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My Father's a Homo

Chapter Text

Whizzer, Mom and I sat around the kitchen table, talking and laughing all the while. Like a family. The linguine was out on the table, and we were trying to forget the fact that Marvin was going to walk through the door at any minute. Or at least I was, while Mom and Whizzer pretended they weren't. But I saw it my whole life until the divorce. The way that Mom would cringe away from Marvin, while keeping her face in a loving smile. And now I see Whizzer doing it too. I've heard him talking to Mom about how he feels like he's being shoved into the "house-wife" category. Personally I don't think that's very nice.

Suddenly, the door banged open. Mom and Whizzer immediately jumped up from the table, Whizzer running out to the door.

"Hey, babe," I heard Marvin say, followed by the sound of them kissing.

I stayed in my seat, looking down, fiddling with the chess piece in my hand. A white king. Whizzer told me it was his favourite piece one day while we were playing chess, and it's been mine too ever since.

Marvin walked in, sitting down at the table. Whizzer followed behind him. The first few buttons on his green shirt were undone. He sat down beside my fa- Marvin, looking at him like a lovesick puppy. I couldn't really understand why, though. I knew Whizzer well enough to tell he was scared. Scared that one day Marvin's yelling would progress into hitting. We all were.

We sat in silence, all of us simply pushing our food around the plate (except Marvin), until finally the silence was broken.

"Do you wanna know something?" asked Marvin, eyebrows raised. "I love my tight-knit family. Especially the way they cook linguine." He laughed at his own stupid joke. "I mean, isn't it great? We're all so swell."

"Such a dear clientele," inserted Mom through gritted teeth.

"Exactly!" grinned Marvin. He turned to me. "So, how was school?"

Without looking up I replied, "Fine, Dad."

"Just fine?" he asked me. I noticed Mom flinching a little.

"Yes," I replied, looking up. "Just fine."

Marvin stopped eating suddenly. "Don't take that tone with me, young man!" He stood up, turning to Whizzer. "And by the way? Linguine's burnt. Who the hell is stupid enough to burn pasta?"

"I-I'm sorry, Marvin," Whizzer replied in a small voice. He was looking down, hands clasped atop his knees. "I-I-I'll do better next time, I promise."

Marvin simply rolled his eyes before walking into the kitchen, leaving his plate behind him. I let out a breath I hadn't even been aware I was holding.

I looked to Mom, "Please may I leave the table?"

She nodded tersely, and I stood, taking my plate into the kitchen. I scraped my dinner into the bin before washing the plate, leaving it to dry on the drying rack. I ran into my room, closing the door behind me, before sitting down to play a game chess. With myself, of course.

I kept playing and pretended that I couldn't hear the raised voices through the walls.

Chapter Text

I sat alone in the sitting room, playing chess with myself. Marvin was at work, and Mom was seeing Marvin's psychiatrist, so it was just Whizzer and I at home. I liked it this way. No fighting, just peace and quiet.

"Hey, kid," said Whizzer, walking into the room, grinning at me. He didn't smile like that when Marvin was at home. "You wanna play a game of chess?"

"Sure, Whizzer," I replied, smiling up at him.

We played in silence for a while, before I broke it.

"Whizzer?" I asked. He looked up, about to move a pawn.


"Daddy is a prick."

He looked shocked, to say the least. He put down the pawn before replying.

"Well, Jason, y'know, love is blind, and it can tell a million stories, truly. But it's also unkind, and spiteful in a million ways." Whizzer looked down at his hands, which were now clasped on his lap.

I nodded slowly. "Yeah, I guess so."

A voice sounded from the hallway. "What bullshit are you feeding the kid, Whiz?"

It was Marvin. He must've came in while we were talking, neither of us hearing the door open. I hope he didn't hear what I said about him.

He walked into the sitting room, sitting down on a chair facing the both of us.

"The truth of it is, love is crazy." He looked down, stopping for a moment before looking back up. "But it's also often boring. It stinks, and is pretty often debris. And when you find what you find, you never never never want to do it over again." What the heck did that mean? "Love... reads like a bad biography, wherein all the names are changed to protect the "innocent" or whatever. Love is-"

"Blind." Whizzer interrupted, staring straight at Marvin, not breaking eye contact for a single moment.

I expected Marvin to have some kind of snarky retort, but he simply raised an eyebrow, before standing up, grabbing Whizzer by the arm and dragging him to their bedroom.

I listened to them argue for a while, before they took out their anger towards each other... in other ways.

I hoped Mom would get back soon.

Chapter Text

I was watching baseball while Marvin was at the psychiatrist (he would only complain if I tried to watch it while he was there), when in walked Whizzer. It might be kinda sad, but I think Whizzer might be my best friend. Only friend, really, I suppose.

"Hey kiddo, can I ask you about something?" he asked as he sat down on the couch beside me.

I turned the volume on the television down before turning to him and answering. "Sure thing, Whizzer."

"Last week when we were talking about love... you said that you thought that your father was... a prick." He paused for a moment, seemingly gathering his thoughts. "Care to expand upon that?"

I turned the television off. I sat, thinking for a minute, before beginning my monologue of an answer. "My father's snide. He's convalescing, and morbid, and completely and utterly dissatisfied. All he does is complain and get angry at me, and you, and Mom. Neither of you deserve that. We go to ball games, and the ball is tossed, but all he can talk about is how handsome the pitcher is. And our team lost. We explore museums, he talks about admiring art. And while we stand together, we stand there looking miles apart. My father says that love is the most beautiful thing in the world, but I think chess is. There are plenty of more reasons to expand upon, but I'm not going to sit here and bore you with facts and details you already know."

Whizzer looked shocked at how open I was. I was shocked myself. But I trusted Whizzer more than anyone in this life.

"I suppose... I suppose that that may well be true, Jay, and I can't tell you what to do... But I think that maybe the two of you might need to try harder with each other," he replied.

I turned to face the television. "I guess so, Whiz."

"Do you wanna finish watching the match?" he asked me excitedly.

My face broke out into a huge grin, and I nodded vehemently, before turning back on the television. I then proceeded to shock the both of us once again when I cuddled up to Whizzer. He froze for a moment before putting his arm around me and pulling me close to his side.

"I love you, Jason, you know that, right?" he whispered to me.

I looked up at him. "I love you too, Whizzer. You're the best."

I turned back to watch the baseball game. The emotionally exhausting talk must have gotten to both of us, because when Marvin came home from the psychiatrist, that's how he found us. He must've been in a good mood, because all he did was take a picture of us with Whizzer's camera, which I found much, much later.

Chapter Text

For once I was more or less home alone. Marvin was at the psychiatrist, Mom was grocery shopping and Whizzer was in his room sorting out his photographs to submit to a gallery, I think. Whizzer wasn't gonna be coming out of there for a while. So I did what any pre-pubescent boy would do, I sat in the living room and wrote in my journal. Go figure.

So, my father's a homo. And Mom's not thrilled. Like, at all. But what about chromosomes? Do they carry? Will they carry? Who's the homo now? Not that I really have any problem with it, Whizzer's great and everything. It's just Marvin... is a prick.
Once my father said that I would grow up to be president. And that idea's not so wild. I mean, I don't exactly lead the life of a normal kid.
Mom says I'm too smart for my own good, and Marvin says I'm too good for my "sorry little life". My mother's no wife. And my father's no man. No man, at all.

I stopped writing and laid my journal aside. It was quarter to five. Everyone would probably be home soon; Whizzer had promised to be out of his and Marvin's room by half past five at the very latest, Mom had left about an hour ago, and Marvin's appointment finished at half past four. I'm more perceptive than they give me credit for.

I grabbed my chess set and began to play (with myself). It wasn't long before Mom came home. She quickly put away the groceries, and I thought for a moment that I heard her exchanging words with someone quickly, but I brushed it off. She came into the living room and knelt down beside me.

"Honey, why don't you go out and play?" she asked me.

I answered her, in an exasperated tone, "No!"

She sighed before continuing, "Sweetheart, I worry. Really, I do. I worry a lot. A lot." She paused, before making another proposition. "I could take you to the Jewish centre?"

I mocked throwing up off to the side. That certainly got the message across clearly.

"I think you like playing chess alone," she stated. "That's not normal."

