It was spring and my father was driving home in our old Buick. It was a boat, but my father loved it. He loved to be the “captain” of his ship. That car was older than I was and if ever my father loved something the way he loved my mother it was that car. After dinner without fail he would go to his garage and spend a little time with the car. There was always something to polish, to adjust, to tweak, always something to do.
It was almost and I was perched in front of the television set absentmindedly watching ESPN. In moments I expected to hear a familiar honk followed by footsteps. My father would walk in and I would pretend to ignore him. It was a childish game, but teenage boys are just that, teenage boys.
Instead I heard the roar of an engine followed by the squeal of brakes and then the whole house shook as if a giant was shaking it. I ran outside to see what had happened.
A motorcyclist had cut my father off and in his attempt to avoid him he had slammed into the side of our house.
When I close my eyes I can hear my mother screaming. My father had been thrown partway through the windshield. There was blood pouring from his nostrils and a bone sticking out where his shoulder was supposed to be.
I was stunned. For a moment I stood there and stared. My mother was still screaming and I think that there might have been a few neighbors running around. Things get a little fuzzy around this time. I know that my mother and I rode together in the ambulance and I know that I must have gotten some of his blood on me because a nurse gave me a pair of scrubs to change into.
But some things are not so fuzzy. I can hear the gurgling noise my father made as his lungs fought to gather air. If I close my eyes I can see his eyes try to focus, see the fear and it doesn’t take any effort to remember that he died looking at me.
There were no last words, no gestures, looks or any sort of sign that he knew we were there. We might have been there alongside of him, but he died alone.
I don’t much like remembering that time because it is just too painful. And in some ways it is worse now because I can see now that even in spite of how bad things were, they still were better than they are now. Because then I still knew what it meant to love and to be loved. I wasn’t yet an outsider, I hadn’t started living on the fringes
On the nights when I stay sober I can see clearly. In the still of the night I look out into the dark and I remember that I used to be somebody. I used to care, used to love and was loved. But the thing about life is that it is not a movie and shit happens only there is no silver lining. Some of us just get screwed because that is what happens. You are born, you live and then you die. That is it, nothing more to it.
If you think that I was bitter and angry you would be right. And if you think that I was unaware of that you’d be dead wrong, but I just didn’t care. I was so caught up in my own pain that when Georgie suggested we start hanging out together I didn’t say no.