The sight of his father waiting in the hallway stopped Eric like one of Thorne’s invisible barriers. Except this roadblock he didn’t want to penetrate, to step through.

This Is the original draft of Eric meeting his father. The facts have changed, but the tension remains.

The last time he’d heard his father speak had been at Alisha’s wedding. “Get in,” he’d barked when they picked Eric up at the corner of Halsted and Broadway. “And you damn well better be sober or I’m dropping you off at the next stoplight. I don’t give a damn what your mother has to say about it.”

Then they’d taken him to the hotel, told him to take a shower, and dressed him in a tux like he was a trained monkey. Afterward, when they dropped him off again in Boy’s Town like a sack of garbage, he’d found Tito and shot himself up so high he thought he would never come back to earth.

Eric took a deep breath and remembered what Uncle had told him. Stay calm. Your emotions are what feed you. Control your emotions and you control your power. “How did you find me?”

“That girl. What does she call herself? Thorne? What kind of parent names their kid Thorne? That’s not real, I bet. I’m sure of it. She called me.”

“Bullshit! She’s Waptailmim.” She wouldn’t do that, would she? Betray him? Reveal him? They’d talked about what had happened, why he’d left home. She knew it was because of his father he’d thought himself crazy all these years. The prissy psychiatrists, Ritalin, Depakote, Lithium, drug after drug that did nothing but fuck him up from a thousand different directions at once. At least heroin had only taken him down one path at a time.

“It’s time to face reality, son. If you turn yourself in–”

“Reality? What the fuck do you know about reality? All those years, you knew. You knew it was real, didn’t you? What I could do.” He stepped back, one hand raised, as his father made a move in his direction. “Don’t. You know what I can do. What I— What I did.” Memory sucked moisture from his mouth and brought the red flog closer. It clouded his vision, began to curl around his father’s broad shoulders.

“I’m not a little kid anymore, Dad.” But he felt more like a boy than he had in ages, a scared, helpless boy about to piss his pants.

“If you’re talking about your roommate—”

“My roommate? You mean my jailer.” Eric could barely see now through the haze of crimson. How could the old man not notice it? Why wasn’t he trying to get away? “I hope he’s dead.” He didn’t. It terrified him to think he had actually killed someone. “I hope he’s dead and dried up and burning in hell.”

With the Wizard, snickered the voice in his head. The Wizard knows what to do with men like him.

That’s when Eric let go, when all Uncle’s training flew out the window and his hatred and anger and love for this man who wouldn’t ever see him, who didn’t want to see him, who saw him but despised him, thrust its way from his core and ripped across the space between them.

The force blew open all the apartment doors along the hall, but unlike last time, unlike what had happened with Henry, his father’s body did not go flying across the floor. His bloody head did not bounce off the wall and his limp body come crashing to the ground. Instead, where his father had stood, there was nothing, nothing at all. Like he had never been there. Like his father had been nothing more than just a figment of Eric’s twisted mind.

—————


As a writing exercise I wrote the same scene above from the father’s perspective.

The kid looked like a hobo, Jude Stone thought as his son stepped off the elevator. His faded black sweatshirt was only half zipped up, his hands shoved into frayed pockets. One knee showed red and dirty through his ripped jeans, like he’d skidded across asphalt.

At least he looked better then he had back in Chicago standing on the street corner like a whore, a muscle T showing off his oiled biceps. A cigarette had dangled from lips that curled into a smirk when they’d stopped and opened the door for him.

The whole affair had been a nightmare. They couldn’t even enjoy their own daughter’s wedding, wondering all night if their junkie son was going to go off the deep end and do something to embarrass everyone.

Now he seemed sober, but maybe it wasn’t heroin this time. Something was off about him, though, standing stiff as a wooden Indian and spouting off about man made constructs.

“That girl.” It was better to stick with the truth. A version of the truth anyway. “She called me.” Eric didn’t have to know that she hadn’t done it deliberately. That her concern about Eric had been so loud he’d heard it over a thousand miles away. All he’d had to do was listen and it was like a siren calling him toward the shore.

Except he’d be damned if he was going to run aground over it. Clearly they’d been filling the kid’s head with the kind of bullshit he’d spent years trying to cleanse from his son’s mind. If his mother hadn’t coddled him when he was a baby… but no use blaming anyone. The poison was in Jude’s bloodline, too. It was why he’d moved his family to the God-damn middle of nowhere, away from it all. Reality was what you make of it, why couldn’t Eric see that?

“What the fuck do you know about reality?” Eric asked, and for a moment Jude flashed back to his own youth, his envy over the “ordinary” kids who didn’t really know what the world was like. The ones with fathers who didn’t invade a customer’s mind to make a sale, and mothers who simply read a storybook to make their kids sleepy.

“I’m not a little kid anymore,” Eric said.

No, God damn it, he wasn’t. The wave of power Jude saw coming for him was fully tidal. He barely had time to make the jump before his son did his best to murder him with the power of his hatred.

 

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