4/17/13

The Reenactments by Nick Flynn

I sit down next to him, ask, Do you know a Nicholas Flynn? Tricky Nickie, my father says. He's my son. The television is loud. I offer my hand, tell him to give me a firm handshake. I'm your son, I tell him. O, he says. What's your name? Nicholas Flynn, I tell him. You're Nicholas? I ask Iris if we can turn down the television, but today we cannot turn it down. We're about to have a sing-along, Iris tells me. I set up my computer on the table in front of my father and slide the DVD in. Iris hands our xeroxed packets of songs, and the sing-along begins: Birds are singing, for me and my gal. I pull the computer closer to us, lean into my father, point to the screen. That's Robert De Niro, playing you when you drove a taxi in Boston. He's a hot-looking shit, my father says. Dressed well. America has produced only three classic writers, De Niro's voiceover tells us—Mark Twain, J.D. Salinger, and me. I'm Jonathan Flynn. Everything I write is a masterpiece. I repeat what De Niro has just said, and my father nods. The other fourteen people in the room sing, In love-land, for me and my gal. I lean in closer, plug in my earbuds, try to put one in my father's ear, but he bats it away. What are you doing? he barks. We are put on this earth to help other people, Dano parrots, and a few moments later he gets punched in the face. I just got punched in the face, I tell my father, pointing to the screen. Seriously? my father asks. I point to each actor, say, That's Nick Flynn, your son. He says, Nicholas Flynn, That's my son. I say, I'm Nicholas Flynn, and my father glances at me. O yes, he says. I point to the other actors as they appear: That's Jody, your wife. That's you. This is Al. O, yes, my father says, each time.