Kyle is doing his best to mend his fences. He takes time to visit and talk to his mother, as well as calling his father in Mexico. He makes plans to visit him in Miami later in the month and is somewhat startled to find out his mother and brother will be joining him.
Steeling himself, he called his brother. Chris had his own diving shop in Key West. The two brothers didn’t see each other very often, but were very close despite their distance. When Margo died, Chris was the one who helped him put his life back together. Next to Carmelita, Chris was his best friend.
“Hey, kiddo, what’s up?” He tried to keep it light. He could sustain that maybe thirty seconds before Chris nailed him.
“Why should anything be wrong?”
“You only call me kiddo when you want me to think nothing is wrong when something is terribly wrong. So—what’s wrong?”
“You’re a major pain in my ass, kid. You know that, right?” Kyle laughed, pouring himself a glass of iced tea.
“Yeah, so you tell me when you don’t want me to figure out why you’re upset. Save time, I’ve got a date tonight.”
“Did Mom bother telling you who we’re meeting in Miami next week?”
“No. She told me you’d give me details.”
Kyle heard him inhale sharply, holding his breath a moment before exhaling.
“Are you smoking a blunt while you’re talking to me?”
“No, I swear. It’s an electronic cigarette. I’m trying to quit.”
“Sounds like a blunt to me.”
“Melon flavored, I promise. I smoke it like one for some reason. You’re digressing again.”
Kyle proceeded to tell his brother everything that had happened on his trip to Mexico. Chris stayed quiet, making the necessary comments to keep him going, listening to every word.
“So, the long lost prodigal father returns, huh? What does he want? My forgiveness too? I don’t even remember the man. I couldn’t care less.”
“Do you really mean that? He changed our lives.”
“He changed your life, bro. I don’t remember him. In my mind, we never had a dad, just our mom. Like she wasn’t enough of an emotional burden, we’ve got to add a father to the mix?”
“Didn’t you ever wonder what he was like? What happened to him?”
“Dude, you did enough of that for us both. I didn’t care. I don’t care. But for you, I’ll go. Because you do care.”
“Not for Mom?”
“Nope. I hope he doesn’t expect me to get all teary about his leaving.”
“I think it’s a little more complicated than that.”
“How do you mean?”
Should he tell his brother over the phone? No.
“I’ll tell you when I see you. Before we see him. Meet me in Miami the day before Mom arrives and we’ll talk. This is a face to face issue.”
“Okay, be mysterious. Whatever you want, dude. I’ll see you next week.”
“Mom told you where we’re staying?”
“Yeah. I’ll call and change the reservation.”
“Do I need to?”
“No, dude. I’m all growed up now—almost thirty. I think I can handle something as complicated as changing a reservation.”
“See you Friday.”
* * *
Kyle got through the next week on semi-automatic. He went to work, did his job passably well and spent time with his kids. Friday morning, he drove down to Miami. On his way, he decided to take a detour and visit their old neighborhood in West Palm Beach. He remembered his way as if he’d never left. However, when he got to their old street, nothing looked the same. Many of the houses had been destroyed by the three hurricane summer when Charley, Frances and Jeanne slammed into the state, and had never been rebuilt. The remains of their mother’s dance studio stood out in harsh contrast to the vegetation that was trying to overtake the cinder block walls.
Their old house remained, but it was gutted by the storms. The windows were still covered in plywood, but the roof was gone. What little was salvageable they had moved with her to Tampa. The insurance money didn’t cover rebuilding, but got her nicely set up in another city. They still owned the property, though Kyle thought about selling it if they could find a buyer.
© Dellani Oakes