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Chapter 25: The Words Get in the Way
Terry made his way through the living room. There was a threadbare furniture set that had once been a nice shade of beige and wood paneling on the wall that had seen better days. There were empty bottles of whiskey on the table and a plate of half-eaten food. The T.V. was off. He moved into the kitchen and things were just as messy there: Dishes piled up in the sink, food stains on the countertop and a garbage can overflowing with refuse. Terry shook his head and looked at the refrigerator. It was bare except for a picture that Terry had drawn back in third grade of him, his mom and Carl. It made his heart ache a little, remembering what he’d lost and thinking of his…father living like this.
He went to the door leading downstairs and paused at the threshold.
Music swirled around him, runs of notes and phrasing that sounded eerily like his, but not as confident, more hesitant. Terry closed his eyes against the sudden rush of tears. He remembered when he was a little kid and his father would play. Terry could sit and listen to him for hours. The music drew him down the stairs.
He stopped at the bottom and looked at something he hadn’t seen in for a very long while: His father sitting and playing the piano. His eyes were closed and he looked…happy. The familiar lines of anger and bitterness smoothed out and Carl looked a lot like Terry remembered him from childhood, before his mom died. He wanted it to last for a little while longer, but he knew he was going to have to break the spell.
Carl jerked like he’d woken up from a deep sleep. He looked around, bug eyed until his eyes rested on Terry. Emotions flowed across Carl’s face like mercury: happiness, pride, bitterness and anger. Terry felt his heart break a little more.
“What do you want?” Carl growled.
“Nothing really. Wanted to see how you’re doing.”
“Well, you saw. You can go now.”
Terry sighed. “I also came to tell you that my band is in a talent contest.”
Carl scoffed and poured a finger of whiskey and scarfed it down. “You ain’t gonna win, so why bother?”
Terry ignored the comment, took a deep breath and counted to ten. “Was that one of yours?”
“Of course. I do have talent. Where do you think you got it from?”
Terry shook his head. “It sounded good.”
“’Good’? My stuff is better than ‘good’,” Carl snapped. “Back in my day, my worst was better than some people’s best.”
“Yeah, but we’re not back in your day, Carl.”
Carl got in Terry’s face and bellowed, “You wanna test me, punk? Huh?”
Terry didn’t answer. He just looked at Carl and let the anger inside him fill his eyes. Carl gazed back for a few moments, but found that he couldn’t continue to look. He cast his eyes down and backed away. Terry quietly turned and walked out to his car.
Moments later, Carl rushed to his front door to catch Terry before he left, but he only saw Terry’s Sunbird pulling away down the street. The one thing Carl wanted was to get married and raise a family. The only thing he succeeded in doing was pushing his family away. He was alone again. Naturally.