Almost there. Sally was on top of me and I was being ridden on like I was a magical ride at Disney. It was great.
“Oh every time I close my eyes / I see my name in shining lights. . .”
NO! Shit, no! My phone started to go off. Sally stopped. NO!
“Your phone.” She said looking over at my nightstand. Nooooo!
“Leave it.” I told her. The music stopped and I sighed. Sally shrugged and continued, well until my phone went off again. “Nooooo. Stop calling me.” I reached over and grabbed the phone and without looking at the caller I.D. I pushed ignore and turned it on vibrate. I placed the phone back on the nightstand and let Sally continue. A moment later we heard the phone buzz and slide on the wood of my nightstand.
“Just answer it Travis.” Sally said as she got off of me.
“Crap.” I looked at the phone and this time I actually looked at the caller I.D. “Grandma.”
“Yea?” I answered.
“Travis, why haven’t you been answering your phone?” She asked. I could tell she was worried with her voice.
“Because I was asleep grandma. You know I do have work in the morning and its after one.” I answered.
“I know, and I’m sorry I woke you. . .” She paused and I could tell something was wrong. “Travis, it happened.”
My heart sank to my chest. “When?”
“Just a few minutes ago. He said goodbye to me and Jake here, and then he took his last breath and allowed death to take hold. I’m sorry baby.”
“Yea, so am I. Are you gonna be okay?”
“Yea. We had twenty-six good years together. I’ll be fine. I have Jakey here to help me.”
“You gonna call dad?” I asked. Sally sat up and wrapped her arms around me and started to kiss my back. I fell out of the mood and I stood and walked away from the bed.
“It’s too late to call him. I’ll call him in the morning.” Grandma answered.
“Let me do it grandma. You go and rest and just have Jake text dad and I with the arrangements.”
“Okay. I love you Travis.” I replied back with the same sentiment and hung up.
“NOOOOOO!” I screamed at the top of my lungs. I burst into tears and fell to the floor. My grandfather, Thomas Rain, one of the best men I had ever known was gone from this world. Sally came over and placed her hand on my shoulder. “He’s gone.”
“I’m so sorry Travis.” She said, not even knowing who I was talking about. It still helped though. She came down to the floor and held me and rocked me as I continued to cry. “Shhh. Travis. It’s okay. He’s in a better place.”
I laughed at the thought. I knew exactly where he was, he was with Grandma Gina, my dad’s mother. “Yea, he’s with her.” I smiled and looked at Sally. She had no clue as to what I was talking about. “I’m sorry Sal, but I’m not in the mood.”
“I know. Here let me help you get to bed, and I’ll go home.” I nodded. Sally walked me to the bed and rolled myself in a ball. She tuck me in and gave me a kiss. “I’ll see you later babe.”
I woke the next morning feeling empty. I was devastated by the lost of my grandfather. I took a hot shower to relax myself and ate some cereal. I was procrastinating the phone call I had to make. I finally grabbed my phone and dialed. In two rings a voice came on, “Helllloooooo!” Parker answered. I looked at the clock it was just after ten on a Thursday.
“Why aren’t you in school young man?” I asked a bit annoyed. I was never allowed to miss school.
“I’m sick with the stomach flu. Grandpa kept me home. What’s up Travis?” He asked a bit happy to hear my voice.
“Is grandpa there?” I asked.
“Yup. He’s out back. You wanna talk to him instead of me? You know how boring it is here? He won’t let me watch T.V. . . .?” He continued to ramble on about how bored he was and I was getting annoyed with him.
“Parker, please go get grandpa.” I was hardly paying attention to what my son was talking about.
“What? You don’t wanna talk to me? You don’t wanna know about my life or how Susan is a big bully? You know she pushed me yesterday at school.”
“PARKER, GET. GRANDPA. NOW!” I yelled. I was getting very frustrated. I was already crying and I just needed to get this over with. I didn’t care that my son and my sister didn’t get along. I needed to talk to dad.
