(excerpt 4. If you missed the previous installment, scroll down the blog to catch up)
One Night I Dreamed
a novel by Parker Edwards
After spending the better part of my twenties in the military traveling the world, I found myself living in my parents' basement apartment at the age of 30, lonely and adrift with no job and no prospects; and no girlfriend and no prospects. I'd dated several girls over the last few years, but whether it was bad timing or the transient nature of my military life, none of my romantic encounters worked out. I guess it didn't help that no woman could ever measure up to the blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauty I'd fallen in love with many years before. As soon as I let my guard down and let her in she disappeared.
Most of my childhood friends had moved away and I hadn't made any new friends since moving back home. It's hard to make a connection with people who have spent their entire lives working in a cubicle and living in a three bedroom house in suburbia when you've lived the life of a black ops soldier.
Dad had told me I was welcome to live with him and Mom as long as I needed to, and he wanted me to feel free to explore any options I deemed necessary, but at the same time he insisted on interjecting his opinions and solutions. He would say that I wasn't willing to buckle down and apply myself. I would say that I hadn't found myself – or my place in this world – yet. Mom was just happy to have her only son back home.
Mom had just one hard and fast house rule - that I eat dinner with her and Dad every evening. The mandate was not untenable as Mom was a great chef and I hated to cook, but I loved to eat.
That evening's meal was especially satisfying: succulent meatloaf, garlic mashed potatoes with gravy, and homemade apple cobbler. A glass of wine would have gone nicely with the meal, I thought, but that was not an option with Mom and Dad.
“Parker, have you found a job yet?” Dad asked.
“No, sir,” I replied.
“Well Jim, my old Air Force buddy, said the offer stills stands to go work for him on the oil pipeline in Alaska.”
“I don't want to work on an oil pipeline.”
“Son, sometimes you have to take whatever's available until the thing you want comes along.”
“It just seems so menial.”
“Promise me you'll think about it.”
I noticed Mom hadn't looked up at all during my conversation with Dad. She knew he was right but she didn't want to see me move to Alaska, or anywhere else for that matter.
“Are you dating anyone, Parker?” Mom asked in an attempt to change the subject. Subtlety was not one of her gifts.
“I met a real nice girl at the market. She's a cashier.”
“You didn't set me up with her, did you?”
“No, but I can if you want me to.”
“That wouldn't be too pathetic,” I answered. “A thirty year-old man having his dates arranged by his mother.”
“I just don't like to see you lonely.”
“I'm okay, Mom. Really, I am.”
“Okay, dear. Oh, I forgot to tell you, your friend Theron called while you were out.”
“What did he want?”
“He didn't say. He sure is an odd bird.”
Dad smiled knowingly.
“He's different, I'll give you that, but I've never had a more loyal friend.”
“Oh, I didn't mean anything bad; I like Theron a lot.”
“I know, Mom,” I said as I patted her hand.
After a few more minutes of obligatory chit-chat I thanked Mom for a delicious meal and told her and Dad good-night. As I stood up and pushed my chair up to the table I noticed the extra place setting. Mom's way of holding on to Carmen was to keep her room exactly the way it was the day she left and to set a place for her at the dinner table every night. Neither Dad nor I said anything; we knew Mom would let it go when she was ready.