Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
The Sins Of The Father
by Glenn Mccrea
I step out of the car and into my childhood. I haven't been back here since I was, what—10, 11? As I walk down Main Street, it's like watching a movie I've seen in the distant past; the plot and scenes seem familiar only as they unfold on the screen before me.
There's the library, where what's-her-name read us the riot act whenever a book was overdue. And the Longhorn Superette, where I once filched 17 packs of Dentyne gum on a dare. My stomach knots when I see the courthouse, and one glance at the police station leaves my mouth cotton dry. Why did I come back here?
Long ago I disowned Tahoka, swearing I would never again tread this soil which nourished my miserable roots. But almost 40 years have now passed, and when my agent booked an appearance for me in Lubbock, less than 30 miles away, I felt my resolve crumble.
Memories of our hurried departure from this place so long ago come welling up—the sudden shame, the ensuing secrecy. Overnight our Father-Knows-Best world was turned upside down, and overnight I had to let go of my life, my friends—my name, for God's sake!—and start over again halfway across the country with Mom and Becca. My hatred for Dad and what he did to our family has only recently started to abate and metamorphose into something else—pity perhaps? No, I no longer hate that sad, secretive man. Love's quest can lead down some twisted pathways, I now know.
I enter McCoy's Five & Dime, and at the sound of the doorbell a sweet-looking woman with bluish hair glances up from the cash register. Her face flashes puzzlement, registers recognition, and finally settles on an uncomely marriage of astonishment and outrage as she blurts, "Oh, My God!"
My mind reels. I whirl and stiff-arm the door. Of course! What an idiot! I'm about the same age my father was when his hidden life was exposed for the nation to feast upon—when our little town and its oldfangled motto ("Tahoka, Texas...Where Family Values & Community Spirit Reside") became infamous.
Running around the corner into Alscott's Office Building, I find the men's room and ponder my reflection in the mirror. I hadn't made the connection before, but now there's no doubt: This is the face that stared out from the newspapers, the face that so humiliated this community.
Before leaving Alscott's, I peer out the front door and look up and down the street. Hiking my jacket over my head, I sprint for the car.
Glenn McCrea is a masseur and photographer (www.dewdropworld.com) from Santa Rosa, California. Guy Biederman, through his Lowfat Fiction classes in Sebastopol, helped inspire Glenn to do something more than think about writing.
Back to Flashes