One December Night

October 4, 2007
I sit in the front seat of my dads red 4X4 truck, my legs curled up against my chest, my head pressed against the cool window. I can feel the sharp chill of the December night pressing into the glass. Looking up past the trees that engulf us in every direction, I try to focus in on the stars. There aren’t many city lights around so I can see them distinctly above the trees. But I give up when the red and blue flashing lights give me a headache as they wash over my face in unnecessary color. I look out the drivers side door at my dad talking to a police officer who looks uncomfortable and out of place in his stiff blue uniform with his gold badge and hand cuffs glinting in the colored lights. I stare at the scene unfolding in front of me; my father walking on the faded white line with his wobbly cricked steps, and touching his nose with his pointer finger-but not quit getting it.

I feel like I should say something to my older brother laying on his back in the back seat, but I know anything that comes out of my mouth would be returned with a cutting remark filled with tension and sarcasm. The truck is soaked in silence.

When the driver door opens, and the ceiling light flickers on, followed by the dinging that slices the silence in half. My dad slides in, slams the door shut and the car is once again filled with quiet and a thick searing smell of hard alcohol. He sits their looking straight ahead. I straighten up and put my feet on the floor in front of me.

“I’m gonna go with the nice me” he says with a slur. Trying to make what’s happening right now less serious then it actually is. “I’ve already talked with Lori. Her and Andy are gonna come pick you up here.” Finally he turns his head to look at me. His eyes are filled with guilt and regret. His jaw is clenched in a stubborn hatred for getting caught.

“It’s okay Daddy. We wont leave,” I say, my 11 year old voice trying to let him know that I’m a big girl and not scared. I try to tell him in just six words that everything is going to be okay, and I’ll eventually forgive him. That he needs to forgive himself, but also to learn a lesson in the process.

I think back to how this night began. Waiting for my dad at the truck station, where we’ve met him every other weekend my whole life. Then piling our bags of clothes into the bed of his truck, saying goodbye to my mom for the weekend. Excited to see my dad, and spend the weekend at his house near the beach, knowing that there me and my older brother will have a lot more freedom. Driving through Longview to a small liquor store. Dad telling us to wait in the car in his loud grumble of a voice that only shows it self when he’s angry. He climbs out of the truck and slams the door behind him so the whole truck shakes. Then returning with a brown paper bag, winkled at the top from his big worker-hands, rough and covered with yellow calluses that scratch you when hold his hands squeeze it. Opening the tall bottle with the clear liquid that looks like water, and as soon as he opens it, the smell made you want to choke.

I remember him cursing colorfully as the cop car that had been following us turned on it’s sirens, and Dad yelled at me like it was some how my fault. The look on my brothers face was pure confusion when my dad asked him to hide the alcohol in one of his bags. The police officer tapped on the window with the handle of his long black flash light, took one whiff of the car and looked at my brother and me before he asked my dad to step out of the car, called for back up and started searching. It didn’t take long for him to find the big bottle of alcohol. The look on my dads face, when the cop found it was directed at my brother, as if it was his fault. As if because he didn’t hide it well enough.

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