Snakes and Pills

053 - classroom

"Dad, I'm home," the man standing outside the door said. Gilbert stared at this apparent stranger, looking for details of his son Stanley. It was right around fifteen years ago that his son had run away from home, and that would make Stanley twenty-two years old now.

A lot can change on a person in fifteen years, but especially during the period of time that Stanley had been gone for. The man standing just inside the front door looked the other man's face over. In truth, he actually knew as soon as he had seen his face. Before Stanley had even spoke a word, Gilbert had known.

This was his son.

He was actually looking for anything that might prove his initial suspicion wrong. Gilbert was, simply put, in disbelief. He still said nothing, and Stanley too seemed content in remaining silent. Finally, Gilbert managed to stammer, "S-Stanley? Is it really you?"

The man--his boy--nodded in affirmation. "It is, Dad."

Gilbert invited his son into the house, and seated him in the living room. He went to the kitchen to fetch some refreshments for himself and his son. "Damnit, I need a drink," he thought to himself as he prepared an assortment of snacks and beverages. The beverages he prepared were not the kind of drink that Gilbert felt he needed, but his house was dry of that variety of beverage. For good reason, he reminded himself.

He rejoined Stanley out in the living room, and seated himself opposite from his long-lost son. He offered the young man the refreshments, of which Stanley quickly helped himself to some lemonade, but left the sandwiches and other food untouched.

Gilbert began, "I'm sorry your mother couldn't be here to see you back, Stanley."

"I know," Stanley said. "Actually, that's why I am here. I heard about her passing a few weeks ago, and started to make my way here. God, it made me think about how long I had been gone for, and," he thought for a moment, biting his lower lip.

"I thought about how much regret I had that I would now never get to make my amends with her." Another pregnant pause. "Of course, I never really had any problems with Mom,"

"They were always with me," Gilbert said, gravely, shaking his head slightly as he interrupted his son.

"Yes, that's true. But Mom's passing, it made me realize, even though the gap between us is much larger than it ever was between her and I, well perhaps it's not an insurmountable distance. I should try and make amends." He looked his father in the eye. "So, here I am."

Gilbert held his glare. "Indeed, here you are."

Silence followed for a moment, and they both shifted somewhat awkwardly in their seats. Stanley took another sip from his lemonade. Neither of them really know what the next step should be, or who should initiate it.

Stanley looked around the living room. "You know, it's funny, a lot of this is just how I remember it." He stood up, and inspected a few of the objects resting on a shelf on the opposite wall. "I mean, I know it's different," he continued, holding a little ornamental piece of driftwood that he had picked up off the shelf. "Different things, different places, but there's a feeling about home that I still remember from all those years ago."

He put the chunk of driftwood back down on the shelf. "I don't have to tell you, there were lots of times--times on the streets, times in the cold--just to name a few. Times where I really missed this feeling, when I longed for this feeling of home more than anything else in the world."

"Times where I wanted nothing more than to just come home."

"Well, here you are," Gilbert, still seated, said again. He thought once more about how much he desperately needed a drink.


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