Tommy stands before his father, lounging in his recliner wearing nothing but blown-out boxer briefs.
“There are a few rides left in these old dungarees,” Peter says. “Don’t believe your mother. Don’t listen to the neighbors. These are still good, these are still ripe, these are sturdy and strong and sound.”
Peter shifts his weight, revealing a constellation of holes and tears, from pinprick nibbles to undeniable grapes.
“These dungarees got me this far, and they got life left in ’em still.”
He writhes to the side and the threadbare fabric rips, exposing more pink-white flesh of his inner thigh. “They’ve seen the world. They’ve seen hell. But they ain’t ready to see the inside of a wastebin.”
He stands and the underwear splits again. He moans, and his penis and scrotum spill through. “They don’t buck like they used to,” he says, “but these dungarees survived combat and they ain’t gonna give out on me now.”
Tommy knows his father has never experienced combat. Tommy can think of no reason for his father’s underwear to be so minced and chewed, like some battlefield flag.
Peter does a jumping jack and his unsupported genitals slap and pull new slits through the cloth. What’s left is a waistband dangling laces, the bones of a picked-apart carcass. “I will not surrender,” Peter huffs through his jumping jacks while the macerated strings bounce. “My dungarees are healthy and vigorous and do not need to be exchanged.”
He slows, breathes heavily, and sits hard in his chair. When he lands, he screams. “Oh,” he wails. “On no, no, no, no.”
Tommy can no longer see his father’s scrotum. “I sat on my nuts,” Peter says. His face goes red, purple. “These old dungarees don’t got no foundation left. No skeleton.” His face grays. “Be good, son. Be good to your momma.”
“Can you get up?” Tommy says. “Mom said she already bought you new underwear.”
“The captain goes down with his dungarees.” Blood comes from his nose, his mouth. A neighbor knocks on the window, peering at Peter’s exposed ass. “Just promise me you’ll play that trumpet when I go. Promise me you’ll send me off right.”
Peter’s body goes limp and he stops breathing.
Tommy picks up his father’s old trumpet, presses it to his lips, and tries to breathe into it, but no sound comes out.