"What is normal?" I answered back.

She shifted, visibly uncomfortable. "I wouldn't know. Why don't you speak on the telephone with anyone? Just get a friend- anyone." Oh, so does Whizzer not count now, all of a sudden? She let out a shaky breath before continuing. "Darling, please, see a psychiatrist. He's quite a guy, and I admire how he acts. No one is saying that you're some sort of sick neurotic. But you could find some help." I opened my mouth, about to interrupt. "Hear me out, please! I really think that you could find some help. He could help you realise how confused you are."

"Well, what does Daddy think?" I asked.

"You very well know, Jason, that while Daddy is sincere, he's a schmo," she answered. "Now, you and I must trust our emotions, and not make a big kerfuffle about it. Will you go?"

I turned to face her before responding, definitively, "No!"

Then, in walked Marvin. So I wasn't just imaging it when I heard Mom talking earlier.

"Jason please see a psychiatrist," he said, walking towards me and standing on my other side, facing Mom. "He just a psychiatrist. And hey- I'll pay the bill until you're old."

I looked towards him, saying, "No, I won't go."

"Darling, please listen to your father," Mom interrupted. Marvin had just been about to start speaking again, and he didn't look impressed. "He's not a genius type, Lord knows, but he knows what's true. He chose a man who I think knows the answers to all your problems. Mendel... understands what's bothering you."

"Forget it!" I shouted.

"Y'know, this family is a complete mess!" yelled Marvin out of nowhere. "We all might need some help. Will you please go?"

I shook my head, "No."

"Jason, please see a psychiatrist," Marvin said.

Mom continued, "He's not-"

"I won't say boo!" I interrupted.

"-exorbidant, and he's very smart!" she continued.

"If intelligence were the only criteria, then I literally wouldn't need a psychiatrist, would I?" I asked, facing Mom.

"No," she replied.

"Would I?" I asked Marvin.

"No," he replied, sounding defeated.

I decided to further antagonise them, "Just because you failed as parents..."

Mom gasped, "Get thee to a psychiatrist!" Whoa there, Shakespeare.

Marvin spun me around to face him, pointing his finger at me, "Hey, kid, listen-"

"I don't need-" I started.

My parents locked eyes above me.

"He needs a psychiatrist!" said Mom.

"I want-" I began.

"A psychiatrist?" asked Marvin, desperately.

"I wanna speak with Whizzer!" I responded.

"Speak with whom?" asked Marvin, sounding flabbergasted.

"With Whizzer," I stated smugly.

Mom didn't seem too pleased, but Marvin simply hung his head in defeat and sighed.

"Whizzer!" he shouted. "Can you come out here?"

In walked Whizzer, kneeling down in between Marvin and I.

"Whizzer do you think I should see a psychiatrist?" I asked. Inside I was repeating a mantra of 'Please say no, please say no, please say no.'

"I'm not sure, Jason," he replied. Marvin flicked the back of his head. Subtle.

"Jason, maybe so," he tried. Mom not-so-subtly cleared her throat behind me.

"Absolutely, Jason."

I'm not getting out of this, am I? And I trust Whizzer, even if he was prompted by my parents.

"Okay, I'll go," I eventually said.

Whizzer stood up triumphantly, "He'll go!"

"But only if he comes here," I wasn't going to give in that easily.

"If he comes here?" Marvin asked. Ha.

"He might come here," tried Mom.

"They don't make house calls," responded Marvin in what can only be described as a 'well, duh' tone.

Just then, an alarm began to beep. We all looked around, confused as to the source of the noise.

"Oh!" Whizzer said. It was his watch. He turned it off, the blood seemingly draining from his face. Then it hit me. He was late making dinner again. This wasn't gonna end well.

Chapter Text

Marvin grabbed Whizzer's arm, his features a mask of fury absolute. He dragged him into the kitchen, but Mom and I could still hear the ensuing argument. We listened to them fight (read: Marvin scream at Whizzer) as she held me close.

"You're meant to always be here: making dinner, and set to screw. You're a pretty boy, and that's your job. Not that shit you like to call photography or art or whatever. Your job is to check your hairline, make the dinner and love me! This is going nowhere - and fast, Whizzer. This little thing that we've had isn't going to last for much longer! But don't feel responsible, after all, it's through, right?"

"Hey, I'm not responsible," Whizzer tried to defend himself.

"Life can be wonderful, isn't this wonderful?" Marvin responded. "This had better come to a stop, Whizzer. Now, Whizzer."

Then, all of a sudden, Mom began to walk towards the kitchen door, moving to open it.

"Mom, what are you doing?" I asked, panicked. What if something happened to her? Something happening to Whizzer would be bad enough, but if anything happened to Mom I wouldn't be able to stand it.

"Honey, I've got to help Whizzer," she whispered frantically. "He shouldn't have to face your father alone when he's like that."

And with that, she marched into the kitchen and began ranting about Marvin.

"It isn't like he said, Whizzer. Y'see, you probably hurt his pride. He's got to have everything, or else he acts like a baby who's been denied-"

I ran into the kitchen, worming my way in front Mom and Whizzer. I wasn't going to pass up this chance to finally have my say and tell Marvin what he so desperately needed to hear.

"No, this had better come to a stop, Marvin!" I yelled, interrupting and shocking everybody. "You can't just shout at Mom and Whizzer every time something goes wrong or isn't done exactly to your liking. They're not your slaves! You're not the only unhappy one here. You act as if you're above the rest of us, and that the only person's opinion that matters is your own."

"You've got a temper that redefines temper," Mom stated as if it was the most casual thing in the world.

"Why is always ourselves who have to change?" added Whizzer, in a slightly softer tone than Mom and I.

For a second I thought that Marvin may have actually taken what we said to heart. But no.

"This is incredibly boring," he spat. And with that, he stormed out.

Whizzer and Mom turned to me.

"You're right, kid," Whizzer said, pulling me and Mom into a hug. "This, this... control that Marvin seems to attempt to have over all of us, needs to come to an end."

Chapter Text

It was Mom's night to cook, and she was mad at Whizzer for some reason. She was making her banana carrot surprise, and when I walked in on her, I'm pretty sure that she was pretending that the bananas and carrots were Whizzer and Marvin's privates. Again. This probably shouldn't be a normalised sight for a ten-year-old.

I backed out of the kitchen slowly and went to play chess with myself. About ten minutes later, I heard Mom talking out in the hall. I crept out and saw she was on the phone, and decided to listen in on the one-sided conversation.

"Dr. Mendel, please?" Ah, the psychiatrist.

"Dr. Mendel, vis-a-vis what Marvin did, or rather, hasn't done." Which thing? Dude screws up a lot.

"You must exorcise the devil that inhabits Marvin's son." What the heck, Mom? Right here? Although I guess she doesn't know I'm here.

"Please come to our house, and talk a bit with Jason. Maybe it's hyperbole, but he's sick in the head. Sometimes you'll think he's wonderful, but honestly, he's wild. I'm a hundred percent sure that he's Marvin's." Oh no. Oh no.

At that point I turned on my heel and ran. I got to Marvin and Whizzer's room and knocked on the door, hoping that Whizzer was still in there. He opened the door a few seconds later.

"Hey Jay, what's up?" he asked.

"Mom's on the phone with Mendel. He's coming over." I replied shakily.

Whizzer sighed before answering. "Kiddo, there's not much that I can do to help, to be completely truthful. And who knows? Maybe you'll like talking to him, he could be a help."

I nodded my head. "I guess so."

Mom came walking down the hall at that point. "Jason, honey, Mendel's coming over for dinner tonight at five, okay? He's going to talk to you afterwards." She pointedly ignored Whizzer. I'm still not sure why they had a falling out, but I hope it's resolved shortly, they need each other more than either of them want to admit.

At ten minutes to five, I began to get quite anxious. Whizzer had left half an hour ago to do... whatever. I started following Mom around and asking her questions.

"What should I say to Mendel? Should I be mean to him?"

"Just be yourself," she replied.

I nodded, "I'll be myself..."

"But make sure you're not disgusting, okay?"

"Alright, Mom."

Just then, the doorbell rang, I went to open the door as Mom finished setting the table.

"Welcome to my house, Mr. Mendel. It was so good of you to come here on account of my "unravelling". Now let's eat!" I greeted him before running off to sit at the table.

