Novella – Fear Thy Father

Fear Thy Father
My ‘Perfect’ Dad Made Life A Living Hell


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Yesterday I returned to my hometown. It was a warm summer day and I drove my rental car into the little town and stopped at the first building. Carl’s Service Station.

“Yes, ma’am,” said the young man, pushing his cap farther back on his head and smiling at me. “What can I do for you?”

“Fill the tank, please,” I told him, hoping he couldn’t hear the fear in my voice.

 No, it isn’t fear, I told myself, just uncertainty. You learned long ago to conquer your fear.

I stepped out of the car and ignored the leer on the young man’s face as his eyes took in my tan legs below my snow-white shorts. “Do you have a restroom?”

“Sure,” he said, nodding toward the door, his eyes taking in the rest of my body. I knew how I looked and I was used to the way men looked at me. “You’ll have to get a key from beside the door. We have to keep it locked.”

I smiled to myself and headed toward the door. Things hadn’t changed here. You always had to have a key to use the less than spotless bathroom at Carl’s.

Who’s Carl, anyway? I asked myself as I carefully used the facilities and washed my hands. When I lived in Clarksville, the place had been run by an old, gray-haired man. Maybe that was Carl.

“Carl still around?” I asked the kid.

“Carl?” he said, a frown on his face. “Aw, the sign. No, there ain’t been no Carl here since I been here.”

I paid him and pulled away, the old knot of fear tightening my stomach muscles. I beat my fist on the steering wheel and told myself that I was a grown woman now.

I had nothing to be afraid of.