Meeting Mr. MogulBy: Mel Ryle
“Are you trying to avoid the subject?” he asked, ignoring my question as he stared me down.
“No. Why would I?” I snorted in denial.
“I’ll have the sandwich then. I already had lunch a few minutes ago,” he said, dropping the topic, which made me sigh inside in relief.
I handed him the packed sandwich before I began eating my burger. We ate our meal in silence as we watched some reruns on TV. The crunching sound as we chewed our food and the voices in the television were what kept the room from being too silent. When we were finished eating, we both stayed quiet for a while until the show finished.
“How’s work?” he asked, finally breaking the silence.
“It’s good. Terry has been very helpful,” I replied with a smile. “Did you know he was gay?” I asked, my smile widening as I recalled our conversation this morning.
“I think Billy told me that in passing,” he replied unsurely. “Are you enjoying your job?” he asked next, dropping the previous topic straight away.
“Yes… I think I am,” I replied quietly, having a hard time trying to sound convincing. I felt bad that I lied to him. He has enough problems to deal with already. I don’t want to burden him anymore than I have to.
He looked at me intently for a second, like he was trying to see through me. But I stood my ground and gave him a small smile of reassurance. I knew he would never stop looking out for me — even on his deathbed.
But before he could inquire any further, the door suddenly opened, and a man in a white coat came in. It was one of my father’s doctors who routinely checked on him. He looked young for someone working in this stressful environment. He had dark brown curly hair, which matched the color of his eyes, and had a medium build. He always had a ready smile and welcoming aura every time I visited my father. Dr. Logan Stanley, one of the men whom I should be thankful for in this time of hardship, checked on him (and for your information, I wasn’t into him).
“Mr. Peterson, how are you doing today?” he asked my dad as he walked towards the bed.
“I’m doing well, Doctor Stanley. As you can see, I have my daughter right here,” he responded proudly and gave the doctor a beaming smile.
“Ms. Peterson, did your father do something again?” Logan asked, turning to look at me with a knowing gaze.
“Sorry. I gave him a sandwich, which is against his diet, but he really wanted to eat it,” I admitted with a hint of shame.
Logan laughed at my reply. “You sound like you just admitted to committing a crime. As long as you clear it with the nurse next time, we should be okay from now on,” he chortled.
Embarrassed by my actions, I nodded with my cheeks flushed. I kept quiet and tried to stay out of the way, as Logan checked on my father. When he was finished, he excused himself without any more comments and left us with a short ‘See you tomorrow’. He was sometimes a man of few words.
At around four in the afternoon, I stood up from my chair. We usually spend our afternoons like this, watching reruns and engaging in small talk about going back home. I know that he missed it, like I do, but he didn’t show it as much. Like father like daughter, I guess.
“Hey, Dad, I’m going now. I still have to get ready for work tonight,” I said before giving him a light kiss on the cheek.
For the first time since I walked in the room, I looked at his face clearly. He looked too old for someone who was in his mid-fifties. His hair was a mix of grey and white and his face was wrinkly and dry. He looked sick — really sick. With a silent cry, I kissed him again on the cheek and gave him a long hug, which he reciprocated weakly. There was hardly any strength in his arms. I knew he understood my actions without having to say anything. His welfare is what kept me going after all that had happened. After all, he was all that I had left.
“Don’t worry so much about me, peanut. I’m going to be fine. You take care of yourself and enjoy life,” he whispered to me as I remained in his embrace.
“I know, Dad. I know,” I whispered back and gave him one last gentle squeeze before letting go.
I wanted to cry my eyes out at that moment. I knew he wasn’t okay. I worried that since his treatment was a bargain, he might not be okay. The doctors are only helping me keep him alive for as long as he can. I don’t want to lose him, and for that, I was willing to give up everything. My life, my future — everything. But life doesn’t work that way. It never does.
As I entered Terry’s apartment, the place was empty. There were no signs of him. So, I grabbed the opportunity for some alone time. I went in the bathroom and started filling the tub with warm water. When there was enough water, I poured a little bit of white colored bubble bath, which was one of many of Terry’s secret stash. Then, I soaked in the tub, not really caring that the water was still hot enough to scald my skin.