Glenn had been waiting at the strip mall for twenty minutes and was getting impatient. It didn’t help that he had little of an idea what Zachary’s van looked like in regards to the color. He had forgotten to ask Zachary that. So, while knowing this would only add pressure to matters, Glenn walked into a small coffee shop to order a coffee. The time was early afternoon and a line had formed. Glenn walked in, saw the line, and said: “Screw it!” then left.
But once he left there entering the strip mall lot was Zachary’s black van. Glenn could recognize it by the logo on the side. He raised his one arm up to signal to Zachary that he was Gary’s father. Zachary smiled when he saw Glenn raising his arm and then turned toward where Glenn was standing right in front of the coffee shop. Gary had fallen asleep, but woke upon feeling the van turn. He wakes to see his dad through the windshield and is overjoyed. He rolls down the passenger window and waves. Glenn laughs and waves back. Zachary pulls his van in front of Glenn so Gary can get out there. Gary exits the van and runs up to hug his dad. He cries hard. Glenn cries a little too.
“I’m sorry I did what I did.”
“It’s okay, Gary. What matters is you’re back.”
Gary lets go of Glenn. Laughs and wipes the tears from his eyes. Glenn puts his hands up to Gary’s face and squeezes his cheeks.
“Your mom has been really worried, son. She knows you’re okay. I told her I’d drive you home to see her.”
“Oh. Well alright. I did want to get home. She ain’t like going to yell at me or anything, is she?”
“I don’t know. I did go to WorldMart and found out you stole vodka.”
“Dad, I met this girl.”
“Ah! You met a girl. She made you do it?”
“And where’s this girl?”
“I don’t know, dad. She left me.”
“Gary, I’m so sorry.”
Gary starts to cry again.
“I’m going to get you home or wait, how about I buy you some new shoes. Maybe a new shirt too?”
“That would be awesome.”
“Okay. There’s a store right here.”
Glenn turned around to Zachary smiling and waving to him. Zachary beeped his horn leaning out through his passenger window holding a business card in his hand.
“Have Gary call me for a job in one week.”
“Excellent.” Glenn said taking the business card from Zachary and handing to Gary. Gary held the business card and looked at the card like it was a plate of gold, a key to his future life.
“You gonna call Zachary?”
“In one week, Dad.”
Glenn puts his arm around Gary and walks with him into the shoe store. Gary is giddy. After having gone barefoot for so long, being treated to a free pair of shoes by his father is like the biggest blessing. Gary asks Glenn if he can pick out these high top skate shoes and although the price bites into his pocketbook, Glenn okays it. Glenn can tell Gary has been wearing the same shirt for the past day and a half, but a new shirt would be expensive so he refrains from making Gary the offer. Once Gary tries on the skate shoes and is smiling with them on, Glenn asks him: “Okay then, you ready?”
“Yeah. Can I wear these to the checkout?”
“You can.” Glenn says with a little chuckle. “Just bring the box for the shoes with you.”
They leave the shoe store and Gary’s feet are feeling comfy and alieved in the new shoes. Entering Glenn’s car, Glenn tells Gary to buckle up then waits until he has driven out of the strip mall lot to begin talking.
“So Gary, I want to tell me: Why? Why did you run away from home?”
Gary takes a moment to try to formulate an answer. Holds his finger up so his dad will wait on him.
“I think dad because I needed to…..get laid. Yeah. I needed to get laid.”
“To ‘get laid’?”
“I was still a virgin and it was really bothering me.”
“So you met this girl?”
“Where’d you meet her?”
“At this park. I was watching her walk across a pond and I followed her and we just…..got to know each other.”
“You had sex with her? In a park?”
“No. In a motel?”
“She paid for the motel?”
“Then who did?”
“This other chic.”
“Okay. I think I’ve heard enough already. So you left home because you had not had sex yet. I don’t believe that. What was the real reason? Was it something your mom was doing?”
“Yeah. Mom wanted to pick my college for me and that scared me. Made me think she was going to like take my whole life from me so I thought the best thing to do was to escape by running out the front door.”
“Ah! Okay. I gotcha! “Glenn said nothing else and just drove.
Gary became a little nervous. He wanted to hear his father talk more so he knew what was up.
“I’m not in trouble?”
“No Gary. Don’t worry. Everything’s fine.” There again was silence.
“Gabe had been mean to me, too.” Gary wanted to add.
“I’m sure he was. I wanted him to come, but he didn’t happen to be available.”
