Thursday, June 17, 2010

My Father's Coat

It's raining outside my old wooden framed window. An actual rain that's also brought with it the first chill of fall here in the city of angels.
It's comforting to know that if you wait long enough, and can survive long enough, the rains will finally come back. Its been dry for a very,
very long time. A contented sigh passes my lips, turning to steam as it passes through the old window screen and disappears in the wind. I
enjoy the feeling of the cold on my skin and shiver a little with a smile on my face, the same smile that arrived in the early hours of the morning
when I first heard the drops pattering against the heater vent up on the roof top.

I do enjoy the cold but, now it's a good excuse to wear the coat my Dad left to me a short 3 years ago. Opening the closet I search into
the very back with my fingers, pushing aside the old set of Army BDU's that hang ready and still starched. They signify quite a passing
of time now since the camo pattern has changed from this old style to the new ACU digital for our conflicts in the desert. They hang
ready and mostly able, like me... The Army doesn't really want either of us anymore it seems. The uniform has a few holes sewn shut and I
have too many screws and swollen joints now. I did what I could when I could, but it doesn't seem enough I guess.

My fingers brush softly against the familiar wool of my father's coat and I pull it out for the first time in a year. The bone, grey and green
striped tartan outside has seen it's share of use over the years but, despite a few tiny moth holes its held up well. The huge woolen lapel
and collar looks so out of place now and the green stripes and wooden buttons further date the coat. I'm proud to wear it out anyway
and I've worn it in several of my films. I wore it in Big Bear for my favorite birthday 2 years ago when I got drunk and restless at 1am and
decided that by God, I was going for a walk around the lake. Unfortunately, it was 28 degrees that night and the lake that I started to
stroll drunkenly around was in the neighborhood of 17 miles in circumference. Still, I estimate that I walked at least an hour under the bright
glow of the Milky Way before I got discouraged turned around, headed back to the cabin and promptly got lost. I splashed some of the
icy lake water on my face for sobriety's sake and took refuge on a metal park bench for a rest after a while. I didn't have a watch on that
night but when I woke up I noticed the stars had moved a bit from their original positions. I'm not sure if I've ever been colder and my feet
were completely numb inside my Roper's which, was at that point, a good thing though. A process of trial and error finally led me back to
the cabin and into the warm bed with my wife who, on initial contact with my blue skin, did let out a yelp and jumped away from me. But, love
overcame the day and she wrapped her little body around my frozen one, whispering sweet nothings of comfort until I, from the
disapproving look on her face the next morning, passed out.

My father wasn't much of a drinker and I write that off to his Southern Baptist tendencies. I for some odd reason picked up the drinking
gene. I'm not sure if anyone in my family really drank much except for a far removed Uncle who was in his day, not only a drunk but also the
Mayor of Carthage. My Dad's vice was smoking and that, in addition to poor diet and zero exercise eventually caused him 11 heart
attacks before the rest of his body gave out on him. He didn't leave much behind and what little he did have was loaded on to a U-Haul
and moved to his 80 year old Mother's house for her to sell off at her leisure... This coat though, is in fine shape. Better to have a coat
that kept me from killing myself in the cold than a few Jacksons in my wallet that would have just shrugged their collective paper shoulders at
me and continued a discourse on the state of the nation.

Yeah, I like this old coat. And I really like the rain that led me to pull it out today. Yeah... Another really nice day....

Original Writings by Jesse Holland Copyright 2007

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