March 9, 2010
6:00 a.m. Carl’s alarm chimed. He slapped it off before Audrey could stir. He threw water on his face, dressed and eased down the stairs, avoiding the squeaky treads. A light in the kitchen? Darned kids must’ve left it on… and made coffee?
“Morning, dad,” Joe said. He was staring at the pot as it slowly filled. “Coffee in five.”
Carl hesitated. Coffee… “I’ll grab some on the way. Breakfast meeting.”
“With a hammer?” Joe smiled. “You start a lot earlier than you used to.”
“So do you.”
Joe pushed away from the counter. “Nah, I just stay up later.” He poked through the rainbow of fruit in a large bowl.
“You’ve been up all night?”
Joe shrugged. “It happens. You want a smoothie to go? Takes two seconds. Get some protein, some anitoxidants, phytochemicals—”
“I’ll grab some of those on the way, too.”
“You’re still ticked, aren’t you?” This stopped Carl from going out the door.
“Ticked.” Carl drew in a long breath and let it out. He was a tall man but not a dominating figure. At this moment, however, he filled the whole kitchen. “I’ll tell you what I am, Joe: disappointed. In myself. Because I didn’t teach you to understand who you are and where you fit into this family.”
“You quit school last year. Twenty years old, and you had to go chasing all over the country doing God knows what, you break your mother’s heart, and you come back expecting us to believe you were locked up in Texas without a mark on you to prove it.”
“Son, I lived in Texas. They’ll shoot a man seventy-eight times in Texas, and if you ask how he died, they’ll say he died of natural causes. And if you ask how that’s possible, they’ll tell you if a man is shot seventy-eight times, naturally he’ll die. So, Joe, when you’re ready to tell me what really went on after you dropped out of school, I’ll listen. But don’t you talk about Texas. You got me?”
Carl picked up a large green fruit and sniffed it. “There’s something else I need to know.” His eyes were steady on his son, who remained at attention. “What the hell is this?”
“It’s a mango, dad.”
Carl and Joe proceeded to peel a couple of mangos, throw them in the blender with yogurt, orange juice and ice. There was enough left for Audrey when she got up, but they had to make another pot of coffee.
©2010 Pam Wells