Winter unwove into spring and the end of school approached with the end of year activities; dances, dinners and the like. Key Club decided to have a big end of the year dinner at a fancy restaurant in town. My mother dutifully created another ‘hand-made’ dress for me. I hinted around at one of the other guys in the group that I needed a date and he obligingly asked me to go. Jeff was a nice enough kid, cute and pretty smart without being movie-star good looking or brilliant. He wasn’t Peter, but as a member of the Key Club, he was still in the ‘inner circle,’ and I was still holding out hope.
The big day arrived and I got into my new dress, my hair looked presentable and I spent an hour on my makeup. Jeff was scheduled to pick me up and as I was getting ready to go a thought struck me; my dad. My dad was always about half in the bag by dinner and by the time Jeff and I got back; he would certainly be way gone and around the bend liquor wise. I had a hurried and feverish conversation with my mother and she promised to ‘get him out of the house.’ I said to her “Can’t he just go to the Club for a few hours? He’s there all the time anyway.” She made promises to make it happen and my ride picked me up without a hitch.
We got to the restaurant and immediately saw Linda and Peter by themselves in a booth. Peter summoned us over and we ‘got’ to sit with them. My dress at the time was a yellow, polka-dot affair that my mother thought was ‘really cute.’ I thought it looked really dumb but, what choice did I have? Linda was sitting, regally, by Peter’s side in a low-cut black cocktail dress, no doubt purchased for the occasion. My eyes bugged out a second while I took this in and for a moment considered covering myself with table napkins. However, this passed and we got to soup when I realized Linda was wearing a new necklace. Was that a diamond heart setting? I couldn’t bear to ask. The last remnants of hope were drifting out the window with the beef vapors.
Two painful hours later, Jeff brought me home and we sat down in the living room to chit-chat a bit with my mom. Things seemed to be going well and Jeff was starting to look better to me. Suddenly, the front door opened and in walked my dad.
Walked in is too generous a phrase; stumbled in is a better way to put it. He stumbled in with a shot glass in his hand. “‘ello, everybody,” he slurred. “Woos’ ‘is,” he continued, pointing at my date.
I got a grip on myself and carefully said, “Jeff, this is my dad. Dad, Jeff.”
“Glad ‘met ‘ya young man. Want a drink?”
“Dad, Jeff is sixteen years old, I don’t think he is old enough to drink,” I responded tersely.
“Oh, no,” Dad continued, “Never too young to have a drink. Man’s drink,” he lurched a bit toward the increasingly nervous Jeff. “Scotch?” he queried hopefully.
Jeff was starting to look wildly around the room, trying to find the escape hatch. My mom was twisting a paper towel in her hands and I had, by this time, stood up.
“He doesn’t need a drink, Dad; he’s fine,” I spat out.
“Oh, no,” Dad responded, “‘ittle drink. Be right back.” He veered off course toward the kitchen.
The moment he was out of the room; Jeff leapt up and started to stammer, “Well, nice meeting you Mrs. Caufield, nice, nice house. Ah, thanks Cissy, I, I’ve got to go. So, see you at school, right?” And without completely running, he got himself to the door and out like a flash. I didn’t even bother walking out to his car.
My dad came back in carrying two glasses with brown liquid. “Where’d ‘e go?” He sagged down on the Barcalounger, his favorite chair.
“The young man left, Dan,” was my mother’s plaintiff reply.
“Oh,” my dad started to sip his drink again. “More ‘fer me.”
I could feel a curtain of rage sweep over my body. I tore out of the room and ran toward the garage.
My mother yelled, “Cissy, Cissy where are you going?”
I knew where I was going; I was going to the locked trunk. I found the key, wrenched the lid open and found the revolver; loaded as per usual. Running back into the living room, aiming with both hands, I pulled the trigger and shot my dad. Boy, was that sound loud. My mother shrieked.
I almost fell backwards from the recoil. A second later, my dad was touching a little red streak on the top of his head and there was a hole in the Barcalounger.
“You shot me,” he said blankly.
Let my digress just a little; I never really meant to kill my dad, more like just make a point, if you know what I mean. I had taken riflery and small arms at summer camp at his insistence.
“Any daughter of mine,” he had said pompously, “should know how to shoot like a man, defend yourself.” So, I did learn how to shoot like a man and was pretty good at it too. This was just a little statement shot so to speak.
My mom was open-mouthed. I threw the gun down and ran to my room, slamming the door behind me as hard as I could. Throwing myself on my bed, I burst into tears.
The next day; our house was pretty quiet. Dad and Mom were at the kitchen table when I came down for breakfast. My dad’s head was hanging and he had that special kind of green look I knew so well. On purpose I banged down my cereal bowl. He jumped a little and winced, but didn’t look up.
My mother was fiddling nervously with a fork when I sat down. I didn’t say anything. She chirped brightly. “Cissy, your dad and I have had a long talk. Didn’t we Dan?”
My dad moved his head a little.
“And, well, we have decided he is going to go get some help with his, his…..problem. That’s right, Dan, right?” Little head movement from my dad.
“Oh, and about those guns in the garage,” my mother continued, “we have decided we are going to get rid of those too. Might be better for all of us,” she finished brightly sounding a bit like we were planning a trip to Florida. I nodded glumly and finished my cereal in silence.
Actually, my mom was right about the guns. It probably would be better for all of us; next time I might not miss.
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