By AMBER HOWLE
In an hour or so, Darren would have the pleasure of giving his dad the news. In the meantime, he had some important phone calls to make. The excited, Friday-afternoon-feeling ignited his veins as he dialed one of his friends to leave a message about hooking up later. He pulled a Pepsi from the fridge, figuring he would drink beer later, then leapt up the stairs two at a time, catching his breath before unlocking his bedroom door. Plopping onto the bed, he leaned over to remove the old penny loafers he wore to the job interview.
In the mirror over the dresser he studied himself, as he often did, believing he was still husky, making note of a large, pink nose which gave him, he thought, a tough look, despite his fair skin and blue eyes. Next he unbuttoned his dress shirt, slowly shaking his head at the skin that softly rolled over his belt. He removed his pants too, and noticed the shrinking calves that had carried him to touchdown on numerous occasions.
|"The excited, Friday-afternoon-feeling ignited his veins as he dialed one of his friends to leave a message about hooking up later."
After showering, he pulled on a white T-shirt advertising a popular brand of beer and some knee-length jean shorts, and topped off the ensemble with a baseball hat sporting the logo of his hometown team. Grabbing a cigarette and lighter from his bedside drawer, he bounded down the stairs and saw the light blinking on the answering machine. Two messages! Before slipping out the screen door he pushed "play" so that he could listen while he smoked.
"Hey Darren, it's John. I got your message...uhmm, we're going over to Jason and Freddie's tonight . . . I guess they're having a little get-together . . . uuh. . . I just got home so if you try to call and I don't answer I'll be in the shower but uuuhhhh . . . call Wayne and see what he's doing . . . and maybe Marey and Sheila . . . and then call me back around six, 'cuz. . . . yeah, just me back I guess."
Darren drew some more out of his cigarette and listened to the second message.
Hi, Darren it's Marey . . . (yawwwn) . . . 'scuse me. Hey, just wanna know if you guys are doin' anything tonight. Call me back. Byee."
He was outside for a few minutes, hurriedly finishing his cigarette, when his dad's Oldsmobile turned onto the cul-de-sac. He waited for him to travel down the quiet suburban street, then roll into the driveway.
"You going out tonight I suppose?" his dad tiredly asked, looking him up and down as he stepped out of the car.
|"Every Friday and Saturday evening he watched his son's excitement and wished he could look so pink and alive for more productive activities. Like getting a job, or at least thinking about college."
Every Friday and Saturday evening he watched his son's excitement and wished he could look so pink and alive for more productive activities. Like getting a job, or at least thinking about college. Instead, it seemed as if he moped around all week until his friends were ready to come out and play.
"I got a job," Darren spat.
Dad raised his eyebrows.
"It starts Monday. I'll be cutting up wood and sanding it or something for this sign-maker place."
The phone rang and Darren fled through the screen door. His father entered slowly, tiredly, and watched him on the phone as he tossed his keys onto the counter. Darren supported almost all of his weight, it seemed, on that counter, while one fashionably dressed foot rested on the other.
"Cool . . . cool," he was saying, and Dad shook his head to himself and plodded up the stairs one at a time.
That his son was popular and sociable never used to bother him. He used to be proud in fact, and boast to his own friends what a great football player his boy was, and oh! What a lady-killer! A chip-off-the old-block, boy!
|"The cigarettes and God-knows-what-else are eating away at his former strength, Dad thought bitterly, the feeling of failure assaulting him again, as it did daily when he thought of Darren."
What was so terrible now? Except for football, Darren's activities hadn't changed much. The cigarettes and God-knows-what-else are eating away at his former strength, Dad thought bitterly, the feeling of failure assaulting him again, as it did daily when he thought of Darren.
He found a job! That would get him off the couch for awhile. He might even save up for something. What happened to that one girl, he thought suddenly? Where had she gone?
He sighed, looking at his own self in the mirror, thin and faded, divorced and not at all young.
"He's still growing up, I guess," he affirmed to his reflection, beginning to hope.
There was no hope, however, of things getting back to normal. In fact, this was how they always were, and this was all fine when Darren was seventeen. Boys will be boys and all that. After all, he sure was at that age.
"But Darren is twenty-six for Christ's sake," the reflection muttered back.
So he hoped for a change, either in the world or in Darren, but mostly in the world. Darren was faultless in a way, being his own son.