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Chief, Part II by Vegard


It was as if I was hearing her through a thick duvet. She probably spoke clearly, but it was like her voice was muffled in my head.
"So, you'll be at your Dad's while I'm staying with your aunt Katie and getting my treatments." She stroked my cheek gently, and added "I'm sorry honey."
Mike and Jane looked at her with solemn faces. I felt tears trickling down my cheeks, and Mom wiped one away.
"I will be ok. I promise." She smiled, and I tried to smile back. I did a poor job of it though, and she pulled me closer and hugged me, as only she can.

Sitting up front with Dad in his cruizer, all I could think of was Mom smiling bravely at us, as she and Auntie Katie said goodbye to us at the airport. I knew she would be all right. The prognosis for her type of cancer is really good, and she would be getting the best treatment. But it would take a while. Months even. And I missed her like crazy already.

Jane said something under her breath to Mike, and they both sniggered. Glancing over at Dad I could see his totally exposed right ear going dark red. He was scowling darkly ahead of him.
"Dad". It feels strange to say it. He is our Dad, but at the same time he's not. Even when he and Mom were together he was never really there. Even when he was home he was distant, uninterested. It's like none of us were of any real importance to him. At least not compared to his work.

The last time we saw him was at Gran's funeral. Jane and I were 12, and Mike was 15. Mom didn't come, since she and Gran had never really gotten along. So we flew by ourselves, like we did today. And like today, it wasn't a joyous occation.
Like today, it was just something we had to do.

After we came home, Dad just took off. And we were all relieved I guess.
"Jeez, what a dork!" Jane said.
Mike laughed, and I smiled with them.
Jane showed me a picture of him she'd taken in the car, and which she'd posted on Snap with a caption about her riding in the back of a police cruizer with "Dorky-Dad".

I took my stuff up to my room. There wasn't much there, since we hadn't actually lived there for ages. The curtains had characters from the movie "Cars" on it, reminding me of how long ago it had been since this had actually been my home.

As I was texting with Mom, I heard the cruiser being parked, and the car door slam shut as Dad came back. And as he entered the house I heard him bark an order at Mike, before shouting at Jane and I to get our asses downstairs.

For some reason he looked pissed off as we all gathered in front of him. With a dark frown on his face he looked at us in turn, and especially at Mike, whom he stared at until he looked away. His gaze moved to Jane, who held his gaze longer than Mike, but she looked down after a while as well.
Dad didn't even have to look directly at me for me to look away. I bowed my head and stared at my feet.

"Ok!" he said, "Here's how it's gonna be. You are to behave and to act respectfully when you are in this house!"
He rattled off a set of rules to us, about being polite, saying "Thank you" as a common curtesy, and how he expected us to behave around him, and at school when we started on Monday. None of it seemed that bad really. A bit old fashioned maybe, but I figured, it wouldn't really be a problem. Not so with Mike though.
"And no boots on the coffee-table!" Dad said, wrapping it all up, with a look at my brother.
"Sir, yes sir!" Mike almost shouted, and made a mock salute. Jane smirked.
I sneaked a peak at Dad, and was surprised to see a smile form on his face.
"What was that Mike?" he said in a surprisingly soft voice.
"Sir! This soldier will never have his boots on the coffee-table again, Sir!" Mike yelled.
Dad wasn't smiling any more, as he walked up to Mike. Staring hard at him. Mike is tall, but Dad is taller by at least 5 inches. And with his uniform, and his tight flat-top he looked like the seargent towering over a new recruit in movies about the army.
Images from the opening scene in "Full Metal Jacket" flashed through my head as I looked at them.

Mike was struggling now, between wanting to crack wise, and trying to stare back at Dad.
"Are we going to have a problem with you being a smartass?" Dad asked in a harsher tone. His face less than a foot from Mike's. Finally Mike mumbled a "No sir," and looked away again.
Dad looked at Jane and me as well, as if asking the same. I looked him in the eye, but since he didn't actually ask me anything, I didn't speak.

