There are times in life where you find yourself facing a difficult situation. Someone once said that adversity builds character. I wasn’t sure if I believed that or not. I didn’t have a penchant for trouble and my character was just fine as far as I was concerned. There have been things in my life I have avoided because there was no good to come out of it. I would just as much prefer to leave sleeping dogs lie. With everything that I had experienced in the last couple of days, visiting my father seemed like the one thing I could have avoided.
“Why am I going to see my father? I don’t know if you really understand our history.”
Before we left, I changed clothes. I didn’t feel comfortable in someone else’s attire. With a quick brush of the teeth and splash of water on my face, I headed out to the place I least wanted to go.
“Becky told me about your father. And if it weren’t really important, I wouldn’t have brought it up. But he has something that could really help us tonight.”
We were walking the three blocks to my father’s house. I could have driven but I needed the time walking provided to settle my nerves.
“What could my father have that would be of any use to us?”
“Your father worked for Fish and Game. He has some unique gear that will help us. He has some heavy tranquilizers. He also has, as Becky put it, heavy grade poison darts. Really hard to find stuff. See, with these Crogs, you need to kill them from the inside. Their bodies are very well fortified.”
“So, my crazy drunk father possess the essentials to potentially save the world. Yeah, things keep getting stranger and stranger.”
“What do I do? Hello, dad. Long time, no see. I know I haven’t seen you in a really long time but do you have any heavy duty, illegal poisons I can take off your hands so we can kill a creature from another world?”
“I was thinking of something a little less brash. Although, if the subtle approach doesn’t work, feel free to try it your way.”
Becky told him that my father kept his stuff in the garage in an unlocked cabinet. The plan was simple. Talk to my father while Trevor broke into the garage. I didn’t know what to expect when he opened the door. Too much time had passed. Becky had been trying to get me to visit him for years. She kept saying how much he asked about me. Then again, there was was the possibility that my father wouldn’t open the door because he was passed out. One could only hope.
The memories I had were not good ones. It was sad but I didn’t have any good memories of him. I remember his temper. How much he would yell at my mom. I also remember how drunk he was all the time. The mumbling, slurring speech. The hazy, redness of his eyes was the only image my mind could muster up of my father. I don’t think I ever saw a moment of clarity in them.
I took a breath and tried to push down the lump in my throat. I stood on my father’s front porch and listened for a moment. No noises emanated from inside. I looked back at Trevor. He stood on the corner of the garage looking back at me. I turned back to the door, blew out a heavy breath, and knocked.
A solid piece of wood was all that separated me from my past. The time I stood on the porch seemed like an eternity. My palms were sweaty. I rubbed them on my pant legs. I rapped my knuckles on the door harder this time. There was movement inside the house. Footsteps approached. When the door opened, I came face to face with my past.
The man that stood at the threshold did not resemble any distant memory I had of my father. His face was rounder and flushed. His rosy cheeks matched the redness of his bulb nose. It made me wonder if the idea for Rudolph the red nose reindeer was inspired by someone’s drunk relative.
His eyes were glossy but they moistened up quickly. I could see tears clinging to the brims.
“Charlie,” his voice was raspy and weak. He leaned on the doorframe.
In all the years that had passed, it was hard to believe the frailty I saw before me was the reason for so much pain and heartache. There was no place in my heart for him. Yet, as I looked into his weathered face, I saw the pain in his.
“It’s been a long time.”
He looked over my shoulder and then returned his glassy eyes on me.
“Becky’s not with you?”
His words slurred together slightly. The aroma of alcohol permeated from his breath. I quickly glanced toward the garage but Trevor was gone.
“She had something to do,” I said as I turned back to him.
He was breathing heavy and was swaying back and forth as he tried to hold on to the door. It was four in the afternoon but he was probably already on his third pint of Vodka.
“What do you want? You come here…” his voice trailed off.
“Dad,” I searched for the right words, “I just wanted to see you. Maybe this isn’t a good time.”
His head tilted to the left. His eyes were out of focus. He mumbled something I couldn’t make out.
“Charlie, it’s good to …you.”
I bet Trevor could make as much noise in the garage that he wanted and my father would be none the wiser. This had been a mistake. It was time to leave. I couldn’t stomach the sight of him any longer.
“I got to go. It was good to see you, dad.”
I turned to walk away. I could feel his drunken stare bare done on me as I left. I wondered if he would even remember that I had come by when he sobered up. Then again, I didn’t care if he did. I walked half-way down the block when I heard Trevor running up behind me.
“Hey, Charlie? How did it go?”
I turned to face him as he stopped next to me. He had a black backpack slung over his shoulder.
“As well as you would expect. Did you find what you were looking for?”
“Your dad has some crazy stuff in there. I think we have everything we need.”
“Good. Let’s get back. If I am going to die a horrible death tonight, I need something to eat.”
“We’re not going to die. We cannot let that happen.”
I had my doubts. My last encounter with this beast didn’t go so well. It’s funny, though, the more I thought about what could happen tonight, the less it bothered me. I didn’t actually think I was going to die but I didn’t believe that we were going to succeed, either.
I am not the heroic type. My life, up to this point, had been pretty uneventful. If Becky weren’t involved, I probably would have packed up and driven home. End of the world or not, it didn’t matter.
Becky needed me. She was stronger than I was and had a bigger heart than anyone I knew. What kept me here and pushed me forward, was Becky. I was scared and in way over my head. The sun was beginning to set. The night would be here soon. And the battle would begin.