Glad You’re Back

You think that will hold me? Trelle asked. I’d used a tie I had for weddings and bound her wrists, trying to follow from memory a confusing step-by-step guide I’d found online. She still wore her neon stockings and had added electrical tape pasties. But already she was looking away from me, out the window. I went to work on the knot. Oww!

Hold on, I said. I know how to do this. Her eyes glazed over. Her body was still here but that was it. Finally I had the thing loosened and was about to retie it when my phone buzzed. It’s my father, I have to answer it, I said. Trelle shook the tie off and went to get her bag.

So how’s your progress? my father asked.


This movie you’re in town to make. The movie about my life.

I’d come out to the city to engage in depravity with Trelle. But my father was remembering a conversation he’d had with my senior brother, now deceased, who had been a movie director. I was the other brother with some knowledge of the movie process so his lapsing memory had combined us. I’d spent my life in my brother’s shadow and didn’t want to correct him.

It occurred to me now that Trelle may have also thought that I was one of my older brothers when she first got my call. When we met for coffee, her face did not immediately register recognition or excitement. There was some confusion there.

Let’s talk in person, I told my father. In the morning.

I may not still be here in the morning.

You’ll be there.

Why don’t you want to make the movie?

I do want to make the movie.

Then where is the actor who is going to play me? Where is the woman who will play my ailing mother in Warsaw? You really haven’t thought these things through.

From across the room Trelle asked, What movie? You’re making a movie? Does he know you’re only a PA?

I was a Second Second, I told Trelle, sotto voce. That’s not a PA, Trelle. Not in Hollywood. Maybe out here they have different rules.

So who is going to play me? my father wanted to know. Answer me that.

We’ll find someone good.

Well, start finding. I don’t have much time. The doctors won’t tell me but I’d say it’s days. A matter of days. Or months. One year at the most. Is that enough for you? I want to be able to go to the theater and see this thing.

I’d like some more input from you first, actually, I said.

I’m right here. I’m not going anywhere. Why didn’t you already ask me these questions? Are you just making the story up on your own? You were never in the Warsaw ghetto.

Listen, I just want one thing from you. A title.

Title for what?

Title for the movie, Dad. That’s always the first step in Hollywood. Tell me the title and I’ll make the movie around that. That’s how everyone does it.

I’ll tell you the title.

Okay. What is it?

Here’s the title: Old Man Asks His Son, His Son Who He’s Never Asked Of Anything In The Past, He Asks Him For A Very Simple Thing, A Thing Within That Son’s Wheelhouse, And The Son Doesn’t Call Or Visit And When He Finally Comes Back To New York It’s Because He’s Here To See Some Girl, Some Floozy, Because That’s All He Cares About: Sex!

I think we need a shorter title.

You think this is funny. It’s my life! My life was not a comedy! My life was a tragedy! It’s a tragedy still!

Did he just call me a floozy? He used the word “floozy”. That is so awesome. Trelle had gotten closer and was listening in. I sensed I might even get a chance to attempt the knot again.

Well, no, I told my Dad. I don’t think this is funny. It’s really important. But in reality I should call you back in the morning. I want my full, uninterrupted attention on this thing.

You don’t really care. I can tell.

I do care. I do care. I don’t know why I’m laughing right now. I’m laughing because I’m nervous. The Holocaust makes me nervous. A lot of things make me nervous and I laugh. I honestly mean no disrespect to anyone.

You’re with her right now, aren’t you?


I’m hanging up now.


No waiting. My life was never about waiting. It was a series of tragic events that happened sequentially, with no waiting.

No, Dad, I’m serious, we will make this movie, your movie, but I honestly need to go.

Goodbye, Ephraim.

This is not Ephraim. This is Jack, Dad.

Of course, of course.

I’m Jack, your other son.

When I hung up the phone, Trelle lay on her back and laughed. She laughed and laughed until I got up from the bed. Listen, I gotta go, I said, surprising myself.

Oh, really? Cause I’m a floozy?

No, no, that’s not why.

She watched me get my pants on. When I got to the door she said, You really are a jerk, Jack. Unlike your brothers.

Listen, I need to get some air. I actually want to try to help my Dad out.

When are you going to tell him you’re not a Hollywood director?

He doesn’t want to hear that. I’ll call you after I figure this out.



Out in the street I took in the warm light of the setting sun. Throngs of people spewed up from the subway, each appearing to have a purpose and a predetermined trajectory. I felt like I’d been floating around in an eddy just outside the current my whole life.

I pushed through the crowd to go down the steps into the station. I caught an uptown train to go see my Dad with the goal of telling him honestly my whole situation. Just to be there for him, even if he insisted on thinking I was someone else. As the train shuddered through the tunnel I smiled, imagining him opening the door: Ephraim! So glad you’re back!




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