Crack the Spine - Issue 88

Page 6

Jon Sindell My Peace “Hey, Johnny.” It was my father, the best man I know. The wisest man, too. Guys at work call him Buddha for his bald little head and this little smile that says he knows something that no one else knows. I’m not wise like him and I hardly ever smile, `cause it feels like something slimy’s crawling across my face when I do, `cause I’m thirteen and weird in a teenage sort of way—too skinny and tall, with a shaky voice and a dumb overbite, and the girls laugh at me, and there’s rich poser kids and a moron who pushes me in the hall. Dad always listens nice and quiet when I complain, then he snaps the top off a beer can and says, “SNAFU, Johnny. Situation normal—dot dot dot.” No cursing for Dad. He’s a wise man, a wizard. No matter what happens—more yelling by mom, more crap from his boss—he takes it in stride, with a little Buddha smile like he’s millions of miles away and at peace with the world. I was in the doorway of The Sanctuary, and he waved me over to the worktable. “Did you ever wonder what true peace is like, son?” I gave him that slimy grin to make him happy, but I couldn’t look straight into his eyes—they’re too bright and intense, full of super cosmic intelligence or something. Dad doesn’t mind. He never tells me, Look me in the eye! like a teacher I know. So he just said, “Let’s talk, John,” with a friendly voice and a twinkly smile like the dads in the movies, those old black and whites. He’s my own movie dad. And he knows real life, not the bookworm crap they feed you in school. I smiled full out. Only my dad makes my smile feel good. The Sanctuary is our garage, and Dad loves it. He’s got a little fridge full of beers for him and soda for me that he keeps locked, he keeps everything locked `cause he’s such a great dad—first–aid, safe driving, all that. He’s got a bench and a barbell—he’s small, but you can see how pumped he is in the arms and chest when he wears a tee shirt—and he’s got a work table where he fixes broken lamps and stuff while listening to football or sports talk or politics. Once we rented Hunchback Of Notre Dame, the black–and–white one, and when we went to the garage to get away from the drama in the house he said “Sanctuary!” in The Hunchback’s weird voice. It’s been The Sanctuary ever since. “Thirteen’s a special age, Johnny. You’re becoming a man.”