Childhood Memory by Ruben Garza

It’s dark and it’s late, downtown modes to scare me at night / Streetwalkers and drug dealers lurk in the shadows /They sing the song of sirens luring men to their doom.

It’s dark and it’s late, downtown modes to scare me at night
Streetwalkers and drug dealers lurk in the shadows
They sing the song of sirens luring men to their doom.
I sit alone in the car anxiously waiting for my father’s return
I spot him in the sea of the crowd and thank God he came back
Such relief, I exhale. Had I held my breath all this time?
No matter, I’m safe now. Fear removes its hold on me.
The cabin light comes on when he opens the car door and goes
out when the door shuts after taking his place behind the wheel.
“Dad, where were you?” I asked, trying to sound like a big kid,
but there was no hiding my tear-stained cheeks.
He looked at me and smiled with sadness in his eyes. “It’s okay,
son, I’m here now,” he replied as he leaned over and kissed my
forehead. A father’s love and affection was all the reassurance I
needed.
He pulled a crushed beer can from his pocket and placed it on his
lap using its bowl-shaped bottom to prepare his fix.
I watched as he drew it into a syringe and tucked it into his arm,
dumping its dark contents into a vein.
“Dad, what are you doing?” I saw shame on his face.
“Nothing, son, nothing.” He began to hang his head.
He didn’t look at me, but I didn’t care. I had him here with me.
The presence of my father was all I needed.
Though he is reckless and broken to pieces, I’ll travel any sea
with my junkie Ulysses.