I turn on the lights. Seven years old is a perfect time for children, I think. He is sitting up in the bed, rigid with fear, his face a drama-ridden mask of fright and concern. Will my Dad understand?
“What is it, son?”
“I saw the wolf.”
He has some inner demon that takes the form of a wolf. I don't know where it comes from within his seven year old soul. It started when he was five. Abandoned by his mother at three years old, he lived with my parents at first but now, Dad having made a new home and after having worked hard to get it right and ol' Dad having found a new mom and having made a new little brother it was here, at five in the morning in a quiet house on a respectable street in a village by the sea that Dad had his first chance to kill the wolf.
“Where is the wolf, Beau?”
“Over there.” His small fingers are clutching the covers to his chest. A little over a month ago he found his Grandpa slumped dead over the steering wheel of the Cadillac Grandpa bought with the insurance money from when Grandma had died.
“Here in the corner?”
“Yes. He's really there, Dad, don't let him kill you.” I go over to the corner and turn on the light on his desk. I am a carpenter and a simple man and I am not afraid of wolves. But my son's wolf worries me.
“No wolf, son. He must have left.” I go over and sit on the side of his bed.
“The world is a scary place sometimes, isn't it, Beau?”
“I'm not scared!”
“Oh, I know, son. You are very brave. And I will always keep you safe. Okay?”
“Okay, Dad.” I rub his head a little and I get up and walk to the door.
“Do you have to leave again Monday?”
“Yeah, son I have to go back to work and you have to go back to school.”
“Can't you stay here and fix it?” My kids are only vaguely aware of what I do out there. They just know that their Dad goes away in three trucks with a bunch of guys and works really hard. Dad leaves and is gone a long time. When Dad and the guys get back home they are dirty and tired but later there is lots of fun; restaurants and shopping and laughing and a little Dad time. But always, always does he leave again. Dad always leaves.
“I have to go away to work, Beau. That's just the way it is.” I go back to his bed and I put my hand on his head again. “But don't worry, little man, I will always come back.”
“Okay, Dad. Goodnight.”
Whispering Pines Trailer Park on location: Back to LA!