MY TWO DADS (1987— 90) is a sitcom about two men with inconclusive genealogies raising their teenage daughter.
12/01/09 | Television

My Two Dads

by Brendan O'Brien

Clutching the flyer I mailed him, Leroy Higgenbottom walks into the warehouse looking confused. He scratches his whiskered cheek, rubs the back of his neck. It’s the same expression I’ll see when Art Phister arrives. This isn’t surprising since an abandoned meat packing plant is an odd place to lie about holding a funeral.

I approach Leroy to shake his hand. He offers only fingers, his handshake limp as cooked linguini. His yellow fingernails are long and his fingers seize. The nail length could help him, although the seizing is an obvious indicator of a deteriorating central nervous system.

The black hair he once enjoyed has turned to ash. He walks with a cane, but not one of those boring looped numbers with a rubber stop. His is gnarly and sharp, all angles, like the arm of an elm. This is an amazing advantage I think to myself. Leroy is one lucky bastard.

“Hi Leroy.”

“Hello,” he says, understandably confused. I haven’t seen him in thirty years. Maybe he remembers the belts and the fisted knuckles, but probably not. The memories in the corners of his brain have faded into floating hunches, never concrete enough to validate suspicions.

“Help yourself to the refreshments,” I say, pointing to a table holding seedless watermelon, granola bars and paper cups of lemon lime Gatorade. “You’ll need it.”

A few minutes later Art Phister walks in. He is short with white hair and one of those beer bellies you can set something on. Believe it or not, he is using a walker. This is going to be better than I expected.

“Art, welcome,” I say.

Art approaches and immediately remembers. I see it in his eyes. They begin to water and I can tell he’s biting the inside of his cheek. He remembers the duct tape and the feather duster he used while making me bite into his smelly, wadded socks. I think he might lose it but then he spots Leroy Higgenbottom and his fingers curl into fists and he begins running tongue over lips as if he can taste the hate.

I direct them to a pair of folding chairs in front of a ring that’s several blue gym mats borrowed from the school where I teach. They ask about my mother and I tell them it’s too late.

Art Phister gets up saying things like hogwash and phooey and swats his hands at warehouse air. This is when I mention the money. “One hundred grand,” I say. I explain the rules saying things like “by any means necessary” and “survival of the fittest” and “winner takes all.” Phister sits back down, attentive.

When I’m done Phister stands and takes off his shirt. His stomach is pale and round as a rubber exercise ball. With wiggling fingers he motions for Higgenbottom to get up. They circle each other slowly, Phister holding his walker like a shield, Higgenbottom wiggling his cane like Barry Bonds. Phister blocks the first swing and they both wobble a bit looking to regain balance. It’s funny what people are capable of once able to con their subconscious. Smiling, I sit back down thinking this is what mom would have wanted. I’m pretty sure of it.