Did ya hear him come in last night?, he asked her as she sat the table for Sunday lunch; she shook her head and continued placing forks and knives at plates with pretty pictures of red barns on em at three seats.
What do ya think that boy’s problem is?, her husband poured iced tea into glasses in the kitchen and placed them at each setting. Not goin’ to church is unheard of, he said, and I don’t wanna hear no excuses ’bout how he’s not feelin’ well, the middle aged man snapped.
I wanna have a nice lunch dear, the petite brunette said in a shy voice. Just a nice lunch for all of us. Can we do that?, she put sugar on the table along with salt and pepper too. Will you bring in the chicken fried steak and the mashed potatoes? There over on the counter. The husband of twenty years grabbed hot gloves and reached for the bowl and the platter. She went down the hall to knock on the boy’s door. She walked past the bathroom which had a nightlight on, and a room with it’s door closed as well before getting to Gary’s room.
At first she knocked softly and whispered his name, Gary, Gary, lunch is ready. There was no response. So, she got a little louder, knocked a little harder. Gary, Gary, you wake up now you hear. I got a nice lunch made and I want you at that table in two minutes. She heard a moan.
Sandy walked back down the hall to tell Junior that his son was on his way. They took a seat at the big table with four chairs. Should we say grace?, the blue eyed woman asked. Junior looked at her and said, we’ll wait.
They waited a good five minutes and Junior bowed his head. Sandy took notice and did the same. She took his leathery hand and he took her’s. He asked for forgiveness of their sins, thanked God for the food and his blessings, and said a quick word for their first son who was not at the table. Amen, Junior said and looked up to see Gary there tucking in his shirt. Amen, Gary said.
Well, let’s dig in, momma said. The two men stabbed with their forks at the chicken fried steak while Sandy helped herself to potatoes and green beans. Gravy was poured over the steak and Junior added salt and pepper to it. They sat in silence for awhile, eating their food, drinking iced tea, when Junior asked Gary what time he got home?
Junior admitted it was late. Said he was sorry he missed church. Told em that he had gone out to the graveyard again to spend time with his older brother. What he didn’t tell em was that he brought a six pack with him on these meetings; just him sittin’ alone drinkin’ in the dark, talkin’ to a spirit.
The old man nodded his head; he’d been out there a few times himself at night when he couldn’t sleep. I understand, he said, chewed on gristle and washed it down. We should go out there together some night, the boy nodded.
I’ll bring the beer.