Tale of the tape

Illustration by Bob AulThe smashed car window, I can fix. The stolen CD player, I can replace. The missing car key, I can fret about but deal with. The stolen video camera, I can live without. But the TAPES, you fucking bastard, the videotapes of me interviewing my father? The ones I recorded back when he could still speak, back when he could still sit upright, back when he could still eat solid food? I know his voice is a little slurred, and his energy is low, but he still looks pretty good in them, considering he's lost 40 pounds since then. And I know the lighting is poor and the sound is sort of scratchy, but I know it's him, talking about his life in the old country, his parents and grandparents, meeting my mom and raising a family in a new land. And you? What will you think of him? Thirty-to-one you won't know how to play the tapes; they're MiniDV, after all. Twenty-to-one you won't bother to play them, unless you're looking for home porn movies. Sorry, no luck. Ten-to-one you won't even read the labels, but even if you did, “Interview 4/20/04” won't mean anything to you. Even odds you'll probably just ignore them and whomever you fence the camera to will just throw them away. How much extra crack money could a couple of used videotapes net you, anyway? Ten-to-one you won't see the sign I put up on the garage fence. Twenty-to-one you'll see it but won't be able to read it. Maybe you don't speak English; maybe you're just not too smart. Thirty-to-one you'll see it, read it, be tempted by the cash reward, but will be too afraid to drop off the tapes, knock on the door, hide behind a bush and wait for me to put an envelope in their place. One hundred-to-one, I'll never get my dad back.


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