*Buzz* *buzz* That’s my phone, going off once again. Another text message, this one reads same as the other, “CALL ME, NOW!” It’s no surprise as to whom it is, my father has been calling me and texting me for the past four weeks. That’s how long I’ve been in Bridgeport, 4 weeks. I click the delete button and slide my phone back into my pocket before crossing the street, I was late for work.
School hadn’t been what I expected. I know I love the law system and I would love to be a high paid attorney for some great multimillion dollar corporation, but the truth in the matter is, it’s not as simple as I made it out to believe. After a week and a half of internship and bombing my first test in law school, I dropped out of the program. The dean wasn’t happy, she had pushed me to come to this school. I was no longer interested in law, and with that I left the school.
Luckily for me, I didn’t have to be homeless. Not ten minutes after I dropped out of school I found myself in front of an elderly gentleman who offered me a job at the Landgraab First National Bank. He had heard of my academic accomplishments from the dean and after hearing I dropped out of school, he quickly rushed over to see me before I made my way back to Riverview.
What really surprised me was that Mr. Watson, the elderly gentleman, owned a huge apartment building and he had a studio apartment that needed renting. He forgone the standard first months rent, and I greatly accepted his generosity.
It wasn’t much, but the apartment, but it came fully furnished. I unpacked what little I had when I arrived. Mr. Watson handed me the keys after showing me around. The only thing that took me by surprise was that there was no television. I didn’t care much, I was more of a reader than a couch potato. The last thing I unpacked was a small picture of Parker and I. I stood and stared at it, allowing myself to cry for the millionth time since I left. My eyes stung, and I quickly turned away from the photograph. I had wished I done things differently, but it was already too late. I left my son, just as his mother had done.
I found myself drinking heavily. I didn’t want to end up like my father or grandfather, but knowing what I did, I couldn’t help but drown my sorrows and my guilt down with a bottle. There was an interesting bar not far from my apartment, Euigi’s. They served the best damn nachos ever. I often went there after work to drink and eat. The apartment was too depressing for me. I missed Parker’s laughter, and walking in an empty apartment made me want to jump out of a window.
Another thing about going out was that at Euigi’s it was always packed with women. I flirted with all kinds of women while I was there. It felt great getting out there and dancing with different women every night.
One night I was dancing with the most gorgeous red head. She was an amazing dancer. We danced half the night and drank the other half before we heard the bartender call out last call. By the time we entered the elevator we were making out.
I hailed a taxi just outside of the bar, we were far too drunk to walk back to my place. In the taxi we made out. Her hands were down my pants and my hands were up her blouse. We somehow managed to get up to my apartment fully dressed, but that didn’t last long. As soon as we were on my bed the clothes came flying off. We were totally plastered, but we were having amazing fun.
She fell asleep in my arms. I didn’t even know her name. We were naked in my bed, and I didn’t even know her name! Her warm body felt amazing next to mine and I succumbed to my sleep after nibbling and kissing her neck.
In the morning she was gone. I felt relieved that she left. I picked up the dirty clothes and the used condoms, making sure this time they were not broken! I was not about to father another child so early on in my life and in my career. I didn’t need that right now.
I continued to work at Langraab First National Bank during the weekdays. My boss, Mr. Watson, hired me on as a mail clerk. It was a simple and easy job, so easy a monkey could do it with its eyes closed. I didn’t complain though, it was job and I needed the money and the apartment. I couldn’t run back home, not after what I did. I needed this to work out more than anything.
My father continued to hound me every single day. First there would be a wave of phone calls. Second, a set of voicemail messages, and lastly a spam full of text messages. All of which were the same type of message, “Call me, we need to talk.” His voicemails were worse. He wouldn’t scream, but he was angry enough that I felt scared even if I was three hours away.
One afternoon my father went so low as to putting Parker on the phone, calling out for me to come home. It killed me. I wanted to go and jump off a bridge, but instead I drank till I could hardly see or walk. I returned home so drunk I fell our of the elevator. I end up passing out in the hallway. My neighbor, Mrs. Sketski woke me in the morning, yelling at me for puking all over her floor mat. I apologized and promised her I would pay her for the mat.
When I did go home to my apartment, it felt unwholesome. I hated that every morning I would walk out and see Parker’s picture. I would allow myself to cry for only a single minute before walking away from the photograph. I didn’t cook when I was at home. Unlike my father, I had no skills in the kitchen. I burnt everything, even if it was a simple microwavable meal.
Nighttime was the worse. Sleeping alone in bed. I may sleep all night, but it was never a good sleep.
