Have a seat, son. We need to talk. I’ll be heading out soon, into one of the most crime-ridden neighborhoods of our dangerous city, and I have a feeling I might not make it back. But before I go, let me lay one last massive guilt trip on you.
Want some coffee? I know you’re a little young, but your mother or aunt isn’t home, and coffee is all I know how to make. Sugar? No, son, the men in this house take our coffee black as the night. Which is full of crime.
See, that teenage whining right there is why we need to have this talk. I know you haven’t had it easy, here in our impoverished working-class or obscenely wealthy home, but your mother/aunt and I have always done the best we can for you. I know you’re going through some things, feeling rebellious and all that, but I want you to know that, regardless of how violently I die or how much you’re to blame for my suffering, I love you.
It just seems important to say that to you today, for some reason.
Let me say some other words. Power. Responsibility. The innocent. Crime. Protect. Is this sinking in? Fear. Justice. You can rearrange those words into whatever advice you want as you replay them in your mind for the rest of your life.
Look, I’m a simple man. Just a boxer or circus performer or billionaire doctor. And I know you’re a little awkward right now, getting pushed around by bullies or isolated by your ridiculous wealth or blinded in horrific accidents and the like. But I know you’re going to do great things! You’re a very talented young law student or acrobat or scientist or junior millionaire, son. You have the potential to become almost anything.
You’ll probably be a lawyer or scientist or billionaire playboy, though. Almost certainly not a righteous vigilante instilling fear into the hearts of criminals — a cowardly lot!
I bet even that skinny little body of yours could get pretty ripped if you hit the gym, or studied intensively under a variety of martial arts experts, punishing your body for all the things you wish you’d said or done differently.
Basically, I’m saying that if you aren’t a success, my life — and all of my pain and sacrifice — will have been utterly meaningless. Hope that’s not placing too big a burden on your skinny social misfit shoulders.
Sigh. You really are being a brat, but I’m going to treat you with gentle respect. Here, let me place a kindly hand on your shoulder.
Okay, fine, shrug it off. I’m sure that won’t haunt you for the rest of your life.
I’ve tried to reach you, son, but I suppose you just aren’t ready to hear it yet. I guess there are some things that just don’t sink in until you’ve relived them in decades of horrific recurring nightmares.
I’ll just leave our mugs on the table for your aunt or mother, or possibly a parental butler, to clean up later. Now I’ve got to run into the city for an errand that’s really your responsibility, a fact that your aunt/mother will love you too much to throw in your face later. I know your aunt/mother says we shouldn’t do all of our shopping in Crime Alley, but you can’t beat the prices. That’s important for a hardscrabble working class/billionaire family like ours, though you’re too self-absorbed to recognize that now.
Let me just tuck this family heirloom — a pocketwatch or smiling family photo — in my breast pocket, from which it can spill out into a rain-spattered gutter, should I collapse and my body hit the hard, hard pavement of this crime-ridden city.
Watch me do it, kiddo. Really burn it into your mind. Remember, you’re responsible for everything, forever, and no matter what you do, it’ll never be enough.
Sure, I can pick up tacos on the way home.