Saturday, January 7, 2012

Between the Night and the Silence

He pulled hard on the wrench to turn the screw but the grip slipped and his hand crashed violently against the sprocket, opening a deep wound that started spewing blood immediately.

John bit his lips and continued what he was doing, unmindful of the pain. There was far greater pain pounding at his chest, eating him up, the sort of angry pain that could explode at any given time.

His mind wondered back to the scenes that transpired shortly beforehand, which lingered vividly. They were driving home, he and his wife, and there was no word, no sound, a small talk much less, but only the air conditioner and the hum of the engine that showed pulses of life, otherwise an absolute dead silence owned the night, the kind that he dreaded the most.

He would step on the gas with mean intentions and the car would fly, eager to get home past the roadside trees, the structures, and the signages and against the headlights of the opposite lane traffic, chasing shadows and becoming the ghostly imagery of his desperation, that kind of aching deep down inside hoping to see the moment ended at last so that they, who both were erstwhile trapped into this cramped piece of hell between the night and the silence could step out to freedom, walk their separate ways perhaps to find peace and the right path back to serenity and reason. In the meantime, the wife’s sideway glances were a rain of daggers.

The boy ran to him as soon as he pulled over into the garage, she on the other hand quickly disappeared. Little Joey was sweetly excited, remembering his father’s promise to fix the bike as soon as he comes home tonight which John realized he had totally forgotten. His trouble had doubled. And it was just too much for the fortysomething dad to handle. First, his wife’s silent rage and now the boy’s irrepressible badgering. He was barely able to contain himself from cussing out loud but John couldn’t help banging the car door with such brutal force in his exasperation, terrifying the child and even himself. John instinctively wanted to kill himself as soon as he realized what he had done. After that, another long inexplicable silence appears to merge with the cold spell.

He recalled how he wondered into the garage, finding the bicycle in one corner under the fluorescent lamp and right next to the tool box, the muted testimony of his promise. John pulled up his sleeves and began to work, beginning with unscrewing the rear wheel and again his mind drifted back to the past. He was reminded of the ineptitude of his physical abilities, a fact he had accepted eversince he was himself a child. His father would constantly show him the calloused hands of the construction worker, and their conversation would almost always end up with the surreal vision of a distant future, created through his father’s riveting words, that John someday when he grows up would not be wearing the blue collar, no, never shall he sweat under the sun the way that his father did because this boy would become the man who would use his brain instead more than his hands. That admonition would thankfully become a self-fulfilling prophecy. And yet on occasions like this, when it became his turn to play his fatherly role, he hated being so inept and ill-equipped, and John was anything but thankful and in fact, he felt bitter to not have inherited even a little of his old man’s skills with manual work.

Blood continued to drip from the cut in his hand. He was down on his knees on the dirty pavement trying to figure out what to do next when John was astonished to feel the child suddenly embraced him from behind. Joey had sneaked up to him to watch his father at work, doing the most important job in the whole world, the one thing that really mattered at this moment. The thing about fixing what was broken.

John carried Joey in his arms and rushed back to the house. She hugged his wife and whispered something in her ears.

The boy, the wife and the bike. Nothing else mattered.

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