An original story by Bill Longworth,
First public reading, Thursday, February 28, 2008
His lean wiry body was outfitted in razor-pressed light tan trousers, a pastel yellow suit jacket, tan shirt with chocolate brown tie, brown fedora, brown shoes polished to a mirror finish, and his outfit was punctuated with cream spats. He carried a huge ruby ring on the small finger of his right hand.
His neatly trimmed red moustache, ruddy complexion, and dark hair parted in the middle and slicked straight back completed the picture of a man unduly concerned with his impeccable image.
He was the “flash,” the first person you noticed in a crowd. He seemed to draw people to him like a magnet.
Either you have “it” or you don’t…whatever “it” was…but “it” was magic in making him the center of whatever universe he seemed to frequent….although it was usually one of three universes…the tavern, the factory, or the Saturday Night dances he organized at a local hall. It never crossed his mind that one of the universes he should frequent would be at home with his wife and family.
In the factory, although uneducated and unskilled, he always had a minor supervisory position like shift foreman, quality control inspector, or machine mechanic to keep the gears of the factory running smoothly.
In the tavern, he was the “rounder” who spent most of his salary buying rounds for all in the house.
At the dance, he was the “light” that attracted the attention of the most beautiful women. If the night was dull, he’d steal someone’s beer to excite the place with a rumble, and was always effective in keeping the place hopping.
He knew everyone…and everyone knew him, criminals and police alike. He was always at the centre of whatever mischief was around. If he wasn’t directly involved, he knew who was. No wonder the police usually checked with him first to get to the bottom of misdemeanors as well as more serious crimes. These days you’re nobody if your name doesn’t google well. Had the world had such tools in the forties, he would have been a superstar.
His popularity with the ladies, of course, not to mention his lack of discipline, his salary spending abuses, his drinking, and his many adulterous relationships, made it very difficult for him to lead a conventional family life.
He lived hard, played hard, and abused his body with alcohol and paid the price with death at forty seven…alone, as a boarder in a simple room. Alone in a world where no one seemed to care.
He was the black sheep, even in his own family, growing up in a “party-central” house where all visitors grabbed a beer from the fridge before they said hello, and his mother had to quickly hide the bottles on the odd occasion when the minister dropped by.
How do I know all this?
Well, he was my father. And I inherited many of his qualities. Fortunately, I’ve been able to channel them in more positive ways. Without the intellectual and personal gifts I got from him, and the lessons I’ve learned first-hand from his shortcomings and failings, I wouldn’t have had my successes.
So thank you Dad! I really didn’t get to know you, but I do know that I owe you a debt of gratitude.