Dad’s Can

Dad’s Can

You texted me to come back in the house. Dad was freaking out. This might be the fourth one-on-one encounter the two of you have ever had. I wavered, looking at the ivy I was pulling off the elm. I wanted you to come out here instead and watch me Tarzan the last big one down. Another text: He’s mad about the can.

Inside, he is indeed freaking out. You can’t move his stuff. My face, extremities, and essence transition to pins and needles.

You are rifling through one of the six 6-gallon trash bags in the kitchen, it has to be in one of these, Christ it’s just a can, can any of these various vessels sub for the can? No, it’s his can.

I finally focus on Dad—leaning heavily on his cane but clearly wanting to gesticulate with it. Instead he’s just rocking it for emphasis. I look from his red face to your red face trying to catch up. Oh. The Pee Can.

Dad has to pee right now, that’s what. He can’t pee directly into the toilet, he needs to pee into the can and then pour it. How dare you touch his can? Well, it’s hard to tell which of the things in the bathroom are “trash.” He also objected to us removing the orange juice containers that were filled with yellow pee, the 2-liter generic Mountain Dew bottle that was filled with black pee, and the floss collection that spun out from the towel rack like God’s pubes.

Dad doesn’t like what we’re doing. But he shouldn’t have left the hospital yet, his normal width paths are very hard to navigate now that he can’t really walk, now that he has to sit down every ten steps, now that he can’t clear the toilet bowl. I telepath to you to find it as fast as you can.

There’s a bag I can search, blocking my entrance. I struggle with the knot, the red ties are an 18-sided Rubik’s cube.

When he asked us to help clean his house, he just wanted us to widen the paths. Clear off some chairs for checkpoints in the four places you can go, the computer room, the kitchen, the bathroom, the nest. You are staring at me in fear and incredulity. Step in, save me, where’s the kill switch?


Now I’m the target. He stops screaming. Beholds me. There are tears. I would hug him if I didn’t think he would feel belittled. I step over the Shop-Vac and lean on the fridge to find my next step. You look up in relief, with your grip wresting it free from the mound of coffee filters and grounds that spray like confetti when it gives. You thrust it at him, and he snatches it with the cane hand, using his free one to unzip. We watch while he whips and centers, the splattering and slosh deafening the room.


About the Author

Booz Ullrey holds an MFA from Mills College (RIP) in Oakland. She was raised by two scientists in El Sobrante, California, where everybody read books at the dinner table instead of talking. In addition to writing she plays music and is a jewelry artist. Her writing has appeared in Maximum Rocknroll, The Weakly, Nuts!, Absolutely Zippo, Toothworm, and Give Me Back. Find her on Twitter @TinyAssembly.


Image by Walkerssk from Pixabay