“Oh alright.” I heard him move around and out of the house. “Grandpa! Your idiot son is on the phone!”
“Parker!” I yelled through the phone. I was really irritated and I didn’t need my nine year old to insult me at this time.
I could faintly hear dad say something and then the phone was passed off. “Travis?”
“Dad, I have some bad news. . .”
“He’s dead isn’t he?” My dad asked before I could continue. I could hear him take a deep breath and allowed himself to cry.
“I’m sorry, he died last night. Grandma said she’d text me with the arrangements tonight. I’m really really sorry dad.” I cried. “I really truly am sorry.”
“Thanks Travis, and I’m sorry too. I know you two were close.” I could tell he was crying. “I’ll give Lonni a call and help her plan everything. Son, just be happy he isn’t suffering anymore.” I nodded to no one. “Everything will be okay.” I nodded again.
“I guess I’ll see you and Parker soon?”
“Yea.” We said our goodbyes and I hung up in tears.
I sat down on my sofa and just stared at the pictures on my wall, mainly the large one with grandpa in it. We all looked so happy. It had been three months since Christmas and the New Year. I was surprised that grandpa made it this long. I was over at my grandparents often visiting him and grandma, making the best of the time I had with him. I also started to stare at my son’s pictures that kept flashing through the digital frame. I smiled at him.
The morning of the funeral I called into work and took the day off. My boss wasn’t happy but he understood that I needed the day. He gave me his condolences to my family and I and asked if I needed anything. I told him I didn’t. Dad and Parker were driving into town just for the funeral. We were all to meet off the side of the road by the river. I walked into the elevator and Sally called out. “Wait for me!” I held the door open. “My aren’t you snazzy Mr. Rain.”
I nodded. She was in her scrubs. She was a nurse at the local hospital. “Your not bad looking yourself Mrs. Riley.” The doors closed and she and I shared an intimate kiss until the elevator stopped. “I’ll see you tonight?” I whispered.
“No. I can’t sorry. I have a double shift. Maybe tomorrow.” I nodded and followed her out of the building. I hailed a taxi and watched her walk off to a carpool with a bunch of girls inside the car.
As soon as I arrived at the river bed, Parker came running toward me. “TRAVIS!” He screamed. He’ll never call me dad, I have learned that much.
“Hey bud.” I waved at him as I paid the taxi.
He wrapped his arms around me. “I missed you.” He cried.
“I missed you too.” I walked him back down to the river. I gave my dad and grandma a hug. We were all still waiting for Jake. “So, Parker you feeling better?”
“Yea. It was food poisoning I got from the movie theater popcorn. I’m sorry I was mean to you the other day when you called.”
“It’s okay.” Jake arrived and we all said hi to him. Parker gave him a look and hid behind me. He was still nervous around his famous uncle. “Parker it’s just Jake.”
“But he’s like on T.V. and he killed Mr. Coon last night on River Cloak.”
“Dad, you let him watch that?” I asked a bit upset. River Cloak was a television show about double agents and triple agents on SimTime, a movie channel. It had violence, sex, and really foul language. It was also pretty good. I went to Jake’s every week to watch it with him. He played the staring role, Bruce Cloak. His medical show was cancelled after four seasons.
“No. I was in bed. Parker I told you last night you had to go to bed!” Parker gulped and hung his head down low. “Parker did you sneak back out to watch the T.V.?” Dad asked. Parker only nodded. I stepped away and watched as dad took Parker’s hand and walked him over to a tree to punish him. Dad never liked punishing Alice and I in public, he kept it private and he was the same way with Parker. I felt horrible as I watched dad yell at Parker. I couldn’t make out what he was saying but Parker just nodded his head and kept his eyes at his feet.
Dad returned with Parker in hand. I looked over at my son and he had a few tears in his eyes. Lonni passed a box over to my dad. “Well, I guess this is it. Everyone take a handful of ashes.” He opened the box and we all did.
