We just need to figure it out. Let’s figure it out. We just need to put it down, see it all in columns, everything added up and broken down. Because I think this could work.
Stop smoking. Yes, both of us. That’s an easy one. Okay, not easy. Doable. That’s what? Let’s call it $20 a day. More on the weekends. Jesus. I will say, just the idea of quitting makes me feel better. What a wake up call. Look how much cash that frees up. Multiply that by a couple of years and holy shit. Maria, that’s his college tuition right there. Or whatever. Whatever he wants to do. I mean it could be soccer cleats and car payments and confirmation clothes. What was I worried about? We don’t need the fuckin Navy. We just need to stop smoking.
And you, you can help too. He’ll be in that special school for most of the day. You can get a job now. They’re building a big Kohl’s in Corpus. We can move back and you could work there. Manager, maybe. Okay, assistant manager. We could get a place that’s close enough to walk. We wouldn’t even need a second car. Paychecks. Insurance. Discounts. Overtime. All that. Everything. We don’t need Tricare. I mean Jesus those Tricare doctors thought he was deaf. He’s deaf, Petty Officer Cardenas, they said. He’s not fucking deaf, I told them. Do you remember? Do you remember me telling them that my son, our son, hates me, hates us? And you said calm down Miguel but think about this. Think about corporate health insurance. Nurses park your car for you and the doctors are geniuses. I mean, really.
No more fancy groceries. We don’t have to be a fancy grocery family. We don’t need chicken or cauliflower. We need rice. We never eat rice anymore. All of a sudden, we’re too good for rice. And sandwiches. I can make sandwiches. There’s some rule that I have to buy a sandwich? Walking around like I’m too good for a sack lunch. A sandwich is like ten bucks. I can make one for fifteen cents. Okay so multiply that. See? It’s going to be fine. We’re going to be fine.
I’ll sell the Challenger. No yeah, I’m going to really sell it. It’s a ridiculous car. Especially now. I kept it because I thought he’d like it when he got older. Borrow it for dates or whatever. But it’s fine that he doesn’t like it. It’s fine that it scares him. Yes, I understand this isn’t something he will grow out of. Yes, I understand this is who he is. I’m good with selling with the Challenger. I mean I want to sell it. I feel good about it.
And my mom is another one. We can move back to Corpus and she can take him on the weekends if you need to pick up a shift or something. I mean, if I can’t. She can watch him at our place. You won’t have to clean up before she comes over, I’ll do it. Yes, every time. You won’t have to do a thing. Jesus, Maria. She doesn’t blame you. She loves you. She was upset and scared when she said that. She didn’t mean it. She did apologize. She meant to, anyway. I think she’s really sorry.
Because I earned this, that’s why. This was the plan. This was our plan. I’m getting out of the fuckin Navy and I’m going to college. That was the deal I made with the recruiter and that’s the plan right this fuckin second. That’s final. I don’t know, something with computers probably. Some kind of special computer degree. I’ll get some kind of special computer job. I’d be good at that. Cyber security. Network administration. Systems analyst. Information technology. I’m going to have business cards and on my first day they’re gonna meet me in the parking lot. They’re gonna say congratulations Mr. Cardenas, welcome aboard. And they’ll have bagels on Wednesday and everyone will be so surprised when they find out that I used to be in the Navy. Oh Miguel, they’ll say. You? That’s so surprising. How long? And I’ll tell them thirteen years and they’ll say oh my god.
And I’ll tell them about how there was something wrong with my kid. Something deeply broken inside him. And how the Navy doctors thought it was one thing, but they were wrong. He didn’t look me in the eye or laugh or talk and they said he’s deaf but he wasn’t deaf. What was wrong with him was bigger. What was wrong with him was enormous. He was going to need special doctors and special schools and he was going to need them for the rest of his life.
And I’ll tell them about how if I stayed in the Navy then all his care would be covered. If I didn’t, it wouldn’t. Oh my god, they would say. That must have been so hard, they would say. And after all that, you still made the decision to get out?
No, of course not, I’ll say. Because of course I’m staying in the Navy. Yes, I’m going to reenlist. I mean, I want to. I feel good about it. Maria, stop. Stop. This is my choice. It’s fine. You go to bed. I’ll be right up. I’m just going to finish this cigarette.
Kyle Seibel is a copywriter and veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom and the GWOT. His work will be featured in an upcoming episode of public radio’s Snap Judgement and in the January issue of The Master’s Review.