Pageant Part 3

Braydon felt conflicted about his father. Over the years, he had taken something of a bullet defending a man whom the whole town hated. But his stories of his father’s superpowers had done nothing to aid the cause. When he had told his friends that his dad was coming to town that Christmas, they had said, “Yeah, like he was going to come every other year,” and Braydon’s insistence had only made them remind him of all the things he had alleged his father could do, which had in turn made Braydon go red and hot, punch the bag rack, then run away. Having not seen his father since he was four, and insisting to this day that his father could communicate with aliens, had x-ray vision and could, when the occasion called for it, fly short distances, he wanted to finally see the man again. But he also hated him, both for leaving and for causing him so much trouble in his absence. Perhaps, he had begun to wonder, it wasn’t worth defending his father’s honour any more. But he didn’t know what alternative that left him with.
Kassie having been only two years old when her father had left, felt less of the attachment to him that Braydon did. Nor did she share her brother’s faith in their father’s superpowers. She had seen Braydon break his wrist, arm and leg in the confidence that he too could fly short distances, and repeatedly saw him in the schoolyard defending the existence of those same powers in their father. It never seemed to lead anywhere good. All the same, she wanted to see her father, no idea what it would be like or where it would lead yet feeling somehow that it was something that should happen.
The day that their father was expected to visit, Kassie waited for Braydon at the usual spot in the car-park. When he didn’t appear and the school was slowly emptying of children and parents, Kassie went looking for him, finding him hiding behind the bag rack outside his classroom, arms around his knees and some distinct smudges on his face. Knowing that her brother hated anything related to tears, most of all in himself, she just said, “Let’s go home,” and he slowly stood up and walked with her. They didn’t speak for some time, until they were only five or so minutes from home, when Kassie, unable to be quiet any more, said, “What do you think he’ll be like?”
“Who?” said Braydon.
“You know who,” said Kassie.
“Dunno,” said Braydon.
For a moment there was silence again, then Kassie said, “He won’t have super-powers.”
Braydon stopped walking.
“You know it’s true,” said Kassie.
Braydon said nothing.
“We can still love him even if he doesn’t have super-powers,” she continued.
“Shut up, Kass,” he said.
Kassie looked at him slowly. “You can’t tell me to shut up,” she said.
“Just wait,” he said, voice trembling. “Wait and see. When Dad’s here, he’ll show you who’s right.”
Kassie was tired. It had been a long day and it was hot now. She left Braydon standing on the street corner and walked home by herself.
Meanwhile, the street still buzzed with news of Grant’s arrival in town, and the sight of his daughter walking home drew neighbours to their curtains and, with vague excuses of pulling out weeds and getting things out of cars, some ventured out of their houses, said things like, “Afternoon, Kassie,” and, “Where’s your brother?” Kassie mumbled, “Afternoon,” and, “Having a sook somewhere,” and kept going, but behind curtains the rumours and speculation continued.
“She’s got no idea.”
“Yes she does. She’s a chatty little thing most of the time.”
“Maybe she knows.”
“I reckon she knows.”
“How would you feel? Meeting your dad for the first time since you were a baby?”
“He wouldn’t mean anything to her.”
“Yes he would. He’s her dad.”
“Some dad.”
“Dickhead of the century.”
“Watch your language. The kids might hear.”
Those at their curtains or lingering in their gardens then saw Braydon walking slowly, kicking a rock around in the middle of the road. Some spoke; most said nothing. The tell-tale signs of crying on his face made them more tactful than usual, at least to his face. Behind curtains, the commentary continued.
“Poor kid.”
“No wonder he stuffs around.”
“Worships his dad.”
“Wouldn’t if he knew.”
All the while, the man of the hour sat in the living room of his old house, awkwardly drinking tea out of a cup that said, “McKenna Electrical,” and wondering where the last five years had gone.
 
Go to Part Four

2 thoughts on “Pageant Part 3

  1. You certainly know how to lift people up and then dump them on the ground just when it’s getting interesting. Can’t wait for the next instalment 🙂

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