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I don’t want to be here. The blood is pounding in my ears; the sweat’s dripping down my back. My legs are shaking as I push open the door and walk into the diner. I’m a regular customer and the head waitress knows my name. I tell her I’m meeting someone. I scan the greasy spoon and spot him. He’s slouched in a far booth with his head down. All I can see is his white hair flopped lanky and thin over his face and his crossed arms. He may look like a lineman going to seed but make no mistake, he packs a wicked punch. I would know. As I sit across from him, my butt squeaking on the vinyl seat, he looks up at me. His face is purple from years of hard drinking and his eyes are full of sorrow. Don’t know why he’s sad. I ain’t his favorite person. He looks at me as if looking at me for the first time. He hasn’t seen me since I was fourteen and now I am a man. Thirty two, with a family of my own. He looks at me and he doesn’t see his son, he sees a stranger. And ain’t I an eyeful. I’m big: six two and mostly muscle. My brown hair messy as usual. I have silver hoops in my lip and eyebrow and loops running up and down both ears. They mark great skill in combat, but he doesn’t know that. His eyes travel up my face until he reaches my eyes. Bright green like my mother’s, but one is discolored and surrounded by a burn scar. The skin is warped and melted looking. He gave me that scar.
“Son?” He hasn’t processed that it’s me. He thinks I’m a stranger. I could leave now and no one would be any wiser.
“How are you?”
“I’ve been better.” I spit. He flinches.
“I’m sober now.”
“So do you have a job?” What in the h*ll kind of question is that?
“Yes.” I say sharply. He just insulted me.
“What do you do?” He’s probably thinks something that requires brawn not brains.
“I work in government.” A look of surprise flicks across his face.
“Is that so? So you got a family?”
“Do I get to see my grandkids and meet the wife?”
“No. I don’t want you anywhere near my children.”
“Can you tell me about them?” I really shouldn’t. I should walk away and never see him again. I reach for my wallet and instead pull out a picture. It’s a picture of the whole family.
“These are my sons Yuki and Milo. That’s my niece Nikki. That’s her mother Star and her father John. That’s my spouse Adam. This is the whole family.” My father hates me. He used to beat the crap out of me but now he looks at the picture and smiles.
“I’m proud of you.” He gets up, leaving me alone.