Boys Night Out
“Incredible,” Josh says before he takes another swallow of beer, creating a foam mustache on his upper lip.
His dad uses his forefinger to wipe it off, “The same little Joshie, no matter what anyone says.” The shot glass doesn’t last long in his hand as he tips his head back, gulping it down in a couple of seconds. “What’s incredible, anyway?”
“I can’t think of anyone else whose dad takes him out to celebrate his twenty-first birthday.” Josh smiles, “It’s sort of cool, you know?”
“Well,” his father returns, “it isn’t exactly your birthday. Your friends got to celebrate that with you, but this is our special night. Besides, it’s been about oh… about forty-five years since I’ve celebrated one of these.” The glass of beer takes another hit, this time draining it dry before he stands to tuck his shirt in.
“We’re not going already, are we?” Josh inquires as he searches the room for the waitress, eager to place an order before his father answers.
“Joshie, it’s past your bedtime,” he jokes, “but seriously, it’s after one in the morning. I’m already going to hear about it from your mother and I’d hate to see her really mad!”
“Aw, she can’t be that bad, old man!” his son laughs.
“You’ve seen her get mad at you, right?” his father opens his wallet, takes out a couple of bills and leaves them on the table. “That’s nothing compared to when she actually has something to hold over your head.”
“You are too much, Dad,” Josh laughs heartily as he follows his father out to the pickup parked out in the rain.
The visibility is only a few yards ahead as the rain hammers on the hood of the pickup truck. Josh’s eyes glue to the road as his father continues talking while he drives, “What does Amber think of you turning twenty-one? She’s only eighteen, right?”
“Amber?” he feels his nails dig into the seat as they cross the solid white line and veer back onto the road, “I haven’t dated her for a long time now. It’s Heidi I’m seeing now and she’s already twenty-one. Please, watch where we’re going.”
“Oh, I got it,” the laughter is jovial, “Going after older women, eh? Just like your old man!” Taking one hand off the wheel, he ruffles his son’s hair.
“Dad, look out!” Josh screams just before slamming into a loaded long-haul truck’s rear end. The last thing they can recall is seeing the flatbed crunching the hood up into the windshield as the rain pounds the scene.
“Where am I?” Josh asks, confused as he takes in his surroundings. Rolling over he feels his head against something soft that smells like a flower garden. Everything seems hazy until his eyes adjust to bring him into realizing he’s lying in the lap of a beautiful woman and it isn’t Amber or Heidi.
“My name is Gizelle,” she says with a heavy German accent, her blond tresses dangling over her shoulders and framing two huge, blue eyes. The delicate mouth below her upturned nose smiles broadly.
“Thank God! Where… where did you come from?” he stammers.
But she didn’t have a chance to answer before another melodic voice with husky undertones does, “She comes from Germany, and I come from Canada. Each girl here is from a different country.” With that, he turns his eyes to take in the whole area with the trees, blossoms, fruits, birds and even the air seems cleaner to his senses.
It doesn’t take long for Josh to figure out what’s happened to him and to recall the accident. “My dad!” he remembers bits and pieces right after the accident, when they were carrying his father away on a stretcher.
One of the many beautiful women cries out, “Oh no!” and soon all of the women are stretching their arms out toward him as something sucks him away. A huge cloud surrounds him and he watches as the women disappear, knowing that it’s actually he who is leaving.
“There’s my boy!” he hears his father’s welcoming voice as he opens his eyes to see him sitting next to his bed in a wheelchair. “I told them you were going to be okay. I told them!” he seems genuinely proud of himself.
“Dad?” Josh’s throat is dry and he feels as if he’s a desert survivor, sucking down sand.
“I’m sure glad you woke up in time to wish me luck,” his father jokes, “I’m going under the knife myself in about an hour. Nothing major though, guess I broke both of my legs really good.” It is obvious he’s been in an accident, regardless of his jesting as the bruises and cuts on his face say as much.
“Dad,” he’s still having a difficult time wrapping his own head around what just happened. He feels it necessary to explain it to his dad, and make him believe him. “I have something to tell you. I think I almost died.”
“No,” his dad reflects, “The doc says they lost you for a second. But while you were in there, I did something I haven’t done for a long time. I was a praying fool, son… an absolute praying fool.”
“Mr. Caine, we can take you now,” the nurse greets him as she enters the room, “I couldn’t find you.”
“Now? They told me it was going to be in an hour. I’m talking to my boy now!”
Grabbing his wheelchair by the handles, she pats him on the back with one hand, “You can talk all you want when we bring you back. We’ve had a cancellation.” And then they leave.
The television is broadcasting a talk show with the audience jumping up and down in protest when the doctor comes into the room, walking slowly. “I’ve got some bad news for you, Josh.”
Turning the television off, he gives his full attention to the doctor who goes on to explain about the procedure and how safe it typically is, but nothing is ever one-hundred percent. “Your father has passed.” Without another word, he turns and leaves Josh sitting by himself thinking about his father.
Meanwhile in another world, his father does wake up lying on his side. His legs feel perfect and he’s very relieved, but then he smells lilacs. “Roses?” he asks aloud, pushing himself up to look around his room, but his room is nowhere to be found.
“Are you comfortable?” the pleasant voice rolls over his shoulder as he turns to reveal who is speaking to him. Grinning from ear to ear is a woman about his age, without teeth, a sagging bosom and arms that continue to wave, even when she’s finished. “My name is Helga and I’m from Germany. Every person up here is from another country and you’ll be with us forever.”
“Thank God I saved my son,” his father says as he puts his head in his hands, looking out at the women’s rotary members as they primp their hair and wet their lips. “He would hate it here.”