HE SAID he joined the Navy to better himself, but it was mostly because his mother died and he couldn't think of anything he was good at, or would even want to be good at. In the Navy, he spent the plurality of his time playing Danger Nut, a great American avocation where you used steam pressure to whirl a wingnut around the tip of a screwdriver till it neared warp speed, and then you let it fly like a kamikaze UFO, ricocheting around the bulkhead to and fro and where it'll land nobody knows. When you encounter a Danger Nut, you either dodge it or you don't, and he was uncommonly good at dodging.
Later, he fathered a pair of twins, and though he easily might have sidestepped the responsibility, he decided to make them his life's work. He was hard on them, uncommonly hard, and it was because he wanted them to be Great. No one had ever told him that he could be Great when he was young, so he figured his life was something like a missed opportunity and that he'd make up for it with the next generation. He wanted them to be experts in some regard, whether that meant carpentry, masonry, plumbing, or marksmanship. The twins resented the attention and called him the Worst Dad Ever, though children are known to exaggerate. They much preferred unstructured play with their outdoor toys, the medicine ball and the mud-spattered plastic lawnmowers and rakes and dump trucks that lived in the backyard with the cobwebs and the dried-up leaves from the autumn before.
Once, he coaxed them into the workshop by letting them play Danger Nut with an air compressor. It was dangerous and unexpected and that was good and they thought he was a Pretty Cool Dad for a while, but the feeling didn't last.
Sean Gill is a writer and underground filmmaker who has studied with Werner Herzog and Juan Luis Buñuel, documented public defenders for National Geographic, and was an artist-in-residence at the Bowery Poetry Club from 2011-2012. His stories have been published or are forthcoming in McSweeney's, Pacifica Literary Review, Word Riot, decomP, and REAL: Regarding Arts & Letters.