting old, I suppose.

The two younger men chat as they drive slowly through the city, but the old ram still listens to the music, recalling with pleasure each and every song. Each one sets off another wistful memory.

Together twenty years now and they still love each other … his mother and I didn’t manage eight.

A precious and familiar guitar riff begins, and the old ram experiences a sudden flashback – a flooding of infinity. Sanjeev, in his mellow, warm voice, starts to sing along. His husband joins in.

I am so proud of my son. He has grown up to be a good man, loyal to his beloved. Even if my dream of new generations didn’t come to pass, at least I can say my passions went slightly sideways to a different species. Thank heavens that tiger has a good voice or I’d have barred them from marrying.

The old ram’s crackly voice adds to the harmonies as the metallic-blue car cruises onto the motorway and the setting sun floods the wide horizon with orange, pink and purple.

“… honey, honey, yeahhhhh …”

That's My Boy


"... an unbroken line,
a lineage of thousands of generations,
brings us to you ... and marches off
into a future yet to be determined."

A Ram thinks fondly of his son and all they have shared. A tale of time, music and warm motor-cars.

Submission Information

Literary / Story


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    Very cute.

  • Link

    only you could write like this - of that I am envious...