Bar Sinister

Colonel Sanders sits on a bench next to the entrance of the Galt House Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, takes an extended drag from his Benson & Hedges, closes his eyes, tilts his head up towards the sky, slowly exhales, stamps out the cigarette with the heel of his black ankle boot, walks over to his white Cadillac, drops a quarter into the open hand of the valet, slides into the driver’s seat, puts the car in drive and peels out, leaving a pair of fresh skid marks on the freshly paved asphalt. “I love you, son. I know you were born with your mama’s umbilical cord wrapped around your neck, and I know you didn’t get enough oxygen into that brain of yours before you were forced to join us in this world, and it’s hard for you to comprehend what I’m saying to you right now, but I just want you to know that I love you, son, and that I’m proud of you. Just because I don’t talk you up to my friends and associates and haven’t officially recognized you as my son doesn’t mean I don’t privately consider you my son. It just means that it’s hard for me to explain you, to explain who you are and what you can and cannot do. When I found out I was going to have a son, when your mama, God rest her soul, showed me the results of the paternity test, I had visions, son. I had visions of you standing in front of the Senate delivering a keynote speech or maybe being the captain of an aircraft carrier. What I didn’t have were visions of you walking around with your mouth open and your tongue hanging out and you making sounds that I can only best describe as some kind of biblical pre-language we all carry around with us and to which we all shall regress when our time comes. But it seems like your time has already come, son. To be honest with you, I had no idea my loins could give life to someone as slack-jawed as you, although I have come to accept it, as best I can. I think I can safely say that the rest of the world, especially certain members of the Shelbyville Police Department, have not come to accept you with the same sanguinity as I have, hence the abuse that’s been doled out on you and your subsequent banishment from the city limits from this day forward, which, in my mind at least, seems better than going to jail, which is surely where they would have sent you had it not been for my partiality and fiduciary responsibilities to those who serve and protect. So first let me say that I want to apologize to you, son. You in no way deserved what those police officers did to you. It was reprehensible and they will be punished, I assure you. I have decided that these police officers, to a man, will no longer enjoy the privilege of dining out at the Kentucky Fried Chicken of their choice gratis. They will, like plain civilians, have to pay for the biscuits, as the saying goes. And, uh, so that’s funny to you, is it? Which part? That I said they’d have to pay for their biscuits? Is that the cause of your incessant chuckling? No? Well, then, the fact that I referred to them as plain civilians? Does that tickle your fancy, son? No? Well, daggum it if I can figure out what is so funny about what I just said? Huh? What? The word ‘will’? I used the word ‘will,’ yes, that’s a common word that I use all the time, and that’s what you find so funny? Okay, well, now see, son, I don’t see the humor is using what is a garden-variety word such as ‘will,’ but you clearly do, which is a bit worrisome to me. I’ve tried to understand you, son, but I’m afraid that I am feeling a sort of compassion exhaustion when it comes to your predicament. And, by the by, this is neither here nor there, but those are just about the ugliest pajamas I have ever seen in my whole entire life. Now it’s one thing if you want to wear pajamas out in public. I can’t seem to stop you from doing that, though Lord knows I’ve tried. If you’re going to insist of wearing your pajamas out in the public, though, the least I ask is that they not look so dang ugly. I truly cannot place the pattern of those pants. Is that supposed to be camouflage? No? That’s not camouflage? Those are supposed to be leaves? Like leaves from a tree? I see. So if you want you can hide in a pile of leaves while you’re wearing them? Well, no, see, son, you see, that’s what I mean by camouflage. Do you understand what that word means? I don’t think you do. But, like I said, that’s neither her nor there. You are going to wear your pajamas in public whether I tell you to or not, just like you are going to walk around with your mouth agape and your tongue protruding out all higgledy-piggledy, like you were the victim of some unfortunate accident, which, in a way, I guess you were, the accident being you having to share your genes with portions of your mother’s family, some of who, frankly, I just cannot account for, son. But I did not come here today to insult your lineage. As I said before, I came here today to tell you that I love you and that I’m proud of you despite what you might have done in the past or what you may do in the future. I think this is the best course of action between us this moment, for in this moment, right now, you are my son, and you are sitting here before me, perfectly acceptable, with the exception of your pajamas and your befuddled demeanor and general air of illegitimacy. Other than that, son, you are as close to the angels as any man I have ever known, or shall hope to know, so help me God.”

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