The clock keeps time on the wall. It was one of those fanciful clocks, shaped like a cat, where the cat’s tail marked the passing seconds with each sway. Roger always disliked those types of clocks. To him, they seemed to be a charade, as if the owner was trying to mask the true importance of the clock by parading it in some absurd caricature.
“Stupid clock,” he growled to himself while spearing an onion on his plate. His fork slid off the onion and came scrapping down on the plate instead. Immediately his father slammed down the paper he had been reading, the cover story advertising an undercover liposuction scandal.
“What did I say about making a scene at dinner?” Roger’s father demanded as he glared across the table at his son. The veins in his neck protruded rather obscenely and spit flew from his mouth.
Roger merely ducked his head and went on with his attempts to stab the onion. Finally he succeeded and shoved the onion in his mouth, beginning to chew rapidly. One, two, three…how many times was a person supposed to chew something before they swallowed? Was it ten, twenty, fifteen? And did the number of chews change according to the food? Roger doggedly puzzled over these essential questions, while his father began to change shades until his face was a deep purple.
“Listen to me when I talk to you boy!” his father screamed as he banged a fist down on the table, causing the glasses to shake and the cat clock to fall down from the wall. The clock fell onto the scuffed wooden floor, and the ticking finally stopped as the cat’s tail was severed from its body.
“Is something going on?” a weak voice asked from the nearby bedroom.
“Look at that. Look at what you’ve done now. You’ve gone and woken her up,” Roger’s father hissed at him lividly, although in softer tones. “It’s nothing dear, nothing at all. Go on back to sleep now,” he called sweetly down the hall, before shooting one last glare in Roger’s direction.
Cramming the rest of his food into his mouth Roger pushed back his chair and left the table. He scrapped the remaining gravy from his plate into the trash and proceeded to rinse the plate thoroughly before putting it in the dishwasher. Then, without a word, Roger turned away from his father and went up the stairs to his bedroom. On the way up he wondered just what good a dishwasher was that didn’t actually wash the dishes.