a little excerpt from chapter ten: what's your passion
of GIRLY, a novel by Elizabeth Merrick

(this is Max again)

He hands me the manual to the karaoke machine and leaves with all his lures and his poles and an inflatable mattress for the back of his van. I wait till he drives off then go check the liquor cabinet, and then I look if there’s anywhere in the hall closet to stick the karaoke asshole machine, so fucking embarrassing if Bandolero is coming here later. Which would be cool. The liquor is pretty stocked, and my dad is probably actually a little guilty about bailing, so he won't say shit if I empty it by Sunday. It will be a whole new level to have a party here.

I find that my dad still has some decent herb stuck in a sweatsock next to a flimsy clay pipe with a half-busted screen. He goes through a quarter a month. I only go up into the bedroom now when Pops isn't here, otherwise I stick to the fold-out couch downstairs for someplace to crash. He would let me sleep up here in this bed while he took the floor next to it the first year I started visiting him, when I was twelve and too chicken to sleep downstairs by myself. The next year I started sleeping on the couch—thirteen—and after I got over being so proud to walk around with a dad, I started realizing people were laughing at him a lot, and I started real fast hating to be seen with him in public.

I flop onto the polyester bedspread and looked out onto all the towing companies and warehouses in this part of Sacramento.

You can still see the Michelin sign out the window from the bed, the Michelin Man made up of piled white tires, walking along all lit up from inside the sign like he's got something to smile about. Who ever heard of white tires? Does the Michelin Man wobble when he walks? Do the tires balance like magic or are they glued together somehow? When no one's looking, does he swing them around like so many hula hoops? At thirteen I would stay up and wonder these things and try not to think about whether or not it would piss my dad off by asking him. I still wonder some of the same things, only now the Michelin Man looks more like a mummy with a beer gut.

Like if you pulled on a part of him that stuck out he would unravel and unravel, get down to something less puffy. I don't know what that would be, I can't imagine it.


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