Dad All Over
A story from the collection Bait
Dad All Over
A story by Chuck Palahniuk
The accident had to look like someone else’s Dad. An idiot Dad. Some careless bungler. Not our Dad, who the first thing when you walked into his workshop told you the first lesson they teach in trade school is to never lean over a running engine with your necktie hanging loose. Even if it’s your millionth visit to his shop, that Dad, the stickler for detail Dad who was perennially all about work, work, work, and who never stopped to smell the cocaine. That’s the Dad to keep in mind.
Every detail needed to suggest Dad was simply driving down a country road, Dad, enjoying the winter scenery. That would be Dad, appreciator of life’s simple pleasures, Dad, the avid watcher of paint dry. Driving-along Dad with his hands at three and nine o’clock, when hark! He hears a noise the push rods might or might not be making, Dad, the consummate grinder of cylinder walls and smoker of Marlboros and asker of “When did you last top off this brake fluid?” He pulls off on the snowy shoulder and of course he’s wearing a suit and tie, Dad, even on a drive home from visiting his oncologist. Dad leaves the engine running, and Dad gets out. Knowing Dad he slips off his suit coat, Dad, and folds it over the back of the front seat, a gesture so Dad, and rolls up both his shirt sleeves. True to form, Dad, our just-take-a-gander-at-that-glorious-snow,-kids-Dad, he’d tilt his head back and inhale a big, no-cost chest full of the best things in life, the chill breeze and the sun half eclipsed behind heavy clouds. Dad who always said to take off your hoodie before using the new table saw, due to the two ends of the drawstring hanging down and what would happen, Dad warned, if those two hoodie strings caught the teeth of the table saw and yanked you facedown onto the spinning blade, making you look like a stitched-up Frankenstein the rest of your life – provided you lived.