“You’re mad at Gabe?”
“That’s not important, okay? How do you feel right now, better?”
“Yeah. I ain’t gonna cry no more.”
They were driving down Pointer Road and Glenn turned left onto Pardo Street. As Gary began to see all these familiar houses and sights, he had such a sense of warmth that he did start crying again knowing he was so close to home. Seeing what he had just told his father, Gary looked away and hid his tearing eyes. Glenn turned down on Brandt Street. Gary looked out his window and looked at the Irvins’ house where he used to play with Tim Irvin as a little boy. Memories flashed through his mind. He next saw the street sign to Griswold and felt such a sense of delight and relief that he sank in his seat grinning and giggling.
“You’re sure glad to be home.” said Glenn.
“It feels like it’s been longer than one day, Dad.”
Glenn turned around the bend on Griswold. He made it to the stop sign and made a slowing stop. Glenn was driving moderately because both he and Gary felt calm and wanted to feel that way. There need not be any preparation for any confrontation when they arrived home. It was going to be a cherished reunion for Gary and Monica. It was going to. Glenn was sure of this. He could tell by how Monica spoke on the phone. She was getting over her dictatorial ways. And Gary, he had grown since he had run off. Didn’t matter if he was crying right now. He had gained some things while being out there in the world. Some tools that maybe he didn’t know of yet. These tools Glenn would help Gary should he be needing them in case someone such as his own mother were to give him hell.
They were almost to Monica’s house. As they passed each neighboring house, Gary’s anticipation grew more and more. He rose in his seat. Raised his arms with two made fists and shook his fists. They pulled in the driveway. Gary screamed: “I’m home!” and was just about to open the door and get out when Glenn shouted at him to wait until he stopped and parked. Gary listened and waited.
Inside, Monica has been anxiously sitting on the terra cotta couch with the front door open just staring through the screen door for the past hour. She sees Glenn’s car pull up, but she stays seated. She does not want to get up and go outside. She wants to wait for Gary to come inside to embrace him. But when she sees Gary exit Glenn’s car Monica does close her eyes almost not believing what she is seeing. She does cry and she does smile and laughs with joy. Gary walks up to the front door and walks through it as opposed to running out through it like he had.
Gary stands in front of the door and sees his mother. He looks over at her and sees by the way her is messy and how is she is not wearing any make up that she suffered due to his running away. This hits Gary hard. Guilt makes one of his eyes close and shame makes the other close while tears fill them both. Monica slowly rises from the couch with her arms out waiting for Gary to walk to her. Gary knows this. Glenn walks in behind Gary and says his name as a prompting. Gary then runs over to his mother and finally embraces her. They both cry out loud letting out feelings they cannot quite yet express, but one emotion they do show is they don’t want to let go not anytime soon. Glenn is touched by this so that he leaves the house to give Gary and Monica their moment. Monica hears Glenn leaving and is the first to unlock the embrace.
“Gary,” she asks.
“Why didn’t you call me first?”
“What? What? “and Gary collects his assertiveness. “Because I wanted to call Dad.”
“But why call him?”
“Because I wanted to.”
“But you wanted to call me.”
“No I wanted to call Dad first, Mom. Now stop this!”
Monica starts crying again.
“But I’m hurt by that, Gary.”
“Mom……I’m made angry by what you’re saying.”
Monica wipes her tears. Takes a deep breath and swallows.
“You’re like a real man now.”
Monica hugs Gary again.
“Welcome home, son. I love you.”
“I, I love you too, M-Mom.”
“I’m sorry I made you run away.”
Hearing that cuts through to Gary’s heart and he hugs his mother tighter. Feeling that heals Monica of all the guilt that had been torturing her all these hours.
“It’s okay, Mom. I’m home now.”
They embrace a little longer then Glenn walks inside. He nods and smiles that there is harmony here.
“I want to show you your room.” Monica takes Gary by the hand and beckons Glenn with her other hand. “Come see it.”
They walk together back through the hall to Gary’s room. The door is closed. Monica opens the door slowly to surprise Gary and when he walks in behind her he is amazed to see the organization and cleanliness that awaits him. His bed is made and the covers and sheets look clean. The carpet is vacuumed, not one piece of dirt or trash found anywhere. The door to the closet is open and Gary can see all his shirts looking washed and hung. The shutters to the windows were pulled up letting in the sunlight providing that final immaculate touch. It was the best welcoming gift his mother could have given him. Gary decides to walk in and absorb the energy in the room. It’s not the bedroom he had left it as; the depressing, toxic room, but a fresh, reborn bedroom connecting with the newness that was now in him. Gary just wanted to look and didn’t want to touch anything, too afraid to mess anything up.
