21 March 2016

“No,” said the boy.

“Dad, no,” said the girl, horror on her face.

Oedipus smiled at them reassuringly and leaned back further into the futon. “You know, guys, if it makes you feel more comfortable, you can call me ‘bro’.”

The girl burst into tears.

“I don’t understand you guys,” Oedipus sighed, scratching his beard. “It’s an exciting time for this family. We’re like, unique now. We’re progressive.”

“We’re disgusting,” said the boy fiercely. “We’re freaks.”

Oedipus waved his hand dismissively, sending trails of smoke flying around his head.

“Think about it. This is a slap in the face to the capitalist, patriarchal notion of the nuclear family. We’re like, queering heterosexuality. It’s a wonderful thing.”

“It’s not wonderful at all, Dad,” the girl sobbed.

“‘Dad’ seems a bit limited,” mused Oedipus. “Dad-Bro. Bro-Dad. Yeah.”

“How did this even happen?” asked the boy. “How did you –?” He couldn’t bear to finish the sentence.

Oedipus took a long drag on his joint.

“Alright. I’ll tell you guys. So I grew up in North Balwyn, yeah? I lived a pretty good life. I loved my parents. One day, I was with my mates, messing around with that Bongo thing. You know, text your name and it tells you things about yourself. Then I got a text saying, ‘Bongo knows that you will kill your father and have sex with your mother’. I mean, shit! That’s specific. But Bongo always knows and I was scared of it coming true, so I fled North Balwyn  in the middle of the night. I came here, to Brunswick.

“I was wandering down Sydney Road, a lonely traveller, when I came across this dude on the corner, tearing down some vegan restaurant posters. I asked him what he was doing and he made some very inflammatory remarks about vegans. Now, I’m a peaceful man, kids. Maybe it was the pints I’d necked on the way out of Abbotsford that made me so aggressive. But an argument ensued, and uh…” He shifted uncomfortably. “When you look at it, objectively, I think we can say that he walked in front of that Number 19, really. He walked.”

“Dad!” exclaimed the girl.

“Bro-Dad,” corrected Oedipus, grinning at the word. “So anyway, I dashed into the nearest pub before the police could arrive and some trivia night was happening. The final question was a riddle that I guessed straight away, so I joined a table and helped them win. Then this babe on the team was so impressed with my knowledge that she asked me back to her place. That was your mum. The next morning she discovered that her ex-boyfriend had been hit by a tram, and in her grief we moved in together and had two kids.”

“So how did you find out?” asked the boy. “That you’re…?”

“My parents from North Balwyn finally tracked me down after twelve years. Well, they weren’t worried enough to look for me, so actually we bumped into each other in IKEA. Anyway, they asked why I’d left, I told them about the Bongo thing and they told me I was adopted. They forwarded me the names of my biological parents and, well…” He shrugged, “you’ve gotta make the best of these situations.”

“Oh no we don’t,” said a voice from the top of the stairs. Jocasta descended, a suitcase in each hand. “I’m out.”

“But Dad,” said the boy desperately. “How could you not know? What about the age gap?”

“I’ve always had a thing for older women,” Oedipus shrugged.    

“You revolting, hideous man-child!” Jocasta spat, reaching the bottom of the stairs.

“‘Man-child’. Hey, that’s pretty clever, because –”

“Shut up, Oedipus. Go stab your eyes out with a fridge magnet. I’m leaving and the children are coming with me.”

“Where are you going? I’ve heard the rent’s pretty good in Brunswick East right now, if you want to live close by…”

“Far, far away, where you can never find us!” shouted Jocasta. “Probably Geelong,” she added.

“I think your attitude towards this is slightly problematic, Jo…”

“Kids, I’m going to wait in the car, go pack your bags.”

The children ran upstairs. Jocasta let the front door slam shut behind her.

Oedipus surveyed the empty room and took another drag. Well, it could have been worse. She still didn’t know that he’d pushed her ex in front of a tram. Now, if she found that out – well, that would constitute a bad day.


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