The doorbell rang.
It seemed odd, as it was almost midnight. So, I cautiously checked it out.
I was in security mode as I asked who it was.
'It's your Dad.'
'Kinda late Dad. Come in. What's up? Everything ok?'
'Better than you think, Mike. Let's talk.' He gestured at my study door.
As he sauntered past he said,'I see you're still full of the old stuff', gesturing toward the pistol in my hand and smiling that curious half smile that he and I shared.
We sat in the chairs I keep for clients, facing one another, each with a beer and cigar in hand.
'I'm gonna say this once. I'm sorry I had to leave. You know I had no choice. They wouldn't let me stay and I really couldn't even though I wanted to.'
We both puffed on our cigars, reflecting on what he said.
I looked at him. He seemed no older than 55. He wore a pair of dark green pants, tan shoes, and a red and black plaid shirt, almost a uniform in the old days.
He was full faced and a tan glowed in healthy radiance from his face.
I smelled the familiar odor of Old Spice, which mixed with the cigar smoke. It was comforting as he spoke again.
'Don't have much time. You know I'm pretty busy. But I wanted to tell you, face to face, that I'm with you and for you.' He leaned forward and drank some of the beer and puffed briefly.
A cloud of smoke became a wreath round his head. For some reason, I thought of a corona (pardon the pun) circling the moon.
I started to speak, but he lifted his hand to interject.
His deep resonant voice (another gift from him to me) rang out.
'You have more to do than you suspect. You're doing a good job and those kids, wow! I'm proud of them and you.'
He sat back and regarded the smoke trail and the billows as though watching the clouds.
'I know you have not always had it easy. Actually, that's for the best considering what's happening to this country. You have been steeled for what's to come.' He leaned forward again and looked me in the eye. He'd always been good at that and giving a firm dry handshake. Two early lessons in behavior that have stood me well in my travels.
'You can't do everything, but you can do it all.' He blew smoke straight up and continued.
'You've always been able to do whatever you set your mind to. And now', he smiled, 'you are all set.' He laughed his curious laugh, sort of a hehehe that had always had a hint of good natured prankishness.
'I know you want to talk. Talk to me in your dreams and talk for me to the kids. I'll be watching out for you and looking for you. Take it a day at a time and remember who is on your side.'
He finished his beer and put the cigar in the ashtry. It was just like the one he had by his leather recliner when I was a kid. It was metal, on a long pole/stand, with a handle over a brown glass ashtray, almost like a dish.
As he stood, I hugged him brifly and told him I loved him. Again that aroma of Old Spice and cigar.
'I know. I've always known. And you know I have always loved you.'
He made a ruffling gesture on the top of my head and remarked,'Always full of the old stuff.' His smile seemed to glow as he walked past.
'Stay there Mike. I'll let myself out.'
He sauntered through the door and I heard the front door close.
Later, I awoke.
The smell of cigar and Old Spice lingered briefly as I travelled up to the surface of consciousness.
Always together. In the Light.
I steadied myself for what was ahead.
And I could swear I smelled Mom's baked ham and potato salad wafting from the kitchen.....