Father's Day

by Serge Bielanko

Henry hardly ever stops moving while he's awake. He wastes nothing when it comes to muscle and bone. He uses it all, all the time, constantly in motion, until there's nothing left but the temporary paralysis that comes along when a four-year-old boy is entirely spent. Then he goes catatonic, his eyes on the TV/on the Sponge Bob or the Peppa Pig, his body still as a stone laid out there on the couch.

Right now though, the juices are flowing. And it's cracking me up. We're at the fair up the street from my house. It's the first night of the thing and the whole town is here tossing dimes at old coffee cups and ashtrays, throwing money at the fire company for the chance to pick up a plastic duck with a fat dot on the bottom or win a raffle prize like a $10 gift certificate to the small engine repair joint. Henry, though, is all whirled up in the fiddle.

Fiddle music will fuck your head up in all the right ways if you're up for it, you know. And because it's the kind of thing most of us don't hear coming down in real time too often, I think fiddle music, the real stuff, the bluegrassy/hillbilly/hoppin'/turkey-in-the-straw stuff, it has this ability to reach inside of your body, to slither it's gnarly Appalachian hands all up under your skin and wrap it's fingers around your liberty and to uncork that shit for a little while like almost nothing else in the world can do except maybe getting laid or taking that first sip of cold beer after you've just had that first bite of a damn good pizza.

Henry spins around maybe twelve times in a row as soon as the young kid up on stage breaks out his fiddle and starts sawing away. We know the player. And we know his younger brother back there in the drums, too. They're both young and ultra talented and they play music together in a way that most people will never play music together, bound by blood, all tied up in something very very rare that no one else will ever be able to tap into with them.

Tonight, however, Henry could care less. Tonight, as Gus starts in on the fiddle and Huck starts in on the drums, Henry loses his shit and begins to dance the dance of million-year-old mountains. He spins around and claps his hands and makes herky jerky spaz moves with his arms like David Byrne or something. I watch him from the side of the massive outdoor stage where a bunch of local kids have commandeered this far corner as a dance floor.

In a brief moment of clarity, I feel so much love for my son right then that I want to pick him up in the middle of his trip out to some other world and pull him tight to me and sniff his kid hair. I want to breathe my boy in like sausage sandwich smoke and let him fill me up with everything, with all of his existence in this world. I want to kiss my kid like I used to kiss a goddamn bong is what I wanna do. But I don't, of course. He'd freak the hell out if I tried to stop him now. He'd bite me right on my arm and he'd have every right to and I know that. You don't stop someone from fiddle music dancing.

Not unless you want to get punched in the face or kicked in the balls anyway.


Here where I live, June brings along a lot of thunderstorms. Humidity is part of us, part of our world. There are lakes in the sky and they don't wanna be up there. They want to be down here, with all of us, like the unsatisfied dead clawing at the bars on the windows of Heaven.  Tonight the dark clouds had been threatening the parade that kicked things off, but for whatever reason they backed off in the end. The whole firmament could have could have easily popped open and ruined everything. The rain was up there. The lightning was up there. You could feel it breathing down your neck the whole time all these volunteer firefighters and local Republicans were chucking Tootsie Rolls at the rows of kids on either side of the street.

We lucked out, I guess.

The rain retreated and the funnel cake wafted up my nose and people came from miles around to be here, to stand together in a crowd and smile and laugh and spend money they are happy to spend.

I'm easily amazed by so much useless shit. Two crows swooping down out of the sky on any stupid dark November day; the way an old man walks through the post office door I hold open for him and has to turn his entire body my way to see my eyes because his neck doesn't even work anymore from lifting so many tons of hay for the last 800 years; the sounds of kids on a school bus that first week back in September; some woman in the cafe talking to some dude/the way a slice of her hair is laying on her cheekbone/love can be momentary/we have to let go of so many things even in the very moments that they're born.

But all this small town fair business floors me more than anything, I think.

The world can go to hell.

We're having a fair, you know.

We're knee deep in magic over here.

Or we're knee deep in something very friggin' close, I'll tell you that.


"Dude!" I'm yelling in Henry's ear above the music, "Do you want a burger or a hot dog or something?!"

He looks at me, the faint traces of a blue magic marker mustache he'd decorated himself with earlier today now mostly washed away by his own kid sweat.

"DO YOU WANT TO EAT?" I try again.


He screams this at me, like a only major dick would scream at someone offering to buy them a sandwich, but I understand my boy and I know what's up. I've called him out of his trance and drug him off a fiddle soaring across the sky to ask him if he wants to eat a glob of crap. It pisses him off that I would do that. He knows that I can see that a few seconds ago he was doing his clunky Moonwalk across the stage. Why would I try and stop him from doing that? That's the only way he can possibly see this. And I get it. 

I snarl at him and he knows what that means. It's me saying I fucked up. It's me telling him to climb back up there and suck on the fiddle pipe again.

Which he does.


I watch my middle child start back in, trying to find his groove again. He whirls around and kicks out his legs and then he does something pretty awesome. My son walks over to this big farm boy, probably 10/11 and he just reaches out and tries to take the kid's hands in his own.

Oh snap.

Henry wants to dance with a Brutus and he isn't even up for asking him, he's just going for it. The kid yanks his hands back, freaked out by Henry and his fiddle fever.

I laugh out loud.


His loss.

That older boy would have likely been swept up off his feet by my boy. He might have just been swept up into the stars and all. Hell he'd have probably fallen in love with my son in a very pure/green/innocent way, even if only for a few seconds there, if he'd have just gone with it and taken the dance. But it's rare to be able to let yourself go like that. I understand the way these things go down. You hit 6 or 7 and something really good you've been carrying along with you since the day you were born starts getting hammered down by some kind of Earthly jaded sense of shame and fear.

Henry ain't there yet and I'm glad I'm noticing. Henry doesn't give a rat's ass. He dances away from the kid still standing there frozen solid by such a swift flash of life.

I smoke a cigarette, look out at the crowd.

I close my eyes for a second or two.

And I let the sound of this fiddle wash over me like ten trillion acres of midnight ocean swallowing me up forever and ever and ever.