I was at the airport, pacing the terminal, waiting for the plane to be boarded. I was at the airport in record time. I went and asked for a new flight to Bridgeport or Sunset Valley, neither had any earlier flights. So, I paced. I was pacing a little over an hour when I heard my phone go off. I stumbled for the phone as people around me looked at me with quizzical glances as to why Billionaire By Travis McCoy was playing on my phone. “DAD!” I yelled frantically.
“Nope, it’s me.” Sally answered. “And I have a small little blonde boy here looking for you.”
“Oh thank God!” I sighed and rested my head on the wall, allowing my heart to finally slow. “Can I talk to him?”
I heard the phone being handed over. “Dad?”
“Parker, are you okay?” I asked relieved to hear his voice.
“Yea. I went on an adventure today, you know, to see you. Sally said you’re gone though? Where are you?”
“I’m in China, heading home. You have a lot of explaining to do when I get there, you know that right?” A tear trickled down my cheek. “Grandpa and I have been worried sick.”
“He didn’t get my note?” Parker asked panicked. “I left him a note saying I was going to Bridgeport, and that I wanted to live with you.”
“Parker.” I only sighed. “Look, we’ll discuss everything when I get home. Stay with Mr. and Mrs. Riley until I get there. And put Mrs. Riley on the phone.”
“Hey.” She answered as she took the phone.
“Look, I’m getting on the plane for Bridgeport in a few minutes. Can you watch him till I get there? “
“Sure. Mark has the game on. So, I’m not doing anything. I’ll see you when you get here.”
NOT IF HE DOESN’T WANT TO BE DEAD! I heard in the background. “Tell Mark to go screw himself.” I said with a smile. I could hear Sally smiling.
“I will. He’s gonna be gone tomorrow morning, so just come by then. And don’t worry about Parker, Mark likes kids.” Great, just what I need, Mark around my nine year old.
As soon as I landed I called Sally and then Jake. Sally said that Parker was asleep and she would be dropping him off in the morning. Mark didn’t like the idea of me returning to the building, he didn’t like any of this. He wanted me out of Sally’s life and out of his, I couldn’t blame him. Jake told me where the apartment was. It was on the Southside of Bridgeport, in a nice, but industrial area of town. The building from the outside looked nice. I looked up and looked back down at the scribble I made on my hand, floor 18, Apartment 1815.
I walked into the new apartment and took a look around first. It was pretty nice. Jake did a nice job decorating. There wasn’t any naked women on the walls, not that I would have minded. “Hey!” He yelled as I entered the door. “How was China?” His eyes didn’t drift away from the TV.
“Pretty good, until the whole thing with Parker?”
“What about Parker?” He asked, looking up from his show.
“He ran away, didn’t dad call? He’s up at Sally’s. He ran to my old place. She’s gonna let him stay the night and bring him by in the morning.”
I sat on the couch. “Are you shitting me?” He asked, dumbfounded. “He ran away? And to you?” I nodded. I was still pretty pissed off. “That boy has some balls running away from Dave.”
I laughed. “Yea he does. Dad called me from the airport and blew a gasket when I told him I found him. That kid’s ass is gonna be red by the time he’s done with him.”
“David won’t smack him.” I looked at Jake and laughed. “Okay, he smacked you, but he’d never touch Park.”
“I dunno.” I looked back at the television and the commercials ended. “What episode is this?” I knew it was old, one of the characters that Jake killed off was on it.
“The one where Amy and I sleep together. . . On and off screen.” He smiled.
“Ah. Okay.” I got up and yawned, “Well, I’m off to bed. I have a long ass drive tomorrow.”
“You just don’t want to see my white ass on the tube, huh?”
“Nope.” I laughed. “Night Jake.”
The next morning I woke and made myself some pancakes. Jake came out from his room, wide awake and dressed. “Morning.” He said cheerfully.
“Sup.” I said in reply. “Could I borrow your keys?” I asked.
He walked and searched the fridge for a beer. I heard the bottle cracked and watched him take a swig of beer at seven in the morning. “To the truck?” He asked.
I nodded. “I need to drive Parker home today.”
Jake just stood there and took another swig. He was contemplating on whether or not to let me drive his “baby.” Finally he pulled his keys out from his pocket, “Alright, but you have to promise me you won’t scratch her.”
“Promise.” I said. He placed the keys on the counter and I went to plating my food.
The phone rang just as I finished cleaning up after myself. I ran into the bedroom and grabbed it off the nightstand. I looked and saw that it was dad calling. I headed out of the room and to the kitchen to grab a glass of water. “What’s up dad?” I answered.
