Troublesome Family Dynamics

I learned cruelty from my father. The small gesture, the quiet word, the laugh that wounds… how to draw blood in a thousand ways and be applauded for my violence, to be embraced by the dead, even as they bleed out.

He was not, I think, a cruel man, though; certainly I am, and what I am I have taken from him, but he simply found humor in the darker places, and life had put him in the way to see a lot of dark places. He had a dim view of his fellow man and responded lightly, mockingly, wittily — it endeared him to many people, even to the ones he ruined.

But for all that he was a knife. He took no pleasure in ruining lives, but he felt no compunction about doing it, either. He crushed three families that I know of, as casually and as carelessly as cleaning house on a Sunday, not for any particular reason; they’d simply been there when he needed to make a joke.

If I do not have his talent, neither do I have his detachment. Every life that burns away, every marriage that dissolves, every suicide that sends a gentle and calligraphed note to my door is a little orgasm, a little suck of life. My father taught me cruelty, but my mother taught me pleasure.