The weekly writing prompt at Studio 30+ is an excellent instigator of creativity. Sometimes it generates a spurt of fiction writing, and other times I get a push toward introspective blogging. Thanks to the folks there, each week provokes something different for everyone who participates.
The boy’s mother was glad things had happened the way they did. His dad, on the other hand, looked back on the day with disgust. Hindsight from within four confining walls is a skewed point of view.
Brandon had been a pretty closed-lips guy up to that point. He got that from his father, Dewayne, who spent a lot of time alone in his garage behind their house. Dewayne was a sometime musician, so his lone guitar twangs were heard by the neighbors but never quite disturbed the peace. The low volume pretty much kept him under the radar. His was more of a one-too-many-beers type of playing. He hung out there most weeknights and played a little music by himself. His son was never allowed in there with him, though, at the threat of a sound thrashing. Dewayne claimed he had important work to do within those walls, and Brandon would only get in the way.
The weekends were a different story, when Dewayne took off with his ne’er do well buddies who had a loosely-formed band that played dive bars throughout the county. Brandon certainly didn’t get to go hear them play in those joints and seldom saw him after his dad’s regular workaday job ended either. Brandon was young enough that even the skeeviest of taverns wouldn’t let a kid his age hang out there after dark. Sometimes he could spend a while at the Pac Man table during the day, as long as his dad was situated on a bar stool within earshot. But bartenders drew the line on weekends when a cover charge helped pay the cheap band and other adults griped about kids getting in the way on the dance floor.
So Brandon spent countless nights peering out longingly at the workshop where his dad enjoyed spending more time than in the house with him. Only a narrow sliver of light from between the garage window’s curtains spilled onto the grass, with Brandon’s mood matching the otherwise impervious mask of darkness. He wondered what was so much more important than him out there in his dad’s inner sanctum. Its elusive draw was lost on a preteen like him, and he longed to sneak into Dewayne’s favor enough for an invitation.
Bragging to his dad about a good test score didn’t win him over, and even hitting the home run that won his City League baseball team’s game in the last minute hadn’t been enough to catch Dewayne’s attention. He pedaled his bike home as fast as his short legs could manage to deliver the news. A low grunt, “Nice, kid,” was all Brandon got in return, as Dewayne let the screen door smack shut in the wake of his nightly retreat out the back.
No kids allowed at his mysterious destination. Brandon thought maybe once he got into high school his dad would consider him grown up enough to open that dilapidated wooden door with its peeling paint and invite him inside.
Brandon’s mom worked most evenings, so too many hours spent alone with homework took their toll on his feelings. His sadness drove him to take drastic action. Finally Brandon mustered up the raw courage to put his secret plan into play.
At first his mother wondered where Brandon could be when she came home to an empty house that evening. She called out his name, forgetting the final ball game would take place that night. Brandon had jumped on his bike earlier and taken off, with a stop to make on the way to the park.
Police cars showed up at Brandon’s house before his game reached the final inning. Dewayne’s wife was surprised to watch officers knock on the workshop door, its hinges giving at the force of their blows. Before she knew what was happening, Dewayne was in handcuffs. The policemen immediately recognized the acrid smoke smell that wafted across the threshold when the hold was breached.
Brandson’s curiosity had gotten the best of him the previous night, and he’d crept out to the garage window ledge on a spy mission. He didn’t initially realize anything was amiss with his dad’s cigarette until he watched Dewayne put another one together from what he pulled out of a small, clear plastic bag. The DARE officer at Brandon’s school had shown a video warning the class what to avoid while they were cajoled to “just say no.”
In hindsight, his mom felt circumstances had worked out for the best. She didn’t force Brandon to visit his father in the county lockup but continued to suggest doing so each weekend. Dewayne hadn’t spent much time with his son beforehand, but she was optimistic there was hope for their relationship since fewer distractions kept her husband from paying attention to Brandon now.