The F-14 Tomcat arched gracefully through the air, leaving twin trails of exhaust as its afterburners thrust it forward. It really was a nice poster, Randy thought to himself, as he began to hunt around in his desk drawer for a roll of scotch tape. He suddenly heard the sound of footsteps down below, and then the creaking wood of the staircase as they ascended toward his room. His father was coming.
Randy forgot all about the tape and sat down on his neatly made bed, waiting patiently. The drinking must have really taken an effect on him, Randy thought, noting how much slower his father walked. He let out a labored breath, and let his eyes wander to the solitary window. It was getting dark outside, and the wind was blowing harder. Randy loved it when it stormed.
There was a slight click as his door was unlocked, and then opened. The hallway light shone brightly into a room that was rapidly dimming with the onset of dusk. His father stood there in the doorway, his shadow tall and foreboding.
"Hi Dad," Randy said, swinging his legs off the edge of the bed.
"How you doin' champ? Feeling all right?" His father walked into the room, absently touching one toy after another, until he finally settled on a deck of playing cards. He waited for his son to answer while he shuffled through them.
"I feel all right, I guess."
"Good. What do you think about that poster? I saw it in a store downtown, and thought you would like it. Do you like it?"
Randy knew what his father wanted to hear. "It's great, Dad."
"Are you sure you're ok? You seem down about something," his father tentatively asked.
"Yeah, I'm fine. Just a little tired, I guess," Randy hurriedly responded, looking toward the window again. There was definitely a storm coming. Strong gusts of wind were slapping leaves against the glass, some of which were getting stuck between the bars. Judging by their colors, Randy could tell that it was Fall. He couldn't tell what month it was, or the day, but at least he knew that much.
His father carefully sat down next to him, placing a labor-worn and time-stricken hand on the shoulder of his one and only son. Randy felt his breath catch in his throat. Do it now? No, not now. Soon, but not now. He looked into the eyes of his father, the one and only man he had ever known. The widening pupils reflected his own image back to him, and Randy quickly looked away. He let his gaze fall on the mountains of toys that precariously climbed his poster-adorned walls. All of them gifts from his dad, his provider, the man who loved him. The man who had kept him a prisoner.
"I just came up here to make sure everything was all right," his father said, rising up off the bed. His back popped loudly, and he groaned, as if in pain.
"Are you okay, Dad?" Randy asked, not really caring.
"Yes, thank you. Getting old, I guess." His father smiled. Randy dutifully smiled back, hoping that he would leave soon. It was getting late, and there was work to do.
"It's going to storm," his father observed. "You better get your rest, all good boys need their rest."
"I will. I promise."
His father stiffly nodded as he began to walk toward the still-open door. A mistake he wouldn't have dared to make only a few years ago. He walked out into the hallway, turning around to take one last look at his darling Randy. His boy, his greatest achievement. His biggest mistake.
"Son...you do understand, don't you?"
Randy looked up at him, his dark eyes reflecting the image of a man that had grown too old too fast. His father quickly looked away.
"Yes, Dad, I understand."
The key once again clicked in the door lock. Randy waited until the footsteps became a dim echo off stairs that he himself had never descended. Carefully, he reached down beneath the headboard of his bed, grabbing the toy that he loved the most.
The cold steel felt comforting in the sweaty palm of his hand. It had once been a rectangular piece from his erecter set, now slightly modified to serve another purpose. The end that was crudely fashioned to a point was sharp, but not yet sharp enough. Randy began to uncover the rock tumbler from underneath its hiding spot among the other toys.
The erecter set had been a birthday present for a nine-year-old boy, the tumbler presented to a grown man some twenty-odd years later. A man that had never been given the chance to grow up. Sparks began to sputter out from the rock tumbler as Randy gingerly scraped the pointed end of the erecter piece along the slowly revolving inner walls of the toy.
Outside, the storm raged on.