“Thank you, Mom.”
“You’ll keep it like this?”
Monica laughs. Gary laughed with her. The rays of the sun shined over the both of them and Glenn. He took out his cell phone and took a photograph of the bedroom.
Glenn soon said goodbye and had to return to his job. Monica made a lunch for her and Gary. They only made small talk about Gary’s new shoes and Gary mentioned he would be starting a new job as a carpet cleaner. Gary said he was very tired and told Monica he needed a nap. Monica was happy to hear that. She peeked in through Gary’s door a few times as he was sleeping and looked up to God thanking Him heartily for bringing Gary back to her.
Gabe drove home later that day from his job and could sense something about the house that was different. As he walked in, he found as he saw the empty living room that the stress from earlier had left. A serene feeling had replaced it. He hears Gary’s bedroom door opening, but knows by its frictionless sound that that is not Monica. Gary? Is that Gary? Still not one hundred percent sure if it is, Gabe charges into the hall with his arms up in case the noise is a home invader. He freezes. Drops his jaw. Lowers his arms and brings his hands to his face smacking his cheeks.
“I’ll be fucking damned. You made it home.”
Having just woke up, Gary could not generate the same excitement Gabe was expressing. Gary in fact could still only have hateful feelings toward Gabe right now. There was no smile. No bright, warm eyes for Gabe. Only heavy, grim eyes. Gabe could tell what Gary was telling him. He walked over to the couch and sat down hoping Gary would sit by him.
“You know Lauren?”
“No. I don’t”
“She’s my girlfriend. Well, she was very mad at me for making you run away.”
“She was?” Gary walked to the couch and sat next to Gabe. “Now I remember her.”
Gabe laughed at hearing that. He nodded. “So tell me Gary, where all did you go and what happened to you?”
“I lost my virginity, Gabe finally.”
“A girl named Becci.”
“Was she a whore?”
“She sounds like one. Where did you meet her?”
“In a park, by a pond.”
“Well that explains it if you met her in a park.”
“But she fucked me for free.”
“Okay. Where did you fuck her? In the park?”
“In a motel room. I ate her pussy too.”
Gabe puts out his hand so Gary can shake it.
“Okay Gary. I’m proud of you to a point. But you better see a doctor. Let me guess: this Becci, was she a drug addict?”
“She took heroin.”
“I’ll drive you to a doctor’s office tomorrow. If she’s sharing needles. You might have caught H.I.V. or hepatitis.”
“Ohmigod. Oh yeah.”
“What? You did catch something.”
“Becci convinced me there was no God.”
“Well now that’s really tragic Gary. You lost more than your virginity there. I hope you didn’t Mom that.”
“Good. How do you feel now?”
“I feel like a man.”
Gabe rolls his eyes. “I have to ask: You used a condom right?”
Gary closes his eyes.
“Next time, will you use one. I always do. I did when I was with Lauren the other night.”
“You had sex too the same night I did?”
“Shut up. Hey, how about we go rent a movie? I’ll treat and we can watch the movie you want.”
“That would be great Gabe. You know what?”
“I don’t want to know.”
Gary was going to tell Gabe that he was watching porn with Becci and that he likes porn now, but decided not to. Gabe and Gary drove to the video store and Gary picked out a DVD of Guardians of the Galaxy. As they sat home, Gary was thoroughly enjoying the movie, Gabe just pretended to be having fun. He soon receives a call on his phone from Lauren and she asks to come over upon hearing from Gabe that Gary is back. Gabe tells Lauren to come right over. Lauren drives by the house with a bagful of some food and when she walks in she hugs Gary even before she kisses Gabe’s mouth.
“Oh Gary, how are you sweetie?”
“I am good, Lauren.”
“We were all so worried about you. I hope you’ll never want to run away again?”
“No. I am too happy to be home now.”
“Here. Eat this.”
Lauren takes a roast beef sandwich out of the food bag and hands it to Gary. Gabe is getting annoyed at the attention Lauren is giving to her little brother.
“Did you forget about me?” Gabe asks Lauren.
“No, honey.” and Lauren finally kisses and hugs Gabe, but whispers into his ear: “You better be nice or it’s over.”