"I think we should talk first?" he said to Mom.

"Maybe we should eat before the food gets cold," Mom replied, smiling sweetly, shaking his hand. He looked as though he was in heaven. Okay, then.

"That sounds great, Trina," he responded. "The food looks great." He was still shaking her hand.

We sat down to eat, by which I mean Mom and Mendel ate, and I pushed my food around my plate. I just can't eat at dinner time, all I can ever think about is what was going to set Marvin off next. I survive on midnight snacks.

"The kid looks pretty miserable," Mendel said to Mom.

I let out a dry laugh. "More like uninspired."

"Ain't that the truth, kid!" Mendel laughed. Look around, he said. "Y'know, I think the room just looks a wee bit small."

"This girl agrees," replied Mom, nodding all the while.

A few minutes later, Mom and Mendel had finished. Mom stood up, gathering up the dirty dishes.

"I'll wait outside and let you begin, Dr. Mendel," she said.

"Just Mendel's fine," he replied, blushing slightly. Christ.

"I'll wait for you," Mom said, rather breathlessly.

Mendel turned to face me. Here we go.

Chapter Text

Mendel motioned to me to begin talking. I sighed, looking down, before looking up at him and beginning.

"Mr. Mendel, I get apoplexy thinking of my father. Y'see, I resemble him in far too many ways: his sad demeanour, the way he acts. At least his room's cleaner than mine. Is it... fatal? Do you see real similarities between us? He and Whizzer live like... well, I think it's clear." And then I began to ramble, my words running into one another. "So... what do I do? What do I say? How do I ask? What do I hope for? Is it my mind? And love isn't free in any capacity. If love isn't blind, then what do I see?"

"Whoa, stop!" yelled Mendel, jumping up. "Look around you! No one's screaming at you! So you feel alright for about ten minutes, if you feel alright for twenty minutes, feel alright for forty minutes - just drop the frown and smile! Feel alright for the rest of your life!"

I stood, looking at him, confused. "Is this therapy?" I asked. It was a genuine question.

He started coming over every Friday, at the same time. Mom and Whizzer got over whatever petty feud they had. That didn't stop Whizzer making jokes every time Mendel came over, however.

At quarter to five on the fifth week, I caught him humming a tune.

"What're you singing, Whizzer?" I asked him, genuinely curious.

"Just a little tune I made up," he replied, smirking. He began to sing it once again. "The psychiatrist returning, returning five sessions later."

We both had quite a laugh over that, stupid as it was.

Just before five, Mendel came over. Mom, Whizzer, Mendel and I sat down at the table together, waiting for Marvin to come and sit with us.

"What delightful delicacy did you whip up for us today, Trina?" enquired Mendel, giving Mom the doe-eyes. Whizzer and I made eye contact across the table, then looked away, muffling snickers. Mom gave us a disapproving glare before answering.

"It's a gourmet version of chicken marengo," she replied with a sweet smile.

Then, of course, in walked Marvin.

"Why is he always here?" he asked. He was met with silence as we all mentally rolled our eyes. Because of you, douchebag.

He sat down, and we ate, the only conversation between Mom and Mendel. As we finally lay down our forks, Mendel started to speak.

"Try to forget all things homely and snide. Nothing's as good as what you recall, so count what's good, then divide it. If you count, then you can figure out the world, you can add and subtract at will, cover up the past, even kill the pain very easily."

"Does this count as therapy?" I asked.

Mom nodded, smiling. Marvin grunted. Whizzer shrugged. Mendel replied, "Right, this is therapy."

I turned to Mom, Whizzer and Marvin. "Then scram!"

Mom and Whizzer laughed, and Marvin rolled his eyes, but they did indeed scram. Great, now I can put my "plan" into action.

I jumped up, sitting on the table, and patted the spot beside me. Mendel sat down there.

"Mr. Mendel," I began. "As regarding your intentions to my mother-" he began to stand up, but I grabbed his arm and pulled him back. "-Are they everything a woman would desire? Her hand is ready, all it needs is a ring. I could buy confetti... or sing? I'm embarrassed. Obviously, it's not my responsibility to ask you. But I wonder if it's... ever crossed your mind?"

He looked at the floor for a moment, before anxiously beginning to ramble.

"But what do I say? Where do I look? Why do I laugh? How do I even begin to answer?"

I decided that the best course of action would be to throw his own advice back at him. What do you expect, I'm ten, dude.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! Stop! Look around you, Mendel! A lot of nice furniture! Someone's bringing you dinner, brought you your lunch, washing your laundry! Washing your socks! Jesus Christ! Feel alright for the rest of your life!"

I had jumped down from the table at this point, and pulled him down too. We began to dance around and shout.

"Feel! All! Right!"

After a few minutes, we sat down, breathless and laughing. Mendel looked at me, a genuine smile on his face rather than his "psychiatrist grimace".

"Thank you, Jason," he smiled. "Thank you."

Chapter Text

I decided if Mendel was going to ask my mother to marry him, he would need to do it. I looked at him for a beat, before speaking.

"I think that if you're going to do this, Mr. Mendel, you need to do it now."

"Wha-what do you, what do you mean?" he finally managed to stammer out.

"What I mean," I replied, "is that if you want to ask my Mom to marry you, you should do it now."

I grabbed his armed, and dragged him into the sitting room, where Whizzer, Marvin and Mom sat waiting.

"This is how you make a marriage proposal," I announced, motioning to Mendel to sit beside my mother on one sofa. I went and sat beside Whizzer on the other.

"What the hell is going on?" asked Marvin. Whizzer hit his side and shushed him. He looked annoyed, but for once in his life actually shut up.

Mendel mouthed "Thanks" to him before looking to me for support. I smiled and nodded, motioning for him to begin. He turned to Mom.

"I love you dear," he began to ramble. "I think you're swell. You're never near me close enough to figure out if I'm delightful or not. I... crave you wrist, I praise your thigh. There's not a guy, or a piece of paper or... a man in pants, who could love you the same as I. Oftentimes, lovers are crazy people... I mean, sometimes they kill each other!"

Mom looked at him like he was mad. He attempted to save himself from the hole he had dug himself into, only succeeding in digging himself in further.

"Just like a... biblical brother! Did to his biblical brother, back in... biblical times."

"Biblical times?" Mom asked, confused.

"Biblical times," Marvin agreed, with a sarcastic smile and thumbs up. Mendel rolled his eyes at him before continuing. I think Whizzer might have given Marvin another smack.

"I love your eyes," Mendel continued. "I love your face. I would love it if you were by my side."

Mom moved as though to push a loose strand of hair behind her ear, blushing deeply, but Mendel intercepted, grabbing her hand.

"Don't touch your hair, you're perfect!" he almost shouted. "Please don't start to cry. There's not a guy, or a horse, or a zebra, or... a giant man, who could love you as I do. Forget that giant man, he can't love you the same as I. I'm not a giant man-"

"Good," Mom interrupted. Whizzer sniggered a little.

"-But I'll love you until I die!" Mendel finished triumphantly. Mom pulled him in for a kiss, startling him. While I retched, Whizzer whooped, and Marvin just looked pissed off. He stood up, and Whizzer and I stopped making noise. We turned to one another, evident clear in both of our sets of eyes. This probably wouldn't end well.

Chapter Text

Marvin stood up, and Whizzer and I stopped making noise. We turned to one another, fear evident in both of our sets of eyes. This probably wouldn't end well.

Marvin began pacing and ranting. Two of his favourite things to do at once - must be great fun for him, but let me tell ya, it was complete and utter hell for the rest of us.

"Y'know, I don't wanna cause a stink," he said. Mom and Mendel sprang apart, while Whizzer snorted, earning himself a glare from Marvin. "I divorce my wife, and she runs off with my shrink?"

He sounded to be in utter disbelief. And also pretty damn peeved, but I guess when it comes to Marvin, that goes without saying. The guy's incredibly self-absorbed and self-deceived.

"All I want is a tight-knit family," he said for what felt like the millionth time. "I just want a wife who knows what love is."

Whizzer started to shake, and his breathing was getting funny. I wasn't sure if he was scared or angry or upset, or maybe all at once, but I knew that when I got like that, Mom or Whizzer would hold me, so I grabbed his hand, looking at him with concern. He seemed to calm down a little, but he was still shaking, so I wrapped my arm around him as much as I could, pulling him closer to my exceedingly smaller frame.

