Life of a Writer: Glimpses of a Father

From the living room floor, I watched the roaches crawl across the ceiling. When they began to fall, I hurriedly wrapped the blanket around me and tucked it in as best I could. Uncle J’s death was unexpected and Aunt D came unglued, dragging my cousins from sibling to sibling. I crossed my fingers they’d be moving on soon. Alas, they enrolled in the local school, the meanest two in my grade…not twins, just one dumb one. They tormented me daily, on top of the usual bullying I received from my classmates, so that in the evenings I would ride my bike around town until dark, hoping dinner would distract them. I was ordered to come home straight after school and stay there by my mother, adamant that I show compassion. The night I took to the streets on my bike, sobbing, I returned long after sunset to find my father waiting for me in his garage. I homed in on the light as a beacon of refuge. He was fiddling around, doing a little of nothing, as he liked to say, when I entered. Without turning around, he told me—Your mother’s angry with you. He looked at me, one eyebrow raised. There was nothing to say. Facing the counter again, he said—I got you something—and brought a little box to me. We sat on his workbench so I could open it. My gift was an itty bitty radio with a pullout antenna. He took it from me, placed it on a little table next to an overstuffed chair he’d dragged down from the attic, and plugged it in. Next to the chair, he’d put a small bookshelf and filled it with some of the books from my room. He hugged me and said—You can come read in here after school; I’ll let your mother know where you are.