There was a knock. My heart stopped and I stared at my father.
“This is insane,” I said. “She’s my daughter. I say she shouldn’t date until she’s thirty.” I ran my fingers through my hair. “She’s barely nineteen.”
“Never-the-less, her beau is waiting. Best go let him in.” He winked at me. “And she’s almost twenty.”
“Think I should scare him away?”
My father shook his head. “Kristin really likes him.”
He was right.
My temples throbbed as I opened the front door. There was a tattoo and a mop of shaggy hair on my stoop.
I hated him. I started to slam the door.
My father caught it in mid-swing. “You must be Tommy. Kristin’s told us a lot about you.”
I didn’t move from the breach. My eyes narrowed. I just knew he’d done jail time.
My father placed his hand on my shoulder. “Why don’t you let Kristin know that Tommy’s here?”
I forced myself to be civil. “I’m Bob Tramble. Kristin’s father. Welcome.”
The hoodlum came in.
“Thanks Bob.” He walked over and sat in my recliner.
He’d called me Bob. Not Mr. Tramble. Bob. Then he’d deliberately sat in my recliner. The hooligan! My hand formed into a fist as my eyes bore into the back of his scraggily head.
My father stepped in front of me. “Why don’t you go get Kristin.” He guided me from my hijacked recliner and toward the stairway. “Tommy, I was just getting myself a soda. What can I get for you?”
I started up the stairs but slowed to watch as the harbinger-of-doom looked at my prize stuffed pheasant. I was sure he smirked. What was that supposed to mean? I obviously couldn’t trust him down there. I stopped and shouted. “Kristin, your—” I couldn’t finish the sentence. Her what? Date? Boyfriend? Father of my future grandchildren? I felt nauseous. “Umm, someone’s here to see you.” I stormed into the kitchen.
My father was dumping a bag of chips into a serving bowl.
“Did you see it? The tattoo? And I thought that hair went out in the 60s.” I looked out towards the living room then back to my father. “What a delinquent. He’s probably deflowering the vase as we speak.”
“Kristin speaks quite highly of him.”
“I pray for her future every day, I work two jobs to send her to a Christian university,” I rubbed my hand across my forehead, “and she brings home this—” I struggled for the word, “truck-stop reject?”
He placed his hand on my shoulder and smiled. “Son, I’m proud of the job you’ve done since her mother passed. You’ve a right to be protective, but learn to let go. Like I had to do with you.” He handed me the bowl. “Now go get to know him a bit. He’s probably not so bad after all.”
I carried the chips into the living room. My father was right. Kristin had always shown good judgment with her friends. I needed to give Tommy a chance. “So, what are you studying in college?”
“I’m getting into gynecology.”
My left eye began to twitch.
Was he smirking again? At me?
He wasn’t going to be doing his homework with my daughter if I could help it. I reached behind the sofa and opened my gun case. I pulled out my twelve gauge. “You ever do any shooting, Tommy? I like shooting.” The corners of my mouth stretched upward.
He dropped his chips. The smirk vanished. “Uh,” his eyes fixed on the steel I held, “where—where do you shoot?”
“Mostly around the house.” I stared at him, unblinking.
His jaw dropped.
My father entered with a tray of sodas.
“He’s a gynecologist, Dad. Kristin didn’t mention that.” I stood, my hands trembling. “And he‘s still in my recliner!”
Tommy jumped from the chair, his eyes wide. “I’m sorry, sir. I didn’t know.” He swallowed. “I want to be a medical missionary.”
My father lurched between us. “Now Bob—”
A soda can fell from the tray and exploded as it hit the floor making the sound of an echoing report.
Tommy’s face drained. He stumbled backward over the arm of the chair.
Kristin came down stairs. She looked so much like her mother that my eyes stung. She took Tommy’s hand and smiled at him, really smiled at him. Her eyes sparkled. She seemed so happy. “Is everything ok?”
I set the gun into its case. “Yes, honey. Everything’s fine.”
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