WT - Subjective DoublesMature

This story is all kinds of fuck@$ed up and the pacing sucks. It's been so long since I've written that I just wanted to take something I only had a half-assed idea for and see what happens when I start to flesh it out. Hopefully, in time this will develop and the characters will become more real and the text more readable.

Franklin was lost in the wilderness of northern Michigan searching for a town that he’d apparently been born in but had never known.  He was 35 years old and on the phone with his father.  This wasn’t his real father, but the man that up until three days ago he’d always thought was his father.  He was talking to his mother through the man.

 “Could you please ask her if she remembers how to get there from Embry?”  He said pacing around beside his car.  He had stopped to relieve himself in the woods about 20 miles outside of Embry and, since he was lost saw no need to resume driving again.

 On the other end of the line he heard his father ask his mother the question.  There was a muffled sound from somewhere off in the distance and then his reply.  “She doesn’t remember if Embry is north or south she says.  Do you know?”

 Franklin shook his head growing tired with frustration.  “No.”  He replied.  “If I knew that then I wouldn’t have called.  I never lived here you know?”

 “Well I didn’t either.”  His father; or the man whom he’d always thought was his father replied sounding equally flustered.  “It was your mom’s home before she moved out here.”

 Out here’ was Las Vegas, Nevada.  It was where Franklin had spent what he thought was his entire life working for the man that he once considered to be his father in what he thought was the family garage.  Even after graduating from the local university, he’d stayed on there keeping the books and basically running the place while his dad drifted off into retirement supported by the income that Franklin made off of the garage.  It had been called Jose and Son’s Gas and Grocery and had apparently been renamed following his birth.  Before that it had been Jose’s Gas and Grocery, but Jose was not his father and Franklin was not his son.

 Both Jose and Franklin were very angry at his mother which was one of the reasons that she wouldn’t talk to him on the phone right now.  Franklin was mad at her because she’d kept such a large part of her life hidden from him for so many years.  Jose was mad because she’d once lived that life and now it was coming back to haunt her.  The details were murky and complicated but they’d all started to come to light following the arrival of a lawyer’s letter on Monday that had been addressed to the garage and in care of Franklin.

 Today was Friday and in four hours they would be burying Franklin’s real father.  He’d made the two day journey across the desert and through the plains almost immediately after he’d confronted his mother regarding the contents of the letter and received mostly silence in response to his questions.  Franklin had left behind his work, his wife and his two daughters to find out the answers for himself.  Now he was stuck in the hills somewhere outside of his real hometown pacing alone near a frosty railroad track.

 “This is so stupid dad.”  Franklin said bitterly kicking a rock as he walked along the passenger side of the car.  “If I could have gotten Julia, she could have looked all this up on the internet and I’d be there by now.” 

 Julia was Franklin’s wife.  She hadn’t answered her phone earlier that morning.  They’d had an argument the night before as he’d driven through southern Illinois and he suspected that she was still mad at him. 

 His father was equally annoyed at Franklin for packing up and leaving within one day of receiving the letter.  Jose was usually a laid back and accepting father but having to take a break in his retirement to accommodate his son’s quest for a father who had never been around galled him.      

 “Hey, don’t blame me.”  The man said defensively.  “This is all your mother’s doing.  Besides, if you’d bought one of those GPS things that plug into the lighter or even a simple map then you wouldn’t be in the kind of predicament that you are now.  I don’t understand you Franklin.  I’ve had to go out to the garage everyday this week and you keep a wall of maps stocked out there but you can’t even remember to buy one for yourself.”

 “I know dad.”  Franklin mumbled looking down at his shoes.  He’d scuffed the toe of one of them kicking the rock.  He’d packed his best pair and put them before leaving the hotel that morning in anticipation of attending the funeral of his father.  He didn’t have many good pairs of shoes and regretted kicking the rock now.  If he’d made more money at the garage then maybe he could have bought one of those GPS things or a better pair of shoes.  Instead of saying as much he just let the silence between them linger.

 Eventually his father broke the quiet. “Hang on while I check and see if we have something around here that might help you.”  He grumbled sounding mildly annoyed but mostly concerned.  “Be right back.”

 “Thanks dad.”  Franklin replied, but the man that he considered to be his father was already gone.  He imagined the burley old barrel-chested Mexican laying down the phone and shuffling off to the kitchen where he’d kept a huge collection of maps stuffed into one of the drawers since Franklin had been a boy.  Somehow Franklin felt sure that there was probably a map of Michigan in there somewhere even though they had never been to the state on any one of their many family vacations while he was growing up.  It seemed as if the old man had at least one map for every state in the union.

