Age Rating: 1 +
The man sat on a picnic table that was covered with red paint that had obviously seen better days. He had black hair that was silver-streaked and a well-lined face. His eyes were green and they crinkled with amusement watching the dog romp around the backyard with a tree branch. He had a perpetual tan from years of working outdoors. His was dressed in his usual clothing of a long-sleeved flannel shirt and a fraying pair of blue jeans.
He looked at the young girl in the doorway, “Come out and sit with me.” He said in his grumbling voice. She smiled, trotted down the stairs and plopped down on the picnic table. The dog ran up panting and slobbering making the girl smile and titter.
“Do you want to talk, Daddy?” The little girl asked in her childishly high-pitched voice. He smiled eyes shining with hidden pride at his only little girl.
“Why were you up so late last night?” He asked quietly.
She blushed and looked at the ground, “I was waiting for you. You keep the monsters away.”
He patted her head with his large hand and said, “I’m glad the monsters don’t bother you when I am here.”
The girl and her father sat side by side for several hours talking about their favorite subject, the horses they would eventually own. He had been a harness horse racer in his youth and loved all animals, but mostly horses. He wanted to own racing horses but she wanted a Paso Fino. However, she also wanted many more cats than they had currently. He claimed to hate cats, but he did not tell the truth. He actually loved cats but he said it was unmanly and would never admit it. Occasionally he would fall asleep holding a kitten in the palm of his hand. He always smelled as though he had been outside for many hours. His scent was a combination of charcoal, lighter fluid, and cigarettes with a hint of alcohol. Although he liked to drink, he never let it get in the way of loving his wife or son and daughter. He had a bit of a beer belly that he was constantly trying to work off. He would never miss work even when he felt he was terribly sick. He was a brick and block mason for most of my life. People really enjoyed the quality of his work. He built houses all throughout the Tri-state area along with my brother, Mikey and another man named Mike. Truly, his business deserved the name “Mike’s Masonry”.
However, through it all, he never lost his faith in a higher power; he always believed that something better was right around the corner. My father was my hero, the one person I really looked up to and admired. The outdoorsman was my friend.