Saint Gredible and Her Fat Dad’s Mass
an unpublished novel by Joe Panzica, author of Democracy STRUGGLES
NAZIs march in Charlottesville and Boston. Obby, her favorite grandfather has just died. Her other grandfather is probably a criminal. Her dad is obese and increasingly absurd. Her mother's ashes bounce around inside her knapsack. Streamly Gredible can't stay in school. She can't keep a friend, and everything just seems to be getting worse.
They must empty her grandfather's house, rummaging through all his belongings, deciding what to sell, what to keep, what to give away, and what to trash. And Streamly Gredible must soon confront what no one has yet come to terms with.
She knew by his tattoo that Obby had survived Auschwitz. So had her other Zeyde. Since becoming an adult, her restless mom had been pressed to ensure nothing like that would ever happen again. But no one had really told Grettie the straight story. No one ever knew how. (No one ever does.)
While alive, Obby and her mom had worked to tell others. They wrote books and gave talks everywhere – to everyone else. They would have told Streamly Gredible long ago, but her Fat Dad could bellow them both into silence. That's something nobody else could ever have done. Sometimes she had to be sent away to stay with friends.
Streamly Gredible didn't need to flee her parents to find silence. Born profoundly deaf, she needed only to remove her implant. Away from parents she could taste peace, but when does peace ever last?
There is no straight story.
Her Obby had tried to console himself writing storybooks for children, but they weren't stories parents would buy. They are stories Streamly Gredible will never forget because she helped create them. Her fat dad also wrote, striving to forge a new religion not confounded by science.
But even her dad could bite off more than he could digest. And then he dies, overcome by his own weight, shadow battling lurking NAZIs. Or against those who empower NAZIs by the way they’re oblivious - or even by trying their desperate best to do the opposite? There is no straight story.
Streamly Gredible’s other grandfather was never warm and comforting like Obby was. With his grim smiles, always cold and feral, he was disturbing - and not just to young Gretty. Bony and angular as her fat dad was blubbery and rotund, he would have scorned to justify the way he survived by being more than a victim. But he was also more than a villain.
There is no straight story. Just many stories swirling through the mind of a girl whose mother never wanted her since the day she was born. Streamly Gredible doesn’t know all that she knows or how she knows it. But everything that brought her here keeps pushing her forward into the exhilarating uncertainty of creation which continues forever within and without us.
And that’s where we leave her.
With everyone else.