My father was crazy. Literally, I now think. He was also brilliant and charismatic. He saved pregnant women and their babies and slept with every woman he could. He abused his family and bought us all new cars. He made a fortune and died with a big tax lien on the ancestral family home. He taught me to play golf, and that my hunting boot was not a good place to try to hide my high-school bottle of Jack Daniels from him--that or the bottle levitated of its own accord up onto my dresser. Just sitting there. He never said anything about it.
|The four Everett McCord Claytons, in 1971, three years|
before my father (looming over us all) died
He's been dead for forty years, but he lives on in the purgatory of memory. If you want to know more of the story, you can read my novel Angle of Approach. It's all there. The way I imagine it, which is more true that the way it actually was. Indeed, you can get some feel for his impact on my life by reading any of my five novels (assuming they get published). They are all father-son stories: men searching for their sons, boys longing for their fathers. They are the stories he put inside me, for better or worse.
And still, today, even knowing the full extent of his abuse, profligacy and narcissism, when the sun casts late shadows on a sloping lawn, I am back on our golf course with him. We are walking along talking about the next shot, about whether I can bend it around the old oak tree on number one, or about how close to the hole he plans to hit his four iron. He was a master of long irons. Just one of the many things he did better than I. One of the many things I’m still trying to do well enough to earn his highest praise: "Good shot."