 As he waited, Franklin continued to pace along the side of the road taking in the scenery.  It wasn’t postcard pretty where he was at but compared to Las Vegas it looked like a paradise.  Despite temperatures being just above freezing, the trees still clung to their fall colors and a hazy fog lined the hillside near where he had stopped.  In this early autumn morning he could hear the faint sounds of wildlife rustling in the bushes nearby and the low rumble of a train somewhere far, far away.  It was beautiful.

 Suddenly call waiting beeped, breaking Franklin’s revelry.  Taking the phone from his ear he looked at the screen and saw that it was his wife.  Franklin debated for a moment on what to do and then switched over.

 “Did you call?”  Julia asked sounding rushed and still a little mad.

 “Yeah.”  Franklin replied sheepishly.  “I’m lost.  Hey look, I’m sorry about last night.”

 “It’s okay.”  Julia said.  “I probably shouldn’t have hung up on you but it was late and you weren’t listening.”

 “I know.”  Franklin acquiesced.  “Where are you?”

 “I just got up.  I’m about to get the girls ready for school.”

 “Could you maybe check the internet and tell me how to get to where I’m going?”  Franklin asked. 

 Within minutes Julia was reading him the directions.    

 The argument that they’d had the night before had been indirectly about money.  It was really over her work schedule and how she was suppose to manage to get the kid’s off to school in light of his sudden and unexpected departure but mostly, from his point of view, it had been about money.  He wouldn’t be making this trip, he explained to her, if there wasn’t some money to be had out of it.  To that she’d replied that he could have gotten the money whether he went to the funeral or not. 

 Bitter words were exchanged and she’d accused him of leaving her alone to manage the kids and abandoning his father to run the garage just to chase down one of his mother’s old ghost.  Julia didn’t like his mom and she rarely minced words when it came to her husbands dealings with the lady.  “You need to just forget about whatever Annette’s crazy past was and appreciate that you have a loving father and a wife who need you here.”

 Normally an understanding man, Franklin told her to “Just deal with it.”   

 She’d hung up in his ear.

 Now he was writing down the last of her directions using a pen he’d taken from the hotel last night and an old fast food container he’d spread out on the hood of the car.  Despite whatever their disagreements may be about him making this trip she was looking after him now.  “I love you.”  Franklin said and together they hung up.

 He stood there for a moment longer.  Mesmerized he watched as a giant elk stalked out of the tree line ten feet behind his idling car.  It began to graze along the railroad tracks.  It was a majestic creature unlike anything that he’d ever seen in the wild before.  The span of its great antler’s alone looked to be almost three feet wide.

 Suddenly his phone rang startling him out of his admiration for the beast but otherwise not bothering the elk.  It went about its business of plucking clumps of lichen and grass from between the gravel of the tracks.   Paying him no mind the enormous creature didn’t seem to notice his presence or the phones ringing.

 “Hello.”  Franklin answered.

 “I think its Highway 41.”  His dad said on the other end of the line.  “That’s the road you need to take.”

 “No.”  Franklin replied.  “Don’t worry dad.  Julia called and I got the directions from her.”

 “Who?”  His father asked.


 “Just now?”


 “Well I’ve been sitting here reading you directions for over a minute and a half.”  The old man replied sounding suddenly very sad.  Franklin realized that when he’d clicked over to answer his wife’s call he hadn’t actually hung up on his dad but rather placed him on hold.  The ringing was just his phone letting him know that he still had another call waiting on the other line.

 “I’m sorry dad.  She just sort of beeped in when you went away.”

 “I see.”  The old man said.  “Well, I guess you don’t need me anymore right now huh?”

 “No, I’m okay now.”  Franklin laughed.  “Love you and mom both.”

 “Love you too son.”  Jose said.

 As they said their goodbyes Franklin stood watching the elk grazing in the dim mornings light.  Suddenly and without warning, a train came barreling fast around the corner hitting the creature and sending the carcass careening through the air.  As it spun sickly across the space between where it once was and Franklin’s car he stood motionless. 

 He remained standing there even as the creature smashed into his roof and blew out all of his cars windows with the concussion of its body.  He stood there and watched it scream as a geyser of arterial blood from its snapped neck sprayed across his one and only suit.  That’s how Franklin showed up in his hometown, bloody and with an elk strapped to the front of his crippled car.  It had started with being lost and calling his family back home.

The End

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