If it wasn’t for his letter he gave me just moments before he died, I probably would have gone through the normal steps of grieving which would have graciously guided me to the ultimate stage of acceptance.
I sat in my motel room, the television was off – although I doubt it was working anyway – looking around, I was disgusted to be surrounded by such unseen filth. The shag carpet had no shag left, food crumbs from previous guests or rodents, moisture rings from condensation and topping it all off, black curly hairs on the comforter, all but made me regurgitate the questionable fast food crap I had eaten an hour ago. You get what you pay for was the night’s theme for certain.
The imitation leather chair I sat in gave no comfort, but would serve as my bed if I got any sleep. The bulb of the bogus brass floor lamp flickered above me as the moth catcher continued to zap its prey outside my door. I reached for my glass of water, realized it was from the tap and set it down desiring thirst over consumption of possible hazardous waste.
Although he was most likely awake it was probably too late to call him. I went to Jack about everything. He wasn’t a college graduate, but could easily teach a dozen different courses. He was the smartest guy I knew.
After several rings I finally got a voice on the other end. It wasn’t Jack’s voice. It was a number telling me the number was no longer in service. Why didn’t he just pay his bill? It had been a month since I had last seen him. He wasn’t even at my father’s funeral. It didn’t upset me, he and my father were close, but Jack just didn’t do funerals. He always told me that he would always be there. I knew he was thinking of me.
Death was always a mystery to me. I always believed there was something more out there. I didn’t always realize it was heaven, but I do now. I have to. It was the only comfort I felt now that my dad had died.
I tried Jack one more time with the same result. I’m not sure why I even tried. I think it’s the same reason I count inside my head how many steps it takes me to walk from place to place or that I check to see if the door is locked fifteen times before I finally go to bed. Bed. If only I were so lucky.
I continued to sit in my chair, eyes heavy, but I knew they wouldn’t close, not with this letter burning through my hand. Why would he tell me to go to a cabin that I’ve never been to? A cabin in a place I never new existed. I read the last part again.
There’s still hope. Use the map. I’ll see you there.
I certainly didn’t know what he meant. But I certainly didn’t have any reason not to follow the map. The only thing I could think about as to why he gave me the letter was that it was the wrong one. He was meant to give me another letter and got them mixed up. But it was addressed to me. I’m his only son. It was simple then. I follow the map. Dad was never a practical joker. There had to be a cabin.
Despite the late hour, midnight was long past, I called my wife to let her know of my plans. I didn’t tell her about the note. I just told her there was a place my dad wanted me to see and that I’d be home as soon as I could.
She didn’t answer and I knew I wasn’t going to sleep. The note, the map – it all made me feel like I was twelve-years-old waking up at the crack of dawn to begin yet another quest powered by an unending imagination.
Dismissing the position and the idea of sleep, I stood from the chair, walked across the room, grabbed my keys, checked my pocket for the map and walked out. With the engine purring I backed out and left the motel in the dust. Maybe I’d be back. Maybe I won’t.
Two hours into the trip I had to be creative in finding ways to keep from falling asleep. I tried the alphabet game that I used to play on long trips when I was younger. I remember complete darkness around m followed by a blaring horn. My startled state kept me awake for a good hour.