flicking through the tv channels. Sleeping in bits. Hasn’t slept in their bed since she left.
Driven! Driven out the door by a loneliness no beamed-in world can ever distract him
Smokes. That was his comfort. He smoked all through his insomniac nights, all
through his days. God bless tobacco.
Twelve o’clock, he should be home by now. I call, no answer. I make another
round of phone calls. No maid, haven’t seen your father; strange he haven’t picked up
his mail; wasn’t at the turn-a-round all day.
He must’ve went to the city. Forgot to tell me. Needed to pick up a part for the
truck or the ski-doo or – or whatever….
Five o’clock. It is now getting dark. Knew it, I bloody knew it – he’s went bloody
hunting by himself and something’s happened. I hadn’t called my siblings all day, not
wanting to worry them. I call them now. They come over and both sisters curse and cry
and break out the whiskey bottle. Our brother Tommy is shouting through the phone
lines, has anybody seen him, go look for him, get a search party going. Our brother
Glenn chews his fingers. And we wait, our eyes closed, praying – something we’ve done
a lot since Mommy left us and we all ended up huddling next door to each other in the
same city. But not him, no, sir, Not drivin on the gawd damn pavement no more! That
was his final say on our want that he move to Halifax with us. .
Five hours we sit around the table, waiting. Seconds ticking into minutes, into
long, torturous hours. Sixteen hours since he’s left the house this morning. It was wrong,
all wrong. When the phone rings at ten o’clock, no one wants to answer.
Slowly, I pick up the receiver, click speaker. Hello?
His warm, tired voice sounds through the speaker, Back tire of the truck got stuck
in a boghole, luvy. I know’d ye be worrying, but I couldn’t get her out. Jeezes, I didn’t
want ye worryin.
You’re supposed to wait for the boys, I yell, and then all hands start yelling –
sisters, brothers – cursing him.
He chuckles, Ye’ll all there, are ye? Good, good, got ye all the same time, did I?
He laughs, we all laugh, bawl, yell.
No smokes, that was the worst of it, he says. Not one gawd-damned smoke. I
picked out every butt in the ashtray, 10 months old, some of them.
We all start yelling and bawling and laughing again and ordering him to stay in
the house and not put one damn foot inside that truck till the boys get there in two weeks.
I’ll wait, he promises, I’ll wait, and we hang up and everybody goes home.
Five o’clock the next morning, I reach for the phone and hit his number. No
answer. I bury my head into the pillow. No, I will not call again.
Nine-thirty my phone starts ringing….
Haven’t seen his truck yet this morning, says Aunt Beat.
He wasn’t at the turn-a-round, says Uncle Gord.
He an’t picked up his mail, yet this morning, says Madeline at the post office.