*

The washer and dryer are going, filling our small house with the sound of agitation and tumbling and the smell of warm, clean clothes. The woman is doing her yoga in the studio and I have just gotten back from the beach with a very wet and dirty dog.

Tonight we are having dinner at McPhee’s with my dad and step-mother (who is not evil).We haven’t been there for a long time, but we love Ian’s food. The place is on Main street in Templeton, a kind of left-behind cowboy town. You can hear spurs jingling on the sidewalk, and every truck has a couple of dogs lying down in the bed that will eye you lazily as you pass. Inside it is dark and there is a long bar and a pressed tin ceiling and over the kitchen hangs a great iron pig and there is a very good wine list and bread served with olive oil and balsalmic vinegar to dip into and the plates are large and white and plain as a sheet of paper.

It is some good eating to be had there.

And it will be nice to sit and eat with Pops and Leigh and catch up with them. My old man is the original police from which my brother and I have tried to craft our models of manhood. He came up on the job in Texas in the sixties, and in my mind it was a romantic time of car chases and shoot-outs with six-guns and fist fights in the alley behind the bars.

Not all that different from the job today, but undoubtedly cooler and more manly. In those days my old man looked like a movie star, handsome as all get out. He looks even better now, how men can sometimes.

A old man like that, what chance have you got?

You’re gonna take up the gun and badge.

See if you can’t measure up.

*

Our poor mother.

A staunch feminist, liberal college professor, historian, artist, pacifist. After the divorce, she never let us play with toy guns or have them in the house. Of course, all summer long we’d be out on the farm with our old man, riding motorcycles and shooting machine guns and pistols in the back yard, wailing on each other with sticks and rocks.

I got some hard bark on me, but my little brother is altogether tougher. He is a warrior in his bones, in his blood. Every cell in his body wants to fight. I don’t think I have seen him more than two times in a row without a black eye or a busted lip or a broken bone in his hand or a cast on his leg.

It drives our mother mad.

Why can’t we be nice boys?

Hell, I don’t know.

*

Of course, I am as much my mother’s son as I am my old man’s. I got a hunger for reading and learning and I believe in the strength and beauty that a woman possesses that man cannot claim for his own but only marvel at from a distance. I have a liberal stance in the world, an odd thing for a police at any time. I sometimes even think that mankind might be basically good, if given half a chance at it. I love art and music and poetry, although I cannot abide tea parties, dances, or gatherings of any type.

Hard and crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside.

*

How bout that piece up there with the woman and the swimming horses.

I don’t believe it’s half bad.

*

Namaste.

***

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