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The Long Night

The Long Night

“You’re just like your fucking father!” That’s the last thing she said before slamming the door in my sorry face. According to my watch, It’s seven-thirty. I should be at home eating the dinner that my wife slaved over with her and my boy, but new girl Nia left me an unnoticed lipstick stain on my brand new shirt that my son, Avery, got me for Christmas, so tonight’s plans have changed.

As I looked up at the glowing moonlight, It felt like some calm and bliss from this waking nightmare until I noticed the approaching clouds blocking the light’s grace. My streak of luck just keeps going tonight. Mary didn’t even give me a chance to pick up my wallet from the kitchen counter. She just yelled me out the door. She was barely coherent; all that I remember comprehending was multiple spoutings of “I do so much” and “I try so hard,” as if I did not know that already, but I think she was reassuring herself more than she was yelling to me. It was a miracle that I even managed to get a coat and hat before being chucked out of the house. I cannot dwell on what could have been right now; I have got to find a place to sleep for the night.

It is eight now, and as I walk through the dampening sidewalk, the only thing lighting my paths are the dimly lit lamps begging for a new bulb and the broken neon lights of the cafes and liquor stores abundant in this part of the city. I shouldn’t be here, mistakes were made, but I also care unconditionally for my family, and doesn’t that count for something? Mary is probably taking this hard right now; I haven’t seen her this angry since I forgot to pick up Avery from his camping trip because I indulged in some imported sake during a business meeting. She was greatly annoyed, but she never looked as hurt as she did tonight.

I just wish she knew how much I loved her; this was just a quick fling, just to get it out of my system. I would never want to destroy the relationship I have with her. I only started this because she was just not getting in the mood anymore and was too focused on the boy, his studies and his general state of mind. I know Avery has problems, but he’s just a student. How many problems can a kid who is only responsible for his grades and respecting his parents have? When I was a boy, my old man got around, and yet he would always give my Mother a hard time about it. I thought I was handling it right; I didn’t give Mary grief or blame her like my old man did my Mother.

My old man would go on and on about how my Mother “didn’t try anymore” and how she “was acting unladylike around his friends.” I would never put Mary through all that bullshit. Hell, I am a better father than he ever was. He barely acted like a father when he was around and when he just up and left during a late night with his coworkers; all he left Mom was pain, and all he gave me was a sense of shame whenever I looked in the mirror and saw his face.

He never gave a shit about my grades or my respect, and Avery at least should be thankful I give him the attention he deserves. Speaking of attention, the police currently pulled up to the curb are paying some attention to me right now. There are two of them, a bulky man with a buzzcut standing straight as a door and a portly man with a thinning comb-over leaning on the cop car. Both are sipping on coffee from the nearby cafe but are still eyeing me down like a hawks.

They aren’t saying anything, but I just know they assumed I’m just like the other bums out here. They probably think I stole this jacket off someone for warmth. Suddenly, the portly one starts speaking to me in a sickly sweet tone. “Hey buddy, it’s getting awfully dark; why don’t you head home?” He speaks as if any other answer than yes would have resulted with a night in lockup or a nasty beating. The idea of the first outcome was almost tempting with how cold it was, but the blot on my record was not worth it. I tell them I’ll do just that and head on my way but I still feel their gaze on my back as I leave.

I think it is nine-thirty now, but I can’t know for sure because I dropped my watch in the mud while crossing the crosswalk, and I’ll be damned if I stop and search for it. The people of this city already drive like animals during the day when they can see people, and God forbid I end up on a hit and run cold case. After having exited the streets, I find a dumpster in a tight little alleyway to sleep behind that smells like it hasn’t been disposed of since the last election. I am contempt with this foul area as my place of rest for now, but I am also not foolish. If I stay in this spot for long enough, it is most likely gonna be frequented by bums and junkies throughout the night. I take off my jacket and shoes in case they come by and get the bright idea of stabbing me to take and sell my belongings. Better they steal it while it is off my person. The rain is subsiding, and now that constant pouring is now just an annoying trickle. While trying to sleep in this slum, I am forced to ponder to myself in my boredom. I never got angry at Mary or made Avery feel bad for his struggles at school, but when I act a little mischievous, suddenly I’m the bad guy? I provide them with a roof over their heads and money for all the expensive crap they do not need. Why do I have to be the one to suffer just because I had some fun and enjoyment in my life? I paid for that fucking house house! Suddenly I don’t feel like sleeping here anymore. I put my jacket and shoes back on to continue searching for a better place to sleep.

I do not know what time it is and I do not care to ask anyone. My shoes have gone from a nice brown sheen to muddy brown, my clean white socks are now a soggy gray, and my feet are about to give way if I don’t find a place to sit. I tried my damndest to sleep in that cesspit, but I can’t go to sleep there. As I walk through these damp, dark and empty streets, I have one thing keeping me awake and active. I’m so filled with rage it is keeping me from getting some sleep just thinking about what Mary has put me through. I should be mad at her, but every time I think about her, I cannot bring myself to be angry at what she did. She’s the one being selfish by doing this to me. I should have laughed in her face when she tried to kick me out of my own house. I may be in the wrong, but I am not deplorable.

I’m more respectable than that whore who dropped her pants for me who used the excuse that she was so lonely, new and anxious with her new sales job or my degenerate project partner who was caught locking lips with Matthews at last year’s Christmas party but somehow he has not gotten shamed out of the office for his behavior. I had to pawn off my jacket to some bum with a yellow and toothy grin to get enough money to make some phone calls to Nia. The thought that he is going to pawn it off for more money to take more of that shit that contorted his face like that is troubling but I can’t really think about that right now. Nia caused all this, and she knew I was married, but she is still the best bet I got of not spending the rest of this night on these godless streets. In that claustrophobic phone booth, I pray to God she answers, and she answers on the second call. I let all my emotions out; I pleaded with her to pick me up and let me stay with her for the night. Her voice constantly cracks as she talks and it’s hard to tell if it’s her voice or the connection to the call doing so. She apologizes profusely. “I’m so sorry baby but I’m not gonna be free for a week or two because my folks are on vacation and I gotta take care of my little sister.” It’s painfully obvious, she doesn’t want me at the house. I hung up without hearing another word. I fall to my knees and cannot keep myself from passing out in my fit of despair.

Time does not matter to me right now. All that matters to me right now is the unwelcoming glare ,from the sun, has disturbed my poor sleep. I am likely late for work, but the main concern right now are the two officers staring me down outside the booth. The bulkier officer comes closer and taps on the outside of the booth; with his fog of excitement covering the glass, he tells me that I “Should have listened earlier.”

Shortly after exiting the booth, I am slammed into the concrete by the man. After this prick gives me a gracious fall, the portly one yelled at my bruised face, “We do not like asking twice, buddy!” Soon after, I am shoved into their car. I do not argue or even wince in pain from my attack because I feel comfort knowing Mary will realize the horrible mistake she made last night. She will see what a night outside has done to me. These streets filled with piss, shit and bums are no place for the man of the house. I have told her everything about my father and what his disappearance did to me and my mother so she’ll get it in her hollow fucking head what could happen if I end up gone from their lives. She may hate me, but she loves the boy more than she could ever hate me, and I know she would not want him to grow up without me in his life. After this slight setback, she will never let me leave the house like this ever again. God forbid I end up just like my father.