Talentless (Flash Fiction)

Bob settled into his recliner with a nice plate of nachos just in time to catch the kickoff for the third quarter. His team was up, and so were his spirits. He bit into a large chip covered in cheese, refried beans and small chunks of chicken and felt the soothing ease of an afternoon full of football, food and beer. His wife was even joining him, half watching the game and reading some smutty book when the men with tight pants and great butts began to bore her. A light rumbling of footsteps came down the stairs. Bob was shocked. His son, full of teenage angst and cynicism, never watched football. It was shaping up to be a fine day.

“I’m talentless,” Brian said to his family.

Catherine looked up, saw the black t-shirt her son was wearing, the one with bold white lettering that said “FUCK YOU,” and promptly returned to the sexual exploits of her book. It was a classic handoff from one parent to another. Without saying a word, she told Bob, You’re handling this one.

“The fuck are you talkin’ about?” Bob said with a mouthful.

“I have no talents,” Brian said.

Bob chewed slowly and swallowed. Catherine turned a quiet page. Brian stood in silence. It soon became obvious that he had not descended the stairs to watch a football game with dear old Dad.

“Everyone has talents,” Bob said. “Hell, look how easy it is for you to piss off your mom.”

Brian was unwavered. “I’m beyond banal,” he continued. “Everything about me is a lie, thrust onto me by my social surroundings and constant advertising. I have no identity, my future is limited by the mediocre income of my family, and anything of interest to me has been destroyed by capitalist exploitation. My future has ended. I have no method from escaping this prison. I’m talentless.”

Bob stared at his son, trying not to show how little of the rant he understood. He glanced at his wife who was wearing a forced expression of inattention. Either her book was really good, or she was determined to get some literary action. “What did you say about income?” Bob asked.

Brian shook his head and looked at the TV. “I see you’re supporting the modern day slave owners and their barbaric display of physical competition in order to satiate your primal needs and keep you overly domesticated.”

Bob plucked a heavy chip from his plate and put it in his mouth. “It’s the Bears,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter,” Brian said.

Catherine sighed and turned another page. It was another secret message between parents. Deal with this before I scream.

“You’ve got talents,” Bob said.

“Do I?” asked Brian in a sarcastic tone.

“Sure ya do.” He glanced at Catherine, hoping for any hint of what kind of response she would prefer. Some days, it was too hard to tell. He went out on a limb. “Look at how many words you can use to tell someone you’re a whiney little bitch.”

Brian spun around and marched right back up the stairs.

Bob smiled to himself and then looked to his wife. She glanced at him, and he sent her a little wink. She smiled, and the tension melted from her body. On the following play, the Bears scored a touchdown. The day was saved.

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