He cries over the drawing his son did eight years ago.
It’s simple, really: he left his family and is sitting in a hotel room—drunk, possibly, unable to control his emotions—trying to remember the good times. Those times, however, are extremely difficult to find, because in a haze of emotion, alcohol or not, it’s hard to decipher just what it is he is missing in his life.
Is it you? he thinks. Or is it me?
It could be either, really. Johnny is thirteen now, a young man in his own right, who is learning how to be a man without him, who is learning to shave without a father at his side, who is learning to deal with emotions he has never dealt with before, who is, ultimately, trying to decide just what it is he wants in life. He could want a girl, he thought, or he could want a guy, and whatever it is that Johnny may want, he does not have his father, but whose fault is that though if not his? It can’t be his ex’s, because regardless of what he thinks of her, she was right to kick him out. He was a drunk—is, still, even though he hates to admit it—and while he had problems and reasons to turn to the beer, the whiskey, the vodka, the margarita, it wasn’t as though he was devoid of emotion, of promise, of want.
Father’s Day, 1993—he’s sitting in a hotel room while the prostitute he picked up on the side of the road for fifty bucks is in the room showering in the single-person stall and crying over the drawing his kid did when he was only five years old. Daddy, it says, in bright blue crayon, Happy Father’s Day! I luve u.
Love is spelled wrong. There is no O, a U instead. His mother, if he can recall correctly, was the one who told Johnny how to spell ‘Happy,’ ‘Father’s’ and ‘Day.’ His ex, an English teacher, would have wanted the date to be spelled correctly, and though Johnny was only five at the time, he showed a remarkable aptitude to read and write despite the fact that age was always against him. Some say that such talents can’t be developed until they are six, seven, maybe even eight, but regardless, it is within a few simple words that all of his problems seem to develop—that his heart, as shattered as it is, seems to break even more.
“Oh,” he whispered. “Oh, Johnny.”
Tears fall from his face and onto the single piece of paper, which, from him carrying it around so much, has been stained yellow either by sweat or tears and maybe, in some instances, maybe even snot. He doesn’t know. It’s a ritual, one would say, crying in a hotel room. It takes a lot to be able to pick a woman up off the side of the street and fuck her senseless, to feel as though someone really does love one for but a few minutes, and it takes a lot to take the fifty out of his wallet and pay her without so much as another word in passing. She showers, in the other room, cleaning the filth away. Of course he’s used a condom, because God knows what she could have, and even though there seemed to be but a shield of resistance between the two of them, those few moments had allowed him silence that he has not had in years.
In the other room, the shower turns off.
He raises his eyes.
The prostitute steps out, towel around her naked form, and begins to go through the clothing around the floor, searching for first her bra, her panties, then her shorts, much too short, and her shirt, much too skimpy. She then tosses the towel on the floor and begins to dress—first in her bra, then her panties, then her shorts, much too short, and then her shirt, much too skimpy. She looks like a fifth-class whore who could have been picked up anywhere. She’s not even that pretty, but does that really even matter in that moment? No, it doesn’t, because there was but a moment when she was able to take away all his pain, and that moment is now over.
“You have a kid?” she asks, turning to adjust her still-wet hair in the mirror beside the bed.
“I used to,” he says.
I don’t know, he thinks.
Tears fall from his face.
“Happy Father’s Day,” the woman says, then turns and leaves.
The man closes his eyes.
Happy Father’s Day, the piece of paper, old and yellowed and crinkled and stained, says. I luve u.