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“Hey Ernie it's your brother. I know you're there. Remember when you told me how you stay home on Sundays? Yeah so, anyways, can you please pick up the phone?” Silence fills the room as he pauses and a grunt can be heard.
“Well please call me when you can. I have some news to tell you. Bye.”
A man stirs as the answering machine goes silent. He opens his eyes, taking in his surroundings. He doesn’t quite remembering falling asleep on the counter, but he slowly pushes himself up, accidently knocking over an empty beer bottle in the process. His hands push against his eyes, trying to force the sleep away. He turns his head slightly to crack his neck and notices a blinking red light on the answering machine. He tries to stand and fails as he falls into a kitchen chair. An attempt to stand causes him to crash back to his chair. His arm stretches out and a single calloused finger manages to press the button to begin the message.
“I thought I told Alex to stop calling me.” Ernie grumbles to himself. After a couple minutes he manages to push himself and begins to saunter towards a window. He reaches up and moves the blinds slightly to the side, and is greeted with a bright light. A hand launches up to his eyes to defend them until they begin to adjust to the light. He slowly removes his hand and watches as a lone seagull fly by. Looking up he notices the sun is almost overhead. A sigh escapes his lips, “Twelve already?”
After a quick cold shower, he stares at the mirror, noticing a few strands of graying hair upon his head. He cautiously reaches up and swiftly pulls the hairs out, letting them drop to the floor. He gazes at his face, his hand tracing over all the cuts and scrapes that the sea has given him over the years.
Ernie walks out of his bathroom and remembers that his brother asked to call. Alex always calls him to make sure he's doing alright and to also nag him about calling his parents. Alex always brings up their saying how you should talk to them and that it's been so many years since they have seen you or heard your voice. I don’t need this right now. He thinks to himself. He grabs his wallet and shoves it into his back pocket as he walks toward the door.
The sea greets him warmly as a cool breeze flows through him. The sounds of waves crashing against the beach and loud seagulls fill his ears. It was peace. It was what he wanted since he was young. To be outside in nature and to do what he wanted and not what his parents wanted for him. To be by himself
A quick ten minute walk and he arrives at the bait shop to buy more new reels. He shifts through the shelves, knowing what he needed. The reel had to be strong enough to withstand the powerful fish that lived within the ocean. Two different brands seems to fit the requirements, so he grabs both and makes his way towards the cashier.
The young cashier’s face lights up as he watches Ernie approach.
“Hello Mr. Fisk,” every word he speaks is coated with a youthful enthusiasm,“I see that you're back again to buy some more fishing gear.”
Ernie hands him the reels avoiding eye contact.
“Yeah, just needed backup ones in case one broke.” “Cool. Did you hear about that big party type thing at the docks tonight?A bunch of the local fishermen are hosting it. Do you think you’ll go?”
“No I’m very busy tonight. I have to go now actually.” He pulls some money out from his wallet.
“Here. Keep the change.” He quickly turns around and rushes for the door. Once outside, he walks a short distance to sit down at a bench to catch his breath.
He slowly opens his eyes to see the sun beginning to set. He takes in his surroundings, realizing he must have dozed off. Slowly he rises from the bench and quickly walks to his home, so he can sleep in the comfort of his own house. Coming into view, his small, one floor beach house seemed off. here was a light on inside and Ernie was sure that he turned off all the lights before he left.. A shadow of a man materials against the window.
Slowly Ernie makes his way up the steps He placed his hand on the door handle, but it didn’t budge. That was strange for him because he thought a burglar would of left the door unlocked behind him. He reaches into his back pocket and pulls out the key to unlock the door.
As he finished turning the key, the door swung wide open nearly knocking Ernie off the steps.
“Hey! What the-,” His voice cuts off as he sees the familiar stern face of his brother looking down at him.
“Alex what are are you doing here! How did you get in my house!”
“Nice to see you too, Ernest. Such a warm welcome from someone that I haven’t seen in oh what, two years?” Alex hold out his hand, asmall metal object resting in his palm.
