I can’t understand why she keeps repeating his name. “Harvey. HARvey. HARVEY.” Louder and louder, after his black and gold wind-up Benrus alarm clock ran down, its bell sounds making a decrescendo from shrill to soft to silent. My mom’s voice swells from normal to loud to shriek.
As she keeps saying his name louder, I get up to watch from their bedroom doorway. It is across the hall from mine. I am too stuck to go forward into the bedroom to look closer or help, and too stuck to back up. My slim body is getting stiff like his looks from where I am standing. Something was here during the night. I can still feel its presence. The goosebumps on my arms are proof. Something. IT. IT was here.
I am not sure IT is gone yet, and the chills from my scalp down my spine to my tailbone are keeping me frozen. I can’t go forward to help, can’t go backward to hide or run.
Frozen, my feet are stuck in a pothole in the middle of the road with a Mac truck coming around a blind curve, about to smash my world to broken bones and bloody guts hanging from my twisted torn tummy. I heard me say, “Shit. I am messed up.”
Mom is calling the fire department, half-hysterical, half mumbling, somehow coherent enough to tell them what and where. Mom, her blond hair across her pretty tear tracked face, her brown roots barely showing, eyes red, all five feet four of her trembling and saying things I cannot understand.
I hear a voice inside my head tell me to “Go get dressed, go let the firemen in. And put a brush through your hair.” My wavy hair, something I share with my father. I’ll brush it later. No time now. I hear the sirens. Sirens blaring the news that something is wrong in my house. Very wrong. IT was here.
Something very mixed up is going on inside me. I feel the way I did when my brother would hold me in a bear hug and I couldn’t move my arms. When he did that to me, I screamed.
I wanted to punch the living crap out of him, but I couldn’t. I feel like that now because IT took my dad. My dad. Mine. No one else’s.
And I am shaking too much to tell those firemen to back off and leave him alone and let me hug my dad. Let me hold on to him. Let me tell him how I love him more than anything else in the world. Oh yes, way more than my mom. But I could never say that with my mom around. It was my Unspoken.
He is the one I get up extra early for in the morning, so I can have tea and toast with him. He is the one who showed me how to keep my fingers from getting all sticky and how to hold the toast. He is the one I walked the mile for, to the train station in Merrick, to carry his leather briefcase home for him, the one with his initials HK etched on the clasp and the leather.
He is the one I preferred to have wipe my ass when I was little, until one day he told me I was old enough to do it myself. And I reluctantly did so with loud protest. He is the one who loved my guitar playing and singing, always giving me gentle suggestions and tons of encouragement shown with his beaming smile. He is the one who is my biggest fan.
He is the one I could laugh with about farts and funny sounds made with our mouths. He is the one that tried unsuccessfully to talk to me about sex, after I asked, with my grandparents and mother sitting in the backseat of the car as he was driving, “Dad, some kids found a scumbag in the schoolyard. What’s a scumbag?” He turned a funny color.
Just yesterday, Thursday May 12, 1966, I had breakfast with him. And I would have joined him today also.
Today, IT stole him from me. IT left him looking cold and foreign, like Lurch on the Addams Family or Fred Munster. He is already gone, and I do not know what is left. He does not look like my dad anymore.
My dad, with salt and pepper thinning wavy hair and a graying mustache which was trimmed nice and neat. He is handsome, with beautiful hazel green eyes that sometimes shone blue, a few extra pounds but not many, and six feet tall, but much taller the way I see him. He doesn’t look tall anymore. He is gone, taken.
I want to run to him, hold him, and not let go. They would have to pull me off him, I would hug him so tight it would have taken at least two of them to get me to let go of him.
IT stole him from me. No hug. And left a mess.