Every night I had the same dreams over and over again, they all were of Parker. I could remember his insane crying, his laughter that made my heart warm, and his goofy little smile. Those were the things I missed, those were the things I cried over every night as I slept. To say I regretted leaving Parker is an understatement. If I had to do it all over again, I would have never left. I wanted him in my arms when I came home after work. I wanted to play peek-a-boo with him until he passed out from exhaustion.
The worst part of my dreams is how they ended. They always ended with the same picture, the same face, Parker crying. It was the last moment I saw Parker. He was looking up with tears in his eyes, calling for me not to leave. He even took my finger and held on to it. I still don’t know how I have been able to live with myself after I took his small hand and pulled it off my forefinger.
Another morning, another phone call. I felt the vibrations in my hand as I went to push the ignore button. I didn’t even need the caller I.D. to know who was calling me. Dad was always on time, 7 a.m. he would start his harassment and end at 7 p.m. He’ll call twenty times, leave ten voicemails and fifty text messages. I waited for my phone to signal the voice message before playing it over the speaker. “Travis Benjamin Rain, if you don’t call me by the end of the week I will send someone after you! Call me and get your ass home!”
I knew an open threat when I saw one. Dad didn’t even know where I was. He wouldn’t even know who to call to come find me. I clicked on the delete button and sat my phone back on my desk.
I had joined a gym not too long after I started to work at Langraab’s. A few of my colleagues went there after work and we all would work out together and stayed in shape. I was never one into keeping shape, but I went on the treadmill for an hour every day.
The day I got the threatening voicemail from dad, I ran into someone who I never had wanted to see EVER! I had gone to the gym that morning and I was about to head for the showers when I heard a laugh and a familiar voice. “Well, well, if it isn’t little Travis Rain.” The guy grinned. It was my Uncle Jacob. Crap. I tried to ignore him and walk past him but he caught me by the shoulder and rounded me to face him. “I don’t think so.” He said.
“Oh, hey Uncle Jake, I uh. . . I didn’t see you.” I tried to smile. I didn’t want to be anywhere near my uncle. He was an asshole when I was growing up. Dad and grandpa forced us to hang out when I came to visit after France. He tortured me even then. ”
“Liar.” He laughed. “You just didn’t want to see me, because you know that your being searched for.”
I started to rub my neck, I felt horribly uncomfortable in front of my uncle. “I . . .uh. . . I don’t know what your talking about.”
“Oh really?” He had a huge grin and pulled out his phone. “Well, lets just see what my brother has to say about me finding you.”
“NO!” I shouted grabbing his phone. He held it over his head. He was a good three inches taller than me and I couldn’t reach for it. “Please, don’t call him.”
“It’ll cost you.”
“Anything. I’ll do anything! Just promise me you’ll never call him and if he ever calls you, you’ll say you never saw me. Please!”
“Alright. I need you to settle my debt with Lonely Larry. I owe him two grand for betting on the races. Now, I don’t have that kind of money, and dad would shit his pants if he found out I was betting again. So, I need two grand by tomorrow.”
“TWO GRAND!?! Fuck Jake, I don’t have that kind of money! I am barely making rent as it is.”
“Two grand or my brother gets a really interesting phone call.”
“Fine. I’ll see what I can do.”
The next morning I woke to a new day. I didn’t have any money, and taking a loan out wasn’t an option. I barely was making ends meat and my paycheck barely covered my cell phone bill and rent. I looked out my window, dreading the phone to ring. There would be now two people that I didn’t want to hear from, Uncle Jake and dad.
My phone chirped and I picked it up, ready to hit ignore. I looked at it and it read unknown so I answered, “Hello?”
“Sup little nephew. You have the money?”
“No. I just can’t get it Jake. Please, don’t call him. He’ll end up driving here and pulling me back home. I can’t go back, I won’t go back to face him or Parker.”
“Sorry kid. I already made the call.” He started to laugh.
“YOU ASSHOLE!” I screamed just before hanging up and throwing my phone across the room shattering it on the wall. I smiled. I was free of phone calls. I put on my suit and headed out to the SCS Store to get a new phone, and a new number. I would be free from dad and Jake.
That night I went to Euigi’s to eat and drink till I was completely drunk, again. I was halfway through my nacho’s when an elderly gentleman sat down next to me. “Scotch please.” I knew that voice. CRAP! It was grandpa Thomas. I put my head down and tried to eat as fast as I could. As soon as the plate was finished I pulled out my wallet and slid a twenty to the bartender. I went to stand and a hand stopped me, “You’re not going anywhere.” I gulped.
“I have nothing to say!” I yelled trying to get up.
