VITERBO UNIVERSITY | SPRING 2014 | VOLUME 78

TOUCHSTONE

LITERATURE

SO HATEFUL IT WARRANTS ITS OWN WHITE SPACE

Grant Smith

One goes to Kentucky for four days because one knows that if he hears one more hateful word about probation, plea hearings, cash bond, restitution adjustment, parole violation, heroin, court costs he will surely implode like the hotels in Vegas that are old and useless and an eye sore next to Steve Wynn’s Mirage and the dancing waters. And so one goes to Kentucky because one knows that there he can find the women’s volleyball tournament at the beautiful Georgetown University campus, and rolling pastures with white fences, and mountains and especially Black Mountain which he has not yet hiked and a quiet motel room and clean sheets that someone else will change for him every day and maybe an antique store or a used book store that has something Mormon because he always finds something Mormon in unusual places.

And one returns home and finds his house in order because he left directions for the hateful housekeeper he tried to fire six times to do a thorough cleaning – spend all day, every room upstairs and downstairs – and because he left his second son, who has his own set of hatefuls, in the good and safe care of a family friend across town and because he left Sin his pit bull in a luxury kennel Pet Me Scratch Me where he had 24-hour television, two walks a day, treats, and play time. And then one is sitting in his living room with his second son, who has his own set of hatefuls, and he is chatting with this son and this son’s friend who helps this son with geometry about how the women won three of four tough matches in the volleyball tournament and how he found and hiked Black Mountain and how he found a 19th-century Book of Mormon at an antique bookstore in Lexington and how the owner accepted a ridiculous price for it, and how he strolled through a restored Shaker village 40 miles outside of Lexington, and the rolling hills with white fences; and he is enjoying the calm, the Roseville, and the new hardwood floors and the new green drapes and the new area rugs and at that moment, at that moment, nothing is hateful.

And then his second son goes downstairs to check out his newly tiled and now spotless bathroom and he hears, “What the hell?” And this second son who is not hateful but who has his own set of hatefuls comes up the stairs, and one doesn’t notice that one has stopped breathing. And then the second son shows you the light bulb, the light bulb with a cork where the metal should be (How did he do that?) and a straw sticking through the cork into the bulb and some kind of white powdery residue still visible inside the bulb and some black scorching still visible outside the bulb, the light bulb the housekeeper found while thoroughly cleaning the spare bedroom and then left in the second son’s bathroom where someone would be sure to find it because he tried to fire her six times. And then one’s second son’s friend whose eyes are open and amazed also says, “What the hell?” But they all know.

And then one is tired….again….in his shoulders and in his head and in his gut and in his heart and one returns to hateful probation, plea hearings, cash bond, restitution adjustment, parole violation, heroin, court costs, and one still doesn’t breathe and one knows the OED definition of hateful.