You go and visit him because that’s what you should do. It is the right thing because he was the man who raised you. The name dad isn’t used anymore because that’s not what he is. He’s just the man who raised you and you’re thankful for that. You’re thankful for the woman that you’ve become because of him. Strong, independent, doesn’t take shit from anyone, cheerful, mostly happy.
There are downsides though. You are a drunk. You have this innate sadness that hasn’t ever gone away because you don’t know who you really are. You’ll never know your true heritage because your mother is dead and your real father could be too for all you know. You’ve tried to find him several times since he told you. Every single time it comes up with a dead end. Every single time you think you’re getting close, it seems to blow up in your face.
When you arrive at the prison you check in and you try and walk through without being gawked at. Which is hard because you feel like every single prisoner and family member is looking at you, wondering who the hell you could be visiting. The obvious would be some kind of boyfriend. You think people think that because you’re tall and beautiful and people assume that you are dumb because of that. It could be worse and you’re not at all complaining about it. If there’s one thing you’ve learned in this life, though, is that people are constantly judging you. Harsh eyes are watching your every single move and you never know what they are thinking or saying because they are silent in your presence. It’s only when you walk away that people really start to talk.
Once you arrive at the little area you are assigned to you see him sitting there, in a jumpsuit that makes him look like he is the worst person on the face of the planet. You’ve never been in a jail before and you don’t know how to react to seeing this. It always seems so different when it’s on tv.
He picks up the phone and you do the same as you take a seat and place your purse at your feet in front of you. For a moment you are both silent and a smile comes across his face. “You look well, Tiff. It’s good to see you.” You start to feel yourself tear up a little because he sounds like your father and you have to remind yourself that he is not. He is just a man who was masquerading as your father for so many years.
The small talk continues. You talk about how you are bartending and trying to get your life together. You talk about everything except for the elephant in the room. There is a hope that he won’t bring it up but you know he will. He will because he is feeling replaced, especially after you stopped talking to him. “Have you been able to find your father?”
Of course he asks. He wants to know because your father is his brother. You wish you could reach through the glass and slap the shit out of him for even bringing it up. And then you begin to wonder why the hell you came here in the first place. It would have been easier to just stay home and maybe write a letter. But you don’t. You want answers. He can easily continue to lie in a letter. Now you want him to have to continue to lie to your face.
You tell him no and you want to know what happened. What really happened after you were born. He swallows hard and you can see him shift in his seat a little bit. He starts to speak but no words come out at first. It makes you nervous and you start to play with your hair briefly and he smiles. He knows your nervous ticks more than anyone. Once you catch the glimpse of the smile you stop doing what you are doing because you will not feed into this or him. Not again. Not now. He doesn’t deserve that.
You straightened in your seat and ask him again with force. He needs to know that he isn’t in control of this situation any longer. It seems to work because he sighs on the end of the phone and scratches the top of his head. It is his nervous tick and he doesn’t even realize that he is doing it. It feels like a tiny victory to know that you were able to cause that kind of reaction. That is short-lived when he begins to tell you.
He goes into great detail about your father. He was an alcoholic who loved your mother but found life all too stressful. He was dealing with delusions and the alcohol only made it worse. One morning he just up and left leaving without telling anyone or having the courtesy of leaving any sort of note. It was 4 weeks later that your mother realizes she is with child. She was frightened and alone. The man in front of you, your uncle consoled her because he was in love with her. He wanted to prove that he was a better man for her. You know that is surely not the case.
Your thoughts are proven when he talks about the months after your birth. Your mother suffered from post-partem depression and desperately sought out your father. There was nothing that she wouldn’t have done to find him again. Your uncle knows this and tries to get her to stay. The night before she leaves, he cuts the brakes on his car so she can never find him again. If he can’t have her, no one will.
You sit there dumbfounded by his confession. You really wish you could reach through the glass and strange him. There is something so satisfying in your thoughts about making him suffer and struggle against your grip until his body goes limp. That would mean that he would get what he wanted. So you let the thought leave your mind.
You just hang up the phone and don’t even bother saying goodbye. You give him one last look and he begs for you to pick up the phone again. You just stare until you can see the desperation in his movement. Reluctantly you pick up the phone but don’t say anything to him. There is nothing you can say anymore. He is dead to you.
“I loved you like my own, Tiff. You have to believe that. You need to follow your dreams. You are so talented and you should share that with the world. Trust me when I say that.” You just stare for a moment and hang up the phone again. You pick up your purse and give him one last look before you go.
You are thankful you are leaving because the whole thing makes you sick. The stench in the air combined with your own hatred is getting the best of you. The only thing you have going for you is the fact that you have a long drive ahead of you. A long drive with a lot of music.