“Is he there yet?” He asked in a panicked voice.
“No, they’re on their way. Just relax dad.” I heard the console buzzer ring by the door, it was Sally. “Look, that’s them now. I’ll be there in a few hours. Just go out and harvest your crops.”
“Alright. I’ll see you guys when you get here.” He hung up and I answered to console. I told Sally what floor and room number and unlocked the elevator. I quickly ran and grabbed some clothes on from the bedroom so that Sally didn’t see me in my boxers.
I let her wait for a bit as I fixed my blazer. Parker and I would be leaving soon after she dropped him off. I opened the door and found Parker slumped against the wall, pretty upset. I hugged Sally. “Thanks so much for bringing him Sal.” I said after we broke our hug,
“No problem. He’s a sweet kid.”
I looked down at him and smiled. “I know.” I ruffled his hair, and he swatted at my hand.
“Get away!” He spat, and slid with his hands crossed down the wall.
I finally turned to him, “Parker,” I said almost in a shout. He looked up, his eyes were red. He knew he screwed up, “Parker, I want you in that apartment and on the couch until I come in, got it?”
“No.” I almost laughed. It was just like when he was toddler, telling me no after everything I told him.
“Now!” I pointed the door. “And say thank you and goodbye to Mrs. Riley.”
He looked up at her, “Thanks Sally, and I’m sorry Travis’ such a jackass.” He walked through the door and slammed it before I had time to yell at him.
I wanted to laugh, almost. “Thanks.” I told Sally. “Again.”
“You know, he just want’s his dad.” She said to me.
I nodded and rubbed my head. I had fucked up royally with Parker, I knew that. I didn’t want to screw up any other children’s lives. I looked at Sally, rubbing my neck, “About fatherhood, any word?” I asked looking at her belly.
“Still don’t know. Sorry. After my first trimester we can do the test. Although, they say its safe till we wait until the baby is born. Mark and I want to wait, but we want to know what you think.”
Crap, nine months to wait? “I can wait.” I told her with a sigh. She knew that I didn’t want to. She knew I wanted this to be over with.
“Sorry.” She laughed at me and then hugged me, “Well, I’m off. I have some work to do at the old apartment. I’ll catch you around.”
“Alright.” I said and gave her a peck on the cheek. She smiled and walked away towards the elevator.
I walked into the house and found Parker sitting with Jake watching E! News. It was the only news Jacob watched. He needed to know all the scoops on all the stars, including himself. “Jake, turn it off.” I said walking in. Both of them looked up at me, Jake mumbled something, but flipped off the set.
“We were watching that!” Parker said. I walked closer to him.
“Parker, get your things, we’re going home.” I looked down at him and I was finally at the couch. I stood in front of him.
“We are home.” He said. Jake tried not to laugh. I could tell he was biting his tongue.
“No we are not. I am taking you back.” Parker looked up with me, mouth open and was about to protest. I stopped him, “Parker, there is no buts in this. You ran away. You skipped school. You punched out your own aunt. I am not going to endorse this by letting you stay here. You are going to have to face the music with grandpa.”
“NO! I hate him.” He screamed at me. “He took all my posters and all my toys!” He proceeded to cry.
“Parker we are going. NOW!” I grabbed his wrist and lifted him off the sofa. Jake stood there and tried to ignore everything.
Parker started to throw a fit as soon as he stood from the couch. “I AM NOT GOING! YOU CAN’T MAKE ME! YOUR NOT MY DAD!” He slammed his foot and looked at me. I was crushed, and showed it.
“Listen Parker! If you don’t get into that truck downstairs, I will drag you by your arm kicking and screaming. You can hate me all you like, but this is going to happen! And you know why?” I asked string right into his eyes, “Because I AM YOUR FATHER! And you, young man, will do as I say, just as you will do what your grandfather says.”
I grabbed him by the arm and dragged him out, kicking and screaming. Jake waved at me and yelled as I closed the door, “Good luck! I’ll have a cold one waiting for you when you get back!”
“Thanks!” I cried out, slamming the door behind me.
I dragged him into the elevator and he pushed me off of him. He didn’t run though he just stood in the elevator and cried as we waited for the doors to close. “I hate you Travis.”
“Good, I’m doing something right.” I said. He just glared at me. “You can look all you want at me like that, you can call me Travis all you want, and you can hate me, but I’m still taking you home.”
“I’m never gonna call you dad again!” He put his arms across his chest as we rode the elevator down. “Ever!”
“I like Travis. It suits me.” I said as the doors open to the lobby. I took his hand and we walked out.
