David and Daniel
By: Hugo L.R. Reed
“Daniel Joseph Foster!”
Uh oh, thought Daniel as he hurriedly stuffed his books into his bag and bit off another bit of his morning toast. If dad was using his middle name, it meant he was pretty pissed. Daniel mentally ran through a list of what he could’ve done that would’ve set his father off lately.
He was failing math.
He’d partied at Frankie’s house until 2 am.
He’d ditched last period the other day.
All justifiable reasons for his father to be a bit cross, but he couldn’t think what would have his dad screaming at him this early in the morning. That was until his father opened his bedroom door, holding the box that Daniel kept under the bed. Daniel’s heart plummeted and for a long second he felt as if time itself had stopped.
There wasn’t very much in that box, truth be told. He had some money, a few porno pictures and a rubix cube… oh, and two freshly rolled joints he’d planned on smoking that weekend.
His father, David, held up the joints as his face flushed red.
“Dad! It’s not what you think!” he started. “Besides why were you searching my goddamn room!”
“Daniel!” David said sharply, more out of reaction than anger.
His father had a long list of pet peeves, but using God’s name “in vain” was definitely in the top ten.
“It’s my room dad! What I keep in here is private!”
“It stops being private when you bring drugs into my house!”
Behind his father, Mary, his younger sister began to walk out of her room. David turned around and got one glance at her outfit. Honestly, Daniel didn’t see what the big deal was. Her clothes weren’t particularly provocative or revealing. Sure, it wasn’t what someone might call classy, but really she was just dressed like any other teenage girl.
“Please tell me that’s not what you’re wearing,” David said, half-pleading, half-chastising the girl.
“Dad!” she groaned, drawing the word out into three syllables. “This how girls my age dress. You’re so old-fashioned.”
“Modesty is never out of style,” he said, shaking his head softly.
In spite of the found drugs, Daniel wasn’t particularly worried. His father was never all that hard on them. Sure, he could be strict, but he would never hurt them or do lasting damage to their social life. Most likely, he would be grounded for a few weeks and have to consent to having his room searched regularly. That was no big deal. He’d just start sneaking out and hide his stash somewhere else. It wasn’t hard.
“Another great quote from the list of dadisms,” said Daniel, drawing his father’s attention back on him.
David turned back to him and Daniel saw the tired look in the man’s eyes.
“What in the world am I supposed to do with you?” he asked, and Daniel wasn’t sure if he was actually asking a question, or asking God again.
“How about joining people in this year, dad! Weed’s barely even illegal and no one actually believes in God anymore. You’re a relic devoted to a dead religion.”
David dropped Daniel’s box on his desk and went to the bathroom. A few seconds later, Daniel heard the flush of the toilet and was sure his joints were now lost to the sewage system.
“Dad! That’s seriously uncool!”
“No,” said David, coming back, rubbing his eyes with his thumb and forefinger. “What’s ‘uncool’ is you using that stuff in the first place! What’s wrong with you? I keep trying to talk to you and you keep shutting me out. I’m honestly lost, son. I don’t know what to do anymore. I’ve tried working with you, punishing you, and getting you professional help, what is it that you need so bad?!”
Daniel pushed past his father’s frame and started down the stairs toward the front door.
“I need you to stay out of my life!” he shouted as he walked out the door towards where his best friend, John was parked and waiting for him.
As he got into the car, John turned the radio down and looked up, curiously.
“Your old man going nuts again?” he asked.
“You say that like he’s ever not nuts. He found my weed and trashed it.”
John gave a noise of disgust.
“Weak! Well, I’ve got some at my parent’s pool house, man. You can just hang with me after school.”
Daniel smiled at him and fist bumped him before John started to put the car in drive.
“You’re the best, bro.”
“Don’t you know it?”
John turned the radio back up, which was featuring some alternative tracks from about ten years ago. Still, the music was solid and Daniel didn’t have any complaints. John maneuvered onto highway 94 and flew down the street, passing people who were likely on their way to their morning shift.
Daniel liked John’s car. It was a cherry-red 2015 Sebring convertible and John babied the thing; so it was constantly beautiful and in great shape. Daniel could still remember how stoked John had been when he’d first gotten the thing, and ever since then, he’d been their group’s designated driver, whether they were partying or not. More than that though, John and he were practically brothers, and had been through more than their fair share of trouble together.
Back when they were fifteen, they’d barrowed a car for a joyride around town. It wasn’t anything that bad and it was all good fun until a police car had pulled up behind them. In the end, they didn’t get pulled over, but both were furiously focused on the road and John clenched the steering wheel with a death grip until they’d turned from the main road and the policeman had gone on past them.
They rode together, partied together and if one of them was in a fight, the other would jump in to defend them no questions asked. It was also an unspoken rule between them to hang out at John’s place instead of Daniel’s. David was highly against Daniel and John’s friendship, much like most of the things in Daniel’s life.
David had given a half-dozen excuses for it, but in the end Daniel was pretty sure that David just wanted him to fall in line, which he didn’t care for. David was as stereotypical as it was possible for a white suburban father to be. He went to church twice a week, and for many years had insisted that his children did too. Once Daniel had turned thirteen, David had made church a choice and Daniel couldn’t opt out fast enough.
He’d never really bought into David’s whole religious stick. God just didn’t make logical sense in a world like theirs and most of America was finally catching up to that way of thinking. Europe had known it for years, and now the western world was starting to see the same thing. It was just the few immovable people like David who would budge on the issue even if you shoved a gun in their face.
To be fair to the man, he wasn’t as bad as some people were. He didn’t go banging on people’s doors at six in the morning, or shouting protests at people who got an abortion, but Daniel had to live with the man and he was determined to run a Christian household, even if he was the only one who really believed in God.
Even his mom, Sherry, didn’t really buy into God like David did. Sure, she went to church with him, but if David was working late, she didn’t pray before eating or do a bible study. David was really the only guy Daniel even knew that was so devoted to the practices, though he never fully understood why. Maybe it gave his old man a purpose, or some semblance of normality.
Still, Daniel was his own person and didn’t feel the need to conform to his father’s beliefs. When he was a kid he’d been through all the Sunday school lessons and he’d even accepted them. Once he’d grown older though, it made no sense. There was no way someone could raise people from the dead or survive in the stomach of a fish for three days. It was just complete nonsense.
Besides, if God were real, surly he could at least prove himself, but he didn’t.
By the time they reached the school, they only had six minutes before first period, but Daniel was glad for the distraction. He needed something that he could focus his mind on. As he passed by a small group of his friends, John nodded to him and Daniel waved briefly to them before heading off to his typing class.