Disclaimer: Face Value is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real persons is coincidental.
THE SINGLE FATHER
I keep telling this boy to fill back up the water bottle when he put it back in the fridge. Jesus, I got to do everything ’round here? Where he is though? I thought he would be home by now.
I refilled the bottle, then grabbed a few grapes before closing the refrigerator door. I headed to the living room and turned on the television. Ian Bourne’s chubby face smiled out at me and I glanced at my watch.
After seven and this boy ain’ get in here yet? He must be stop to watch sports or something.
Just then, I heard the side door open.
“I now get here, old boy. I had some books to carry back to the library and then I couldn’t get a van at all.”
I got up and head to the small dining room, where my 16 year-old son was removing his shoes and socks.
“Good Lord Ryan, you could of still call and let me know you alive. School finish since 3 o’clock.”
“Call how? I ain’ got no cell phone.”
“Don’t make me smack you, boy. How I could afford to give you a cell phone? I could barely pay the rent and put food on the table. I could buy the phone, but you might be too starve out to talk on it.”
He tried to remain serious, but laughed despite himself. “If you would stop being so stubborn and let Veronica help out, things wouldn’t be so tight ’round here.”
I frowned at the mention of my older child’s name. “Look, case closed. We don’t need her money, we getting through very well. Hurry up and come and let we get something to eat, I was waiting till you got home.”
I entered the kitchen and began to spoon out rice and peas and fried chicken on to two plates.
Veronica. Jesus, where I went wrong with that child? I know it was hard on her when her mother died, but God knows I did my best. Maybe I should have sent the children to their grandmother in St. Lucia. At least they would have had a female influence.
I filled two glasses with ice-cold mauby and placed a fork next to Ryan’s plate.
No, I don’t think staying in St. Lucia would have made a bit of difference. Veronica’s problem is that she like too much money and big life.I couldn’t give her, so she got it for herself. But look how she got it. No man can’t feel good knowing that his only daughter is a prostitute.
Two hours later, while Ryan snored peacefully in his room, I grabbed a Banks beer and headed to the verandah for some fresh air. The neighbourhood was quiet, the flickering of television sets behind drawn blinds the only sign of life.
“Maggie, forgive me for not doing a better job with our child,” I whispered softly to the night air.
For the first time since her death, I was glad my wife was not alive to witness what her family had come to. My relationship with my daughter had hit rock bottom. Since I had discovered last Christmas what Veronica did for a living, since I confronted her with that married, big guts politician, I had cut her off entirely. She still phoned Ryan; it was easier to let her continue speaking with her brother than to explain to him what was gong on.
I could of killed that r***hole. The way he was looking at her, touching her, it was obvious she was his outside thing. She ain’ even frighten that shite Paul find out.
I sucked my teeth when I thought of Veronica’s boyfriend. That girl never had much sense when it came to men. Anybody could see that boy was a frigging drug dealer. How else a young black fella who ain’ went school nowhere afford an Escalade and that big-tail house in St. George?
I was just about to finish my beer and head inside when a shriek broke the stillness of the night and interrupted my thoughts. Next door at the Walkers I heard a voice repeatedly sobbing “why, Lord” and the sound of furniture being thrown about and glass breaking.
Wait, wuh gine on in by Ms. Walker, bosie? That doan’ sound like one of them prayer meetings she does keep over there.
I ducked from view instinctively when my neighbour’s front door opened and her son hurried out. He climbed into his white Suzuki Vitara and sped off.
Children. He must be gone now and do some ignorance to upset he poor mother.
I drained the bottle, belched and headed inside to bed.