A son ponders whether people will discover his father's dark past.
It was odd to be in a room filled with people who all seemed to look up to my dad like he was some kind of hero. A part of me wanted to see him through their eyes just for a moment. I tried to picture him as a brave firefighter rushing out of a burning building with two infants in his arms, running over to meet the wailing parents in the distance. But the image didn’t stick. In fact, it seemed unlikely to picture my dad adorned in firefighter gear with sweat and soot caking his face. It just wasn’t possible.
Maybe a police officer? Nope. A soldier returning from a war raging in the Middle East? Nada. A steadfast lawyer defeating the opposing council in court and beaming with pride as the wrongdoer gets cuffed and dragged away? I nearly laughed aloud. As if! Dad wouldn’t be caught dead practicing law, let alone wearing a fancy suit.
In fact, if these people could see my dad behind closed doors instead of near the fake potted tree next to the kitchen, trying to impress them with his chatter, they would be appalled. Disgusted even. I’ve always known my dad to be a trouble-making jerk. The kind of person who preferred deep throating a fresh bottle of Jim Beam or Jack Daniels in front of a TV blasting the latest MMA match to pulling his son into the garage and teaching him how to change a tire. Also the kind to person to use the middle finger to signal how he felt about police officers, hit the nearest bar for a drink (or two) every other night, and show up to most events with a rosy face and slurred speech.
I hated him. My hate for him was still as fresh and fiery as ever. But there was also some pity mixed in. From when I was small child, he hardly ever spoke much about his parents. The only thing I remembered hearing was him not knowing much about his mother and how his father (my grandfather) raised him throughout his childhood. I wasn’t sure about what happened between the two, but Dad seemed to have a lot of anger towards Grandpa. I tried asking him about it a long time ago, but that only resulted in me getting backhanded across the face and shouted at to “mind my own goddamned business.” I learned very quickly to care for myself, not be curious about things outside of my world and stay out of his way.
So there I was watching him make a lame joke and having everyone laugh with him afterwards. None of these people knew the real Dad. They may never know him.