Tom attempts to fit in his fractured family. As grows from a child into a young man, he seeks for meaning and purpose in a broken world.
When the coast was clear I sat on my father's bed which took up most of the garage apartment. He had a tiny bathroom with a shower as the only other room in the place. I turned on the television and waited for him to come home. I couldn't wait to tell him I ran away and decided to live with him instead.
Hours later, I recognized my father's figure at the door. He fiddled with his keys, turned the lock, and thrust the door open. I leaped from the bed! "Hey Dad!" His eyes flashed in surprise.
His mouth flew open. "What's...what's going on? What are you doing here?"
"I'm staying with you. I don't want to go home."
"How'd you get here?"
"That's over five miles!"
My father wasn't as happy as I expected. Then again, I was ten years old, and he was fifty. Maybe he liked coming and going as he pleased, without having a son to weigh him down. I just wanted away from the strange new men in our family, and my half-sister who I suspected hated me, because I reminded her of my father.
He scratched his head over me until his dark hair needed a comb. Before he could say another word, the phone on the wall rang. It seemed so loud; I swear it shook the wall.
He answered on the second ring. "Hell oh."
My mother's voice was so loud I could hear it from the bedside. My stomach did flips again. My heart jumped into my throat.
My father's face tightened; his hazel eyes flared. "He's here. He's with me." More screaming from the phone. "He can stay with me from now on."
Yes! That's what I wanted to hear. My mother didn't seem convinced.
"Well, that's too bad!" My father hung up the phone.
I breathed a sigh. My heart seemed to settle back into its place and rhythm.
His angry complexion changed to sadness. "It's okay. You can stay." But he didn't seem so sure, as he looked around his one room haven.
Tears pressed against my eyes. as my father fished around for something to eat from the fridge. Before we could settle in with each other, a car pulled up in front of the window besides my father's car.
My mother barreled from her car. Allan followed! I knew then, even at ten, he was to be some kind of bodyguard. My sister Ann was in the car too. They must have left my brother and baby sister to fend for themselves. Mom barged through the door. My father turned around in surprise. What took me a few hours to walk, took my mother ten minutes to drive.
My heart tightened into a beating knot, as I watched them go at each other. My father's face turned beet red. Mother wagged her finger at my father and told him off. I couldn't say I remembered exactly what she'd said, but I knew swear words when I heard them, and I heard a bunch.
My father got in her face. I ran out from the door. Allan stood by the door listening, waiting to pounce on my father like a fat cat. I stood back, more alone than ever in the driveway. My sister Ann who stayed in the car, yelled for me. "Get in the car, Tommy!"
I refused to budge from my driveway where no one could grab me. Then it happened! My father looked like he had blood in his eyes. Allan bolted through the door, dove in toward my father's legs and lifted him on to the bed, pinning him down! Allan proved true to his keen wrestling moves he bragged about.
Helplessly I watched the scene unfold. My mother exacted some kind of pleasure, having my father flat on his back like a bug, warning him that he better never lay a hand on her again. She paced back and forth, wagging her finger, giving him the biggest lecture of his life.
I could see through the open door, the color drain from my father's face, as Allan pinned his arms down. My father weakly replied, "Okay. I understand."
Suddenly my father was no longer a strong man, a man who never backed down from a fight. With my mouth gapped open, I saw him look like a weak old man, hardly able to breath.
I turned away to see a police car pull into the drive. I bolted down the road, feeling as if my world was collapsing, caving in behind me until there would be nothing left between me and the ashes of my family. Cars whizzed by me. I wanted to keep running, but where?
I stopped long enough to wipe the tears from my face. From a corner of my eye, I spied mom's car coming toward me. I pretended not to notice. I dried my eyes and kept walking.
The car door opened while moving. "Thomas, get in the car now!" My mother sounded like she would boil me in her cauldron at home if I surrendered.
Allan volunteered to grab me. He leaped out. I shot back. "I won't go."
Finally, my mother's voice changed. She knew cursing wouldn't work. My sister told Allan to get back in the car. "Tommy," she said. "You don't want the police to take you home do you?"
I tumbled inside the car. Mom turned the car around. Before I knew it, we rode past my father's garage apartment where the police talked to him at the door. I wanted to be invisible or so small, no one could find me again.
As we drove on, Allan wore a smirk. I was glad he was in the front seat, but he would turn his head and talk to my sister Ann. Then he said, "I can't believe how easy it was to take him down. He didn't even put up a fight."
My sister looked at me and then him. "Don't! Don't talk about it." She looked at me, probably knowing his words would stay with me for the rest of my life."
My mother pulled into the gravel driveway. I don't remember what I said, but I'm pretty sure I challenged Allan to a fight. I may have even kicked him in the shin and punched him a few times. I'm pretty sure the blows bounced off him like blubber.
Before the sun went down, I was sent to bed. No one in the house ever talked to me and asked me why I ran away from home. Tossing and turning, I was unable to fall asleep. I snuck out of my room, crouched down and listened to my family talking, gloating over how they put my father in his place. I was living a nightmare. I needed to sleep and wake up with a new family. Little did I know that day would come sooner than I expected.