Marvin was still ranting, but then Mendel stood up, momentarily shocking him into silence.

"I should worry about what you say, but you act bereft, while my thievery is pretty perverse," Mendel admitted.

"You said it," Marvin countered. They were beginning to really get into each others faces, and it scared me. They looked like the older kids when they were about to have a rumble. I think it was scaring Whizzer too, as he was clinging onto me like a lifeline.

"I cannot believe she loves you," Marvin deadpanned. Mom looked like she was about to burst with anger. "But I guess nothing's impossible."

"Look who's got power!" shouted Mendel, lifting up his arms in a "come at me, bitch" kind of way.

"King of the losers," Marvin said, voice dripping with spite.

"At eighty an hour," Mendel answered. "You might be able to bitch, but I can stall!"

It was at that moment I realised that Mom was no longer sitting on the other side of the room behind Mendel. The door beside the couch Whizzer and I were crouched on opened, and Mom grabbed my hand, pulling Whizzer and I through it and out into the hall. She pushed the door closed behind us, and we all collapsed with our backs to it.

We could still here Marvin and Mendel hurling insults at each other through the door, although the sound was now muffled. Mom and Whizzer were sandwiching me, but I didn't mind. We all clung to one another, adrenaline coursing through our veins.

Mom turned to Whizzer and I, her voice shaking slightly, "I think we should take a trip to 7/11, maybe get some slushies?"

We both nodded, standing up. We walked out to the car, and drove a few minutes to the nearest 7/11. We got our slushies, before sitting back down in the car in silence for a while. Mom and Whizzer began whispering to one another in the front seat. After about half an hour, we went back to the house. Marvin had cleared off, and Mendel sat alone on a couch in the living room. He didn't look hurt, so at least the fight hadn't gotten physical.

I went to my room, and just sat on the bed thinking for a while, before getting out my chess set.

This was all my fault.

Chapter Text

I woke up in the middle of the night to hushed whisperings coming from the kitchen. I got out of bed, pulling my blanket around me, shivering from the cold.

I pushed my bedroom door open, praying it wouldn’t creak. Thankfully, it didn’t. I made my way out into the hallway, stoping just beside the open kitchen door. I could hear the whispers far more clearly now: it was Mom and Whizzer.

“I’m really not sure what to do, Trina,” I could make out Whizzer saying in a low voice. “He… he scares me, sometimes. I think I might love him, and I hate myself for it. How could I love someone like that? I mean, the way he still treats you-”

“Whizzer,” Mom interrupted. “I understand completely how you feel. I mean, a year ago I was the exact same. Marvin is a very complex person, and I know how sweet he can be. You shouldn’t hate yourself for it, we can’t control who we fall in love with any more than we can control who our parents are. But what we can control is who our family is.”

“Well you’re my family, Trina,” Whizzer replied. “You, and Jason are more family to me than my biological family were.”

I started to choke up a little, silently berating myself. You’re ten years old, come on. But I must have been making some sort of noise, because Whizzer came out into the hallway.

He bent down and wrapped his arms around me. “Hey, you alright buddy?”

I nodded, still sniffling. We walked into the kitchen, sitting at the table with Mom. I still had my arms wrapped around Whizzer.

“You’re my family too, Whizzer,” I whispered, clinging tight to him. Mom came around the table and wrapped her arms around the both of us. I wanted the moment to last forever.

Time Skip: Two Weeks Later

It had been two weeks since Whizzer and Marvin moved out, and Mendel and Mom were talking about Mendel moving in with us. I had hardly seen Whizzer since that night, and Marvin even less. He didn’t even bother to make the effort to come and see Mom and I.

I grabbed my journal and began to write.

I had a really weird dream that night. When I woke up, I couldn’t really remember it, but Marvin, Mendel and Whiz were definitely in it. And it was quite dark, I think. But the clothes and shoes we wore glowed in the dark? I don’t really remember, but it was definitely weird.
I miss Whizzer.

Time Skip (again): Two Weeks Later

I got up late one night, not able to sleep. I went into the kitchen, where Mom was passed out with her head on the table. There was a journal lying open beside her, so I grabbed it and began to read.

I’m tired of all the happy men who rule the world. They grow - of that, I’m certain - but don’t mature. I’d like the chance to hide in that world.
I’m listening to these men - who really aren’t quite men yet, but at the same time aren’t boys - make noise. They verbally throw daggers: their toys are people’s lives. They fight too hard and play too rough. Sometimes they love, but it’s never… enough. My heart beats as I wish, but still.
It’s crazy how they’re acting, but even crazier is my response. It’s stupid how I love, and how I anticipate what they want. But… as long as they amuse me, that’s all that matters, right?
So… I’ll roar like I’m wild. I’ll explore what I’m feeling, accept that what I’m feeling is tired.
I’m tired of the happy, frightened men who rule the world. Stupid, charming men. Silly, childish jerks.
That said: I’ll be his wife. I’ll marry Mendel and change my life. I’ll laugh and smile and welcome happiness. The time is right and the men are near. Now happiness and love can at last shine through.

Please forgive my former spieling - it doesn’t concern the man. And as for doubts that I’ve been having? I’ll just ignore them. And the things that I must do I’ll do to make this all succeed. I’ll commit - that’s definite. And with wit and precision I’ve made up my mind to get the things I need: God, I’ll try!
I’ll cry.
No - I’ll laugh, and hire a maid! I’ll fight the gods, I’ll fight Marvin, I’ll beat the odds, I’ll have good sex! My future’s open - not set in stone - and I’m okay with that.
I’ll smile.

Well then. I probably shouldn’t have read that. I put Mom’s journal back, got a drink of water and went back to my bedroom.

The next morning, Whizzer was at our house. He was sitting on the sofa, and I ran out and gave him a big hug. He didn’t reciprocate immediately as he always did, so I pulled back.

“Are you okay, Whizzer?” I asked worriedly.

He had an empty look in his eyes, and I could see the stains on his cheeks from dried tears. In a heart wrenchingly broken voice, he replied, “Not really, Jay. Your dad, um…” He paused, trying not to cry again.

“He kicked me out,” he finished. “He kicked me out over a game of chess.”

Whizzer’s voice cracked at the end, and he started crying again. I once again wrapped my arms around him and cried with him. He was my best friend, I didn’t want him to be sad.

When we had quietened down, Mom and Mendel came and sat down on either side of us, and we all sat there together for a while in silence, just holding each other.

Chapter Text

Mendel was officially moving in with Mom and I, and they were doing my head in with all the redecorating. His books were everywhere, along with a million throw pillows that Mom went out and bought.

The worst thing had to be the cross-stitch beside the front door which read “Visit when you please, you are not required to phone! We’ll buy the cheese, God bless our home.”

Both Whizzer and I retched at that. He was staying with us for a little while, just until he “gets a few things sorted out”, apparently. I hope he stays for a long time, I really like having him here.

Whizzer cam out of the spare room, and smiled when he saw me. It was Saturday, so Mom and Mendel were out on a date. At least I didn’t have to stay with the creepy neighbour anymore, I get to stay with Whizzer!

“Hey, Jay, you wanna know what I think we should do?” he asked.

“I dunno, Whizzer,” I answered truthfully. I followed him into the kitchen.

Spinning back around to face me, he shouted, “A cake! It’ll be really fun, and I wanna say thank you to your Mom for letting me stay with you guys for a little bit!”

I grinned madly. “That sounds like a great idea!”

“I used to make cakes with my Mom a lot when I was younger, so I know a great recipe by heart,” Whizzer said. He never really talked about his parents except in offhanded little comments like that. “We need butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, milk and vanilla extract.” He said it like it was the simplest thing in the world, but it sounded like a whole lotta mumbo jumbo to me.

Nevertheless, Mom seemed to have everything we had need of already in the cupboards, and Whizzer grabbed them, along with a big circular tin, two large bowls, a whisk and a wooden spoon.

He got me to put butter and some kind of weird paper-y stuff in the tin while he mixed together the butter, sugar and eggs together, seemingly measuring by eye.

