Face to Face
That whole weekend Henry vented. He just layed on the couch in their condo, drinking for two days straight. His past has never hurt him this bad since the whole thing happened. Maria was out with her girlfriends Saturday and Sunday. If I were her, I wouldn’t want to be around me either. Heavy 5 o’clock shadow, intoxicated for almost every waking minute, depressed…it’s just a bad time. On Monday morning Maria woke Henry up around 7:00am. “Wake up you drunk! We have to get moving!” Henry stumbled to the bathroom and took a hot shower. He was in there for like twenty minutes till Maria was pounding on the door to hurry up. Thinking that he was going to work, he shaved and brushed his teeth for the first time since Friday. He put in his contacts and dressed up in his usual business attire. He came out of the bedroom and saw Maria dressed in a black blouse and a blue sweater. “What a shitty weekend…” “Shut up Henry. I let you throw yourself a pity party ALL weekend, now it’s time to fix things.” “What do you mean?” “I have two plane tickets to Washington D.C. Your father is in a correctional facility there and-” “What the hell Maria? Why did you-” “I don’t want to hear it Henry! I’m not going to let you live any longer with the pain you have!” “Couldn’t we talk about it before-” “Go get your jacket our flight leaves at 11:00am and it will take us back home at 8:00pm. I already called you in sick for the day, now get your things!” Usually their marriage was always agreement of some sort. But for the first time in ten years, Maria was the boss. Henry was going to complain though. He did never tell her about his troubled past for the whole time he has known her. They were in silence for the whole car ride to the airport, and on the flight to D.C. It wasn’t till on the way to the Washington Correctional Facility till Maria said, “Henry I know you’re pissed off at me, but will you please say something?” Henry didn’t reply. When they checked into the visitor’s lobby, Henry finally said, “Maria I’ll do my best.” They walked down the dimly lit hallway to a room filled with inmates talking to their visitors. They sat down at a table and the warden said, “He’ll be out in a minute.” Then they saw an old man in an orange jumpsuit, in handcuffs, accompanied by two guards walking to them. It was Andrew Duer. His hair was white as snow. He was wearing glasses and had a clean-shaven face. Wrinkles devoured his forehead and he walked with a long stride. “Mr. Duer,” said the guard. “Your son Henry and his wife Maria are hear to visit you.” He stood there in silence. Henry looked up and glared at his father. He hasn’t seen him in almost three decades. He sat down and there they were. A family reunion was about to take place. “Hello Dad.” “You finally chose to visit me.” “I didn’t want to. She made me.” “Whose she?” “My caring, ALIVE wife Maria.” “What the hell do you want?” “Dad, I-” “If you are going to say, ‘I forgive you’ I don’t want to hear it!” “I’m not going to say that.” “If you’re going to say how well you’re doing, I don’t want to hear it.” “I’m not going to say that.” “Then what the hell are you going to say?” Henry gave him a mean glance. His eyeballs fired with rage. All the pain you cause me, all the sleepless nights I’ve had, all the secrets I’ve hid, and this is how you approach me? You f*ing murderer! “Dad. I don’t know what the hell happened that night. Nor do I know what has happened since.” “Well it’s pretty simple. I got drunk, killed your mother, your brother’s almost killed me, and I’ve spent the last twenty eight years behind bars.” “That sounds lovely.” “You and your sarcasm. You know you got that from your grandmother right?” “Well, Dad I’m glad you are here.” Maria sat there in anxiety. This wasn’t going according to plan. In all the dramas she has watched the prison reunions always started with hugs, and ended in kisses. Did she really think this was going to be like that? “Henry, if you have nothing to say, I’ll gladly go back to my cell.” “And do what?” “Pretend that you weren’t there?” “No read, write, do a few pushups, and talk to the guards.” “You know you’re the definition of an asshole right?” “Well that isn’t new.” “Dad, this is the first time I’ve seen your face in years.” “Do I look better?” “No you look like you have been raped by Ja’Marcus and Jeffery in the shower hundreds of times.” Andrew Duer started to crack up, “You’re something you know? Sure I can keep pretending I’m the hard ass prisoner that has no emotions, but I am not going to do that.” “Then what the hell are you going to do? Tears started to fall from Andrew Duer’s face. Henry has never seen that. Andrew took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes, and looked at Henry, then looked at Maria. “I remember one night in January when we were trying to keep warm, I went upstairs to see what you were up to. I heard you pray, ‘I hope I’ll never do this to my family’ or something like that. Ever since then, I’ve been nothing but a rotten, drunk. I realize that my time on earth is a waste. I have done nothing but kill mothers, and ruin son’s lives. Dickey and Larry visit me every Christmas and Easter. They always say, ‘Jesus can help you!’ but I just tell them to lay off and get on with their lives. You on the other hand have probably living with that night ever since. Am I right?” “Actually Dad, you are. I have lied to everyone I come into. I tell them that my parents moved to some tropical island and retired.” “HA! Oh how I wish!” “Dad, I don’t know how to say this, but, I…” “What forgive me? You can’t do that! I don’t care what all the priests and pastors say about forgiving your enemies. I completely f*ed up you, and your brother’s lives. And I am deeply sorry Henry. Every morning, I get out of my stiff mattress and hit my self in the face as hard as I can. Can you see my jaw is out of place?” “Dad, I just can’t-” “What say ‘I forgive you’?” “No, not that. I just cant handle seeing my father, my blood, my DNA, locked up. I don’t care anymore that Mom is gone. I don’t care that I’ve thought about that night every day. I just care about the fact that I, we, have wasted our lives.” “Aint that the truth.” “Dad just listen. There is nothing I can do to bring Mom back from the dead, you out of jail, and talk to my brothers again. I don’t know what to say, but the next time I see you, I’ll be ready.” “Well at least you’re honest.” “I’ll see you soon Dad.” The guards took Andrew Duer back to his cell. Henry sat on the table, still in shock. Maria wrapped her arms around him and gave as much comfort that her heart could give. They walked out of the prison, and sat on a bench, and waited for a taxi. “Thanks Maria.” “I’m sorry Henry. I-” “Don’t apologize love. This reconciliation will be a great lesson to teach our kids."