A Father's Day Tribute
We were parked in front of Layla Abramovitch's apartment. She wanted us to speak without words, express our souls in silence. I was hoping to cop a feel.
"Sing to me with your eyes," she said, as I moved in for a kiss.
"I want to know our place in the cosmos before I let you enter my heart."
"Isn't it enough that we found such a good parking space?" I asked.
She looked at me with her head turned to one side. "You joke. But what's behind the humor? I want to understand your soul's longing."
I'm longing to get laid, I wanted to say, but if my dad taught me anything it was never to tell a woman what you really feel. That's why my mother thought no one could see the mole on her chin with the inch-long black hair growing out of it.
"I joke when I'm nervous," I finally said. This I knew was a good ploy. Women like vulnerability. If only I could get my eyes to water. I thought about how the Red Sox beat the Yankees the other day. Ortiz's home run.
"Oh, you poor boy," she whispered, kissing my cheek and placing my hand on her breast. "Let me be your guide as we wind our way through love's universe."
She unlocked her apartment door. I checked out her ass and sung a silent, 'Thanks, Dad,' with my eyes.
Timothy Mason shuffled to the podium, dragging his feet as if they were shackled with heavy weights. Hand-written notes, ripped from a yellow legal pad, peeked out of the pocket of his rumpled, dark blue suit. He shook the priest's hand and spread out the papers on the podium. Looking down at the notes and up at the small group of family and friends, he spoke the words he had written.
"I never liked him."
He heard his voice crack. The mourners grew quiet.
"Of course, since he was my younger brother, I loved him. But if we didn't share DNA, I would have avoided him the way I wave off Conrad, who stands outside my apartment building begging for spare change."
He spoke quickly. "Alan never got that bad. But we all knew he was heading in that direction." Tim looked up from his notes and at the crowd filling the first three rows of pews. He saw his mother dab at her eyes with tissues.
"His drinking got worse since the divorce, but we figured a Mason could handle the booze. Even when he gave his wife a shiner, we made excuses for him. 'He'll be okay once he finds full-time work,' we said."
Tim took a drink of water and continued.
"As a boy, he'd follow me around like he was auditioning for the role of my shadow. Mom tells the story about the time he was three and he followed me all over the house. I finally hit him, shouting, 'I need my privacy!' Tears running down his cheeks, he said, 'I could help you find your privacy.' "
Tim could hear nervous titters. Most of the family had heard the story dozens of times. He recalled how uncomfortable the story had made his brother feel.
"I spent most of my life pushing him away. I remember the time I hired him to help me paint a house, a little brick cottage on
Tim felt his knees wobble. He grabbed the podium for support.
"Maybe if I wasn't such an ass, I'd have driven him home last Sunday night. I knew he was in no shape to drive. Hell, the whole family knew. The truth is we were happy to see him leave."
Tim felt the back of his throat burn. He had to say the last sentence he had written without breaking down.
"If only I would have liked him more."
The crowd remained silent as Tim gathered his notes. Most of the guests avoided his eyes as he returned to his seat. He heard his mother cry and his older brother whisper to her. "Take care, Mom. We couldn't have known Alan was drunk."
After teaching writing and literature in college for twenty-five years, WAYNE SCHEER retired to follow his own advice and write. He's been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Best of the Net.
His work has appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, The Pedestal, flashquake, T-Zero, Flash Me Magazine, Whim's Place, The Potomac Stone Table Review and Apple Valley Review. Wayne lives in Atlanta with his wife and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His motivation remains his secret for now...