Have you seen my son? I can’t seem to find him anywhere. One minute we are playing catch in the front yard, four days later I’m laying down on the side of the road and yelling into sewers for him. It’s not that he likes sewers, it’s just that I can’t think of anywhere else to look. I mean, he might like sewers and just hasn’t told me, but I seriously doubt that he likes sewers. America’s Top Sewers was, uh, not on his Christmas list this year, ha ha. At least I don’t think it was. Christmas was so long ago. He got lost then too, but not for longer than two hours. Found him in the basement, reading his new copy of America’s Top Manholes.
Hey. Wait a minute.
Nope. Not there. Thought we might have a Christmas II: The Sequel To Christmas on our hands. Not the case, unfortunately. God, I miss Christmas. The stockings, etc. Anyway, if you see my son, please let me know. His name is Bradley. He’s about yay-big — wait, sorry. You can’t see what I’m gesturing. Just imagine that a normal sized man (five feet, nine inches), is holding his left arm about five feet, seven inches off the ground. Ah shit, I’m on a hill.
Okay, now pretend that I am on even ground, holding my arm about six feet, nine inches off the ground. He’s got hair like his mom and eyes like his dad — fuck, sorry. Hair like his dad and eyes like his mom. Weighs enough that I can’t lift him up anymore. Maybe he’s getting big or I’m getting weak, ha ha. And he is about as old as I was around that age.
Last I saw him I was looking over my shoulder at him as I walked into the house. I was mad at him because he wouldn’t let me hug him. Some bullshit about “You are covered in vomit, on today of all days.” Kids. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. The former is a figure of speech, I deeply miss my son. God, if I could just hug him one last time. I’d say “Please don’t go missing.” Maybe he’d say “Sure.”
We’ll never know, because my time machine only lives in my head. I can’t figure out where to buy blueprints. Maybe when I’m done looking for my son, someone can give me tips on where to purchase blueprints. Can anyone just buy them? I hope so. I have many ideas.
When I came back out in hopes of receiving a hug (I tried to find a shirt that was less covered in vomit but I couldn’t find one, so I was hoping he had forgotten.) he was gone. Nothing but a cloud of black smoke, and his car missing. Do you think that maybe someone stole his car, and then my son went to go chase the thief? Sounds like something he would do. My son is very brave. One time he ate four slices of pizza, even though he said he had eaten some snacks at a friend’s house just hours before. He threw up, but his valor left its mark on my wife and I.
Since then, we too have tried to eat four slices of pizza following a light snack, and have failed miserably. Our throats are always sore because of the excessive vomiting. Like father, like son, but reverse, ha ha!
Anyway, please, if you see him, let me know. I really do care about him. He’s got a four-day trip to sleepaway football camp sometime this month, and he wouldn’t want to miss it. I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t the big sleepaway football camp this week? I don’t know, smart guy, maybe it is. In fact, let me check my calendar. Nope. It’s not on there. Mainly because I can’t find my calendar. Ah, fuck. I don’t even have a calendar, I just wanted to seem impressive. They say Ben Franklin had a calendar.
My wife is going to be pissed when she gets home from her business trip to Colorado, that’s for sure. She’s pissed right now, too. Sent her a picture message of our son’s empty bed right after it happened, with the caption “Can’t find him.” That set her off real good. When I asked her if she was eating pizza she got even more mad. Guess it reminded her of our son. The missing one, not the one that isn’t —
Wait a minute, someone is coming up the driveway. Is that my son? Oh dear God, it is! At least it looks like him. Robots are very advanced these days. So are viral pranks. I’m going to test him. If he’s really my son, when he gets out of the car, he won’t give me a hug. Ha ha, you know kids.
He’s hugging me. He says he missed me. He says he’s upset that he left home on a sour note, and that he should have hugged me even though I was covered in pizza vomit. Aw, but this cannot be my son. The son I know, the son who went missing, had a black heart that refused to hug me. I will not be spoofed by a smooth-talking, hug-seeking robot, that’s for god damn sure.
The search continues, but I will continue to shelter this robot boy for the time being, because he looks my son, and I need to be reminded of him. I miss my son. This robot will have to do.
The man entered the subway car completely on fire. The flames had consumed most of his body, but was sparing his head for the time being. The man was middle-aged, had a spotty beard that looked like it was assembled piece by piece, wore a burnt suit that was probably not burnt pre-engulfing, and walked with a limp that made him look like he was going to fall face first after every left step. His eyes were glassy and it looked like he was eternally crying, like a mythical creature who eternally cried. The man’s face was flush with agony and distress.
These emotions made sense, because he was on fire from the head down.
“Can someone spare me some water?” the man asked, as calmly as one could given the circumstance. “Even a couple of cents to buy some water would be great. God bless.” He slowly made his way down the car, careful to avoid getting any of his flames on fellow passengers. He held out a Dunkin Donuts styrofoam coffee cup, which too was on fire.
One can never be too sure when giving money to panhandlers. They could be faking (all New Yorkers remember the case of Gerald Spat, a man who in the 1970s would stand on the corner of 23rd and 8th pretending to need money to further his research on his teleportation machine, which to this day still has not been completed), or use the money to buy drugs, particularly evil drugs.
The man’s flames and his rounding second headed to third degree burns seemed realistic, but hoaxes are very advanced these days.
Some tourist-types (white shoes cheap glasses) gave the burning man spare change, but the seasoned natives didn’t budge. They stared directly through the person across from them, deep in thought or feigning thought. Some had likely been burned before (no pun intended (?)) — maybe they had seen a panhandler that they’d graciously given money immediately run across the street to get their fix (LSD or other bad drugs, like acid) from a man in a cloak.
A young woman turned to an older woman next to her and said “I WOULD give money, but all I have on me is a ten-dollar bill.” The older woman agreed with the young woman that she had made the right choice. It was beautiful to see two strangers connect and engage in civil conversation, especially on some place as generally horrible as a subway. A flower grew out of the rubble. Nice
A ten-dollar bill would have been too much to give the burning man, whose original pleas for help had now ceased because the flames had reached his mouth, rendering his pleas muffled and incoherent. But one could guess what he was getting at.
The subway stopped and a new flock of passengers came on as the old flock drudged. The man made his plea again, walked the same path he had just walked and hoped to have more success this time. It was no use. The new passengers were just as wily and seasoned as the previous ones. The fire was up to his eyes, which ended their endless sorrow.
It was good in the sense that his eyes were no longer producing unsightly tears, but bad in the sense that they had ceased tear production because they were on fire.
The man kept at it. In panhandling, perseverance never works. People get sick of the panhandler if they come around more than one time. It’s just rude.
The flames now completely engulfed his body, and the man fell to the ground. He laid motionless on the subway floor. The subway car stopped at its next destination and two cops walked on. They noticed the man and took him off the subway.
The passengers stared intently at the advertisements that surrounded them. Seamless, that’s a brand I could get behind, thought one younger man as the decomposing body was dragged by him. The subway doors closed, and a magician started performing his act in the middle of the subway.
When he was done he had earned fourteen dollars from the passengers in the car, enough to buy himself a pretty nice dinner or some good feed for his magic rabbit.