“Next time, don’t hide your spare key underneath the doormat. It’s very cliche.”
A single fist closes as anger begins to build inside Ernie. An anger that hasn’t appeared for a long time. As kids, Ernie and Alex were the best of friends that always did stuff together. Ernie tried his best to be a good role model for his younger brother, but they began to see differently when Ernie was in his junior year of high school.
“Answer my question. You came here unannounced and you should of told me before you did.”
Alex’s expression changes, still slightly stern, but with a small hint of concern in his eyes.
“I called you this morning, did you not see my message? I wanted you to call me back so I could explain that I was on a plane heading down to you,” his eyes widen “You weren’t drunk were you? Please tell me you weren’t drunk that early in the morning.”
“No I wasn't. Promise,” his hand reaches up to scratch his chin, “Wait, so why are you here?”
“Oh yeah,” Alex pauses and looks out to the ocean. “Well I’d like if you would visit dad,” Ernie was about to interrupt him, but was silenced by the wave of Alex’s hand, “I know you have this weird thing against him and I understand why you don’t want to see him, but he is very sick Ernie. He is in the hospital right now,” Alex’s jaw released, “I think he would appreciate seeing you.”
Ernie’s mouth dropped and his head began to shake.
“You really think I would see that old man? Someone who never really bothered to take care of me? Someone that neglected me and praised you? Yeah not going to happen so just drop it.”
“Just hear me out ok? He might not have much time left, so just go see him,” Alex paused, “Please. I think it would be a good idea.”
Thoughts of his father began to fill Ernie’s mind. There was no way that he would go and see him. “Yeah not happening. I would never go and visit that guy. Its funny to think that you would come down and ask me that.” The anger came back to him. Memories of his father that he pushed back came back and brought back a new anger. “Yeah you know what I can't deal with this right now. I'm going out to the pier. Leave me alone.”
Alex didn't say anything as his brother walked away. He hoped that he wouldn't react that way but he guessed that he might of done that. He went inside and found a piece of paper and wrote down the address of the hospital. He almost trips on an empty beer bottle as he was walking out.
Ernie stood at the end of the pier looking at the ever changing reflection of the moon on the water. The only thing on his mind was his father now. His mother died when he was young, and for a year, his father barely took care of the brothers but when he came back to his normal self it wasn't exactly his normal self. He forced the two to try harder and to mold them into what he thought was a perfect child should so be.
He told the kids that this is what she would've wanted for them. He made them get good grades in classes or they wouldn't get food and to participate in as many sports as possible. Ernie didn’t agree with this and at the first chance he got he left the house and began to lose contact with his father.
Alex would always tell him to come back and see him, but he never wanted too. He didn't want to see someone that made his childhood so hard. Alex must of known that he didn't want to see him. Why should he see him? Does his father want to see him? Maybe he wanted to apologize. No, he wouldn't do that, Ernie thought.
Or would he? Ernie got tired at staring at the ocean and headed home. He noticed the lights were off. Maybe Alex left, he thought. As he walked through the doorway, he noticed a small piece of paper on the ground. Slowly, bent down and grabbed. On it was an address for the hospital his father was in. “Screw it,” Ernie muttered.
Ernie quickly grabbed his car keys and began the drive up north.. The hospital wasn't that far away, about a four drive. Throughout the entire time Ernie was stressing about what he would say to his dad. How would his dad react to him seeing him. Would he be mad?
He arrives at the hospital and looks at the room number on the paper. He walks into the hostipal, walking to the counter. “Hi. Could I visit the patient in room 123?”
The lady at the counter began typing into her computer, searching for the patient. She glances upat Ernie with a puzzling expression. “I’m sorry to say sir,” she pauses for a second for a breath of air, “That man passed away a couple hours ago.”
Ernie stares at her, trying to see if she is lying but believes she is not. He just nods and walks out back to his car. He sits in the car for a while thinking about what he was told. His father was dead after not talking to him for twenty something years. He’ll never know what he would say to his dad and what his dad would say to him. “I’m an idiot.”