The General Is Missing.

by Serge Bielanko

On the weekends I have to step back a little bit and I'm not sure I can be mature about that. Monica moves back into her Mama role. I get a little jealous. Seeing Violet in her arms makes me want to bark out that she's holding her wrong, that her thumb is going to pop through the soft spot. But, I'd be lying. She's holding her fine.

I get nasty. Yesterday we headed over to Dog Canyon together, the whole gang. That's a thing I am not used to. Lately I've gotten adjusted to being the expedition's leader by default: my brain being the fattest, therefore I lead. And, at first, it was scary as shit. Getting Violet into the chest carrier I was certain I would move to connect one of the locks and she would tumble from my arms and smack into the parking lot. Or I would secure her so snug that I would get down into the woods to find her smooshed and blue. Really, that's the tip of the iceberg. There were so many mistakes I felt certain I would make. Of course, nothing came to pass.

And so slowly, I became the Chief. The General. Fling across my chest, boys! Follow me down into hell! Walk where I walk and be damned their guns! I'm not going to downplay the size of this stuff in my life. It is gargantuan. I became in charge of a little human life. And she was still alive.

So, yesterday we get over to the place and Milo's barking in the back without control, his effervescence gushing through his heart and veins at such a rate that the poor little guy simply crosses over to the Dark Side. The windows in the truck rolled down means he can smell when we roll within a mile of the creek and the woods. When that happens a thug is born. He loses his shit. Barks explode at perfectly spaced single second intervals; someone squeezing off rifle shots, cutting down dozens of distant enemies methodically, cool, one at a time. By the time we pull into the lot I feel different about this then usual. Every other day I might tell Milo to shut the fuck up, but that's it. Violet is so used to it she ignores it completely. But today, with Monica/Mama along for a rare family outing, I think I become embarrassed. I holler bad at Milo. Return a few shots toward the back even though I'm driving.

Uh-oh. Backfire. Monica looks at me with glaring disgust. She hates my temper circus and she should. It's dumb.I know the look she's wearing well. Now I get more pissed off. Once again my profound love for my family and soaring pride in my fatherly skills has hidden itself well deep back in the thickets of my common sense. Once again, I have fucked up.

This of course leads to shame on my part. Not a conscious realization of my jealousy/determination to make my wife see how badass I am with the kid and the dogs all at once. No. Instead I fumble my emotion, get confused where I dropped the damn thing, and just end up hitting and tackling others out of shame. Stuff snowballs. I yank on Max's chain too hard. Monica is wearing Violet on her chest. All of this is far from Sunday family relaxing, I'll tell you that.

Later, I pick every single weed out of the driveway at our house. Every grass blade coming through every crack. I pick until the sun sets low. And in my head, I pick apart the wasted afternoon. I wonder how I managed to spray hot piss all over our one day together.

The control was mine to lose and I lost it. Again. I tried to impress her and instead I depressed her. Goddamn it.