“Why are we spreading his ashes here grandpa?” Parker asked still sniffling from whatever dad said to him.
“This is where my mother was last seen. Dad and I use to come here to remember her. Dad searched for her for years and years, never giving up hope that she was alive. Today we are spreading his ashes here so that he can finally be with my mom.”
“He loved her more than anything in the world.” Lonni said. “I know he loved me, but, your mother was his soul mate David.” Dad nodded. Together the five of us spread his ashes in the riverbed. “Go be with her Thomas.” Grandma cried.
Dad broke down in tears and went to his knees. Parker and I placed a hand on his shoulder as we watched him cry.
I looked over at Jake and he was just staring out at the river. He didn’t shed a tear. He looked as if there was nothing there. I walked over to him and put my hand on his shoulder. “Jake. You doing okay?” He nodded. “You sure?” He just nodded. I think he was fighting the will to cry. He took a glance at dad and walked over to him and sat with him. Dad took him in a hug and only then did Jake start to cry.
I took Parker by the hand and together we walked over to the park nearby. We sat on a bench and sat for a bit in silence. I then looked at him, “So, how much trouble are you in?”
“He banned me from the television and the movie theater for a week. A WHOLE WEEK! And he said that when we get home we’re gonna have a long talk. Can you believe that?”
“Yup, I can.” I smiled. “You know Park, when I was your age I use to get into loads of trouble. Grandpa actually sent me to a camp because I was such a pain.”
“He did? That’s so cool! Was it fun? What did you do? Did you go out on adventures at camp with other kids? I bet it was fun!”
“I hated it, but you would have enjoyed it. It was an outdoors camp where we learned about the wilderness. We were suppose to learn about respect and stuff like that using the wilderness as a metaphor. On the last week of camp we all went and stayed a night by ourselves in a tent and had to survive on our own.”
“WOW! That is so cool. I wanna go do something like that, just not with wild kids like you were.” He smiled and laughed at me. We sat there for a bit longer and then he looked at me again. “Can I tell you something but you have to promise me you won’t tell grandpa.”
I thought about it and looked around. “Okay, your secret is safe with me.”
“I don’t like school. I lied about being sick to grandpa and made myself throw up.” I narrowed my eyes at him but allowed him to continue. “Susan and her goons keep beating me up at school. I have no friends and everyone makes fun of me cause I wear a suit to school. I don’t wanna ever go back, so I’ve been ditching everyday.”
I sighed. I understood his frustrations with my sister, but I was really mad that he didn’t go to school. He looked at me. I didn’t know what to do. I was his father, but I didn’t feel like I could say anything since I wasn’t raising him. “Are you mad at me?” He asked looking at me.
“Yup.” I answered. “Parker you have to go to school.”
“No buts. Parker, I know your Aunt Susan is a pain, but that doesn’t mean you can skip school. Look, I won’t tell grandpa if you promise me you’ll go to school and get your grades back up.”
“But I can’t go back. The kids are mean and Susan will beat me up.”
“Where do you go when you skip school?” I asked trying to be a bit supportive.
“The movies mostly. I sneak in and watch all the new movies every week. I’m really good at not getting caught. I also go to the library and use their computers and watch all my favorite shows, like Jake’s new show.”
“Parker, you need to go to school. Look, I’ll make you a deal. If you go to school and show grandpa and I all A’s at the end of the year, you can come and spend a week with me here, just you.” Parker’s eyes widen and his mouth dropped. “Does that sound like something you want to do?”
He nod his head and smiled really big. “Just the two of us?” He asked.
“Just the two of us. I’ll even pick you up and drive you here so that dad doesn’t have to drive the six hours.”
“Speaking of the devil.” Parker pointed with his head at dad walking towards us.
“Parker let’s go.” Dad said as he came up to us.
“But we were talking! Can’t we stay the night, please?” Parker begged.