Putting the paper stuff on was actually kind of fun, as I had to draw around the tin on the paper and cut it out before sticking it into the tin with butter.

“Can you grab the flour?” asked Whizzer. I grabbed it, but it slipped out of my hand going all over the kitchen, Whizzer and I. It seemed to be everywhere except in the bowl.

We laughed, and had a mini snowball/flour fight. Don’t ask me how exactly, it just kinda happened.

Eventually, though, we managed to get everything mixed together, before putting it into the tin and then in the oven. The kitchen was a mess, but we laughed as we cleaned up. It was nice to not think about anything and just have fun for once.

By the time we had cleaned up, the cake was ready. Whizzer put on oven gloves before pulling it out. We watched TV until it cooled, and then Whizzer somehow got it out and onto a plate in one piece.

We fell asleep on the couch shortly after, smiles on our faces, but Mom thanked the both of us profusely in the morning.

Chapter Text

Whizzer and Mom were unreachable for weeks - they were spending all their free time planning Mom and Mendel’s wedding. I seriously think that Whizzer might be more involved than Mendel.

They spent hours and hours designing the invitations, along with addressing them and sending them out.

So, needless to say, when Marvin burst in, drunk, and ripped his invitation into pieces in front of all of us, it didn’t particularly end well.

I was in my room reading, Whizzer was in his room (drawing, I believe), and Mom and Mendel were sitting on the couch talking. I heard the front door bang open, and I walked out into the hall to see what the commotion was about. It seemed Whizzer had the same idea, and we made our way to the living room. When we saw Marvin, however, we both fell back, trying to remain hidden.

He was doing his favourite thing in the whole world: ranting and raving. Oh joy.

“Hello, Trina, thank you for sending this. Goodness, I’m truly relieved. Frankly, Trina, it was nice of you sending this. Thanks!” he shouted, all in one breath. “I’ve received your newly sent wedding invitation!”

He began to rip it up into tiny shreds. Whizzer gasped, rushing forward. I ran in right behind him.

“They’re pseudo-romantic and sick!” Marvin continued. “You say you’ll love him until you both die! You die on May 27th, at eight!”

He punctuated his last sentence by throwing the ripped up invitation into the air, as though in a sick parody of wedding confetti.

“You’ve lost your mind, Marvin,” Whizzer says. Marvin looked shocked to see him, to say the least. “You were never this uncouth or unkind.”

Marvin sat down on the seat beside the couch. I sat on the seat on the opposite side of the room, away from him.

“Mendel plans to rub my back,” Mom stated. “He’s not insane. He’s sweet, and warm, and he loves me so.”

Was Mom seriously trying to rub in the fact that she still had a relationship? Really? With Whizzer right there?

Marvin, of course, hardly took notice, and instead went back to his deranged ranting.

“Tell me, Trina, what was the impetus?” Mom broke eye contact with him. “Sorry, Trina, look in my eyes! Really, now, this is ridiculous. Jesus, I despise your need for stupid conversation! You’re trying to ruin my sleep, and I’m sure you chose him to make me look bad.” Was he seriously that self-centred? “How could you ever deny what we had?”

The last question was seemingly directed at both Mom and Whizzer.

“We had fights and games,” Whizzer replied, whispering.

“You called us funny names,” Mom continued, smiling a little, albeit sadly.

“You’re acting like you’re untrained,” Mendel said sadly. “Marvin, I am so ashamed.”

“But you’re sweet and mean,” Mom concluded.

Whizzer took a shuddering breath which seemed to surround everyone.

“Do I love you?” he asked, looking Marvin dead in the eye. He look away before answering, “No.”

Marvin looked shocked to say the least. We all were.

“I am so dumb,” he said quietly before leaving. I let out a breath I didn’t know I’d been holding, and Whizzer collapsed into an armchair.

Just then, Marvin burst back in, screaming. Mom had obviously had enough of his bullshit, as she yelled, “Oh, cool it with the histrionics!”

It all seemed to happen in slow motion. Marvin spun around to face Mom. Mendel looked shocked at her bluntness. Whizzer reached out, seemingly attempting to grab Marvin’s arm.

Then Marvin hit Mom.

We were all shocked. None of us had ever truly expected him to go that far. Whizzer was frozen still, as though he was too shocked to move. Mom immediately fell into Mendel’s arms, but she seemed to reassure him that she was alright. As soon as he turned his back to comfort me, however, she broke down crying, before turning to look at Marvin.

Chapter Text

Mom wiped away her tears, and began speaking to Marvin in a truly sombre tone. “I never wanted to love you, only to love and not be blamed. Just let me go, Marvin. I’m not ashamed to have loved you, but you need to let go.”

Marvin seemed to be actually listening for once, actually taking in what people were saying to him. I still couldn’t quite believe that he had actually hit Mom. I wasn’t sure that I could forgive him for that. I loved Mom more than anything, and he hurt her.

Mendel let me go, and I swayed a little on my feet, not expecting to be let go so suddenly. He turned to Mom, and placing his hand gently on her arm, began to speak. “I love you more than I ever meant to. In my profession, I mean, one’s love is meant to remain unexpressed. But here we are. Take my hand. It almost scares me how much I love you, Trina.”

Mom took Mendel’s hand, holding it tightly in her own, looking at him with love in her eyes. Looking at him in a way I had only ever seen Whizzer look at Marvin back before Marvin started treating Whizzer like absolute crap.

“I hate the world!” I shouted. Everyone else was finally getting a chance to talk, why shouldn’t I? “But I love my Dad.” I added quietly.

Marvin didn’t even seem to register that I had said that. He was looking at Whizzer expectantly, as if waiting for him to begin talking about how much he hated Marvin. I knew that wasn’t true. I knew that at one point, Whizzer loved Marvin, and maybe he didn’t anymore, but Whizzer was one of those people who just has so much love in his heart. And sure, maybe at one point in he and Marvin’s rambunctious relationship Whizzer’s morals were more than a little skewered, but he always came back to Marvin. Doesn’t that mean anything to Marvin? Doesn’t he see that Whizzer actually cared about him, much as he tried to hide it?

“I never wanted to love you,” Whizzer stated simply. I could only imagine the look on Marvin’s face. “I never wanted some sort of ‘till death do we two part’ thing. But who cares? You can still be my friend, Marvin. But I guess at the same time…”

He paused, as if working up the courage to finish his sentence. And when he did I think that it threw all of us for a loop. “…how do I start not to love you?”

Whizzer was looking at Marvin, the pain clearly evident in his face. I ran over to him, pushing past Marvin, and engulfing Whizzer in a hug. I didn’t want my best friend to be upset. And I definitely didn’t want my own father to be the cause of any such sorrow.

Marvin took a moment to collect his thoughts, before turning to face Trina. “I never wanted to love you, either,” he said sadly. “I only wanted to see my face in yours. Jason’s wild.” He directed his next sentence to Mendel. “Help him, please. He adores and hates me.” Did he seriously not hear the bit earlier when I said that I loved him? “It really killed me when I found out that you were to be married, Trina. Don’t misunderstand, though. I mean, I’m in demand.”

He turned to face Whizzer, a hopeful look on his face. “Look, Whizz, I-”

“No,” Whizzer said firmly. At this point we had separated, and I simply stood beside him. “You don’t get to apologise and have me come crawling back to you. I should have left so long ago. In all honesty, you treat me like a house wife, Marv. I’m not a woman. And I get that you have some sort of internalised homophobia or whatever, but that’s no excuse to act like a complete dick. That’s no excuse to treat me as though I’m inferior. And it’s definitely no excuse for treating Trina that way for years as well. We’re both your equal. And now because you couldn’t learn to respect that, you’ve just lot both of us.”

With that, Whizzer turned on his heel. There was some shuffling from his room, and within a few minutes, he was gone.

I left Mom, Mendel and Marvin in the living room and walked silently back to my room.

Whizzer was gone. Seemingly for good this time.

Chapter Text

It had been two weeks since Whizzer left, and I hadn’t seen him since. I really missed him. But, at least one good thing came from that rollercoaster of a conversation; Marvin - no, Dad was actually making an effort. He came over every few days, he was at least civil towards Mendel, and he stopped treating Mom like a lesser individual. He made an effort to talk to me and spend time with me, too. I even heard Mom and Mendel talking about figuring out some sort of rota so that I can stay with him sometimes, which I thought would be pretty cool.

