Day Pass

He had gotten a day pass from work release to visit his dying grandpa. I, being the family chauffeur by default, am tasked with picking him up.

I spot him, in the rear view mirror, and shake my head slightly as I watch him swagger towards the car. He tugs at his clothes and tries to smooth the wrinkles from his faded, preppy attire. He looks around, like someone is more likely to judge him about his brand of clothing being slightly out of fashion than the fact that he was walking out of the county lock-up. He gets in the car and barely says hello before his little claws seize hold of my phone, a moment of reflection makes him decide it wold be wiser to ask me, before dialing his girlfriend.

After the call, without asking he adds her to my contacts list. He turns the phone over in his hands, his narrow, avaricious eyes sizing it up for its approximate value. He proceeds to tell me how cool the new iPhone is, that he wants one when he gets out, but my phone is pretty good too. I tell him I bought a phone not a status symbol.

He breathes in deep, as if trying to suck, from the air, all the freedom that this tragedy provided him in one gulp. He talks about getting out of jail, and all the things he’d going to do, all the things he’s going to buy. He doesn’t ask about his grandmother except to remark about how cool it is that she’s just giving me her car. He can’t believe that it’s not like that, it’s still her car I’m just driving her around when she needs it.

He talks to me about how it’s all past him. About how he’s just ready to be with his kid, to be there for him. How he wasn’t going to go back to jail. How he was glad for the second chance he was getting. How he was going to stay sober, and how hard it was to have an addiction. I tell him about how I haven’t had a drink in almost a year.

I try to talk with him about being sober, the one subject we might have in common.  Mostly the conversation revolves around focusing on yourself, and not paying attention to what other people do, or what they have that you don’t. About making consistent choices. I glance over and he is staring out the window, not really paying attention, talking without listening.

We pulled up outside the palliative  care building at the V.A. hospital. He get’s out of the car and spots my wife, it’s only a matter of seconds before he is asking her for a cigarette, and trying to weasel a free lunch out of her. He had already forgot why he was here. That’s when I knew.

He wasn’t going to make it, he wasn’t going to change.

The Toolkit

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The alarm clock went off and Davis snorted awake in his chair. A few moments of fumbling around managed to resolve the noise and he slid his feet off the crowded desk, taking a pile of papers with them. He stood and reached his arms out and upwards and then rotated them in a wide orbit back to his sides to stretch. He pulled the chain over his head and the light on the ceiling fan came on. He looked around a moment and then retrieved his satchel from the coat hook next to the door. He set the bag on his desk and admired it for a moment as he opened it.

It was a good bag. The cracked and faded brown leather gave it a nice antique look that can only be found in clever modern design. The functioning straps and buckles he always made a large show of fussing with, hid small magnetic clasps for fast access to its contents. It was the perfect size; small enough to stay out of the way while slung, yet just large enough to have the possibility of containing practically anything when examined from the outside. Inside, a few custom alterations made its contents easy to find in a hurry, provided you were the one who packed it. With a smile he began to load it for his day.

He took the silver flask of whiskey from the shelf behind him and turned it over in his hands, the engraved letters “J.D.” glinted briefly in the lamplight. He tried, for a moment as he nestled it into the inner reaches of his briefcase, to think of how many people tried to guess his first name based on just that small inscription. The truth always kept a secret for his amusement, he had won it in a poker game long ago, and the initials stood for Jack Daniels.

He leaned over his desk and reached for his cigar case. He had given the habit up years ago but he was sentimental about the old brass object, it was the only thing his last ex-wife had given him that he ever really liked. It contained three imitation Cubans, quality knock-offs that were sometimes useful as bribes. He set it gently down in the bottom of the bag.

Next he pulled from his drawer the gun. The loathsome, inelegant thing. He hadn’t fired a gun in years, and only included it as one of his possessions because he was ordered to start carrying one again. He had chosen a simple on; a Smith and Wesson 642 revolver; it weighed less than a pound unloaded, and held only five thirty-eight caliber bullets. He knew from experience that if he needed more bullets or a bigger gun he was already screwed. He casually tossed it in hoping it would find away to lose itself. He quickly packed his notebook, reading glasses, wallet, and a few other mundane things on top of it. It wasn’t so much that he was opposed to the use of guns, they were just noisy, vulgar, and impersonal in his opinion. No wonder so many people liked them.

The last thing to go in the bag was the small package, wrapped in plain brown paper and tied with butcher’s twine. A gift for Jerry, hopefully the kid will make quick work of its contents. Davis reached down to the desk lamp and picked up his watch.

The silver Bulova his father had given him for his eighteenth birthday was still one of his favorite things.  The glass was slightly scratched and the band had been replaced several times and you look hard to see the original date stamp of N2 on the back. He strapped it on and held it up to his ear to listen to the satisfying, high-pitched hum of the tuning fork contained within. Over forty years-old and it still had its original timing element, this fact always gave him comfort.

He slid on his coat, buckled the satchel back up, and looped the strap over his shoulder. Opening the door, he turned and looked at the mess that was his office. He nodded to no one and flipped the light switch, cutting off the fan and overhead light.

It was going to be a long day. He should pick up a couple of sandwiches on the way the Jerry’s place.

NEXT

This scene of fiction was inspired by a Weekly Challenge.