Raymond noticed the disappointment in his father's eyes as he poured the small cup of creamer into his coffee. The sound of the steady ting from the spoon as the spoon swirled the contents within the red mug. "Its very aggravating to me. You guys really have to understand that I have a tolerance level."
His sister Jane clenched her jaw, squirming uncomfortably in her corner of the table, as if ready to counter with a too-smart-for-her-own-good response. Raymond closed his eyes hoping for the world she'd decide better.
She fell silent.
She fell silent.
"I'm not under this obligation ever. I do what I can to help you both," his Dad continued. Raymond was almost used to these sermons, knowing all too well it was more of a prop to boost his dad's precious ego than it was for the well being of his sister or him. We have to keep up appearances, right? "At some point its going to run out. If you take it for granted."
It was a hot day in west LA. Raymond's dad thought it would be a great idea to take them on a day in the city while on his surprise visit to California. So far it consisted of a couple of rounds at the track and mid-day drinks at Molly Molone's on Wilshire. He gave Raymond and Jane a couple of bucks to grab some iced Sundays at a McDonald's off of La Cienega, while he made a couple of "business" calls at the diner next door. Raymond guessed it was his Dad's way of showing that he was spending his days making the moves that self-made Americans do. He knew the stick and can smell it like his Dad's cheap cologne.
"Do you understand me Ray? Do you understand?" his Dad asked impatiently.
"Yes sir." Raymond was nibbling on the end of his plastic straw nonchalantly.
Jane looked like she ate a bag of sour grapes. "Dad, I've been workin six days a week. I already told mom that I was stressed."
"And that makes it okay to not come home at night?"
"I come home"
"And you're so perfect."
The dig was expected, but worthless. The scene was an endless loop from the way Raymond saw it. His Dad took a moment to swallow his anger. "I've seen the mistakes that I've made. You have to make mistakes. You, at 16, don't have to own those mistakes --and you don't. Everybody --I don't care, adult, child, young, old, rich, poor --has to pay the consequences ;there will always be consequences."
Raymond had always found a way to drown out these statements, trying to find some place in himself to take refuge and weather the barrage of self-righteousness and hypocrisy. His Dad couldn't be further away from living a responsible life. Yet who was Raymond, just at the summer before turning 18, to decide such conclusions.
His Dad looked at Raymond for a response. "I'm trying as hard as I can. What more do you want me to say?" Raymond blurted out, pausing from gnawing on his straw, hoping that his father bought the response.
His father shook his head. "You don't want to have to pay those. You need to focus on whats perfect and not settle for 'oh I just tried that and that's all I can do.' " He began to collect his receipts and the car keys.
"I'll try better next time Dad."
"Anybody have anything responsible to say? Got anything else? Okay no?"
Raymond and Jane nodded. Raymond started to wonder if he should've tried better.
"Its 6:35. Lets go."