Men Don't Cry

Short story written for creative writing class.

David Two Bulls sat in the middle of the road and began to cry.  He cried for his dead father. He cried for his crippled mother. He cried for himself. 

         Wiping his tear-soaked face with the back of his chubby fist, the boy glanced down the road in between sobs. His chest rose and fell in an unsteady, off beat rhythm--a result of his sudden outburst of crying. People would come to take his father’s body soon. A van would come and take his dead body from the small, wood-plank house that David called home. 

         The idea of someone taking his father’s body upset him. The thought filled his eyes with a fresh volley of hot tears. He imagined his tear ducts as rusty pipes. Stinging from disuse, they constricted under the pressure of his tears. He had never cried at home. His father had never allowed it.          

“Men don’t cry,” he had barked at David one day when the boy had received a bloody nose from a misguided basketball. The boy was five then. He had only met his father the year before. He quickly learned that “men don’t cry” was his father’s motto. 

David had found his father laying in the front yard, face down, that morning. He was supposed to be face-up. the boy had always been told that when a person is dying, they turn over on their back. It was a natural human response, yet a spiritual act. His father was not a spiritual man. It was bad luck to die face down. Wakan Tanka would not greet his father now. His spirit would be trapped on the Earth to torment the living, no different than when he was alive. 

The boy had flipped his father over on his back before he called for help. No one could know that his father had died face down. David cried as he thought about the punishment he might receive for his actions. He had played Coyote, the trickster, but he had no choice. His father had brought enough disgrace on the family. Only he and Wakan Tanka would know the truth.  

David thought of his mother. She had been at her sister’s house over the weekend. He was the one who had called her, now that he was the head of the family. His aunt would drive her to the coroner’s office. 

His mother had loved David’s father, the boy knew that well. Why else would she put up with his abuse? Why else would she let him hit her, while David hid in his bedroom closet?

“He isn’t bad when he’s sober,” she had told him a hundred times with black and puffy eyes. That was his mother’s motto. David loved his mother, in spite of her poor judgment. She had loved David’s father alone, even after he had disappeared during her pregnancy. He had missed the first four years of his son's life. When he returned, he acted as though nothing had happened. No apologies were given. 

Now his mother was in a wheelchair, crippled for life after a bad car accident. His father had been driving. He had broken his nose on the steering wheel, while David’s mother had had her legs crushed. She would never walk again. David’s father had been drinking that morning. No apologies were given. The boy was six when his mother had been crippled. He had been in school that day.

Squinting his eyes, David saw a speck moving across the hills. They were coming now. They would take his father away from this place. His body would be taken, but his spirit would linger. He had died face down.

David knew there would be no funeral for his father. His mother would grieve silently in their small, drafty house. She and her son would grieve alone. His father’s body would be cremated. That’s what he would want. None of the elders would sing for him. David could not sing. He didn’t know the words.  If his mother sang, she would sing silently. She never spoke above a whisper. 

Wiping his eyes again, the boy stood up as the van came into view. It drove slowly, maneuvering around the ruts and potholes. The road that led to David’s house was one of many reservation roads in disrepair. Only the brave attempted to drive all the way up to his house. Most got out and walked the rest of the way. 

A tall man wearing a blue shirt and jeans climbed out of the driver’s side of the van. Another man sat in the passenger’s seat, unmoving. Spotting David, the driver walked over to the boy. David held his breath as the man approached.

“Are you David Two Bulls?” The man asked as he stared down at the boy.

“I’m David Two Bulls, Jr.,” the boy answered as he looked past the man toward his house.

“Of course. Is your father inside the house?” 

“The neighbors laid him on the table,” he answered quietly, shoving his damp hands into his pockets.

“Are you the one who found him?”

“Yes.”

“And the neighbors moved his body?”

“Yes.”

The tall man patted the boy on the shoulder before making his way up to the house. David stared at the man’s back, following him with his eyes until the blue shirt disappeared through the front door. A moment later, the man returned. He waved to his passenger, who opened the back door of the van, pulling a gurney out.  He walked up to the house, ignoring David. 

The boy turned his back as the men brought his father’s body out of the house. Hearing the van doors close, David turned around. The tall man held his hand up before closing his door. The van turned around in the front yard before making the trek down the broken road. 

The boy watched the van until it shrank into a tiny speck and finally disappeared over the hills. Exhaling slowly, he looked back towards the empty house. The house blurred as David’s eyes began to sting. Pressing his hands against his eyelids, he inhaled, quenching the tears that tried to escape.  He was the man of the house now, and men don’t cry. 

The End

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