“SIT!” He yelled. “Bartender, make that two scotches.” He faced me and looked at me. “You are going to talk to me young man.”
“No, I am not! I have nothing to say to you, dad, or anyone else.”
He smacked me on the back of the head. “You left your son! You took off in the middle of the night without telling anyone! Your are lucky I don’t drag your ass out of here and into my car Travis!”
“It won’t matter, I am not going back.” I took the scotch the bartender handed me and shot it. I stood and headed for the elevator.
Grandpa Thomas was quick, even for an old guy. He stopped me getting on the elevator. “Travis Rain, you are to call your father! Do you understand me?”
“No. I don’t need his shit. I already feel like crap without the need of extra guilt grandpa! I am not going back there, I am not calling him! Not yet anyway.”
“If you don’t call him, I will personally come down to your apartment with your grandmother, and you know how Lon is.” I gulped. Grandma Lonni would tear me to pieces if she found out that I was living in Bridgeport. I could always count on Grandpa’s threats, if he said he was coming to my place, he was coming to my place. I didn’t even need to ask how he knew where I was living, he was the best damn detective in his time. “Now, are you going to call or do I have to get grandma involved?”
“Alright, you win! I’ll call him in the morning. Can I go now?” I lied through my teeth. Eventually I would have to call, but not yet.
“Yes. But be forewarned. I am calling David tomorrow afternoon, if he hasn’t heard from you expect a visit from grandma and I.” CRAP! I nodded in understanding. He gave me dad’s cell number and allowed me to leave.
The next morning I woke up and dialed my dad’s number. “Hold on Parker! Hello?” He answered. I could hear Parker’s screams in the background, “gaaaaampaaa!” I gulped. “Hello?” My dad said again.
“Hi.” I finally allowed myself to say. I heard some heavy breathing in the background. “D-d-dad?”
“Just give me a minute Travis.” He said and I could tell he was talking through clenched teeth. “Travis, what the hell were you thinking?” He finally asked more calmly than I would have expected.
“I . . . uh. . .” I stalled.
“Travis, do you know how sick and worried I have been? What you’ve put me through, and your mother? Where the hell have you been!?!” There was the yelling. I could hear Parker’s screams. “Dammit! Parker go play in the other room.”
“No.” I heard my son cry.
“Now!” I imagined my dad pointing his finger at the bedroom door. “Dammit Travis, I am too old to handle this shit.”
“I’m sorry.” I choked up. It had been three months since I had left, and hearing Parker’s voice made me start crying. “I’m truly sorry dad.”
“I don’t care if your sorry! I want you home and I want you home now!” He yelled.
“Dad, I can’t. I’m starting to build a life here. I really am truly sorry.”
“Travis, you have a life here, with your son! He’s not mine and I am not going to raise him. I’ve already raised my kids, and I didn’t raise you to walk out on your family!”
I started to cry again. “Can I talk to him?” I asked, my heart fluttering.
“Yea, hold on.” Dad sighed. “But we aren’t through with this young man. You are coming home! PARKER, daddy’s on the phone!”
I turned and faced my son’s photo. This was going to be hard, but I needed to talk to him. “Dada?” My three year old answered.
“Hey buddy, how’s my big boy?”
“Dada, come home.” In the background I could hear dad telling him what to say. “I mish you.”
“I miss you too. I love you Parker.”
“I luwb you too. You gonna come home?”
“Not today. Now put grandpa on the phone.”
“Otay.” I heard the phone being lifted and dad’s voice on the line, “You need to come home Travis!”
“Dad, I can’t. Now, I’ll get the papers, but I need you to raise him. I can’t do it. Please, let me build a life here for him. I’ll send you money every month, I just need time.”
Dad sighed, he was giving up. “Travis, you do know what you are doing to this kid? He’ll never forgive you, I’ll never forgive you.”
“I know.” I cried.
“Travis, your asking a lot from me. Now I don’t want your money, we don’t need it. However, I will only do this if you promise me that if anything happens to me you’ll take him and finish raising him.”
“I will. I promise.” We said our goodbyes and hung up. I stood and looked at Parker’s photo and cried. I’m so sorry. I thought.
After a long day at the county offices I was done finishing up the papers that needed to be signed and sent to my father. I had taken the day off from work to make sure that my dad had everything he needed to take full custody of Parker. There was only one stipulation in the paperwork, and that was the agreement that I would take full responsibility of Parker if anything were to ever happen to dad. I did the math, even if dad lived to 80, Parker would be in his thirties, I dreaded to think of how old I would be by that time. I took a cab home and as I watched all the busy lights pass me by, I took one last and final moment to cry. I knew by doing this I was forever giving up my son.