Thursday, 8 September 2011

7) Dad Back

    Ring ring.
    “Hello?” I hadn’t heard his voice in years. It sounded the same, but a little more fragile. I bet he hand’t stopped drinking since mom died.
    I tried to stop my voice from cracking. “Hi Dad, it’s me.”
    “Hello son, my son, my son.”
    We talked for a few minutes and it was easier than I thought it would be. No animosity, no anger, just hints of that same affable man I remember from growing up, those few times a year I got to see him. I was amazed that he didn’t try to weasel out of my offer to see the play I was in, his play, with a ‘Sorry son, I’m really busy.’ Instead I got a simple ‘Sure, no problem, that sounds cool.’ I was struck dumb and just said thanks-gotta-go.
    Meeting him would be a different deal though, no doubt, face to face. I got his email address and sent him the plane ticket Martin had made me buy along with a comped ticket for the performance. I gave him my mobile number just in case he had trouble at the airport or whatever. He still didn’t have a cell phone, no surprise there.
    I just had to trust that he could get his act together enough to print out the tickets, get himself to the airport, take a taxi to the opera house, etc…
    Before the curtain went up my stomach was filled with only the same amount of butterflies as usual. Then the music started, the curtains came up and I was Sisyphus, and that was all. We’d practiced long and hard enough that the actual first performance was a snap. And with the blazing lights in my eyes I couldn’t make out the front row, let alone the nose bleeding seats I was able to get for dad.
    The play went off without a hitch. We finished with a standing ovation and came back for an encore. That’s always a thrill, the seemingly endless applause.
    I said hasty goodbyes to the crew and Martin gave me a peck on the cheek. I didn’t have time to take off all my makeup. I must have looked like a ghoul when I ran out to the lobby.
    And there he was, his famous brocade jacket in all its golden glory, a little worse for the wear, but still iconic. I smiled big when I walked up to him and saw a young couple shaking his hand and thanking him profusely for one or another of his books. I figure they probably read ‘House of Jesters’ or ‘Vodka Bastard’ in College. Those were his big two.
    I gave him a minute and then walked up, “Hey Dad, did you like the play?”
    He turned around and I saw the biggest smile creep up his leathery face. He wrapped his bony arms around me and said, “You done good kid, you done good.”

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