Story: The Alphabet Looks Different Now
By Reese Scott
I hadn’t seen my father in some time. I had always hated him. I will say without any hesitation I wanted him dead. The strange part of it is no matter how much I hated him and how much I wanted him killed, I always respected the man. I knew without knowing for him to be able to achieve he would have to work ten times harder then the next person. I knew his learning disabilities were not what people call learning disabilities. They were on a different page. Living in a different book.
He was working back in New York. I found out where he was working from my brother. I took the subway downtown. Got off at Fulton. Walked down Liberty Street. All the tall buildings. Didn’t look ugly or pretty. They just looked clean.
I went up to the thing which has all the names of the companies and which floor they were on. He was working at a company called “Pro-Noun Medical Supplies.” I never knew what he did. When I asked him the conversation would go like this:
“So how’s work?””
“What are you working on?”
“I’m just traveling.”
My father was never a mystery to me. I just understood why he wan’t able to communicate. It wouldn’tbe unfair to say he was emotionally retarded. But when I was older, it was hard not to see the tragedy that lived inside him that he had no idea was there. He never complained.
When you asked about his childhood. He would say he didn’t remember. Or say it was fine. I would ask him his mother had died.
I always knew this was untrue. I always believed she killed herself. My father doesn’t even know how old he was. I should reword that. He doesn’t want to remember how old he was. When his Mother died. His father remarried. And he was immediately sent away. His stepmother hated him. With a capital H through D.
His office was on the 34th floor. Which made me think of Earl Campbell. The great running back who was run into the ground. Only to be left with a body that did’t function. I remember watching the super bowl. They had Earl Campbell out during the coin toss. During the commercial no one would see that he needed a wheelchair to cross the field.
I don’t know why I thought of this. It wasn’t because of the number. It was because of being used, beaten, loved and forgotten.
The elevator opened. It was the 34th floor. There was glass surrounding the door. It looked like a strange prison for people that were able to make a good living. I always felt the reason I could never be in an office was because of who I grew up around. When I would be in an office, the air would feel stale and make my body feel like it was covered in some sort of glue.
I asked the women in the front desk where I could find my father. She looked at me with a look that I appreciate. The look that says, “What business do you have being here. In Jeans and a dirty shirt.” Then when I told her I was his son. Her expression changed. And you could see who she really was. Which was most of the time quite wonderful.
She walked me over to my father’s office. She asked me when was the last time I had seen him. There was a strange tone to her voice. I could’t figure out. But it felt crooked. Like I was walking in the wrong direction. I told her it had been awhile. She knocked on the door and said, “Your son” is here. I didn’t hear any response from him. The women shut the door. “He needs a minute to get ready.”
I didn’t think much of it at the time. But there is always something suspect when you hear the words “…minute to get ready.” The woman stayed there waiting. Then knocked and opened the door again. “You can go in.”
I walked in. It looked like an office. There was a desk. Things on the wall from some medical deals I didn’t know of. I didn’t want to look at my father. Not out of being uncomfortable. But the fear of his expression about my being there.
I saw a cane in the corner. It wasn’t the kind of cane that I use. The cane that I use seems to carry an advertisement on it that says, “Please don’t get out of my way.” This was one of those canes you don’t see with the people you know. It’s the cane that only strangers use.
I stared at it. I knew what it was right away. But it was like I didn’t want to swallow it.
“Hello,” My dad said.
I turned and looked at him. He was looking right at me. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to say anything.
“So how have you been. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you.”
“Can I sit down?”
I sat down. Then I watched my father sit behind his desk. He moved with careful movements. Even though he was trying his best to hide them. Then there was silence. Like there always had been. I never spoke to my father. I remember when he would come home from work. And I would be waiting there. Just ready to attack. Until he would chase me around the house. The silence was scary now.
“Can you see?”
I froze. I’ve always had more empathy for others than myself. No matter what my condition was. I had no sympathy for it. It had been seven years. And I still didn’t believe it was real. But seeing my father like this. I had never felt love come so quickly as though it had been lying dormant inside waiting for the chance to come out.
“A few months ago.”
“Can you see at all?”
“Well, I’m still able to see grey blurry objects at times.”
I didn’t want to say the one thing that everyone says. The two words that I hate as much as any other two words. I’m sorry.
But I found the words caught in my throat. Trying to come out. I gave in. Ready to let them out. But there was nothing. Silence. I looked at my father. Sitting behind his desk. And even though he looked fine. He always looked fine. But sometimes you can see cracks. And all I saw was a person across from me who was not only cracked but broken. Then having to be the only person who could put themselves back together.
Then I got up. Walked around his desk. And put my arms around him. And cried for the first time since I could remember.