I knock on the front door, my dad standing on the lower step. Tanya opens the door. “Hello, may I help you?” she asks with a smile.
Before I get a chance to speak, my dad chimes in, “Yes, we’re here to see Mrs. Mary Bogen. We are old neighbors of hers.”
“Hi Fergus, I didn’t recognize you with your hoodie on. Come on in. She is having dinner right now, but we can ask her to come to the living room after she is done.”
“We will wait for her to finish her dinner,” I quickly say.
We sit in the living room for a half an hour. I check out the pictures on the wall. My dad is reading magazines, I bet he is hungry. Hell, I’m hungry too.
“When can I get a new phone? I sure could use one right about now,” I ask my dad.
He replies with the usual response: “There are people all over the world who have never used or seen a phone, I think you could last a little longer.”
Geez, who knows how much longer is going to be. It wasn’t more than thirty seconds after my question that Mrs. Bogen appears. My dad stands up and puts his hand on my shoulder.
“Hi Mrs. Bogen, I am Ray Gordon. Do you remember me? I believe that you’ve already met my son Fergus.”
Her eyes open really wide and she smiles.
“Oh my God, of course Ray; I remember you. My mind is still solid.”
My dad and her hug. She then hugs me.
“So, you have a Ferguson like me?” she says with a joyous smile.
“Yes. I have two other children as well,” my dad explains.
“Ray, have you talked to Ferguson in a while?”
I think my dad just got embarrassed. “No, unfortunately we lost touch,” he says with his head down.
“That’s a crying shame Ray, you two were such good friends.”
I see those tears in my dad’s eyes again. “So, how is he?”
“You know Ferguson; he has always marched to his own drum beat. I don’t see him that much right now because he lives near Montreal, Canada.”
“Damn, that is way far away,” I blurt out. I realize I swear and apologize.
“He wants me to move there soon. But my mother, Betty is settled here and I can’t bear to move to that cold place. He likes it there. His wife is from there, so it’s home now.”
“Does he ever come to visit you?” I ask.
“Yes, we get to see him every so often. We might see him during the holidays.”
I feel better about that, but it’s only November. The holidays are a long time away. My dad and Mrs. Bogen continue their little chit-chat, but I feel I didn’t learn much more today. My dad talks about our family; Mrs. Bogen seems very interested in that.
“So what does Ferguson do for a living?” I interrupt.
“You know; I am not sure. But I do know he travels a lot and has to talk to people. I am certain he sells something. He doesn’t always explain things to me.”
“Does he have kids?” I ask.
“Yes, he has four children, all girls: Marisa, Trudy, Bess and Nell.
“Is he happy?” I ask.
She laughs, but I’m not sure why she thought that was funny. I wasn’t sure if this was the most appropriate of questions; but I had to ask it.
“As far as I know. You can’t tell when Ferguson is having a good or bad day. It’s one way, and only one way.”
“Yeah, that’s true. I didn’t ever think he had bad days,” my dad chimes in.
We leave after our little twenty-minute talk with Mrs. Bogen. She shed some light on my image of Ferguson. He’s a happy go lucky guy, family man and travels the world. I don’t understand why he wants to live in another country - but then again - I have never been to Montreal.
My dad seems happy to see Mrs. Bogen again. She did say she will let Ferguson know that we inquired about him, and to tell him to call us when he is in town. I am happy that he’s not in jail, or some bum. He sounds like he had made his way through life just fine. Then again, he could have turned into some prick; that would put a dent in my hero worship.
I guess what I can take away from our meeting the most is that Ferguson is a guy who doesn’t let you know he is having a bad day. I don’t know if I can ever be that way. Some days I don’t feel like I want to see people or be bothered with anything. I don’t know if that makes me a weirdo or a bad person.
“It’s not that I don’t like people, it’s that I just feel better when they are not around.” That’s a saying I once heard. I never forgot that one. It makes me laugh more than anything. I’m not a loner by any stretch. However, I don’t mind going solo if need be.
Instead of going home, my dad wants to get some burgers. He doesn’t want the fast food kind, he wants to go to a sit down joint. We head to his favorite place, Diamond Jim’s. It’s a big place with a bar and six televisions that are playing all kinds of sports. I always liked the sign in the window, “Ice Cold Beer and Charbroiled Steaks.” If a restaurant couldn’t make a go with that kind of sign, then there must be something wrong. My dad is in a good mood. If only I could get Ferguson back into his life.
We eat until we are ready to explode. I dread going back to do homework - it never ends. I don’t want to worry about it though; that does me no good. Ferguson wouldn’t worry about it, he would probably study with a girl and make the most of it.
“What kind of student was Ferguson?" Did he get A’s, B’s or C’s?” I ask my dad.
“Well, he did go away to college back East. So, he must have got decent grades. I know he wasn’t a valedictorian.”
“Did you ever see him study?”
“Not really, just a couple of times when we went to the city library. But he just ended up talking with girls. He would almost get kicked out for goofing off.”
“I had a feeling you were going to say that. Dad, I have to study my butt off. If I am lucky I get a ‘B.’ A darn ‘B’ for crying out loud. If I ever get an ‘A,’ it would be a miracle. So, you know I’m for sure not going to get into a good college.
My dad goes silent for about a half a minute. He finally says, “Fergus, wherever you end up going or doing, I am sure you’ll be just fine. I know it; I feel it.
This night has taken a turn in a better direction, for both of us. I think my dad is trying to have a better relationship with me. I see the effort. This is the most time we have spent together in a couple of years. Maybe Ferguson is bringing us together without him really being here. I just hope tomorrow we continue on this new path. If my father retreats into his own world again, I know I have more work to do. I need him around. Our whole family needs him. I need to get Ferguson to call him. I think that would be the therapy he really needs.
When I get home, I give a decent try on my homework. The day has left me exhausted. I don’t know how some of these kids do all this homework mixed in with extra-curricular activities. Maybe it exhausts them too; they must just push through it.
I lie back on my bed and listen to music with my headphones. My brother is on his bed, playing with his ridiculous cell phone video games. Maybe he’s texting a girl - probably not. He seems to be on the slow track with girls, which will probably serve him well. I could be wrong. He might have a couple of little girlfriends that I know nothing about. He plays his cards pretty close.
I still can’t get over the way I wimped out today at the meet with Patty. I think she may be out of my league. I remember a song she was playing in class before we got underway. I watched her mouth the words. I wrote down the lyrics to find out, it’s a really old song called "Dreams" by The Cranberries. I can’t get the song out of my head tonight.
Oh, my life is changing everyday
In every possible way
And oh my dreams
It's never quite as it seems
Never quite as it seems
I know I felt like this before
But now I'm feeling it even more
Because it came from you
Then I open up and see
The person falling here is me
A different way to be
I want more, impossible to ignored
Impossible to ignore
And they'll come true
Impossible not to do
Impossible not to do
And now I tell you openly
You have my heart so don't hurt me
You're what I couldn't find
A totally amazing mind
So understanding and so kind
You're everything to me
I think the song is about being hopeful; even when you don’t think you have a chance. It sounds kind of bleak, but deep down I think the person in the song will never give up their desires for the person they are singing about. The song has a great upbeat feel.
After I play it five times, I’m on the verge of falling asleep. I think Patty was there to see a boy she is dating. I consider what Ferguson would do. Ferguson would win the race or do something crazy the next time she showed up. Maybe he would pretend he was hurt to get her attention. Eh, I don’t think so. I think I should try to impress her. Next time I’ll do better than thirty-first place. I need to get to the top ten. I have some work to do to be a hero in her eyes. Right now, the odds are stacked against me. I have to up my game.