The three eat together and finish watching Guardians of the Galaxy. Lauren’s presence helps Gabe to get into the movie especially the scene at the end where Chris Pratt as Star-Lord performs the dance-off against Ronan the Accuser. Gary, Gabe, and Lauren laugh at this scene. All this time, Monica has been sleeping in her bedroom and the loud laughter wakes her up so she walks out of her room to join in the small movie party.
Becci felt so relaxed after that bath. She was planning on lying next to Gary even if she would have to go through the trouble of moving his dead weight body over. But after she put back on her bikini top, panties, and shorts, there came that rustling at the front door of the motel room. Was it Nicole coming back, possibly with a gun this time? No. It was Scott. He pushed the door to the room wide open and called Becci with his hand to come outside.
“What are yaw doin’ here?”
“I got some good junk.” Scott showed her a bag of some pure heroin in his hand.
Becci thought for a moment. She looked over at Gary sleeping on the bed. She was really feeling enticed by what Scott had showed her. This feeling was ruling over any feelings she had for Gary.
“Come on in.” Becci tried to tell Scott.
Scott shook his head then tilted it toward the outside, to a car that was parked in the lot. He moved away, pulled the door closed behind him.
“Your boyfriend’s sleepin’. Ride with me.”
“I kicked yaw ass.”
Scott sputters. “I’m tryin’ to forgive you. Come on.”
Becci finally caved in and walked by Gary without a glance leaving the motel room with Scott. She entered with Scott into Nicole’s car. Nicole did not look at Becci but just backed the car up as it was already running. She speedily drove her car out of the motel lot and down the road to Scott’s house. Becci was sitting in the back seat. She could only hear whispering between Scott and Nicole upfront. Becci was getting suspicious and stepped up.
“Okay. Tell me what’s up?”
Nicole and Scott ignored Becci and continued to whisper among themselves then stopped. There was silence for a moment. Becci pulled up in Scott’s driveway.
“You ready to try that good H?” Scott asked Becci.
“Oh yeah.” Becci said.
Scott opened his passenger door to let Becci out and Becci took her chance and ran off. She ran from Nicole’s car. Her suspicion was that the heroin Scott had showed her wasn’t pure, but was bad heroin. Scott screamed at her as she ran off. He got back in Nicole’s car and Nicole and Scott chased Becci down as she was running down the street. They drove up beside her insisting they she get back inside the car, but Becci just ignored the two of them and slowed down her running to a calm, cool walking.
Nicole, under Scott’s advisement, drove up ahead of Becci and pulled her car in front of Becci blocking her. But Becci just jumped up on Nicole’s hood and stomped on it with her bare feet. Scott then tells Nicole to floor it so to make Becci fall off the hood and this is when Becci jumps off the hood in time to avoid falling. Becci then resumes her running. She laughs as she is running because she has outsmarted Scott and Nicole.
A second car, a dark blue car with a loud muffler, pulls up near Becci. Inside, two black males are seated. They call to Becci.
“What’s up, shorty?” says the black male in the passenger seat.
“Hey sweeties, how would you like a ride?” asks the driving male.
“I’d like to be the one driving.” Becci answers. The two males look at one another and laugh.
“Why don’t you get in and smoke a blunt with us and we’ll talk first?” the driver suggests.
“We’re cool, girl.” the passenger assures Becci. “We won’t try nuthin’ funny.”
“Oh, I ain’t worried about that.” Becci says stopping to signal the two males to let her in the back seat. “I can well protect myself.”
A car horn blares. It is Nicole and Scott. They pull up right next to the two black males’ car.
“Hey! Hey! She belongs to me and owes me money.” Scott shouts out.
“Bullshit!” the driver says to Scott. “You’s a scum ass white boy. Get the fuck on.”
“You heard ‘em.” seconds the passenger. “Get on outta here!”
“Eh, I ain’t no pussy. You want me to get out and—--“
The passenger steps quickly out of the car brandishing a pistol. Scott panics, turns to Nicole and tells her to punch it. She listens and drives away fast. Becci enters the backseat of the two black males’ car.
“Thank you, boys. Those two are major A-holes!”
“We know that.” says the passenger. He lights a blunt and passes it to Becci. She smiles and takes a hit.
