Agony warmed his tears as they rose. Heartburn of the soul.
Sunup, Dean rose slowly. Barely sleeping the night before from excitement. Today it would happen, he thought. A message all people chasing a trap- bigger than their own, tell themselves. He finally received word about the son he lost. After years of Addiction finally broke his home. Pictures were never exchanged, although Dean sent plenty. Hope of a dreamy, handsome face, features parents wish for, was his only proof of identity. If I could feel him-I could see him. He was sure about that.
Dean figured gifts sped up forgiveness. Fathers… He searched. Nothing new enough was within reach. Only prized possessions, gained from a life of selfishness. He couldn’t afford to lose, or part ways with such rare reminders and tucked them away. He checked the time, and felt afraid-the only thing that made him feel that way. He didn’t believe in second chances at missed opportunities, and this was his. So he hustled. Walking with a militant step, a man about his business. He entered one of those retailers displaying a large variety of small, high-priced items.
He browsed the medallions of made men, ones that kept track of the life you were rushing towards. Nothing too expensive, but not cheap looking. A watch will be a great gift. So my son will always know WHEN to reach me. He thought, continuing the absent parent’s mistake. Not realizing, THEY MUST REACH their children.
On the way home, Dean examined the watch. Turning it in his hand, same as an infant discovers, every inch new. His street collided with his past, leading to parole officers and nosey neighbors. Where people mind their business, until rent is late. So, he tensed when a stranger approached. A young face, aged with worry, holding his stare too long- a sign of trouble where he was from. Dean frowned-a universal tell to move on. But instead, he stepped closer. As the seconds passed, Dean’s instincts slowed the young man’s clock to a stop.
Dean stripped him, rolled the clothes, stuffed them up his jacket, giving himself a warped overweight belly. He wanted off the main road, a move he’d been fighting to avoid as he struggled to remain innocent in a strong-arm society. He thought about all those life coach guru’s, and their million dollar, common sense advice, ”If you don’t fix yesterday’s mistake they will turn into todays problem.” Or something like that. Preaching the type of change, damaged people don’t believe they already know.
He prayed, “God if you get me through this, I won’t read anymore self-help books. Just the bible.”
He ran down the back road.
Thinking of the attention and questions it would bring, “Why are you running-and in boots and jeans?” “Where are you coming from?”
He decided to walk. What you do in the dark comes to light? What… Kind of help is this? He pulled the clothes from under his coat, tucked them under his arm, and walked. Head down, looking up, avoiding eyes he was sure were watching. He shouldered through his door, knocking it’s frame loose. Another thing blocking his path he would have to fix.
Dean fired up his grill. Stress gives everyone a reason to eat. The stranger’s clothes added fuel. The smoke, the fire, he couldn’t help think of life wasted, ruined, Goddamn self help. As he warmed his hands over the fire, he felt free. He wondered if there was a possibility to keep this feeling, Dean shut the lid and searched for his hammer and nails. Standing on his one sturdy chair.
He barely heard the footsteps under his hammering. His heart fluttered, anticipating a hug, handshake, both, if he allowed… He could show his son how to replace a door. A coldness appeared. Dean’s heart froze as his parole officer asked to be let in.
Of all the days. He thought.
“Would you like a drink?” Dean asked. Handing his parole officer a bottle of water before any suspicion of alcohol came to mind. They sipped. Dean first, then one after the other, feeling out suspicion.
“In a few, I'm going to put some meat on the grill.” Dean said. More of a gesture than an offer. They were not friends, but Dean knew, heat kept harm in place.
The parole officer said nothing as he scanned. His plan to make Dean nervous backfired without a police escort. The parole officer realized this when Dean stopped glancing nervously out the door and went back to fixing it.
Dean hammered, pretending not to hear. The parole officer pulled out a chair and shouted, “you might want to sit down for this.” Dean, stepped down, dragged the chair he was standing on, while eying his parole officer, watch the hammer and nail he was still holding.
“Your son, the one who was supposed to visit. The one you wish you had a relationship with”
Dean nodded, noticing the parole officers voice change.
The parole officer cleared his throat. “Your son, He was found dead, just down the road.”
When you watch people and judge, you miss love.