Frankie slaps his mother's face hard. 'It's funny,' Frankie thinks, 'she yelps like a fuckin dog and it's my hand hurts like all the bones are busted.'
Frankie's wasted, burnt, one foot in hell. Frankie's monkey-fucked. Frankie knows he's monkey-fucked. Frankie's mother knows he's monkey-fucked. She's scared. She's crying. She won't stop crying.
Frankie slaps her face again. The gun drops outta Frankie's pocket. Frankie picks it up. Frankie points it at his mother.
"Please, Frankie, don't...don't," she says.
Frankie's sick. Frankie's sick all over: head's on fire, sweating ice, stomach cramped up. Frankie's blood itches. Frankie scratches till it bleeds.
"Where the fuck's Pop? Why ain't he back yet?" Frankie says. "How long does it take to get back from the fuckin bank. WHERE IS HE? WHERE THE FUCK IS HE!"
"Please, Frankie, slow down... Take it easy... He'll be back soon. Don't worry."
"Don't worry? Pop don't come back, you're the one's gonna die," Frankie says, pushing the tip of the barrel into his mother's forehead.
"Please, Frankie, don't...don't. Put the gun down. He's coming back."
Frankie's twitchy, real twitchy, too twitchy. Frankie's gotta slow down, take it easy, put the gun down, have a drink.
"I need a fuckin drink," Frankie says. "You still hiding booze from the old man?ā"
"I need my pills, Frankie," she says, scared, shaking.
"Tell me where you're hiding the fuckin bottle."
"I need my pills, Frankie. Look at me. I'm shakin. I can't stop shakin. Please..."
"WHERE THE FUCK YOU HIDING THE BOTTLE!"
"In the kitchen...the cupboard over the sink...in the back. Now you gotta help me, Frankie. Bring me my pills. They're next to the sink. I need my pills bad."
"You always need your pills bad."
Frankie's shaky, cold, cracking like ice. Frankie needs a drink.
Frankie walks into the kitchen. Frankie's legs don't work right. Frankie's dizzy, stomach cramped up, cold sweats. Frankie's eyes blink off and on and off like light bulbs about to pop.
Frankie hangs onto the sink. His legs are rubber. His head's on fire. Frankie hangs on tight until it passes.
Frankie looks down.
"What the fuck?" Frankie says, looking in the sink filled with goldfish; goldfish swimming in circles. "What the fuck?"
"What's with the fuckin goldfish?" Frankie yells to his mother.
"Frankie, my pills are next to the sink. I can't stop shakin, Frankie. Please bring me my pills."
"I asked you why you got goldfish in the sink."
"My pills, Frankie. Please, I'm shakin all over."
Frankie opens the bottle of pills and pours them into the sink, watching goldfish nibbling on blue pills. Funny.
"I asked you WHY YOU GOT GOLDFISH IN THE FUCKIN SINK, FOR CHRISSAKES!"
"Your father likes goldfish.ā"
"Pop's brains musta gone soft from alla booze. Who the fuck keeps goldfish in a kitchen sink?"
"Your father says the fish keep him from gettin nervous, the kind of nervous he gets when he wants to get drunk. He says watchin the fish keeps him calmed down."
"But why the fuck in the kitchen sink?"
"Frankie, I gotta have my pills. Iām shakin all over."
Frankie looks in the sink. The goldfish aren't shakin all over. They're calm, like they're sleeping, floating on the surface.
"Jesus Christ! Answer my question. Why the fuck does Pop keep goldfish in the fuckin kitchen sink!"
Frankie's blood itches. He scratches till it bleeds. His brains burn. His teeth rattle like bones.
"The fish, they keep me calmed down," Pop says as he walks into the kitchen, Frankie's mother behind him.
Frankie jumps, not hearing them coming, not liking it, not hearing them coming. Frankie pulls the gun, points it at Pop.
"Slow down, Frankie. Put the gun down," Pop says. "Put the gun down and I'll tell you why I keep fish in the kitchen sink."
Frankie's scratching, bleeding, looking in the sink, looking at dead goldfish doing the backstroke. Funny.
Frankie puts the gun down.
"I keep fish in the kitchen sink because your mother hides a bottle up there in the cupboard. She don't know that I know. When I wanna drink, I look at my fish. They keep me calmed down. Okay, Frankie?"
"Makes as much sense as tits on a fuckin lizard, for chrissakes. Your brain's gone soft, old man," Frankie says.
"Maybe you're right, Frankie, but I ain't the one's monkey-fucked. You are," Pop says. "You're monkey-fucked real bad."
Frankie slaps Pop's face hard. Frankie's hand hurts like all the bones are busted.
Pop drops a brown paper bag on the table. "Take it. It's all we got, every fuckin penny, you son of a bitch," he says.
Frankie slaps Pop again.
Pop rips the bag open. "Take it and get the fuck out," he says, wanting a drink.
Frankie's sweating ice, scratching, bleeding. His stomach cramps up, breaks him in half. He grabs for the gun, drops it. He sees lights blinking off and on and off. He holds on to the kitchen sink, looks down...
Chunks of gold. Right in front of Frankie's eyes. Gold twinkling in sunlight. Beautiful. Frankie wants it, wants it all. He tries to reach out, take a handful, but his hands don't work right. Nothing works right. He can't move. Chunks of gold float into his mouth, down his throat. Frankie can't breathe. He chokes, tries to scream. Can't breathe...can't scream. A light bulb pops in Frankie's head... Then dark, cold, nothing...
Frankie's mother and father hold Frankie under until he stops twitching. When they let him go, Frankie hits the floor cold, dead, wet, goldfish in his mouth, looking surprised, almost smiling.
"I need my pills," Frankie's mother says, "I'm shakin all over."
"It looks like Frankie dumped your pills in the sink," Pop says.
Frankie's mother kneels down over Frankie like she's gonna say a prayer. "You son of a bitch!ā" she says, and slaps his cold, dead face two times. Her hand hurts like all the bones are busted.
"STOP IT!ā" Pop says. Pop's got the cold sweats. His teeth rattle like bones.
"I need a drink," Frankie's mother says. "I'm shakin all over."
"You're always shakin all over, for chrissakes. Take the bottle and leave me alone. I gotta calm down, figure what to do."
Pop's tired, dead tired. He's sweating ice, looking at dead goldfish in the sink.
"This used to be the best part of my day. The sun hit the fish just right and they looked just like chunks of gold. Beautiful," he thinks, needing a drink, smelling it, tasting it, feeling it go down, burning his throat, making him feel warm and good.
"Goddamn you!" He says, looking at Frankie.
Pop stays in the kitchen a long time, waiting for the cold sweats to stop, waiting for the sun to go down, waiting for the darkness, the night...waiting...
"Goddamn you to hell, Frankie!" He says.
Pop reaches into the sink and pulls the plug.