In a college dorm, in a prison, in a marriage
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Corvin Thomas lives in Kansas City, Missouri. He is writing a book about his father, God’s sovereignty, free will, and eating microwave sausage biscuits in a hospice bed.
But he’s not getting caught on this trip, he says. He’s packing his stash wrapped in tinfoil, sprayed with deer urine, and taped to the inside of his engine, as per a YouTube tutorial.
When my father died, he left two letters in separate envelopes, both marked “To be opened at my death.” One is addressed to my brother and me. The other is to his wife.
For years now my brother has gone by the name Captain Smoke, or Smoke for short. I’ve always figured it’s a reference to his chain-smoking cheap cigarettes, but it could be about marijuana. I’ve never asked. I do know that living with our father off and on for more than three decades, as Smoke did, would drive anyone crazy enough to come up with an alter ego.
“Hello there, Kenny Rogers,” he says to the maitre d’; then he turns to my stepmother and me and jerks a thumb at the man as if he were made of wax. “Don’t he look like Kenny Rogers?” My father lets out a horse laugh and pokes the maitre d’ in the ribs.
I thought the place looked familiar, but I wasn’t sure. I put down my plate of eggs, grabbed the TV remote, and turned up the sound. It was an abortion-clinic bombing: one bomb to lure the law, a second bomb to blow them up.
The power of Jesus — my mother believed in it. Not the kind of power that would make her tumors dissolve. No, she was a pragmatist. She prayed for me, that Jesus would seal her son’s leaking soul, a soul stripped by apathy, an apathy fueled by disappointment, disillusionment, and drugs.