Mendel and Mom were out on a date night, but felt okay leaving me alone for a bit, considering that Dad was coming over soon. In the meantime, I decided to once again turn to my trusty journal.

My father has always told me that love is the most beautiful thing in the world. I once thought that games (chess, specifically) were, in actuality. But now I find myself thinking that maybe girls are the most beautiful thing in the world. All of a sudden, the girls in my class started looking very pretty. I’m not entirely sure what happened, but I’m not complaining.

It was at this moment that a knock sounded on the front door. I played my journal and pen aside, and made my way into the hall. I pulled the stool we kept by the coat hangers over to the door so I could see out the peephole. It was Dad, so I jumped down, and pushing the stool out of the way, opened the door.

“Hi, Dad!” I said happily, moving to the side so he could come in.

“Hey, Jason,” he replied, grinning.

I closed the door and we made our way into the sitting room. Dad sat down on the sofa, motioning for me to sit beside him.

“Can I talk to you a little, Jason?” he asked me.

“Of course,” I answered, sitting beside him.

“Kid… what I’ve done to you is rotten,” he began. Wow. Not at all what I was expecting. “I was scared, and marching in one place to a tune that I could no longer remember. I love you, Jason. I meant no disgrace. When we’re talking, like this, that’s what love really is.”

I picked up the pillow laying beside me, and hugged it to my chest, nodding as he spoke.

“Father to son, I, for one, would take love much more slowly,” continued Dad. “I’ve made my choice, but you can sing a different song, if you get what I’m trying to say. Soon things will change for you: you’ll notice your voice getting lower, and your attention floating elsewhere. You’ll be a man, kid. If nothing goes wrong, that is.”

He paused, laughing a little, before continuing. “Sing for yourself, Jason. Sing as you march along. Whatever your song may be. No - don’t sing just for yourself. Sing for all of us. Sing as we all march along to our own songs.”

I dove at my Dad, enveloping him in a hug the likes of which we had never shared. He pet my hair, sniffling a little. We both knew that we had a long road ahead of us before our relationship was fully repaired, but we were both prepared to work for each other.

Chapter Text

Time Skip: One Year Later

I saw Whizzer today. For the first time in a year. I was walking to the shop when I noticed him coming out of a photography studio.

“Whizzer?” I yelled, barrelling towards him.

He turned around, and when he saw me, he broke into a massive grin. “Jason!”

We met in a hug that felt like coming home. I’d missed my best friend.

“Gosh, you’ve certainly grown!” he said, laughing.

“I missed you, Whizz,” I said, still stuck firmly to his side, arms wrapped around him.

“I missed you too, kiddo,” he said softly. “And listen, I don’t mean to be a prick, but I kinda have to run, I have a meeting with a gallery.”

“Are they interested in your photos?” I asked, pulling back. “That’s great, Whizzer! Congratulations!”

“Thanks, Jason,” Whizzer replied. “I don’t wanna have to go another year without seeing you, so here-”

He pulled a scrap of paper out from his pocket along with a pencil, and scribbled something down quickly. “-That’s my phone number, so if you ever want to, call me, okay? And feel free to swing by my studio at any time either. It’s the bottom floor right here.”

He pointed to the building he had just come out of.

“Okay, Whizzer, I sure will!” I exclaimed.

“Right, I’ve really gotta run,” said Whizzer, already walking away, albeit backwards. “I’ll see you sometime soon, Jason.”

And with that, he disappeared into the crowd.

Time Skip: One Year Later

Things were good. Mom and Mendel were really happy together; I saw Whizzer at least every two weeks, and even invited him to my next baseball game; Dad and I were really getting along.

Dad had moved too, and his next door neighbours, Dr. Charlotte and Cordelia were really nice. Sometimes they babysit me when I was meant to be at Dad’s but he had to work later, but I didn’t mind. Charlotte was really nice, and always knew the best games, and Cordelia was really funny and a great cook (except for when she tried to cook Jewish food). Cordelia even had her own café! Dad didn’t know, but Whizzer actually worked there part time.

I was staying with them, and we were watching a movie together, when Dad came in. I expected him to say I had to go home seeing as it was so late, but he just sat down beside us and we watched the rest of the movie together.

All was well.

Except for the bit where Dad and Whizzer missed each other terribly, but neither one wanted to admit it, so I just avoided the topic altogether. But I had a plan.

Chapter Text

I was at Dad’s for the weekend, and we had a really good time. We watched a movie together on Friday evening, and we went to a baseball match together on Saturday (even if Dad still didn’t really understand what was happening). It was now Sunday afternoon, and I was plugged into my Walkman trying to memorise prayers for my Bar Mitzvah.

A knock sounded on the door, but I hardly heard it, too caught up in my memorising. Dad evidently went and got the door, because in walked Mom and Mendel.

Mom took my headphones off my head, greeting me, “Jason, dear, hello. Have you got your bags packed, ready to go?”

I nodded, and she moved as though to leave, but after a look from Mendel turned back around.

“But before we go,” she continued. “Let me speak with your Dad. Alone.”

Dad was standing on the other side of the room, and she walked over to him, beginning to talk. “Now, as the Bar Mitzvah nears, Marvin… Jason, put your… Walkerman on and hum.”

I put my Walkman on and once again began to memorise my prayers. Except not really, because while I couldn’t hear Mom or Dad or Mendel, I could tell they were fighting, and it was kind of hilarious to watch with very little context.

Mom was sitting on the couch, Dad leaning against the back of one chair, Mendel against another. It started simply enough, with Mom saying something to Dad, and him replying, looking a little ticked off. They almost immediately began to snap back at each other, with Mom gesticulating wildly with her arms, speaking towards Mendel but motioning towards Dad. Mendel was obviously trying to stay out of it. Can’t say I blame him.

I stopped paying attention until Mendel pulled my headphones off, telling me to “Stop with the prayers, kiddo.”

Mom looked shocked, walking towards Mendel, exclaiming “How can you ‘stop with the prayers’ at a Bar Mitzvah?”

“The whole thing’s just some abracadabra crap, Trina,” Mendel replied. “And besides, I know more than you do!”

I put my headphones on and danced like nobody was watching. Doesn’t mean I wasn’t watching them though. Dad came and stood beside me and Mom and Mendel exchanged words, before he went and sat down. Mom stood beside me, and began talking with Dad. Something about how excited they are about me growing up?

Dad took my headphones off as they both looked at me lovingly. I was going to vomit.

“My child,” Dad said with a smile, ruffling my hair.

Our child,” Mom replied pointedly, venom absolutely dripping from her words.

Mendel pulled me away from them, stating, “Children, please,” in an exasperated tone. “Just throw the kid a celebration, and loosen up.”

He began to lead me away, telling me, “I’ll bring women from the wrong side of the tracks. Me and you are going to have a ball!”

Mendel began to tell me about his own bar mitzvah, “My own bar mitzvah was a miserable affair, and the cause for such abrasion in my family. Honestly the thought of it still gives me hives.”

Mendel shuddered a bit and I could now more clearly hear Dad going on about how much of an asshole Mendel is. Fun times.

“Where’s my hug, Jason?” Dad asked.

As I turned to face him, Mom asked, “Where’s my hug?”

I was saved from having to choose who to hug first by the doorbell ringing, Dad went to open it. He walked back in with Charlotte and Cordelia in tow.

“Look, a lesbian from next door!” exclaimed Charlotte.

“Followed by her lover who’s a lesbian from next door, too!” continued Cordelia.

I ran over and hugged them, laughing at our inside joke. It’s a long story and honestly? Don’t ask. Just don’t.

“But I’ve got food for everyone! Nouvelle bar mitzvah cuisine!” Cordelia had a habit of slipping into French when she was excited or nervous. I think her grandfather was French, so that would probably explain it.

Mom groaned slightly, but to her credit at least tried to sound slightly excited. While Cordelia was a marvellous cook, when it comes to Jewish food, there’s… room for improvement.

“Here! I’ve got dietetic knishes and gefilte fishes: food that from the heart!” bubbled Cordelia. “Take and a bit and see if all of your friends are of the same opinion.”

“It’s good!” assured Mendel.

“Very yummy, dear, it’s great,” Charlotte encouraged.

