Monday, August 31, 2009

I finally made to my hometown after driving across the state and back. I grew up in a tiny south Texas town with the population of about 1200, dogs included. I enjoyed growing up in a small town, always saw the same faces and did’t have worry about a single thing. The biggest worry on a kid’s mind was getting up for school the next morning.

We would play baseball out in the yard or basketball in the driveway all summer long with all the neighborhood kids. Most of the time we would roll the basketball goal out to the edge of the street and play in the street. We would even go swimming in the river that runs thru town without even letting our parents know what we were up too. Our parents didn’t care, they didn’t have too; it is what you do in a small town. The speed limit was unofficially 10mph everywhere you went.

Growing up out there afforded me some of the experiences that would make overprotective parents lock their kids in the attic. At 15 I was learning how to use a blow torch, welder and I performed my first motor swap. I even learned how to drive when I was 12 on all the farms around town. One of my summer jobs was driving a tandem axle dump truck for the county road department and I did not even have a license yet.

I love the memories I have of this place and every time I go back I wish it would magically transform itself to those days again. The days when my buddies and I were all driving our first cars, drinking our first beers and finally realizing that the opposite sex did not have cooties.

I was back for one last visit before my government sponsored vacation, making my rounds and visiting what was left of my friends and family. In the last five years or so there has been a mass exodus, most of my childhood friends have left town in search of work, hence the road trip.

I left my buddy's ranch this morning and drove to town to visit with the few remaining characters of my childhood. After visiting a hand full of people who had more than their fair share in contributing to those childhood experiences, I finally made it over to my dad’s house. The door was unlocked so I let myself in, the dogs did not even lift their heads from their mid morning nap. I walked through the house and I found Dad passed out and smelling of alcohol. I never expect to see my dad sober. His alcoholism was the fuel that fanned the flame that destroyed my parents marriage. He’s been in rehab, in and out of the hospital and can never hold down and steady job. He is everything I do not want to be. Nevertheless, he is my dad and I at least want to see him before I get to go build sandcastles in the middle east.

I was a somewhat ticked off, it was a fucking Thursday morning and he had known for a over a week that I was going to be in town for the next few days. I woke him from his beer induced coma and instructed him to get out of bed, clean himself up and told him that I would be back later. I walked away without even shaking the man’s hand, in a small town that is about 20 years behind the rest of the world, that’s enough to get you killed.

After half an hour of cruising around town to cool my temper I headed back over to my dad’s place and noticed my uncle’s truck missing out of the driveway. At first I thought my uncle had woken up from his slumber to go grab a bite to eat. He works the night shift at the local cotton gin so he has an excuse to sleep all day. After walking through the house, I realized my dad had taken the truck without even asking.

After ten minutes or so my dad drives up with two 24oz beers and one of his buddy’s sitting next to him. He walks over to a picnic table in the backyard and pops one open.

“How’ve you been Son?”

I turned to his friend and asked, “What are you doing hanging out with this guy?” I was disgusted that my dad had not even showered and was still wearing the same clothes I found him passed out in. At this point all he cared about was his next buzz.

I ignored my dad and asked his buddy a few question’s about how his brother was doing. His brother is in a medical unit that will be going overseas with our brigade. This little town is sending three sons to war. There have been at least other three guys that I know of serve in the current wars, but never three during the same deployment.

My dad then asks me if I could give his buddy a ride home and was wondering if I could drop him off at his drinking buddy's house for a lunchtime bar-b-que.

“Will you drop me off at Jimenez’s, their gonna BBQ," he asked while swallowing what was left of his first beer.

I know he noticed the I wanna rip your fucking head off and shit down your neck look on my face and he added, “I’ll stay if you want to visit.”

I did not even try to care, ten minutes of seeing him was enough to make me contemplate violence. Here I am getting ready to embark on a journey that will test the most intricate variables of the human person and all he gave a shit about was his mid-day BBQ and beer.

I reluctantly told them to get in my truck and I drove the quarter mile to his buddies house and dropped him off. I continued to the location of the BBQ and as my dad was getting out of the truck I told him I was not coming to town anymore and that I was staying out at my buddy’s ranch. I told him if he wanted to see me he could drive out there to see me.

I know he does not get it and it, is everything. He had a brother fight in Vietnam while he was just a snot nosed little kid. If anyone would know about having a family member go to war it would be him. I remember how much more of a father he was before the alcoholism. Now he has regressed to the mindset of a high school dropout looking for the next party.

After dropping him off I headed over to the local gas station to pick up a few items and headed out to the ranch. Now lets fast forward to later that night. I was out at the ranch playing my guitar when my cell phone rang, it was a local number so I figured it was a buddy calling from a number I did not have stored in my phone. On the other end of the line I hear a garbled mess of words coming from the mouth of someone so drunk that I thought it was one of my buddies fucking with me.

“Hello, who is this,” I asked.
“It’s your dad, I wanna come out and see you.” He was so drunk he had to repeat the line twice so I could understand what he was saying. I could smell the alcohol over the phone.

Now I was about to blow a gasket. He was piss drunk, probably had not showered since I saw him that morning and now he wanted to drive the ten miles to the ranch house.
I lied. I had too. If he showed is face at that moment I would have smash my acoustic guitar over the godforsaken pile of shit he calls his head.

“You’re drunk and how are you going to get out here,” my dad does not even own a vehicle. “Besides I am getting ready for bed, I have shit I gotta do in the morning.”

He tried saying a few other things but I was having such a hard time understanding him. I cut him off and hung up.

Over the course of the weekend I had forgotten about him. I was having too much fun hanging out with my friends out at the ranch that the last thing on my mind was seeing him again. Monday morning came around and I figured I'd give it one last chance before I left town. I at least wanted to stop by and see my uncle when he got off work.

Same story, different chapter. He was passed out, woke up, drank and beer he had in the fridge and then immediately began hunting for loose change to go buy a second round. Pathetic.

I gave him a ride that day because I at least wanted to rip into his ass about sobering up but, when he jumped into the truck I was so furious I could not think of what to say. I do not want my last memories of my dad to be that of a pathetic, lonely man with a thirst for alcohol so great that it had become on obsession. I would compare it to Smeagol's lust for his precious ring and how it ultimately killed him.

I could care less about what he does with what's left of his life but it is hard to imagine that a grown man would not even care to clean him self up to say goodbye to his son. I know he doesn't understand the severity of the situation. Somewhere in his mind he thinks I will return from the middle east and I will drive over to his house because he is the first person I want to see. Honestly, I do not know if I'll ever see him again; his health is so bad I doubt he will live past my deployment. His next beer could be his last. I know it, he doesn't, at least I am ready for it.

1 comment:

  1. Well Kris, now he is paying the consequences. I hope he gets better.