This Father’s Day post is in honor of my older brother. The big guy, was my surrogate dad for most of my childhood and teen years. It is a reprint of a short piece I wrote for his birthday in 1975.
Years later, it was rewritten in third person and used in a short story about my alter-ego … Antoinette.
I am sure he doesn’t remember, but it matters not. I remember. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
This is called … The Gift
It was late and the sticky August heat and the buzz of a mosquito kept Antoinette awake. She sat up waving her arms to ward off another attack. Exhausted, she fell back on her pillow and watched the shadows on her ceiling, worried the shadows would suddenly change and become demons.
In the background she heard the faint rumble of a freight train, its whistle long and mournful as it sped through the night.
She heard a tug boat out in the bay, its horn navigating through the summer fog, the clang of a trolley car passing under her window; a slow summer night
Then the sounds of a soulful tune floated through the air into her room; the sweet liquid sounds of Andrew’s harmonica as he sat in the big parlor chair.
Often he would wait until the family was sleeping. Wait until only the rays of the streetlights lit the room, streaming through the tiny panes of the living room window, small, square like prisms catching the yellow light and bouncing it back against the parlor walls in a brilliant splash of color.
Andrew’s music filled the room like smoke and fragrance and imaginings of catching a freight train to faraway places, sailing off into the horizon to find mystery and adventure.
Carefully, Antoinette went to the foot of her bed and peaked around the corner of the open doorway to watch him, holding her breath for fear he would see her and break the spell.
Andrew’s eyes were closed and his head pushed back into the chair, fingers and palms wrapped around the bright silver instrument, the low moan of the harmonica filled the room.
Whenever Antoinette heard the sound of a harmonica she thought of freight trains to faraway places and sailing off into the horizon, of mystery and adventure and hot sticky summer nights. The buzz of a mosquito and young girls wide-awake watching shadows dancing on the ceiling, and feeling safe.
He was back in Brooklyn, back from his summer in the country. It made her happy. When he was away the house was too quiet and she felt lonely for the sounds of his laughter, the sounds his music filling the rooms. Antoinette was indeed content to have her family around her, but it was Andrew who made her feel safe.
Slowly she slipped back into her bed smiling as he made another dark night pass without shadows or fears.
Happy Father’s Day Big Guy !
Is there a special somone besides your father that you honor on this day?