Monday, November 21, 2005

Lost Shoes

"What were you doing out there?" I asked. Outside a thick mist had settled on the lake, and a chill breeze blew in through the open slider as Brenner pulled it shut behind him.

"Nothing," he said in a guarded tone. Goose bumps were spread on his arms like Braille and his cheeks were flushed. My mind raced for a possible explanation, because clearly he was up to something. I decided to look for myself. Brenner stood in my way as I approached, but moved nonchalantly aside as I stood before him.

Visibility was poor due to the morning fog, and so were my powers of observation. We lived in a boat house, so the back porch was more like small lake-front dock, covered by a green, bristly astro-turf. A chrome-metal swimming pool hand rail rose from the water and clung to the left side of the dock, and all around the edges were cleats to which we tied our row boat when it wasn't docked inside the covered garage at the shore side section of the house. There was the usual clutter of snorkeling gear and life jackets, but nothing looked out of the ordinary. And it was too cold to go out.

I gave Brenner my best Clint Eastwood stare and was rewarded with a bug-eyed performance worthy of Rodney Dangerfield as he squirmed under my silent regard.

It was almost time to head out to the bus, so I got dressed and stuffed my backpack with a couple bologna and cheese sandwiches and a thermos of milk. I couldn't find my sneakers so I searched everywhere I might have left them, but still there was no trace.

"Brenner, have you seen my sneakers anywhere?"

"No," he said.

"Oh my God." My heart accelerated. "I'm going to miss the bus." I only had one pair of shoes, of any kind. I was lucky to have more than one pair of pants. Without shoes I couldn't go anywhere, especially for the mile walk to the bus stop.

"Well, that's too bad about your shoes," Brenner said, "but there is no sense in both of us missing the bus. I'd better go."

I let out an exasperated gasp, "Yeah, you'd better go."

A half hour later, I was still searching for the sneakers. I didn't know what to do so I went to dad's bedroom and gave him a shake. "Dad, wake up."

He grunted but didn't rouse. I gave him another shake. His eyes fluttered open and stared at me. "What the fuck are you still doing here?!"

"I, uh," I started. I searched for words that wouldn't sound so lame, but there was nothing else to say. "I lost my shoes."

"Well find them goddammit!"

"But I've been looking. They're not here."

"Well you better find them before you miss the bus."

Uh oh, here it comes. "I already have dad. Now I need a ride to school."

"For Christ's sake!" I left the room as he threw off his covers and I waited on the couch as he came out. He stood before me with no clothes on, looking at me like I had murdered his dog. I had trouble holding eye contact, but I did my best. He stepped towards me and smacked me with an open hand so hard that my head jerked to the side and hit the wall behind the couch. I swallowed hard as heat spread across my face like the feel of a hot water bottle.

"Now find your shoes. And next time you lose them, you go to school in your bare fucking feet!"

The slap should have knocked me senseless, but it had quite the opposite effect. Suddenly I knew where to find my shoes. I opened the slider and poked my head through. Just to the right they sat, soaked through by the morning mist, which by now was giving way to the late morning sun.

12 comments:

Eve said...

Very well written - like I said before, your descriptions of emotions are excellent!

jenbeauty said...

This one really made me feel the emotion today Scott. One day you have me somewhat liking your dad, and the next I just want to yell at him.

Kathleen said...

I so want that to be a piece of fiction, but I'm scared that it is not.

Scott said...

Eve - Thank you.

Jen - That's how it is with the old fella. Obviously this was a long time ago, and he's mellowed with age.

Kathleen - This is the real McCoy. I would label it otherwise.

magnetbabe said...

After reading this I'm so angry for you. The injustice must still bother you, I know it would bother me.

Trevor Record said...

Wow, what a jackass. How far did you have to go to get to school? You must've missed the entire first half of school if you needed to take a bus, and you were willing to ask that jerk for a ride.

Mrs.T said...

Reason 1 why I never wished for siblings! I VERY much knew I was blessed to be the only show in town, the downside is I could never blame anyone for lost clothing, shoes or 'things', it was always ME. LOL

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

I want to punch your dad.

But i know that this is the wrong reaction.

Kathleen said...

Scott - I have no clue what is up with anonymous, but I'm choosing to ignore the twit as a friend recently dealt with a similar shithead (although I'm pretty sure mine is male and hers was female) and her advice is to ignore losers like that. It's hard to do it, but I think it's the smartest course of action.

And my feeling when reading your story was not to slap your dad, but to hug a young Scott. So sad.

Scott said...

MB - It doesn't bother me anymore. I grew up with multi-layered injustice, and this was just a small part of it. After a while I adapted and learned to survive. Regular life doesn't bother me as much.

Trevor - I never missed the bus before, and especially not after this event.

Mrs T - Lucky you sort of. Having siblings has been one of the boons of my life. Brenner was a step-brother and was not missed after he was gone.

UTMG - Well be my guest, but bring a friend. Or two.

Kathleen - I appreciate that. Fortunately I came out the other end somewhat together, a positive reaction to a troubled childhood. It wasn't all bad, but these times stick in my head whenever my own kids get on my nerves. I know what a great parent I am due to that contrast.

Jada's Gigi said...

We are all products of our upbringing aren't we? I've had to forgive my father for who he was and for what the cruelty of his own parents made him and for how their collective actions imprinted my life. That forgivness has enabled me to be a better parent to my kids, a better person in general. You can't hold onto that stuff or it will color your entire life...as i'm sure you've discovered. :)

Scott said...

Gigi - You said it there. Holding onto the anger is damaging to only person. If you don't let go, then, well, it burns you up.