We were an hour into the drive, stuck on the 5 freeway, in traffic, when Parker finally said something to me. “Do you think he’ll forgive me?” He asked, tears started to form in his eyes.
“Of course.” I looked down at him. “He’s your grandpa, he’ll always love you and forgive you.”
“Will you?” He asked.
“Already have.” I said with a smile. He looked up at me and rubbed his eyes with the sleeve of his leather jacket. “Is that an Indiana Jones jacket?” I asked. He nodded. “Cool. I like it. Very adventurous.”
“That’s why I wore it, for my adventure. I hope that I can get his hat someday and wear it on other adventures.”
“Tell me about your adventure. Where did you go?”
“Sunset Valley and stopped at a restaurant first. Met a blond lady named Rose and she brought me to Bridgeport. She liked my name, said her son was named the same name.” I gulped. I knew of one Rose in Sunset Valley. “
“Does this Rose have a last name?” I asked almost with a smile. Thank the heavens he found her.
“Conner. She said she was Rose Conner. She was pretty looking. I bus dropped me off at a Hogan’s and I was hungry. I saw her eating a burger and I asked her for some cash. She asked me my name and bought me a burger. I told her my name, and she smiled and said her name was Rose Conner. Then I told her about my mission to find you and she offered to help. She even gave me her cell number!”
“Can I have it?” I asked with a smile. “So I can thank her?” Parker nodded. He fell asleep in the car shortly after and I drove the rest of the way to Bridgeport, thinking about Rose.
We finally arrived and I pulled the truck into the drive. The car was missing. “Parker get in the house and I want to see your ass on that couch.” I told him. He nodded. “I’m gonna go get grandpa.”
I walked around back where I found dad trimming his tomato trees and humming to an old song from mom’s band. “Wow, that’s old.” I laughed.
He nodded. Then it hit him, he turned around, “Did you find him? Is he here?” He was still panicking.
“He’s inside dad.” Dad gave me a hug and started to cry. “It’s okay dad. He’s okay.”
“I thought I lost him.” He cried. I took him by the shoulder and walked him out and around the house as he just cried. “I am so sorry Travis. You trusted me.”
“Dad, it’s not your fault.” I reassured him. “He ran away. You didn’t misplace him, HE ran away. It isn’t anybody’s fault but his.” Dad nodded.
Dad and I walked in and found Parker watching a cartoon on the television. Dad walked right up to the television, took the remote and turned it off. I stood right next to dad and was glaring at Parker, even I knew he wasn’t allowed to watch television. Dad turned and crossed his arms. We both did. “Parker, explain.” Dad said.
Parker didn’t look up at either of us. “I’m sorry.” He cried.
“That’s not an explanation young man. Do you realize how sick and worried I’ve been?” Parker nodded. “Will you tell me why you decided to run off to Bridgeport?”
“I want to live with dad.” He said and looked up at me. “Please.” I sighed. Parker was crying. I looked over at dad, he looked hurt and pissed off. Yet he didn’t say anything. “Please dad, can’t I stay with you? I promise you I won’t be a problem anymore.” He looked only at me with his tears in his eyes.
I finally sat down next to him and placed my hand on his knee. “Parker it doesn’t work like that. You can’t just run away, and expect to move in with me. Look, I have a lot of issues back in town. I have a really hard job, and it won’t seem right to you. You have grandpa here to care for you. Hell, you have his cooking.” I laughed, they laughed as well. “I burn my toaster strudels. Maybe, someday, when your older we can revisit the moving in thing.”
“Why not now?”
“Because, you ran away. You have to show grandpa and I a bit more responsibility.”
Parker nodded. “Can I at least come visit you?”
I looked at dad.
“Please, grandpa?” Parker asked dad. “Please.”
“Maybe in a few months.” He said finally. “But first you have to start acting like the boy I knew before Christmas. No more ditching school, no more fights, and no more taking off.”
“And what about Susan?” Parker asked. “What if she hits me or does something mean?”
“You tell me and I’ll talk to grandma. I don’t want you anywhere near her to provoke her.”
“And my toys and posters?” He asked.
“When I see that your starting to behave I’ll give them back. Now I want you in your room while I talk to your father. He’s also in a lot of trouble.” Dad looked at me, followed by Parker. I just looked dumbfounded. What the hell did I do?
Parker slid off the couch, “Yes sir.” He mumbled. “Good luck dad.” He looked at grandpa and the two stared for a moment. It was eerie seeing them, it reminded me of my childhood. Yet, here I was about to get into trouble, and I’m a freaking adult. How the hell did that happened?
