Another Friday night party after the football game. We always lose, it seems. Just like me. Sitting with my back against the wall I can feel the beat of some song through my jacket. I fill my mouth with tepid beer and wonder where I’ll go from here. The crowd’s thinned out. Only the serious drunks like me remain. Gotta get outa here.
I get up and stumble out to the back yard. I smell spilled beer mixed with cigarette smoke. The coolers are turned over on the ground and a half dozen beers lay on the grass. Grabbing two for the road, I head through the side gate toward the street. The street. My car. My dad’s car. Where’d I leave it? Oh, yeah, down the hill, on the right.
Behind the wheel, again. My freedom from everything right here in my hands. I head into town. Touring the hot spots, looking for anyone, or a reason to leave forever. Bradford is only eighteen miles away. Then the interstate, St. Louis, Kansas City. Places away from here. I turn back toward the high school. I don’t know anyone in those cities.
Down to less than a quarter tank. The filling station is closed for the night. Mr. Hunterson always opens at 7:30 on Saturdays. I almost hit the hydrant out front of the hardware store, but didn’t. Swinging through Millie’s Diner’s parking lot with my lights off, I pull up along side the trash cans where I can watch the police station from the shadows. Jack and Dave are probably in there watching some cheap movie.
After finishing the second beer – warm but still worth the numb – I toss the bottle and head toward the farm. The gravel growls as I come in the far drive, so, to be quiet, I cut across the lawn, ease it into neutral, cut the engine, and coast down to the front of the garage like always.
Easing the car door closed, pressing until I hear the click, I have nothing to do but go inside and go to bed. I walk through the yard, up toward the road and across to the Meisner’s fence. The cool air drains some of my buzz. The sky opens up and stars twinkle at me, calling to me. There is an “out there,” a destination beyond this place! What is it inside me that says I can’t go?
Was God really out there? Why couldn’t he be here with me? If he was though, he’d be ticked off about every mistake I make, just like Pops. Reverend Wickson said God was heavily into righteousness. I make too many mistakes. He’d be all over my case. Pops was right. I was good for nothing.
Thoughts of girls I’d like to talk to just come and go. The idea of marrying someone seems farther away than the stars. Kids. I could never have kids. What would I do with kids?
If I had a son, I would... I would give him things. I would play with him. I would joke and laugh. I would listen to his stories instead of acting like they weren’t very important. I would teach him things he’d want to know – if I knew anything. Maybe God loves me like that. Heh, yeah, right.
Turning back toward the house, I cringe at having to enter that place once more. I live there. I sleep, eat, and keep my stuff there. But it is not my home. Home is a place where you feel safe. Where you feel like you belong. Home shouldn’t be a place you want to avoid. How could this be my home if I feel so alone?
In the morning Pops won’t even ask how things went tonight. If he wanted to know, he’d ask me about it. But he won’t. He’d ask me about girls I like and I could tell him I have no clue what to say to them or how to even think about them. He’d ask me about friends, school, and my dreams. I’d tell him that my life sucked and it was his fault. But, I’ll never tell him anything because he doesn’t care. A son should be able to trust his dad, but how’re you going to trust someone who doesn’t even care? And, if I can’t trust my own dad, how can I trust God? What’s going to become of me?
I guess I’ll go to bed.
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