Time for some more flash fiction. Hope you can sympathize with Marvin Hoeckler and give him a little support as he breaks some personal news to his parents.
A CLOT IN THE CREAM
By Don Travis
Panic? Disappointment? Fear? Probably all of those, but mostly it was mortification at letting my parents down. I’d just done what I’d been struggling to do for the last three years. Confessed something close to my heart. Something that made me me.
Cheeks blazing, I cut my eyes to the left where my mother sat, head down, lips moving silently. Likely praying. Begging enlightenment for her profligate son.
My gaze swept across the old-fashioned kitchen table laden with hot fluffy buttermilk biscuits, steaming platters of bacon and sausage, and a tray of over-easy eggs with yolks like yellow eyes filmed with albumen cataracts. The heady aromas seemed somehow diminished by the situation. Maybe I should have waited until after we ate.
My father, filling up the chair to my right, glared at me through flared orbs made even bigger by thick bifocals. His face was as red as I imagined mine to be.
“Marvin Hoeckler, tell me you’re putting me on.” His voice hovered between anger and disbelief. “We’re simple dairy farm people. We don’t get mixed up in things like … well, like that.”
My insides shriveled as I realized he couldn’t even bring himself to say the word. I’d known he would take it hard, but this was worse than anticipated.
“Son, are you sure?” Mom asked, sounding as if she were just coming out of shock.
“I’m positive. I’ve known since I was fifteen.”
My father loosed an explosive snort, a sign he was really mad. “You’re my only son, and I won’t stand for it, you hear? You live under my roof and eat my food, you’ll live my rules. And those rules don’t stand for nonsense like that.”
“Now, Father—” my mother began.
“Don’t you take the boy’s side, Bertha. Don’t you dare! You know the plans we made, and they don’t include this kinda thing.”
I went defensive. “I do my share of work. I pay my way. If I wasn’t here, you’d have to pay a hired hand.”
“Don’t backtalk me, boy, or I'll take on that hired hand tomorrow morning.”
The skin on my back went cold and puckered. I hadn’t considered my father might kick me out of the house. Mortification abated as fear took a healthier bite of the apple.
“It’s not that big of a deal,” I said, unsure my tone supported my declaration.
“Not a big deal?” Dad didn’t even bother to snort that time. He let his rising voice do the job for him. His fork hit the empty plate with a clatter. “I never saw anything like that in you.”
“I dabbled at it now and then, but I guess I was good at hiding it.”
“It’s not every dairyman in the state who has to sit and listen to his son confess nonsense.”
“Dad, be reasonable. There are bound to be others who feel like I do.”
He rose and threw his napkin on the table. “I doubt that. Most sons would have the decency to keep such things to themselves?”
I shrugged my shoulders and held up my palms. “How? You’d know eventually.”
He stomped out of the room without bothering to answer.
My mother’s touch as she placed a hand on my arm drew me back to her.
“Be patient with him, Marvin. He’ll just have to come to terms with this in his own way and in his own time.”
“How about you? Are you okay with it?”
She sighed and withdrew her arm. “I’ll handle it. After all, you can’t go through life without an occasional clot in the cream.”
I winced. My confession that I wanted to be an artist rather than a dairyman had rendered me into a clot in the cream.
Poor Marvin. That was quite a confession. But when folks get fixated on something, it’s hard to make them see another point of view.
See you next week, same time and same place. Thanks for reading. Take a look around the blog site while you’re here.
New Posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.
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