Two Laptops: A Short Story


by Ed Park ’95SOA Published Summer 2012
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Photo by Eson Chan


Something has changed in my life. With my face, I should say. I don’t know when it happened. My features look like they’re slowly sliding off — some to the left, some to the right. Bits even seem to be heading north. It’s not like I spend my days thinking about this migration, but sometimes I’ll see the change in a photograph, catch it in the mirror. In horror, my face will scramble to right itself, the eyes moving back in place, the nose straightening, the lips losing their droop.


But of course everything is changing. Cortright, my fourteen-year-old son, wants to become a rock star. He can’t carry a tune and has no rhythm. He’s tried to play guitar, keyboards, drums, trumpet, violin. He doesn’t like being called Cortright anymore, nor Cort. He hates his name and wants to be called C-Love. Better yet, he says, don’t call me anything. He’s a strange kid, but it could be worse.


After my wife left me, I took a Mediterranean cruise by myself. It was unseasonably cold, and I rarely left my cabin, even for meals. I had never been on a cruise before, but I thought that countering the dramatic change of Linda’s departure with another dramatic change — i.e., being at sea — was a good idea. Something along the lines of two wrongs making a right. It was a terrible idea. I don’t know what I was thinking. I must have been out of my mind.


Linda left me for Cortright’s old piano teacher, a woman. I don’t know how I feel about this. Well, I feel bad, but the precise nature of the badness is elusive. Had I been holding her back? Did Linda always favor women, and if so, why had she agreed to marry me in the first place? Maybe it meant that I had feminine qualities. I don’t think I do, but it’s possible.


I for one have felt some attraction to Cortright’s former guitar instructor, also a woman, incidentally. She always wore an old tie-dyed shirt, the pattern in front like the Spiral Jetty. Her favorite group was Moby Grape. She was just over half my age but looked and moved like an old hippie.


When it was clear that Cortright had no musical talent, we stopped the lessons. We thought maybe he would want to do sports instead. This was also a failure. One day, he said he liked computers, so Linda signed him up for a class at the community college by the airport. I gave him my old laptop. He mostly watched YouTube, teenagers covering songs he liked, shooting emotional glances into the tiny laptop lens.

Once when I was home sick from work, I logged on and saw that he’d been leaving negative comments on these performances. By negative I mean nasty. He was leaving them under the name CLove2012. This was back in 2010. Is something supposed to happen in 2012?

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