“Parker, get in the car.” Dad pointed to his car. “Now.”
“I don’t wanna. I wanna stay here with Travis!” Parker looked up at me. “Can’t I just stay with you?” I knew he just was afraid of being grounded. I looked up at dad and I can see the frustration behind his red eyes.
“PARKER, CAR NOW!” Dad yelled.
“Just do what he says Park. Just remember what I told you.” I whispered to him. Parker stood and I stood with him.
He turned as he started to walk to the car and looked at me. He ran back and wrapped his arms around me. “I love you dad.” My eyes stung as tears fell from my face. I never felt happier in that moment, yet I was sad knowing he was leaving.
“I love you too.” I got down to his level with tears still running down my eyes. “Now, you be a good boy and listen to grandpa, okay? We’ll see each other again soon.”
Parker nodded and wiped my tears. “I’ll do my best, as long as you keep your promise.” He said to me.
“I promise, just show me those grades.” Parker nodded and headed to the car. I wiped my eyes again, trying to keep his voice in my head.
Dad came over to me. “So, what did you promise him?” He asked.
“It’s between him and me.” I said. I would keep my son’s secret as long as he kept to his promise.
“Your not gonna tell me what you two talked about?” Dad asked looking at me and then at his car where Parker was sitting.
“If I find out you two are hiding something, I’ll come back here and drag your ass home and ground you as well.” He threatened. I laughed out loud. “I mean it. There will be no cahooting.”
“No cahooting, got it.” I laughed. “Well, take care pops.” I held out my hand.
“What no hug?” He laughed. We hugged and he gave me a small kiss on the cheek. “Love you son.”
“Yea I love you too pops.” I watched as he walked down to his car. I waved to Parker and turned. I didn’t want to watch as they drove away. I could hardly handle them leaving again. Just a few months till summer. I told myself.
As soon as dad and Parker left, Jake pulled me into his car and took off. “Where are we going?”
“The sports bar down on Lincoln Ave. Dad’s favorite place. We are gonna have a drink in his honor.”
I smiled, it sounded like a good plan to me. “Cool, but if grandma finds out, I’m telling her that you forced me to come and you forced me to drink.”
“Fine by me cause I told her I was gonna take you out drinking.” He laughed.
We drove up to the bar and walked in. The place didn’t look like a sports bar, yet it was. I told myself what I would do if I owned the place. I watched as Jake came back to me with two beers. He handed me one. “To Thomas Rain, the greatest detective that this city ever knew.”
“To the best grandfather, and great-grandfather.” I added.
“To Tom.” We dinged our glasses together and laughed. Grandpa hated being called Tom or Tommy. I took a sip of my beer, and looked over. Neither Jake or I could ignore her any longer. The hottest girl we had ever seen came rolling into the bar and started to play the arcade games. “Dude I saw her first.” My uncle whispered.
“Duuuude. She’s totally into me. She waved as she walked in.” I lied. “Come on, let me have her. I had to say goodbye to Parker after he called me dad.”
“Hey I lost my dad!”
“Rock, paper, scissors?” I asked. He held out his fist and we both took a shot at rock, paper, scissors. I won. “Hold this.” I handed Jake my drink and went towards her.
She turned just as I walked up and I accidently ran into her. “Oh pardon me.” I said.
“No, it’s o. . . OH MY GOD, IT’S JAKE RIGHT!!!” She screamed. Crap.
I turned around and my uncle smiled his flirty smile and walked over. “Hey Travis, I got you a beer.” He handed me back my drink. “And who is this nice looking girl?”
“Name’s Becca. And can I say, I am a huge fan.” She held out her hand and he took it and kissed the back of her hand.
“Well, it’s a pleasure to meet you.” He said flirtatiously. I walked away to the bar and sat there while I listened to the girl giggle as Jake flirted. As the bar closed and I turned around, drunk, and noticed my ride and the girl he was with was gone. I had no way of getting home. Dammit Jake!