“Hey, old man. How are we today?”
“Oh just fine, yah. Just fine. The weather is beautiful and the sun is on my face. What more could I ask for.”
The young man laughed. “Not much, I suppose.” He grabbed the camera hanging around his neck and raised the viewfinder to his eye. “Smile.”
The old man smiled crookedly. After the picture he closed his eyes and the strain left his face. Slowly, he put his head back to drink in the sunlight.
“You’re not going to fall asleep on me are you?”
“Oh no sir, just resting my eye’s is all.” The old man said, smirking.
“Good, I’d hate to have driven all this way to have you fall asleep on me.” The young man said, packing his camera away. “So how are they treating you here? Supper good?”
The old man sighed. “Oh yeah, supper’s good. Terrific. They treat me good here, yah. The ladies are lovely too.” The old man perked up and waved.
The young man turned. He nodded to the wheelchair-bound woman and the attendant pushing her. Glad to see you haven’t changed, the young man thought.
The young man turned back and scooched closer. “Listen, I wanted to tell you that Lorie and I got a divorce.”
The old man rocked back at the news and grunted.
“Uh, yeah. She’s getting the house. Our house. We decided that it would be best if she gets the kids during the week and I get them every other weekend. I insisted on every weekend, but uh, they said they also wanted time to hang out with their friends. I-I can see where they’re coming from. When I was their age all I wanted to do was hang out with my friends. It just hurts you know?”
The young man wiped at his eyes. Now’s not the time, he thought. Remember what dad used to say: real men don’t cry, they don’t have time.
“I tried to get them to come with me today, but they had other plans already. Jen went to the movies with her friends and Will is playing in some card tournament.”
“I know. But they’re kids. I’m sure I was no walk in the park either.” The young man laughed.
The laughter stirred the older man. He popped up and opened his eyes. “Hello.”
The young man just kept laughing. Better than tears. He put his hand on the old man’s knee. “It was good seeing you dad. I’ll come by next weekend to see you. Make sure they keep feeding you good and I’ll visit mom for you.” The young man nodded over to another nearby nurse and lowered his voice. “And hands off the goods while I’m away.”
The old man cackled. “Oh, no promises. You take care now.”
The young man left the home and headed out to his car. He stopped to check the growing legion of rust underneath his driver door. He opened the door and stepped in, but found it impossible to turn the key. The young man put his head down on the steering wheel and cried, alone. He wondered if somewhere in there, any part of dad remained. Of course it did, he thought, it was sitting in a shit car about to head home to an empty apartment.