The sun, like a drunkard with a hangover, slowly rolled from under mounds of sheets and pillows– a horizon of rolling mountains– the Appalachians– the heavenly body’s bed.
The glowing orange ball slowly erupted along the Juniata River, warming my nerves, on edge from so much talk of times gone by. Three days in a row I was sober, just listening to Dad talk– like that Pennsylvania sun reminding us early of the heat of summer that is soon sure to come.
The weather was flawless in Huntingdon, PA over Good Friday and Easter. A trip home is always a sure way to dry-out one’s addictions. The visit home offered a break from the booze of New York– a sort of rehabilitation for one who needs a good stiff one almost every night, just to take the edge off of so much darkness.
Poor dad– still ‘clean and sober’ after all these years, gets his thrills from a good hot cup of coffee every morning. So did I– that’s all there was to stimulate us– caffeine– and of course, cigarettes cost half as much in Pennsylvania. No Starbucks in Huntingdon, but Dad knows someone who works at nearby Juniata College, in the school cafeteria, who gave him a few bags of Starbucks beans inside of silver, not- for- single- sale wrappers for the occasion of my visit home. I had to go. It still owe Dad a ton of money from a loan that got me through an entire year without a job or unemployment benefits. But I won my appeal– after one year of signing up with no real check, two administrative law judges decided in my favor– almost enough to buy a foreclosed upon home in Central Pennsylvania.
Such clarity all around now. My how money changes everything! The morning sun lit our faces. In the silence of twilight in middle-America, it seemed Dad and I were the drug and our souls in this time of bonding were being smoked by some invisible pot head in the sky.
Our bright red faces smiled almost identically as we sat shoulder to shoulder on a porch swing, sober– or were we? We turned our content lips with puffs of volcanic breath towards Washington Street and blew golden streams of smoke over the porch banister while birds attempted to assemble a nest above our heads.
Not a single beer made its way to my lips over the holiday weekend. I love him too much to drink around him. Parents who were drunkards are so easily worried. I don’t drink around him, but I often thought of sneaking out of the house late at night after he was in bed to head down to the local convenient store that never closes. Just for a six-pack of beer– not even going to think about trying to pick up some man to blow in Huntingdon. I wanted to sit alone outside in that quiet, tiny college town, and drink beer. Viagra. Dad takes it. He told me so. He asked me if I wanted one. I just laughed and remembered where I was.
I don’t know how long it has been since my abused body went without some sort of mind-altering substance, and Dad, the ex-drinker– hardly shuts up– on that viagra!
“Here’s something for the road, Son,” Dad said on Easter morning. Little white eggs out of a little basket the color of a bottle of beer. Gobbled down two before I got on the bus home. I don’t remember much after that. Memories of my stay slowly became my half-asleep dreams– the American bald eagle we saw at Raystown Dam– the turkey gobbler standing along the winding country roads upon which we drove in Dad’s new car– the talk– the memories of when I was little and got a wad of gum stuck in my hair– how it made Dad laugh when Mom finally had to cut my pretty hair like a boy’s.
“Thank ya Jesus!” I said when Dad handed me the Easter eggs. “I haven’t had a drink of any kind in three days. Sorry, but I must hop along now.”
Dad smiled and replied as I turned to get on the bus– “Please come home again soon. Don’t worry about the money. You won that Unemployment hearing and you’ll have money soon. You should have said something. I would have bought you some beer. All you mentioned was that you didn’t like the coffee we drink back here.”
A bus went from empty to having not a seat to spare by the time the greyhound reached Philadelphia. Had to piss three times– crawling over those people and that horrible smell that didn’t bother me in the least! Husky guy in brown with a big bag between his legs was all I needed next to me– a soft pillow– not an inch to move in those seats– so muscular– so warm– like the morning sun in Pa.