grandpa was sitting at the kitchen table looking pleased with himself, the way he usually did.
mary jane was at the table too, in her wheelchair, looking sad.
everything looked normal.
they all looked up when johnny walked in.
johnny was the man of the house, ever since dad ran off with the pole dancer.
mom turned and said, "good morning, johhny."
johnny just grunted. he sat down at the table, where a bowl of cocoa flavored rice krispies waited for him.
"did you hear the news?" mom asked him.
"no, why would i hear the news? where's my orange juice?"
"you have a radio in your room," mom answered apologetically, "i thought maybe you were listening to it."
"well, i wasn't. where's my goddamned orange juice?"
"oh, i'm sorry. i must have forgotten - what with the news and all. hold on, i'll get it."
"christ," johnny muttered. "what was this news that was so exciting you forgot all about me?"
grandpa laughed. "just like his old man, isn't he? the apple doesn't fall far from the tree."
mom took a pitcher of freshly squeezed orange juice out of the refrigerator and carefully poured a glass of it.
"well, according to the news on the tv, the world is coming to an end today - sometime between ten and eleven o'clock this morning."
mary jane started to cry quietly. mom put the glass of orange juice in front of johnny.
"between ten and eleven," johnny repeated. "that doesn't give us much time. did they say just why it's coming to an end?'
"something about some gas in the center of the earth that's been building up for a billion years or something. and it's finally reached the pressure point so the world is going to explode around ten thirty this morning.”
“that’s what they say, “ grandpa added. “ and the useless assholes in washington say they can’t do a damn thing about it.”
“would you like some coffee?” mom asked johnny.
“sure, why not?” johnny took a sip of his orange juice and mom went over to the cupboard and took out a jar of instant coffee.
“i think - i think - “ mary jane stammered.
“what is it that you think, honey? “ mom prompted her, as she spooned the instant coffee into a cup.
“i think we should spend these last hours praying together - as a family. it will be our last chance to pray together. and then maybe we could sit together and remember the good times we had together -“
“fuck that shit,” johnny interrupted her. “i know what i’m going to do.”
“and what’s that, kiddo?” grandpa asked.
“i’m going to go fuck mrs beverly.”
grandpa whooped with laughter. “that’s the spirit, boy! ha, ha! but you know, you might have a little competition there. a lot of young fellows - and maybe some not so young - might have the same bright idea.”
“i’ll take my chances.” johnny looked down at the steaming cup of coffee mom was placing in front of him.
“i don’t think,” mom said carefully, “that the good lord might look too kindly on your spending your last moments on earth in such a manner.”
“i don’t care,” johnny answered. “her big tits and big ass have been haunting my dreams for a long time now.” he picked up the cup of coffee. “a long time.”
“let the boy do what he wants,” grandpa declared firmly. “he’s only young once.”
no more words were spoken by any of them. after guzzling down the coffee, the orange juice, and the cocoa flavored rice krispies, johnny found himself out in front of the house.
he could hear mary jane crying and mom saying something to her, he couldn’t make out what.
he started down the road to mrs beverly’s big white house.
it was a bright sunny morning. there were no cars on the road, or anybody else in the streets.
he passed a couple of houses where he could hear the television or maybe a radio turned up loud.
the road was longer than he expected. he had never walked it before, just gone down it being driven in mom’s s u v or on the school bus.
he passed an empty lot he had hardly noticed before, then some more houses.
would he ever get there?
but before he even came in sight of mrs beverly’s house, the pressure point was reached a little ahead of the estimated time, and the world blew up.