Dad sat down next to me after we heard the door close. “So, tell me what the hell did you do?” I looked at him, not sure what he meant. “Don’t give me that dumb look. When I called you about Parker in China, you were trying to justify something.” Crap!
“It’s nothing.” I said too quickly. Dad just glared at me and waited. He wasn’t going to let me leave without telling him. “My landlord’s wife. . .” I paused and looked at dad for a second, “well, she’s pregnant.”
“Go on.” He said already knowing where this was going to lead. I knew I was so dead.
“And she’s not sure who the father is.” I gulped. “And I. . .” I couldn’t finish.
“You idiot!” He smacked me in the back of the head. “I told you not to go and do this!”
I rubbed my head, “Hey, it might not be mine.” I said defensively.
“When the hell are you going to learn Travis? Didn’t knocking up a teenager in high school teach you anything?” He smacked me again, this time harder. Jake was right, they weren’t gonna be able to identify my body. “Let me ask you something. . . .” He paused. “Is she the discovery your landlord made? Is she why you were evicted?”
“Yup.” I said as I nodded. He smacked me again, harder. I was already feeling a bruise on the back of my head. I am so happy I have hair, last time he hit me like this my ass was red for a month.
“How long?” He asked. “How long was the affair?” Now I really was in trouble. Dad hated affairs. Mom had cheated on him for only God knows how long. Now, here I was, sleeping with a married woman. I could blame it on my uncle and mom, maybe he’d go easy on me and kill Mike, the guy he’s wanted to kill forever. ‘HOW LONG?” He smacked me again.
“Six months.” I blurted out, rubbing my head. SMACK!
“Dad will you quit smacking me?” I finally yelled. “Geesh, I’m already bruising.”
“Good.” Smack. “I don’t know what the hell you were thinking. All I know is, that I know where your landlord is coming from. You know, if I was him, you’d be dead.”
“Mike’s not dead.” And as I said it I wanted to take it back. Smack. “Sorry.”
“No, he’s not. But I got a fucking piece of him when I got the chance. I hope for your sake your landlord never sees you.” We sat in silence until his laughter broke it. “You know, the tabloids were the first to say something about it. I never wanted to believe it. That she was sleeping around. Hell, I’m now surprised I didn’t see it.” He looked at me again. I had seen a clipping once on the internet about mom and dad. . . and me.
“Do you think I’m still your son?” I asked. He looked me dead in the eye and without any hesitation he said, “Yes.” I smiled at him. “I love you dad.”
“I love you too knucklehead.” He tousled my perfect hair. I laughed. “Now go say bye to your son. I’m sure Jake is wanting his precious truck back.”
“Yea, he probably is going crazy.” I stood bent low and hugged and kissed my dad.
I found Parker in his bedroom. It had changed a lot since the last time I was in it. “Cool room.” I said to him.
He looked up and I could see tears in his eyes. “How much trouble are you in?”
“More than you. He actually smacked me. I have a welt forming on the back of my head.” Parker smiled at me. “I’m leaving, I thought maybe you’d want to give your dad a hug before I go.”
He shook his head. “No.” The tears ran down his cheeks.
“Please?” I pleaded. “It’d make me happy.”
He jumped off his bed and ran into me, hugging me. I could feel his tears soaking my blazer. “Daddy, please don’t go.” He cried.
“I have to.” I gave him a kiss and continued to hug him.
He took a step back and released the hug. “Can you call me? Can I call you? And will you promise to see me soon, please.”
I laughed. “We’re grounded, you know that right? We can’t see or speak to each other until grandpa says we can.” I tried to make it sound like we were both in trouble. I knew dad was disappointed at me, but if Parker thought I was actually in trouble, maybe he would see we were acting rationally about all this. He wasn’t buying it. He sighed and another tear ran down as cheek.
“Please? I need someone to talk to!”
“Alright, but you have to be quiet about it. If he finds out, I’ll deny it.” I handed him my cellphone, but not before punching in my work number and erasing all the other contacts. “Call me, day or night. Okay? If grandpa finds you with it, I’m not responsible. I didn’t give you it, alright.” Parker nodded in delight. I couldn’t believe I gave him my cellphone.
“Thanks dad!” He was ecstatic about the phone. He kept looking at it, checking out all the apps. Mostly business ones. I could see him deleting them. Luckily my phone had backed up on my new home computer before I left this morning. I had everything there. I was about to turn when he spoke again, “Goodbye dad. I’ll miss you.”
“I’ll miss you too son.” I tousled his hair and walked out.