“Daddy,” I say.
“I miss you,” I tell him. “We all miss you.”
When I was twelve, I punched out an older bully who tried to steal a ride from my bike. My father smiled when he heard about it. “Sometimes you have to show people,” he said.
He wore his manhood without much bluff or bluster. “You can’t tell somebody you are a man,” he used to tell me. “You are. Or you aren’t.”
I wanted to be just like him. I wanted to be a man.
* * * *
“How’s your mother?” my father asks.
“She’s sad,” I say. “She took it hard.”
The KissMy father's friends drank, smoked and cursed. They fixed cars and figured stuff out. I was an honorary member of this closed society, even when I was as young as four or five. They called me Chip or “Lil’ Bey,” gave me 7-Up or Canada Dry. I couldn’t have been happier. From my father and his friends, I learned about fraternity, politics, and sometimes, women.
“You okay back there, boy?” one of them would say.
“Ummm hmmm,” I grunted, not wanting to swallow, unable to spit and afraid to tell them that Jimmy’s wife had got me.