I want them all so badly that I’m willing to do the last thing I want to do, which is slow down so that I don’t scare her off.
“I want to see you again.”
When she says “Okay,” it takes everything I have not to pick her up and spin her around. I somehow remain calm and collected, even as she walks me to her door and we tell each other good-bye.
And when she finally closes the door for the last time, I want to knock on it again. I want to make her open it for a fourth time so that I can press my lips to hers and get a feel for what our future is hopefully about to consist of.
Before I can decide whether to leave and wait until tomorrow or go ahead and make her open the door so I can kiss her tonight, my phone makes the decision for me. I pull it out of my pocket after it begins ringing and answer my father’s phone call.
“Are you okay?” I ask him.
“Owen . . . shit . . . this . . .”
I can tell by his voice that he’s been drinking. He mutters something unintelligible and then . . . nothing.
Silence. When I make it outside of the apartment building, I press my hand against my ear to try to hear him better.
“Dad!” I yell.
I hear rustling and then more muttering. “I know I shouldn’t have done it . . . I’m sorry, Owen, I just couldn’t . . .”
I close my eyes and try to remain calm, but he isn’t making any sense.
“Tell me where you are. I’m on my way.”
He mutters a street name that isn’t far from his house. I tell him to stay put, and I run the entire way back to my apartment in order to get my car.
I have no idea what I’ll find once I reach him. I just hope he hasn’t done something stupid that could get him arrested. He’s been lucky up to this point, but no one can have as much luck as he’s had and continue to get away with it.
When I pull onto the street, I don’t see anything. There are a few scattered houses, but it’s mostly a barren area close to the subdivision he lives in. When I near the end of the road, I finally see his car. It looks like he’s run the car off the road.
I pull over onto the side of the road and get out to check on him. I walk to the front of the car to assess any damage he might have done, but there isn’t any. His taillights are on, and it looks like he just couldn’t figure out how to get back on the road.
He’s passed out in the front seat and the doors are locked.
“Dad!” I beat on the window until he finally wakes up. He fumbles with the buttons on the door and rolls the window halfway down in an attempt to unlock the car.
“Wrong button,” I tell him. I reach through the window and unlock the door, pulling it open.
“Scoot over,” I say to him. He leans his head against the headrest and looks at me with a face full of disappointment.
“I’m okay,” he mumbles. “I just needed to take a nap.”
I shove my shoulder into him to scoot him out of the driver’s seat. He groans and climbs across the seat, slumping against the passenger door. Sadly, this is becoming routine. In the past year alone, this is the third time I’ve had to come to his rescue. It used to not be so bad when it was just the pain pills, but now that he’s mixing them with alcohol, it’s harder for him to hide it from everyone else.
I try to start the car, but it’s still in drive. I put it in park and crank it with ease. I put the car in reverse and it pulls onto the road without a problem.
“How’d you get it to do that?” he says. “It wouldn’t work when I tried.”
“It was in drive, Dad. You can’t start cars when they’re in drive.”
When I pass by my car still pulled over in the ditch, I hold my key fob up and lock it. I’ll have to get Harrison to pick me up and follow me back out to the car after I drop my father off at home.
We’ve driven about a mile when the crying starts. He’s huddled up against the passenger window and his whole body begins to shake from his tears. It used to bother me, but I’ve become immune to it. And I probably hate that I’ve become immune to his depression more than I even hate his depression.
“I’m so sorry, Owen,” he chokes out. “I tried. I tried, I tried, I tried.” He’s crying so hard that his words are becoming harder to understand, but he keeps going. “Just two more months, that’s all I need. I’ll get help after that, I promise.”
He continues to cry tears of shame, and this is the hardest part for me. I can take the mood swings, the withdrawls, the late-night phone calls. I’ve been dealing with them for years.
It’s watching his tears that eats at me. It’s seeing him still heartbroken over that night that makes me accept his excuses. It’s hearing the depression in his voice that brings back the horror of that night, and as much as I want to hate him for being so weak, I also praise him for still being alive. I’m not sure I would have even had the will to live if I were him.
His crying comes to an instant halt the second the lights fill the inside of the car. I’ve been pulled over plenty of times to know that these things are usually routine when a car is out this late at night. But the condition my father is in right now makes me nervous.
“Dad, let me handle this,” I say as I pull over to the side of the road. “He’ll know you’re drunk if you open your mouth to speak.”
He nods and watches the cop nervously as he approaches the car. “Where’s your insurance?” I ask my father, just as the cop reaches the window. My father fumbles with the glove box as I roll the window down.
The cop immediately looks familiar to me, but I don’t place him right away. It isn’t until he bends down and looks me straight in the eye that I remember him. Trey, I think is his name. I can’t believe I even remember that.
Great. I would get pulled over by the one and only guy I’ve ever punched.
He doesn’t appear to remember me, so that’s a good thing. “License and insurance,” he says stiffly.
I pull my license from my wallet and my father hands me his insurance card. When I hand both of them to Trey, he eyes my ID first. He smirks almost immediately. “Owen Gentry?” He taps my driver’s license against my car and laughs. “Wow. Never thought I’d hear that name again.”
I run my thumbs around the steering wheel and shake my head. He definitely remembers, all right. Not good.