They began shouting about how great my bar mitzvah was going to be. They’re way more excited than they should be. I started to tune them out. I looked up to find that they had started a conga line. Oh my God.

Suddenly, Mendel and Dad were right beside me, lifting me in a king’s chair, still going on about the bar mitzvah.

They put me down, and Mom hugged me, Cordelia offered food, Charlotte punched me in the arm (which hurt) and Mendel ruffled my hair.

So I guess you could say that it was an eventful afternoon.

Chapter Text

On the day of my baseball game, it was an understatement to say that I was distracted. Between trying to decide which girl to invite to my bar mitzvah and wondering whether or not Whizzer was going to come like he said he would, there was a lot on my mind.

But I was meant to be focusing on when to move into position to bat. But at the same time, which girl to invite? There’s Dot Nardoni, Tiffany Axelrod, Zoe Feinstein, Angelina Dellibovi, Bunny Doyne or what’s her name… Mo Cristofaro! And Ellie Mazie Rosenthal’s really well built. When Heather Levin stares at me, I absolutely wilt. And I like when Julie Johnson does splits in her skirt.

But of these girls, which should I invite to my bar mitzvah? Here’s my problem: I don’t want the girls that I’m meant to want.

I heard the commentator yell, “Batter up!”

Surprisingly, I actually managed to get into position before resuming my internal spiel.

I want girls who wear a lot of makeup, who smoke and show their bust, girls with whom I always wake up-

Suddenly, the ball was flying towards me. I made a mad swing for it, but to no avail.

“Strike one!” the commentator interrupted.

If I invited them would they come? And not laugh at my Hebrew? Or laugh at my father and his friends?

Again, the ball came hurtling towards me. Again I made a swing for it. And - you guessed it - once again, it was to no avail.

Selecting girls for one’s bar mitzvah is a very hard exercise indeed. One could even go so far as to say that it’s the miracle of Judaism.

This time I didn’t even notice the ball flying past.

“Strike three, you’re out!” screeched the commentator.

I could hear my family yelling in the stands, but couldn’t quite make out what it was that they were saying. Mom, Dad, Mendel, Charlotte and Cordelia were all there, but still no Whizzer.

Suddenly Mendel stood up, yelling particularly loudly, I turned away, attempting to pretend that I didn’t know him.

“Remember Sandy Koufax! You can do it if you wanna do it! Take heart from Hank Greenberg! It’s not genetic, even you can be copacetic!”

At that point, Mom managed to pull him down. I stopped paying attention to them for a few minutes, watching the game. Someone tapped on my shoulder -

“Whizzer!” I grinned, hugging him.

“Hey, Jason,” he replied, laughing slightly.

“I’m so glad you came!” I enthused.

“Hey, keep your head in the box, okay?” Whizzer began. “Don’t think of a thing, keep your head in the box, and your eye on the ball, take a breath and let it out and swing.”

I nodded, breathlessly, trying to take in everything he was saying.

“Okay, go get em!” Whizzer ruffled my hair before walking back to the stands and his seat - which at that moment I noticed was right in front of Marvin. My plan was working so far.

The commentator yelled, and I moved into position. When the pitcher threw the ball, I tuned everything else out, and the world almost seemed to move in slow motion. Then I hit the ball. I was so shocked that for a moment I forgot to run. My family’s screaming reminded me, however.

When I turned back around, Dad and Whizzer were liplocked. They got some strange looks, but I, and evidently they, didn’t care.

We won the game, and all walked out into the parking lot, ready to celebrate. I was meant to be riding with Dad, and as I neared the car I overheard him and Whizzer talking. I paused, eavesdropping on their conversation.

“I may have forgiven you, Marv, but if you try anything like last time, or if you raise your hand to me or to Trina or Jason or anyone, I will leave, and this time, I won’t come back.”

“I’ve changed Whizzer, I promise,” Dad replied.

I chose that moment to walk around the car I was hiding behind, finding them in a hug.

“Ready to go, Dad?” I asked.

He and Whizzer released each other, but didn’t move particularly far apart.

“Sure thing, buddy,” he replied.

“Well, I’d better get going-” Whizzer began, but was cut off by Dad.

“Whiz,” he said softly. “Get in the car, you’re coming back to Trina’s with us.”

I had already gotten into the backseat, but could sense Whizzer’s trepidation, regardless.

“Oh my God, Whizzer, just get in the car, pleeeeeaaase!” I shouted.

Laughing, Dad and Whizzer got into the front seats.

I have a feeling that it’s all gonna look up from here.

Chapter Text

It had been a few weeks since the baseball game, and everything was looking up. Things were great, in fact.

Mom and Dad still bickered a little over the bar mitzvah, but it wasn’t too bad now that both Whizzer and Mendel were there to at least attempt to control their respective significant others.

It was Friday evening, meaning I was going over to Dad’s soon. Whizzer hadn’t officially moved back in yet, but he seemed to spend most of his time there anyway. Or at least when I was there he did. Mom and Mendel had started a new Friday night tradition: exercise. Because according to Mendel, “A family that exercises together, stays together.” I think the heck not.

Thankfully, they did that after I left. But then, of course, Dad heard about this and he and Whizzer started playing racquetball together. I was asked if I wanted to come once, and it was only when I threatened to vomit on Whizzer’s patent shoes that the invitation was retracted.

Mom and Mendel dropped me off outside Dad’s apartment building on their way to the park, and I let myself in, seeing as Dad gave me a keycard a couple of months ago. I knocked on Dad’s door, and when there was no response, I knocked on Charlotte and Cordelia’s door.

Cordelia opened the door, “Hey, Jay!” she squealed, pulling me into a bear hug. “Your Dad and Whizzer left about an hour ago, but you can chill with Char and I until they get back!”

I giggled as she released me, and we went inside. We were going to watch a movie, but Charlotte had had a long day at work, and she had a sore head so went to lie down.

After checking to make sure Charlotte was okay, Cordelia came back into the main room. That was one of the things that I loved about this apartment building - instead of separate kitchen and sitting rooms and stuff, there was just one main room, with one of those half wall divides where the sink was, meaning you could still see into the sitting room. It felt more home-y and open.

“Do you wanna help me make some pastries and cupcakes for the café tomorrow?” she asked, smiling gently.

“Can I?” I asked, grinning wildly.

Nodding, she replied, “Yeah, come on!”

We spent the next I-don’t-know-how-long making all manner of delicacies. When Dad and Whizzer got home, they left us be, but came back in after they had grabbed showers. Whizzer skilfully helped us to finish up (he had been working for Cordelia for nearly two years now, after all). Dad just watched him, lovestruck. I mimed vomiting to Cordelia, and she giggled a little.

It was a great evening. The next day, however, we got some bad news.

“I have to go into work today,” Dad announced. Whizzer frowned slightly. “But, it’s only for a few hours, and I’m sure Cordelia won’t mind Jason hanging around while you work your shift this afternoon.”

I wasn’t too upset though, because I still got to spend the morning with Whizzer and Cordelia.

About fifteen minutes later, I had to listen to their soppy goodbyes. But I was glad that they were both happy. They deserved each other, more than anything or anyone else.

It wasn’t too long before Whizzer’s shift started, so Whiz and I walked to ‘Cordelia’s’. Everything was pastel pink, and while Whizzer wasn’t extraordinarily feminine or anything, he still loved pink. I know all too well that stereotypes are the views of the small-minded, but it’s still hard to shake them from my mind sometimes.

I got to sit behind the counter while Whizzer served customers and Cordelia worked where she was in her prime: in the kitchen. It wasn’t long before I heard a very familiar voice.


My head shot up and I felt my cheeks blush slightly. “Oh, hi Heather!”

“What’re you doing here?” she asked, looking sweeter than a donut with a maple glaze.

“This is my Dad’s best friend’s café!” I said proudly.

“Oh cool!” Heather replied. I may have melted slightly.

“Hey, Jay, this a friend of yours?” Whizzer asked, eyebrows raised and with a knowing smile.

I began to stutter before Heather smoothly cut me off, sticking out her hand and introducing herself politely.

“I’m Heather Levin, Jason and I are in the same class at school,” she smiled at Whizzer, and I, once again, melted slightly.

