An Old Man Sits (Excerpt)

An old man dozes in an armchair. His face is covered with pain. The dream he has is always the same. That night. He cries out from the nightmare, but his screams do not save him. Nothing can stop that night. That night when he killed his son. And he died along with him.

“Where can he be?” The shrill, matriarchal tones harkens down the handset of the plastic, rotary dialer phone. She is worried.
“Leave him be, Woman. He’s just gotten out. He wants to be with his friends.” The father reminds her that she isn’t the centre of the universe, that hers isn’t the only voice in existence.
“But Drago, he needs to get back to normal. You saw how he looked in jail. I didn’t recognize him.”
“They don’t feed them in there, that’s all. He’ll be fine in a few days.”
“It’s late, he should be home by now.”
“Go to bed, Julie, he’ll be right.”
“I am coming past in the morning.”
“Ok, fine. Night.”
“You call me if anything happens.”
“Ok, ok. Night.”
“Night.”

He places the receiver back on the phone robotically, his mind is elsewhere. She was right, he shouldn’t be out, but that’s what young boys do. God, if she only knew half the stuff he had done when he was Jason’s age, she wouldn’t have stuck around him this long. Bloody woman, stubborn as I am.

He wanders back to his room. He finds it hard to sleep by himself, but they can’t fit all the kids in one house, and someone has to be here to watch over them. But mostly it’s to stop them from causing trouble. They are so much like them both of their parents; hot blooded, spirited, quick to laughter and anger alike.

The room is illuminated by the passing traffic. It creates silhouettes on the walls of the objects inside the room. The things that remind him of his life. The paths he took to be where he is. Placed in front of all the clutter is a black and white photo of his parents in their Sunday best. A relic his sister had given him when they started talking again after twelve years. His father had been a hard man, they were hard times, but it was the day he had argued with his mother that had broken him and caused him to flee the old country with only the shirt on his back. Family was life, and without his mother’s love, his family didn’t exist.

The dull, heavy thud of the front door nudges him awake. The house was exceedingly old, and the door was made in a time when weight meant assurance and longevity.

“That you, Son?” He knows before he asks.
“Yeah, Dad. Sorry if I woke you.”
The man rolls out of bed, he has to see his son’s face. Two years of watching his son behind bulletproof glass has him yearning to close the distance between them whenever he gets the chance.

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