Mine is in a double-storey Moorish-style bungalow set away in a quieter part of town. From my usual perch on the window seat - even with my eyes closed - I could picture the rolling lawn in the back where I'd played with my GI Joes and Barbies under the shade of the flame of the forest. My two dads always insisted on equal opportunity after all.
Yeah. That's two dads. Pa J and Dad P.
"Great to have you back, Nate. We've missed you." My father's lazy, methodical drawl washes gently over me and I open my eyes. Slow and steady, that's Pa J for ya.
I did have my reasons for coming home sooner than expected. Though he's busy scanning through the morning paper, my other dad, P is already looking at me with growing suspicion - possibly formulating dozens of reasons for my return ranging from the mundane such as teenage pregnancy to the horrific such as flunking out. Judging from his previous tirades on the importance of education, I'm sure Dad P would much prefer the knocked up scenario.
However we only talked about everyday stuff during the ride back from the station. Hope Dad P hasn't guessed the truth yet. Then again, what the hell am I saying! He probably already knows. Probably drawing it out to torture the truth out of me. "Just needed to get back for a while, pa. College's been bugging me."
Ever understanding, Pa J pushes a mug of steaming coffee into my hands and I smile. Though he doesn't drink it, there's always a warm steady pot ready for both me and Dad P - the caffeine-addicted duo. Setting a plate of home-baked breakfast muffins in front of me, he glances at my face in worry. "You look tired. Maybe you should get some sleep first."
Taking a sip and sighing, I lean back against the recessed wall. "It's alright, pa. Just a really long ride on the tube. I'll be okay after some coffee."
Standing by the window
From his spot on the breakfast table, Dad P raises a cool eyebrow. After more than two decades of steady partnership, he knows how to keep his counsel - and his bitingly sharp tongue. Getting some rest immediately after travel wouldn't be his idea of fun. Dad P would claim that it's for wimps.
And it's true - for him at least. Never actually seen him sit still. Like a buzzing livewire held still, Pa J claims he'd probably explode from the sheer tension.
That's Dad P. Always involved in one project or another ever since I was a kid, forever rushing in and out of the door at a breathless pace. It's no wonder that the exhausted students at the medical school call him Professor Sonic ( the Hedgehog ) behind his back. Ever omniscient, Dad P knows of his stern taskmaster reputation but doesn't mind the occasional unflattering sobriquet. After all, he's dreamt up handy nicknames for half of his students as well.
Even now though he's scaled back dramatically on work, I've noticed that the home decor has changed dramatically since the last time I was back. The curtains were new as was the beautifully-aged cabinet in the hallway. No doubt he'd reupholstered the sofa himself as well - cursing himself black and blue. Even the mug I held had been made by him for my 6th birthday.
And I didn't need to ask if he'd baked the breakfast muffins himself. After all, we'd perfected the recipe together last summer.
No, indolence isn't Dad P's style. But it certainly suits Pa J to a T. How many times had I come home only to find Pa J snoring away on the hammock he'd hung out back during his regular afternoon siesta - the Sudoku he'd half-finished fallen to the ground - while Dad P potters around the house with his DIY tools looking for a project, ear-strapped to his mobile while writing up a storm in his PDA.
Dad P finally puts down his paper and fixes me with his searing gaze. I've seen his shaking interns sweat just from that one look. "So what are you planning to do while you're here? Meeting up old friends and such?"
Always dangerous talking to Dad P. Unlike Pa J's slow-as-molasses speech, Dad P speaks in sharp, rapid staccato pistolshots.
Pleasant enough opening but I knew enough to be wary. Though he can be a laugh a minute, I find he's forever taking down details and analyzing, possibly entering data into profiling. Gleaning facts just from an inflection of speech. As a kid, I was sure that he'd been indoctrinated in a secret Gestapo training camp.
Of course he also taught me to keep a poker face in the face of ruthless interrogation. Praying that I'd be able to pull it off as smoothly as he did, I rambled out a reply. "Not really, dad. I have a writing project to finish before the semester starts again."
That received a spark of interest. "Good, how about I land you a hand in the project? I've got a few days off."
Sensing my hesitance, Dad P smiled wickedly. "Nathaniel?"
Shit. I'd been caught in a lie.
From the diary of Nate, Summer 2029.