Like Father

Miami International is such a piece of shit. It’s like nothing ever ends: terminals devour runways, runways birth terminals, everything always under construction. There’s never been a greater delay and pain in the ass.

We ferry eight full-size suitcases to the end of our airline’s line for International Departures. Check-in looks like a goddamn refugee camp: underprepared parents corralling their kids, stacks of luggage, in-laws, animals. And this at 6:00 a.m.

My father rifles through his camcorder bag in search of tickets and passports. He manages the trip’s documents and treats us like we’re twelve; like this is the trip we took when I was twelve. It’s impossible for him to enjoy the journey, to relax. It’s always been this way. He tends to raise his voice with greater frequency during trips to visit family.

“This sucks,” Miguel says with rings under his eyes, clouds overhead, migraine like lightning in his temples.

I agree, this sucks, and say so.

“No, man,” he says. “You have no idea.” He bares teeth and winces, and I remember what he’d said last night, half a bottle deep, about sneaking weed onto the plane. It doesn’t take long to guess where he’s hidden it. I start laughing. He grimaces again and I laugh harder.

I call Armando over, who’d helped Papa unzip an enormous suitcase stuffed full of donated clothing, and I tell him Miguel has a dime bag up his ass. Armando looks perplexed and maybe amused, but I don’t think he gets what I’m saying. I reiterate with gestures. It takes a minute, and I wonder if he’s paying attention, or if now he’s concerned about security. Armando should’ve been the oldest, concerned and worried; he’s like my father. But so too is the youngest, because finally Armando laughs, and loudly, as do I, to the point Miguel’s barking and swearing and my father’s up to his elbows in paperwork and underwear and hasn’t a clue what’s so funny.


Diego Báez teaches reading and writing at the City Colleges of Chicago. His work has appeared most recently in La Fovea, RHINO, and (the now sadly defunct) Flatmancrooked's Slim Volume of Contemporary Poetics. He is the co-creator of stacknapping.

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