American Legion
Tim Ljunggren

He remembers standing in front of the big picture window in the living room, peering out into the darkness. Waiting.

A common practice. Every nightóexcept for Sunday nightóit was the same thing. The gnawing fear in his stomach would grow and grow. It was a fear that always stayed with him, despite the repetitive nature of his vigil. Where is he? He should be home by now!

Around 8:00 p.m., he would gather up his courage and, as usual, ask his mother if he could use the telephone. He dialed the familiar number that he still remembers: 774-7682.

"American Legion."

"May I speak to Phil Lund please?"

"Hold on..."

There was always a clattering noise as the telephoneís receiver was placed on top of the bar. He remembers that he could hear the sounds of the gathered people as he waited. Laughter. Swearing. The clinking of glasses. A cacophony of voices and noises that melded togetheróall represented an unseen force that kept his father away from him, night after night after night.

"Hullo?"

"Hi, Daddy! Itís me!"

"Hiya, Stevie!"

"Ummmmm...are you coming home soon?"

"Yessir. Jusí a couple more minutes..."

As he listened to the slurred voice on the other end of the telephone, he remembers that he always felt relief. His father was still okay. And he would be home soon.

He remembers putting the telephone receiver back into its cradle. He remembers going back to stand in front of the big picture window in the living room, peering out into the darkness.

Waiting.


First published: August, 2003
comments: knobs@iceflow.com