Now, as he drew closer to his home, he felt the weights of life starting to bear down. When had it become a burden to go home? The words he had spoken earlier came back to haunt him. â€śI sure would like to ask God for help.â€ť He stopped the car by the back door and leaned his head on the steering wheel. Oh, how he wanted to pray, but visions of Jessie crowded his mindâ€”Jessie, as they had wheeled her into the hospital that night, in the kitchen drooling in her chair, her lifeless eyes, her strange moans, her still body. He shivered and got out of the car.
As he shut the door, he noticed the light from the kitchen window. Maggie. Bless her heart. She always waited up. He was stricken with guilt. How could he be out having a good time, with another woman no lessâ€”even if it was just Tracyâ€”while Maggie was here waiting to welcome him? He folded his arms on the top of the car and rested his head on them, studying the light from the window. How often he had taken that welcoming light for granted. He smiled and straightened up. Tonight would be a new beginning. He hurried to the kitchen doorâ€”eager to hold Maggie in his arms. He stepped into the light.
Ianâ€™s mouth dropped open. Maggie was nowhere in sight. Instead, his father sat at the kitchen table casually reading the paper.
â€śDad? Whereâ€™s Maggie?â€ť
Ziggy looked at his son with a frown. â€śWhere most people are at one oâ€™clock in the morning. She wanted to wait up, but I insisted she go to bed. I wanted a chance to talk to you myself.â€ť
Ian struggled to hide his frustration. If only he could get his father to leave. Perhaps it was not too late to wake Maggie and tell her he loved her, to hold her close and talk and dream like they used to.
â€śDad, as you pointed out, itâ€™s late. Couldnâ€™t this wait till the morning?â€ť
â€śI never see you during the day. I was beginning to think you forgot where you lived.â€ť Ziggy inwardly chastised himself for that statement. He would have to be more tactful if he were going to reach his son. He smiled trying to soften the effect of his words.
â€śI do have to make a living, Dad. Thereâ€™s a lot going on right now.â€ť The two men studied each other. Ian continued, â€śIf you needed to talk to me, I do have a phone. My office isnâ€™t that far away.â€ť
â€śSo, now I have to make an appointment to see my son.â€ť
â€śThatâ€™s not what I meant . . . Okay, so what did you want to talk about?â€ť
Ziggy rubbed his forehead in frustration. This was not going the way he had hoped. â€śIan, my boy, I just thought we could have a cup oâ€™ tea and talk about things. I was hopinâ€™ I could help you maybe. I know this past month or so has been real hard on all of us. I thought maybe youâ€™d like someone to talk to.â€ť
Ian rubbed the back of his neck. â€śI appreciate your concern, but Iâ€™m fine. I would just like to go to bed right now. Maybe we can go for lunch together some day soon.â€ť
â€śWell, perhaps you could spare me a few minutes right now and tell me when your business got that big that you have to stay at work till after midnight.â€ť
Ian took a pitcher out of the fridge and poured a glass of juice. â€śI really resent what youâ€™re implying.â€ť
â€śIâ€™m not implyinâ€™ anythinâ€™. Iâ€™m just statinâ€™ factsâ€”unless my watch is wrong.â€ť
â€śI often work late, Dad. Maggie has always understood. I really donâ€™t see that it involves you.â€ť
â€śReally? When did you stop beinâ€™ my son? If something involves you, it concerns me. Weâ€™re a family.â€ť