Look at this guy!
At this hero of a man with his broad shoulders, slight stubble clinging to his chin, his rough hand swallowing mine as we float across the street. Dirt everywhere, hair unkempt, rugged, you might say, but in a man way, in a I will save the world way, in a I will ruin who messes with me way.
In his presence I am safe. The whole world is safe. No enemy can defeat him, no catastrophe overcome him.
He is the protector of all things!
As we enter the grocery store he looks down at me and smiles.
"Go grab some candy, little buddy," he says, releasing my hand. "Go ahead," he nods when I hesitate.
Wow! This guy!
The world slows when he smiles, causes the desolate to experience a strange sensation––that man just smiled in my direction! I can feel it in my stomach! What a wonderful, beautiful world!––because his smile radiates something good, strong, pure, something few understand but all have seen––because it glows, shines, cast light into the darkened corners of the world.
How can I make him smile again?
I run to the wall of candy and grab to pieces of chocolate, swinging them as if they were swords, as if I have defeating unseen forces of darkness, making clank! sounds with each slice.
"You’re a cool little dude, you know that?" he laughs.
He lifts me onto his shoulders and I am the tallest man in the world, my head above the clouds, airplanes buzzing around my ears––and look! The stars are within reach! I could jump from here and land on the moon, on Mars, on Saturn, because with him I am superhuman, able to leap from galaxy to galaxy.
Of all the things this man could be doing, he is here with me, and together we glide through the grocery store, unstoppable, captivating everyone, our movements synchronized like two olympic divers. We are being followed––the entire grocery store population has abandoned their carts and responsibilities to bask in the wake of our awesomeness––his awesomeness––because this guy sits only a notch below God, no doubt heaven sent to restore all that has been broken.
Look at this guy.
Standing at the front door, knocking and knocking and knocking with pale, crusted hands, deep lines sketched into his forehead, wiry beard––he needs to shave that disgusting thing––homely, unvaried, obviously bereft of life, of any sort of emotion, a look that says I have spent years destroying myself.
He backs away from the door and digs into his right pocket in search of something.
"Mom," I yell down the hall. "It’s him again." But I remember she is not home.
"Chad, is that you? Can you open the door please? I just want to talk," he says.
Such a pathetic man, so oily, dripping with hatred, or maybe stupidity, something I can smell. He knows he should not be here, that he is not welcome, that his face causes red anger to roll through my stomach, and threatens to send currents through my arms into my fist.
"You need to leave," I say through the door.
I could hurt him.
Exhausted from searching his pockets, he stands with his hands on his hips, his head bowed.
I can’t stand the look of him.
Undersized shirt, twisted black hairs emerging from a frayed collar, patches of hair missing from his head, all in a little package, maybe four or five inches over five feet––so minuscule, so insignificant!
His face is magnetic, pulling at my fist.
"Chad!" he yells desperately, and I hear the quivering voice of a man who knows he has done something stupid, a man who knows he will never receive forgiveness. It has been six years, and yet he still comes here, to the porch.
He lost everything. He is lonely.
I will open the door.
With white knuckles I will swing and connect and scream as he moans and cries and makes feeble attempts to protect himself––and as I am swinging, I will laugh and ask him how it feels to have someone bigger, stronger, faster tear you down.
Do you remember!? I will yell.
Of all the things he should be doing––working, getting on with his life, dying for all I care––he is here at our doorstep trying to reconcile the irreconcilable, trying to rewind the punches he threw.