Runnin’ (Part 6) – Flight, Fight, and Fear


naked Pat’s dad pops his head in, a quick jerk like a jack-in-the-box.  His face is bland, his head dull and balding.  He’s so boring, almost invisible like another shade of yellow blending into another wall in the house. His face, frozen and dead, his eyes fixed and expressionless as he stares at me on the bed, half-naked and dirty.

“Meet my wife, dad.” Pat says.

“Alright, Pat.” His dad says like a doctor trying to talk a patient down from jumping off a ledge.

I turn red and face the window. I stare at the fir trees and count the needles, even though they’re far away and blurry.  Fir trees in summer are odd, like one of those “spot what is out-of-place” pictures that shows a snowman at the beach or a melting ice cream cone in January.

“We’ve been worried sick, son. I’m going to call your mother.” He turns and leaves, his creepy footsteps fading down the hall.  Pat’s skinny arms are folded defensively against his bare chest.  The underneath of his forearm is covered in a trail of cross hatched scars like a ladder.

For the first time, I’m scared. I’ve always had a twisted flight-or-fight response. I am more afraid of clowns and crossing guards than getting into cars with a strangers.  While delayed, the flight response is finally grabbing me by the shoulders from Pat’s thick, worm-like scars and his father’s robotic voice saying moments later, “Son, someone is here for you.”

I watch Pat get into the back of the squad car, a mechanized motion like he’s done this a thousand times before. His father stares at me.  “Well, let’s go down to the station.  Get your things.”

I’m afraid to go upstairs alone through the dullness into Pat’s madness and collect my few ratty belongings: two flannel shirts, a pair of boots, an army coat, and a stretched out bra.  I tried bringing a cool book of Bob Dylan lyrics my real dad gave me when I was fifteen.  It was a hardback full of handwritten lyrics and sketches and silly scribbles.  But it was too awkward and heavy, the corners kept poking me through my thin canvas backpack.  It started a tiny tear, so I left it in the back of some hippie’s vintage VW Bug in Boulder.  We were supposed meet up in another college town days later, but he never showed.

Pat’s dad and I drive in silence.  We’re in a Lincoln Town car that smells as sterile as the house.  No one has ever lit a smoke or cracked a beer or ate greasy fast food in it.  Empty cigarette packs and candy wrappers aren’t all over the back seat.  There’s not even a ratty blanket.  It’s so clean, you’d swear a crime was committed, and he had it detailed to derail the cops.


4 Responses to “Runnin’ (Part 6) – Flight, Fight, and Fear”

  1. This one for some reason is overwhelmingly sad to me.

  2. 2 pinklightsabre

    I really liked this post, especially the detail about the Dylan book. I connect with these moments of authenticity. And it so happens I know that book you’re talking about. I’m sorry it went missing…I’ve had things like that disappear myself, too. Enjoy your day and smile: Dylan loves you still!

    • I still wish I had that book…. sigh. I used to call it my bible! Thanks for keeping up and look for the last installment tomorrow.

  3. You have gifts, girl.

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