The Homecoming (Part Two)

He sipped his tea.  Black tea in the daytime, green tea at night, right?  Or was it the other way around?  One had caffein, the other not.  Or . . .

There had been an unfortunate glitch in the trip.  His flight had been delayed out of Chicago, and because of that he’d missed his flight in San Francisco.  He’d meant to arrive well in time to check in to his hotel room and be at the pick-up point for the bus trip by 10 a.m.  Instead of arriving at 7:30, however, he arrived from L.A. at noon.  The gang would be finishing their lunch at Turtle Bay by then, and even if he took a taxi out, there’d be no guarantee he could catch up to them somewhere on the road.

So he’d missed out on riding the party bus.  Not that he’d miss the drinking.  If there were any.  He no longer drank, and he doubted many of the 75-year-olds on the bus did anymore either.  No, the party part of it would be the singing, both group pop songs and all their favorite Hawaiian numbers. And they’d said there would also be karaoke. Apparently some of them were even bringing musical instruments, ‘ukuleles and guitars.

And of course he would have loved just taking the tour, to see how O‘ahu might have changed over the past 30 years.  If he had a chance, he definitely wanted to check out his childhood home, if it was still standing.  He wondered how different his old neighborhood might be.

He drained his tea cup, chewing meditatively on the few soggy leaves at the bottom.  You don’t drink a cup of tea, he mumbled.  You eat a cup of tea.

His eyes opened and he scanned the room.  Someone had torn off his clothes.  Where was he?  He got up and ran to the door, needed to escape.  The sun blinded him, it had been too many days since he’d ventured outside.  Who was in here?  Who had ripped his clothes from his body, ripped him awake?  Where was he?

“Daddy?”

Groggy, he opened his eyes, saw that he was lying in a bed.

“Daddy, it’s okay.”

This woman was the one.  She had to be the one who made him naked.

“Daddy, you’re having a bad dream.”

He raised his head, stared around the room, looked up at the ceiling.  The pine boughs were gone.  There were no angels in the corners of this room.  The wall paper was full blown red roses among pink rosettes.  He loved flowers, had raised roses and orchids . . .

“Where . . . ” He paused.  “My friends are coming.  My classmates.”

The woman stroked his forearm.  “Daddy, it’s a dream, Daddy.  It’s not your class reunion.  That happened already.  You’re home, Daddy.  I’m here.  You can go back to sleep.  Everything’s okay.”

She propped up his head with her hand.  “Here,” she said, holding a pill to his lips.  “This will help you, Daddy.” 

He took the pill, sipped the water she offered and swallowed hard.

This woman who stole his clothes stood and walked to the door. How could anyone be so cruel?

“Good night, Daddy, I’ll see you in the morning.”

She switched off the light.

In the dark he thought about his class reunion, where was everybody?  We’re always only approaching middle age, Mel. He couldn’t let them see him naked.  Where were his clothes?  Who was that woman calling him “Daddy.”  He didn’t have any children.  He’d never even been married . . .

He lifted the sheets to examine his body.  His pajamas were red and white striped.  He thought of the starlight mints he’d always liked.  Feeling his teeth with his tongue, he searched for cavities. He’d had many cavities when he was young. But he still ate candy all the time.

Finally fading, his eyes closed, his body relaxed, and he fell asleep again, his mind blank and more memories gone.

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