He passed out. My hand went numb, and I pulled it away from his, wiped it on my pants. I’d say way more than half of me sort of hoped he was gone, but you could see his chest rise and fall ever so slightly. I stood there staring at his face, my brain doing flip-flops and 360s in my skull. My father?
Lieutenant Chan’s head jerked around. “Your father?”
I blurted out, “I don’t have a father!”
The look on the Lieutenant’s face was one you might expect if he were observing a kook. “Ah, well, Mr. Lee, everyone, you know, has –”
“I know, I know, but you know – I mean you know what I mean, right? I grew up with no father. He left us when I was five.”
“So,” said the Lieutenant, “maybe is this your father? Do you maybe recognize him after he said that?”
“Recognize him? My mom destroyed every picture we had. I can’t remember even dimly what he might have looked like.”
Lieutenant Chan walked out of the room, leaving me to stare in somewhere beyond disbelief at this guy. He came back with two cups of coffee.
We sat beside the bed. The man was snoring now.
“So, let’s suppose that he is your father.”
Highly agitated I tried to sip the coffee and burned my lips. “I, I can’t, I don’t want to suppose that. My dad a Korean gangster? Who wants to suppose that?”
“Please, let’s try, okay?”
“Don’t you think it’s kind of a super-duper coincidence that my father, who lives in Korea, would show up in the same barbershop I’m in here in Honolulu? That’s like something out of Charles Dickens.”
He turned and looked at me. “You like Dickens?”
“Um, yeah, I was an English major. I like him.”
“Me too,” he said. “You know, I was going to become a high-school English teacher, just like my wife.”
I said, “I’m just back from finishing up school in Wisconsin. I majored in English, and then stayed on to get my teaching credential. I’ve started applying for teaching jobs.”
He laughed. “I did my teaching credential too. I was right there, my wife and I were going to teach, and then I suddenly shifted directions.”
“What’d you do?”
“I became a cop. Just like my dad. Just like my grandfather.”
“Fate?” I asked.
“My dad disappeared. I wanted to be the one to find him.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. Did you find him?”
“No, no, it’s still an open case, but we’re so busy, I can barely find the time to deal with my active cases.”
I said, “You know, if this guy,” I gestured to the bed, “were a policeman, I’d be, well, not thrilled happy, since he did abandon us, but at least not as bummed out as I am that he’s a lousy criminal.”
He sipped and nodded. “Right.”
“But don’t you think that’s an unbelievable coincidence?”
“Mr. Lee – can I call you Lanning? – What if it’s not a coincidence? What if it’s fate?”
“You think there’s a difference between those two?”
“Yes, of course there is. You ask if it’s fate that I became a cop. I certainly would never say that it was a coincidence that I joined the force. No, it had to be.”
* * * * *
Aloha #WriterFriday, I hope you’re well wherever you may be. Today’s #WritingPrompt is two prompts:
Use either — or both — to inspire a piece of writing, long or short, poetry or prose or play or essay or a hybrid of some kind, and then post that piece as a comment below. I would love to read it : )