He could’ve stopped it. Prevented it. Should’ve been there. He was always accused of not spending enough time. Always out of town. Business trips. Out to L.A., New York, Japan, Sweden, a real world traveler. His career came first. He thought by doing so he was providing for his family. He could’ve stopped it.

Suburban autumn. Leaves piled in gutters. Grass cut a final time. The shudders on the house were black. Went well with the cream color of the pillars on the front porch. Windows always closed. The boy used to look outside at the trees in the yard. Maples, oaks, dogwoods, covered the front and back yard. When he was younger his father taught him how to climb. Said he was his monkey. The boy would jump from the oaks into a mess of colored leaves below. Reds, golds, rust, covered him. They’d laugh for hours.

That was a long time ago. Back when he was a child. As he got older, there was a loss of interest on his father’s part. Weekends were meant for naps in front of the television while college football played in silence. No sound. Just quiet throughout the house; mom was always doing laundry, or, cooking. She kept a tight ship; never too far from a feather duster, or, a roast in the oven. Dad slept till dinner time. The smells of gravy and seasonings would wake him. The teenager would just stay in his room until called. Then return to his room immediately following. Never stuck around for dessert.

Mom raised the child. Or, watched him grow. There were shouting matches at times, but, he kept to himself and she to herself. The key to the liquor cabinet was kept in her pocket. With her husband on the road, life got lonely. She would take a sip,or, two during the day, and at night when she could not sleep. It became a ritual. Dad would come home on Thursday and wonder where his brandy had gone. Sometimes she forgot to replace it. She forgot a lot of things.

They never saw it coming. Never entered their minds. One day the boy was gone. No note, letter, phone call, just gone. The two looked all over town for him. Placed a missing person’s report with the police. The Greyhound left in the early morning hours. He wanted to be a traveler too. Just like dad. A bag was packed and off he went. Alone. The boy was always alone.

Could’ve stopped it. Prevented it. Should’ve been there.

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