So It’s Your Birthday

Moby Dick“Sixty two,” he said, leaning back. “Can you believe it?”

“No. I can’t see past next week.”

“Well, it happens fast. How old are you now?” Smoke circled around his head.

“Thirty three. You still smoking those chopped up cigars?”

“Yeah.”

“That’s nasty, Dad.”

“Don’t tell me what I like.”

I smiled. “Fine. But I brought some pretty good stuff—Frog Morton’s.”

“Smoke it then.”

“I will,” I said, lighting my bowl.

“How are the girls?”

“They’re good. Regan is getting big. She’ll be in kindergarten next year. Ellis is coming into her own, too.”

“And Magnus?”

“He started crawling. Can you believe that?”

“Star linebacker.”

“We’ll see.”

“And how’s work?” He pulled from his pipe, his face aglow.

“It’s fine. Arkenbrand has picked up a bit since you left—signed a few more clients.”

“That’s great!”

“It keeps me busy.”

“And school?”

“I love it.” I laughed. “I wish it was the only thing I was doing.”

“Awesome,” he said. “You playing the guitar?”

“No. I played a bit with Zach when I was home, but not since. The kids always ask me to play, but, I don’t know, it’s never the same.”

“I wish we could’ve played more,” he said, breathing out his dark, swirling smoke.

“I know. It was my fault. I didn’t visit enough.”

“But you came today.”

“True.” The conversation stalled. We sat in an easy silence.

“Oh,” I said, shattering the moment. “I’m almost done with your copy of Moby Dick. I got it from Ginger. It was lying in a pile of your stuff, and she said I could have it. I hope you don’t mind. It was the only thing I took.”

He nodded. “It’s a great book. I’m glad you found it.”

“It is.”

“Well, what else?”

“The Seahawks won the Superbowl. You believe that?”

He laughed. “You’re kidding me?”

“I am not.”

“Well, dammit. After all these years. And I missed it.”

“Nah. You would’ve hated it—terrible game. Whole thing was over in eight seconds. And the halftime show was some guy—what’s his name?—dancing around.”

“There’s one thing I don’t understand,” he said, pointing his stem at me. “Why don’t they ever play the blues at halftime? A little Robert Johnson or something?”

I snickered. “The other day I was over at friend’s house with Andrea and the kids and, believe it or not, as we were talking about you, A Kind Hearted Woman came on the radio.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, Clapton’s cover. It was nice. You play it better, though.”

“‘Played.’”

“What? They don’t have guitars there?”

“Maybe they do,” he said. “But that breaks the rules. I can’t tell you.”

“Fair enough.” I finished my bowl and dumped the ashes on the ground. “I better go. I have a paper to write.”

“Do you have to?”

“Yeah. It’s due tomorrow.”

“Oh. Well, alright.”

“I miss you though.”

“I know.”

“Take care?”

“I will.”

I stood up to leave.

“Wait,” he said, fading. “I wanted to—”

He was gone, pipe and all. I closed the door behind me and went home.

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2 thoughts on “So It’s Your Birthday

  1. Wow! Thank you, Ben. This is awesome! Makes me feel his presence here today.

    Listening to your dad’s recent favorite musician, Harry Manx, on Pandora now.

    Earlier, I took out the trash and went into the “barn,” turned on the radio and some lights, just to give a sense….

    But I didn’t light up the pipe!!

    In fact, I had brought the pipe in some time ago so it wouldn’t get gunked up…

    Bless you. Love your post. I usually see your posts, must have missed this.

    Love you, Ginger

    Date: Mon, 17 Feb 2014 17:36:14 +0000 To: gingervhp@hotmail.com

    Like

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