The first time I began to suspect that my father, Qantas Airlines Filipkowski, was not actually my father, but rather a robot, was when he emerged from the bathroom after half an hour and announced to our family that he had been “making penis pleasure” in there.
It wasn’t his halting, robotic voice that tipped me off. I just remember thinking that if he was human, he would have said he was jackin’ it.
The rest of my family wasn’t tipped off until much later, when my mother spilled her vodka all over my father at my little cousin’s christening.
As he started to take off his belt to give her a good whuppin’, he suddenly froze up and sparks began to shoot out of his mouth. Then smoke rose up out of his head. Then a panel on his back opened up and a bunch of robot parts came out.
I don’t remember much about my father, back before he was a robot. In fact, he seemed exactly the same, except that, one day he suddenly had wheels instead of feet and he could see in the dark and if you put tapes in his stomach, he could play them.
After my robot father blew up, I began investigating the situation; talking to his close friends and acquaintances. It quickly became clear to me that they knew something that they weren’t telling.
Luckily, I grew up in the Ozarks, so all it took was a few jugs of corn liquor to get them to open up.
What spilled forth from their toothless mouths was a tale so incredible, I can only paraphrase it here, due to the limitations of the English language or gravity or something.
They told me that my father had invented a robot which he modeled after himself and this is what had raised me since before I started smoking a pipe (age six).
They were unclear as to why or how he had done all this, but looking back, it made perfect sense. The wheels, the tape deck, how he was always asking for more batteries…
After the switch, my father had left town, never to return. He had told no one of his destination. He had cut off contact with his old life completely.
For 8 years I searched for my father, following every lead I could. I spent thousands of dollars and hit more dead ends than I can count.
I was just about ready to give up when I got a call from a man in California who claimed to know the whereabouts of my father. I jotted down the address, thanked him, got in my truck and headed out to reconnect with my papa.
I drove straight through for 3 days and as I pulled into the gates of Bel Air, I wondered if I was now truly home for the first time in my life.
Nestled in between the opulent mansions was the one I place I knew I would find my father. I didn’t have to check the map. On a tiny plot of land was an exact recreation of my father’s hunting shack that he had built out in the woods behind our house.
As I parked amongst the broken-down cars and washing machines and tires, I was flooded with a million emotions at once.
My mind reached out for answers. Why had Papa left us? How could he afford to live in such a place? Most importantly, I wondered how the hell a man who spent his days drinking and beating his wife had the time or know-how to build a robot.
I knocked on the door, not sure what to expect. A shotgun blast to the face, perhaps? I was surprised to see an old man; a grayer, more feeble version of my robot dad standing there in front of me.
“Come on in, son,” was all he said.
I followed him inside. The surroundings were rather plush, considering the humble environment outside. I sat down on a leather recliner in front of a fairly large plasma TV. My father offered me a drink. When I declined, he shrugged and took a swig out of his clay jug with the triple exes on it.
I didn’t even have to ask. He put down the jug and started explaining everything.
“I was sick of you and your mother, plain and simple,” he said without a hint of remorse.
“What about Candy-Coated Chocolate Filipkowski?” I asked. She was my twin sister.
“Oh I could never get sick of her,” he said, with a sly wink.
“But Pa, how on earth did you make a robot that was so convincing, your own family didn’t realize it wasn’t you for nearly 12 years?”
He chuckled. “Son, you’d be surprised what hate can do,” he took another sip from his jug. “Boy, I know I’m just a simple dirt farmer from East Bumblescrumple, Missour-ah, but your old man had a powerful motivation to get himself out of there. Powerful motivation.”
I will stop here to clear some things up. My hometown of East Bumblescrumple is one of the poorest and stupidest places in the whole country. The geographic fact of the matter is that we were actually located to the West of Bumblescrumple Township, proper.
Secondly, the term “dirt farmer” is a misnomer. You don’t “farm” dirt, you mine it. In my father’s case, you swindle other people out of their dirt farms and sell them to foreign investors. It helps if you dress up your young son in a tuxedo you stole from someone’s grave, put a fake moustache on his face and claim he’s a midget. Why? Because poor people enjoy watching midgets dance. This leads them to drink, get drunk and make ill-advised business deals.
Anyway, I sat there and listened to my father go on and on about how much he hated me and my mother. He didn’t really give me any reasons why, he just recounted how he took every spare moment he had and poured his time into engineering correspondence classes.
Over a period of sixteen months, a man who could barely spell had transformed himself into one of the world’s leading authorities on robotics. Or as he corrected me, “electro-mechanical/bio-mechanical android dynamics”.
I was amazed. I repeated myself, asking him to clarify several points. I couldn’t believe that his pure hatred of me and his wife had sustained him through such a miraculous metamorphosis.
“Dammit boy, this is why I left in the first place. Take the dogshit out of your ears and listen to me! Yes, I hated you and your mother. Now get the hell out of here, I got some whores coming over.”
With that, he rushed me out the door.
I never saw my father again, but I don’t regret a minute of my journey. This was the father I had dreamed about all those years. Head-strong and violent, with a propensity for physical and sexual abuse. I truly was lucky to call him “Pa”.