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“Someone outside just called me a nigger,” he said.

“What do you mean?” asked Patty.

“I mean someone outside literally just called me a nigger.”

Patty remained quiet, confused. So did everybody else.

Seth continued. “I was walking towards the gate with the wine I bought, and some guy said, ‘nigger,’ straight to my face.”

“But you’re not black,” said Lily.

“He’s lying,” chimed Jimmy.

“Fuck that,” said Robert. “I know you’re lying. You didn’t bring wine.”

Seth shot a thumb towards the apartment door. “I smashed it against the guy’s skull. He’s dead.”

Everyone laughed.

Seth didn’t laugh. “Seriously, he’s dead.”

The laughter increased.

“You lie way too much,” said Christina.

“If a joke is a lie, then yes, I lie quite often.” Seth took a seat next to Patty and put his arm around her. “So Patty and I decided to get married.”

Christina rolled her eyes. “See what I mean?”

“No, it’s true,” said Patty, “we’re getting married this summer.”

“Bullshit!” cried Micheal. “I’ve been tryin’ to seduce Patty for the past four years.”

Seth smirked, pleased with Patty’s quick performance. “Yeah, well, it’s not like we wanted to get married. It’s just that I’m pregnant, and we wanna do what’s best for our love-child.”

Patty leaned over and rubbed Seth’s belly. “Yeah, I hit that like there was no tomorrow. I bet the baby will look just like me, seeing as to how I have all the testosterone.”

Everybody laughed.

“You guys actually do work well together,” said Robert.

Seth gave his honest opinion: “That’s because we’re both actually very, very pissed.”

Everybody smiled, chuckled, smirked… but Seth wasn’t smiling, not at all.

“Seriously this time,” he said. “I know I joke… or lie… literally every time I open my mouth, but that’s because the truth is just as strange. I mean, if I told you the source of my comedy… You know what, fuck it. I’ll tell you.”

“Oh shit,” said Michael. “We finally learn the source of his power.”

Everybody laughed. Everybody except for Seth… and Patty. Patty seemed genuinely curious.

“So, imagine this.” Seth took his arm away from Patty. “You grow up in a two-story house with a few siblings. Your parents are married, and they actually work well together. Your father has some anger issues, but nothing too horrible. In fact, everything seems pretty normal, frequent family picnics including extended family, schooling’s going well, and then bam, right around the time you hit adolescence, you’re hit with a little bit of news. You’re told that your father molested one of your siblings.”

The room became still, quiet.

“You have questions, but nobody has answers. Your father goes in and out, blaming your sister for ‘telling,’ and then cops show up, arrest the guy. You… literally have no clue what’s happening. Again, you ask for more details, but your mother doesn’t want to talk about it, perhaps she doesn’t know much, and your sister doesn’t want to talk about it because it’s extremely personal. You understand it, but your rage meter skyrockets because the situation itself is full of prickly little variables.

“Now get this. The very next day, your father returns, apparently not in jail or in custody. Social services show up, leave you out of the discussions because… well, you don’t know why. All you know is there are major changes coming, and you’re powerless. Now fast-forward a month later to your other sibling, who invites you to their apartment for the weekend. While there, she tells you that she too had been molested, from as far back as she can remember to around the time she hit puberty, also by your father. She gives you specific details that make you simultaneously sad and angry. Notice that comedy is lacking.

“At that point, you wonder: Who is this guy? Over a span of ten years, a span of arguments and interrogations, you learn more and more information, that your father molested many little girls–not just your sisters–and that your mother is absolutely alright with it. In fact, your parents seem closer than ever before. Your mother blames you for your frustrations while your father literally continues to get away with his crimes. And that sense of betrayal, it’s…” He couldn’t find the words.

So he continued on.

“There’s been  no closure, the only consequences are those that negatively affect you and your siblings. Your mother and father have more money now than ever, extended family makes assumptions based on your mother’s attempts to hide the truth, and somehow, through all the mess, you’re the one who’s blamed simply because you’re angry. After ten years, you’re an adult who failed to solve your first adult situation. You want to let it all go and just move on, but every holiday you spend alone or with friends or a lover instead of your family, each achievement you accomplish… they’re not important to you anymore. You simply feel numb to it all.  All of your successes are sort of shadowed by this mountain.

“All the little problems you encounter from that point on, though small, are also much more difficult to get over than before. It’s like there’s this gigantic road-block in the middle of your street, and you’re powerless to do much about it, so you just trudge forward. Bitter. And that’s why I joke so often. Because life is hysterical.”

The room was quiet.

Jimmy finally chortled. “He’s lyin’.”