Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Old Man

The wind cut the sunshine...sliced it clean in half. I was sitting on a pier...I liked sitting on piers. The gulls were laughing and my collar was up, neck hunched down. I didn't hear him coming, but it didn't surprise me either. He was wearing his old down jacket. No hat. Of course.

"You need to come back home, son."
"Fuck! What the fuck do you mean 'why?'...cause that's where you fucking live..."

His voice trailed off near the end, as heads turned toward us. He smiled and shrugged. No one cared. He put his hand on my shoulder, which I practically dislocated shaking free. He wrapped his fist in the front of my windbreaker. I was on my feet before I could think.

"Don't what, Nancy?"
"Don't fucking touch me."

I turned and started walking away, but he followed.

"You're a fucking tough guy now, eh?"
"You sure? You talk like you're a fucking tough guy."

His fingers were curled. His hands itching for it, you could see it. He walked forward until our noses were almost touching and jabbed me in the chest. I looked into his eyes and laughed.

"Something funny?"
"You know what, Dad? You're a fucking bully. You've always been a bully. But you're old now. I'm bigger than you are. I'm sure as hell stronger than you are..."
"So, you touch me again...ever...and I will kick the living shit out of you. Got it?"

His eyes narrowed and then grew wide. You could see it registering. I had four inches and twenty pounds on him now. I lifted weights every day. I moved even closer to him, his eyes level with my nose.

"Do you get it, old man? You don't have the power any more."
"As long as you live under my roof..."
"I'm working on that part, don't worry."

He was shaking with anger and suddenly the whole thing was hilarious. I had felt small for so long; it had happened without my realizing it. I felt a little sorry for him. A little. 

"Hey, bud...sit back down..."
"By blood, old man. By blood."

I pulled a cigarette from my pocket and lit it. He winced. It felt good. I turned around and starting walking, but he didn't follow. 


  1. I'm sure there have been many scenes like that. But for me - I had to do it by letter - write him out of our lives. I wasn't going to let him play his psych games on my kids.

    1. Unfortunately that scene is enacted with different results in different ways every day.

  2. Sad, but true. Well written!

  3. Moments of such clarity at the tipping point are akin to waking up after cold water has been splashed in your face. Sometimes we are able to make choices, say no, walk away. Powerfully authentic, Dan.


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