In the summer of 1987, my father tried to murder me with an alligator. He was always doing fun stuff like that, to see if we would die. Sometimes, he tried to murder us with other things, like gasoline, when we’d say to our Pop, “The leaves won’t burn.”
In rural Mississippi, my brother and I were always burning things like leaves and garbage and carcasses, and sometimes he told us to put gas on the fire, because he believed a fire could teach boys about life.
Sometimes, he tried to murder us with recreational watercraft. This happened on our way to fish in the Pearl River, where he enjoyed piloting our Venture bass boat at speeds typically reserved for cosmonaut training. He’d cut perpendicular across the wake, launching skyward, the bow of our glittering boat pitched so high that it’d obscure the rising sun, and we’d slam back down on the water so hard it felt like we’d landed on the interstate. To this day, I cannot injure my coccyx without thinking fondly of the man.