“It’s very nice to meet you, Heather,” Whizzer replied, laughing a little. “I’m Whizzer. Jason’s father and I are… partners.”

He finished his sentence sounding slightly worried, but Heather didn’t even bat an eyelash.

“So, like boyfriends? Cool!” she grinned up at Whizzer before turning to me. “Well, I should prob’ly go get my food. Bye!”

I waved slightly, grinning goofily.

“Jason’s got a cru-ush, Jason’s got a cru-ush!” Whizzer teased, ruffling my hair.

I laughed and in walked Dad. Whizzer stopped “tormenting” me and began grinning goofily himself.

Everything was good. Everything was alright. We were all happy. Sometimes I thought it was all too good to be true.

In that moment, I had no idea just how right I was.

Chapter Text

That Sunday, I was sitting waiting for Mom to come and collect me. Whizzer had a client in that day (his photography studio was doing really well, from what I’d heard), and Dad was really tired, so he wasn’t much fun.

I pulled out my trusty journal and began to write.

Every Sunday, when Mom comes to pick me up, she and Dad end up fighting. Sometimes they get along, but mostly they argue about the bar mitzvah. It’s not as if it’s a funeral, so what’s so upsetting? They’re all yelling, and they’re all ruining it! My bar mitzvah is a celebration. Where I get richer. But NO, they all have to yell. What have I done to deserve this?

Just then, a resounding knock came from the front door. I had just gotten my journal back into my bag when Mom and Mendel walked in. And, just as I thought, an argument immediately ensued.

“I want the Applebaums,” began Mom. “They’re really lovely people and they like me!”

“They’re boring,” countered Dad, “and she doesn’t like you, just the way you dress, if you want my opinion.”

“Well to be fair, who wouldn’t?” joked Mendel, attempting to lighten the situation. Mom and Dad both shot him angry glares, and he sat down next to me, sighing in defeat.

“Have the Applebaums!”

“Screw the Applebaums!”

I desperately tried to break them apart, jumping up and yelling, “Please don’t do this!”

They didn’t even seem to hear me.

“Saul’s a jerk!”

“Have them!”

“Nix them!”

Once again, Mendel tried to diffuse the situation, “Long live the Abblebaums! But why are we doing this? Arguing takes work.”

I slumped back down onto the sofa, muttering, “I hate this.”

This time, they actually did hear me. Makes perfect logical sense: when I’m screaming in their faces it’s as if I’m not even there, but the one time I mutter darkly under my breath, they hear perfectly.

“Blame her!” Dad yelled, turning to face me. “What’s even the point of having a big do? It’s all a waste!”

Mom didn’t take that too well. Aghast, she pulled Dad back around to face her, yelling “You’re gonna blame me? You have paintings of dicks! Don’t talk to me about taste!”

To be fair, she wasn’t lying. Dad had some a painting of some suspiciously dick-like flowers hanging beside the front door. I’m pretty sure Whizzer dared him to buy it.

While everyone was caught up in the dick-flowers, I took my chance to interject. “Stop! I don’t want a bar mitzvah! Okay? I don’t want a bar mitzvah!”

Mom and Dad nearly fell over. Mom spun me around to face her, asking in a soft tone, “What do you mean you don’t want a bar mitzvah?”

“How do you think we feel about that?” Dad also asked in a soft tone, also spinning me around to face him.

Before anything truly drastic could happen, Mendel once again interjected. He took Mom and Dad by the shoulders, and led them over to the seats, allowing them to resume a glaring match as Mendel talked to me.

He began to dance towards me, chanting in Italian or something. He’s tried to teach me a few times, but evidently nothing has ever stuck, because I couldn’t understand a single word of what he was saying.

Sighing, he turned me around and started talking. In English, this time.

“Jason, bud, everyone hates his parents, don’t be ashamed, okay? You’ll grow up, come through. Maybe one day you’ll even have kids, and guess what?”

“What?” I asked grumpily.

“They’ll hate you too.”

I giggled slightly, before I turned and once again saw the annoyed faces of Mom and Dad.

“But Mendel, I don’t wanna do it,” I tried to explain. “I don’t wanna do anything just to give them pleasure, or whatever this is about. I don’t want a bar mitzvah. I mean, with the way they’re always on each other’s backs about it, if it were your bar mitzvah, would you?”

Standing up and walking over to the table (and garnering some strange looks from Dad), Mendel resumed his spiel.

“Like I said Jason, everyone hates their parents - I mean, it’s in the Torah! It’s what we can see throughout history, in fact God said to Moses-”

At this point he climbed up onto the table. I didn’t need to around to know Dad was glaring daggers at him, and that Mom had her face in her hands.

“Moses, everyone hates his parents: that’s how it is!” Mendel said in a terrible stereotypical New York accent which sounded very out of place among his usual light, airy tones.

At this point, Dad pulled me over to sit between him and Mom.

“Don’t feel guilty, kid, but you’re going to have to kill your mother. This will humiliate her, so be merciful and kill her,” he stated as if it was the most normal thing in the world.

“Jason, darling, don’t get nervous, I’m right here,” added Mom. “I’m grateful, and hoping that you’ll do what I pray you’ll do. Just don’t use guns. Please.”

I was then dragged away (once again) by Mendel.

“Oh my God. Now I understand what you meant. In time through, they’ll cool out and you’ll realise that they were just messing around, you know?”

I raised a single eyebrow at him, and he shrugged, before turning to face Mom and Dad and pushing them towards the door, yelling after them.

“Call the Applebaums, work it out, pick out a gorgeous centrepiece, thank you!”

And with that, the door was closed behind them. Mendel feigned falling to the floor dead as I laughed harder than I had in years.

Chapter Text

I could hear Mom and Mendel whispering outside my bedroom door, and I’d already heard their footsteps approach and leave a few time over the course of the evening.

As I lay in the darkness, I began to think. Everyone had been acting really weirdly for the past week, sort of tiptoeing around me. And I hadn’t heard from Whizzer during that time. Was he okay? Of course he was, I was just being silly. He was Whizzer after all; he was always okay.

A knock sounded on my door, shaking me out of my reverie.

“Come in,” I called out.

Mom and Mendel walked into my room slowly. Mom looked like she’d been crying, and Mendel wasn’t looking too hot either. I sat up in bed as they turned my light on, wondering what on Earth could be happening.

“Jason, honey, we need to tell you something, okay?” Mom began shakily, her voice cracking towards the end. “And we don’t want you to be scared, but it is quite serious.”

She turned to look at Mendel, who gave her an encouraging nod, before turning back around to look at my panic-stricken face.

“Wha-What’s going on?” I asked, extremely concerned about what I was about to be told. I was beginning to panic slightly. Everything was okay, right? That’s what we’d said, what we’d all promised each other. Everything would be alright. We - the tight-knit family, brought together by sorrow and pain to create this beautiful, great thing - would be alright. Wouldn’t we?

“Whizzer… Whizzer isn’t very well, Ja-” Mom tried to tell me, but she broke off at the end, sobbing into Mendel’s chest, as he held her and patted her back. He looked as though he could start crying himself at any moment. What did Mom mean Whizzer wasn’t well?

“He collapsed while he and your Dad were playing racquetball last weekend,” Mendel continued, just about holding himself together.

This revelation hit me like a truck. But I had to wonder-

“Is it what the people at school have been talking about?” I asked. “The gay plague? ‘Cause that’s, that’s what Whiz and Dad are, right? Nancys?”

“Don’t-Don’t use that word please, Jason,” Mom said, her head shooting up so fast she could potentially suffer from whiplash. The tears were still streaming down her face. “It’s not a nice word. But yes, they are… gay. And… maybe that is what Whizzer has, but it’s too early to say for sure.”

Mom and Mendel looked at me expectantly, but I just looked down at my lap, and picked at my nails. Eventually, I broke the silence.

“Could you please leave me alone? I have school tomorrow, and it’s late, I should probably get to sleep.” Mom and Mendel nodded, and walked back out of my room.

This couldn’t be happening. Everything would be alright. Whizzer was going to be okay. Just like he always was. We were all going to be okay.

It was only once they had left that I let the tears fall.

I rocked myself to sleep that night, calming myself by whispering like a mantra under my breath, “Everything will be alright, everything will be alright.”

Except it wouldn’t, would it?