It is late, Gary is in his newly cleaned room with the lights off. He is sitting on his bed. His head is against the pillows and his knees are bent. He is thinking deeply about the past day. He dreams of the pond where he first saw Becci walking across the stones and grasping the tree. He can still see her there. He promises himself he will never cross Daly Road again and return to the park where that pond is, but the memory of that pond will be in his mind forever. So will the weeds near the WorldMart by where he drank vodka with Becci. But that bottle of vodka. It shattered on the cement of the vacant lot, just like Gary’s heart did when he found out Becci had left him at the motel. That feeling is what makes Gary crouch up on his bed at the moment. He is wishing Becci was with him because she was twenty four hours before and now, she is only recollection. Gary’s room feels especially colder and he could feel warmer if he had Becci’s body next to him or her legs locked around his head. He thinks of touching himself, that maybe that will substitute for the real touch, but he thinks that is something you do as a virgin and decides ‘no way’. Finally, Gary pulls his cover and sheet back and crawls under them and while looking at a star through his left window, then he falls to sleep gradually.
Darkness clouding his mind as subconsciousness takes over consciousness. Gary dreams of a large sea. It is the break of dawn and an ancient boat filled with seven men wearing tunics is afloat on the sea. The men are struggling to fish in the sea using a large net, but are having no success. They are the voice of an eighth man call out to them from the nearby shore.
“Children, have you caught anything yet?” shouts the man on the shore. He is dressed in a shining white robe.
“No.” shouts one of the men in the boat. It is Gary, appearing in the dream as the Apostle Peter.
“Cast the net over to the right side of the boat and you will find something.” the man on the shore shouts to the men on the boat. They listen to the man on the shore and were not able to pull the net back in after casting it to the right because there were so many fish in the net. One of the men on the boat says to Gary/Peter while pointing to the man on the shore. “It is the Lord.” Gary/Peter is so overjoyed to see Jesus again that he dives into the sea and swims toward the shore to meet Jesus.
Gary’s dream moves to a scene depicting Jesus, Peter, and the other disciples eating a breakfast of bread and fish cooked by Jesus over a fire. Everyone finishes eating. Peter is sitting close to Jesus when Jesus turns to Peter and asks him a question.
“Simon Peter, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes Lord,” says Peter. “You know that I love you.”
“Feed my sheep.” says Jesus.”
Peter thinks on what Jesus what told him and looks away. Jesus is still looking at Peter and asks him a second time.
“Simon Peter, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes my Lord, you know that I love you.”
“Feed my sheep.”
Yet again, Jesus is still looking intently at Gary/Peter and asks him a third time.
“Simon Peter, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
Peter’s feelings are hurt by Jesus wanting to ask him this same exact question a third time, but Peter does not want to snap at Jesus or tell him ‘no’ so he answers again.
“Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you.”
“Feed my lambs.”
Jesus holds Peter’s face by his cheeks affectionately then embraces Peter. They hug for a few minutes where the pain Peter felt from having denied Jesus is healed. Then, Peter and Jesus hold their arms around each other and begin to dance kicking their legs up together and singing an ancient Jewish hymn.
Gary woke up next with those three words of Jesus resonating through his mind. He began to whisper them aloud. “ …..Feed my lambs!...Feed my lambs!.....” and just lied on his bed saying the divine command of Jesus to Peter over and over like a mantra.
Gary realized he was thinking about Jesus again like Jesus was real. And he thought if Jesus is real, does that mean God must be real? Becci left me. She didn’t love me. Her philosophy that life is the only thing worth believing in, I should give it up. Gary nodded and kept nodding in a realization that he had been made blind by Becci.
This time, Gary got off of his bed and knelt before God. Folding his hands, Gary told the Lord: “God, it’s me Gary. I’m back. I’m coming back to you. I received your dream. I learned its message. You want for me to teach. You want for me to preach. To preach the Gospel. That’s what I was meant to do by You. And I will do that. I want to do that. I am so sorry God for turning away from You. I am so sorry. I should never have done that and I will never do it again. I will always believe in You from now on. Amen.”
Gary got up off his knees and stepped quietly over to the top of his desk drawer. He found one of his notebooks. He looked through his drawers and found a black ink pen. Returning to his bed and using the faint light of the moon to see with, Gary wrote his racing thoughts down:
1. I am going to go back to church.
2. I am going to work for Zachary.
3. I am going to enter the seminary.
4. I am going to go to become a minister.
With this life plan written down, Gary placed the notebook and pen under his bed and lied back down. He felt fully cathartic; that his journey that had begun with his running out the front door was now completely over. His future was finally decided and by him alone, but with the guidance of God.
It wasn’t long before Gary’s thoughts slowed down and he fell back to sleep. He did not dream again not in need of another message this time. Gary was at rest at last.
Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, Joseph G PhillipsWrite a Review