Nodding, more to himself than to us, Dad looked satisfied.
"How about I go out and get us some pizza, and you kids agree on a movie we can watch while we eat?" he said.
Now, there was something we readily agreed to. We picked the pizzas from a menu pinned to the board in the kitchen, Dad called in the order, and went for the door to go pick it up.

As he reached for the door-handle he looked at us and said, "By the way boys. How about I take you to Pete and Josh's tomorrow, and they can get you cleaned up before you start school Monday?"
He said this like he was offering us a treat, nodded and left.

We looked at each other.
Mike blurted out, "Is he serious?"
Jane laughed, "Off course he is! I bet you'll look great Mike, with a real butch flat-top, just like Daddy."
Mike didn't look happy, "He can't though, can he? I mean, force us?"

Mike and I looked at each other, both thinking about the last time we'd been there. Dad had made the exact same suggestion.
"Remember last time Tobes?" Mike asked.
How could I not remember.
Mike had just, flat out, said "No way!" when Dad had told us to get in the car, and Linda had asked Dad to come with her outside, where she obviously had had a word with him about not accepting force in this. We were there for a funeral, not for him to impose his idea of how boys should look.
"You're okay with it though? Right Toby?" Dad had asked as he came back in, and Linda had agreed I could do with a hair-cut. To scared to refuse, I'd nodded, and next thing I knew I was in the car, alone, with Dad.

My memory of what happened in the barber shop are a bit hazy, but I remember being marched in, and waiting with Dad. He seemed to know everybody there, and they were all nice about me being his kid, but I remember I hated the attention.
I think, at some point, as I sat in the chair, someone said "A real haircut for Chief's boy!"
As if in a daze I just sat there, too timid to say "Stop!" or, "Not that short please!" watching as my ears were being totally unveiled, and my longish curles falling from all over my head to the cape and to the floor around me. Watching in stunned disbelief as some greasy substance was rubbed in to my head, and my hair being parted on the left ruler straight, as my hair was combed down flat.
What I remember the most is coming back to the house, and being met with laughter from my siblings. Humiliated and unhappy I had stormed to my room, where I had cried, and refused to come down later to eat with the others.
Linda came up with some food, and told me Mike and Jane hadn't meant anything by laughing, and that she'd had a talk with Dad about this. A fat lot of good that did me. The dead was done, and Dad made me keep that parting for the funeral, and for the flight home. The only decent thing he did for me was to get me a base-ball cap, so at least I could hide a bit of the desaster that was my hair. That said, with the cap on, and hair as fair as mine, it looked like I had no hair at all.

Mom was livid when she saw what had happened to my curls. She'd helped me wash out that horrible grease, and blow dried my hair for me, to try and lift it, and make it look like it was more left than it was. It didn't help much. Thinning shares had been used, and there was only about two inches left on top, tapered to nothing on the back and sides. There was nothing that could be done, except wait for it to grow back. In the mean time it actually did look best parted, and combed to the side. But without the grease.

Thinking about Mom made me sad again. Should I call her and tell her Dad wanted to take me for a haircut again?
No. I didn't want to do that.
I was 12 then. I'm fifteen now, and you're not supposed to run crying to your Mom when you're fifteen. Plus, she had enough on her mind without worrying about me.

I went upstairs, and found my lap-top from my back-pack to take my mind off Mom, and things here. Clicking on the icon for the Wi-fi I punched in Dad's password, "IwoJima@1945" and pressed enter. I'd already checked my sites on my cell, and written some messages to Mom when I was in my room before. My lap-top is mostly just for browsing the internet.

My favorite sites were already open, and I scrolled down my favorite for updates and pictures. "GingerDude2005" had posted a picture of several hot guys, and written, "Wish they played on our team!"

Looking at them, so did I. And I wished I had the guts to even admit what team I wanted to play on, and that I would be good enough to be accepted.



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