I’ve been drunk on my Daddy’s breath since the day I was born. When we’d run out of milk, he’d pour scotch on his Apple Jacks, sometimes splash a little on mine. I’d roll his joints with Zigzag after school, line ‘em up on the TV before he got home from work. I’d get high off the air in the living room when his friends came over to play poker. I can still smell that shag carpet damp with beer and sweaty feet. It was always swamp-ass hot. Hot enough to melt the balls off a brass monkey, but Daddy still never fixed the air conditioner. I swear sometimes I can still smell his buddies, buncha pot-bellied head-bangers, throwing up in the can. They survived on Hot Pockets with American cheese melted in the microwave. I can’t stand the stink and goo of cheese. I can’t stand the smell of coffee, either. Daddy’d breath Yuban and rum all over me. He’d slap Old Spice on his face every morning. I always thought it smelled like there was an animal rotting in the house and he was trying to cover the stench with cedar chips.

Daddy died in a freak accident when I was nine. He was fixing a steamroller on the highway and somehow got pinned underneath it. He was found face down, flattened into the wet asphalt. The fourt-ton machine had rolled over him. His sister, Aunt Kimberly, became my guardian. The way I remember it, Aunt Kim took me to Joe’s Diner to announce to her friends that she was going to be taking care of me from now on. Everyone cheered and clapped, blowing me kisses. I had my first Denver omelet there, no cheese. It was all eggy and buttery in its warm hammy goodness. And those little squares of bell pepper and onion. And the toast with strawberry preserves. And there was a mug of hot chocolate with whipped cream and sprinkles. It made me feel like Aunt Kim was my dead Momma and my dead Daddy all rolled into one. But as it turned out, she was more like a wasted cheerleader who went through the entire football team in one night, but woke up in the morning feeling like a blushing bride. Her breath smelled like Gallo Burgundy and Listerine. And she had the worst B.O. on planet Earth. Her funk was a stew of pickled eggs, swamp water, and liverwurst. When Aunt Kim rendezvoused, as she liked to call it, I was left alone to my own devices. I liked trying on her Avon cologne in the fancy bottle. I’d spray it in the air and walk through the mist, drenching my pajamas in “Heavenly Rain.” And now, years later, I get a call from her at 2AM announcing that she’s found the Lord. She wants my forgiveness. She wants to be pitied while she stuffs her deep dark hole with Jesus.

Someone on the Internet told me I was problematic. Toxic. He said maybe I should be cancelled. That was after I told Aunt K she was full of shit. See, she’s rebranded herself on social media. They call her “Brave Angel.” Apparently, she’s a hero now. Well, relax, assholes. I’ve already cancelled myself. Consider me gone, Daddy, gone. I’m going home. And I don’t mean the home I grew up in. I’m going to a place I saw in a painting at Bottoms Up Tavern. It’s nighttime on a snowy mountain top. There’s a log cabin nestled between pines covered in ice, lit by the moon and the stars. Looks colder than a witch’s hooch. When I took the painting off the wall to get a better look, the bartender bitched at me. So, I shoved a ten into her little grubby. That shut her up. Anyway, I got a good look through those frosty windows. I saw myself reading a book by the fireplace, all nice and cozy. A dog with big old wolf fangs stood by my side. A turkey roasted on the fire. I watched its juices drip into the flames, sizzling. Rosemary and thyme filled the air. And the dog put his big paws on my lap, looking into my eyes like he was an old friend. He growled when he heard a pack of wolves howling to each other. When I opened the door to let him out, the arctic air blasted me. So clean, so pure, so unbearably cold. I fell to my knees in the snow, laughing.