At forty-two, he met his son under the bright neon signs for the opening of the night festival. There were electric lights that illuminated the boardwalk, giving off an ambient mood which made him all the more taciturn as they walked towards the end of the dock. He didn’t know how to start. It always took a while to get warm around him. At the bright corner, he lighted a cigarette and exhaled a white stream of smoke into the air that perfumed the nearby surroundings. The waves were not visible but they could hear the crashes when it approached the bay.
It was a long time ago since they first came here. As if it was a race, both of them happily traced the memories while eating dirty ice cream in a bun. There was so much to say but the eyes always said more. He’s always been proud of what his son had become. The young man has got his father’s eyes and the strength of his mother’s heart.
“Why do you have to go?” The son almost cracked his voice.
“I don’t think I’ve got a say on this, son.” He swung his shoulders back to stretch them. He felt the urge to punch the night right on its chin.
“Can I be there when you go?”
“Don’t be like that, you know I don’t have the knack for the theatrics. We’ll see each other someday.”
He always felt it helped. How the colors of the flicking lights conceal the ugliness and the scars. He always thought that they were sort of a phenomenon. It was Lou Reed who was playing on the car radio when he opened the windows, driving just a little over the speed limit.
Under the cup of darkness, he felt estranged — wherein the midnight blue reigned, it was a proxy for a companion that delivered.
At the local diner, he consulted a friend who worked as a part-timer. She was old, but still got good legs.
“With enough money to spare, we can surely buy happiness. But batteries and permanency not included, honey. So don’t go expecting it would last until daybreak.”
He ordered another pour of coffee with six spoonfuls of sugar. This he consumed bitterly still, with the poetry his son wrote on the pages of his wife’s old Cattleya notebook.