Harvey Comes Home
Harvey knocked on the door and waited. There were no cars in the driveway, but you never knew. Someone could be home. He hoped someone was. He’d driven all the way from Fort Wayne to get here—four exhausting hours.
He heard a metallic click, and the inner door opened with a sticky suck. Standing there behind the screen door was a husky little brown-haired boy in an oversized Hard Rock Café T-Shirt. He couldn’t have been more than nine years old. Harvey thought he looked a lot like his own son, Jimmy, at the same age. He wondered how many times Jimmy had stood in this same doorway—paying for pizza, politely turning away salesmen, passing out trick or treat candy. He’d asked his son to come with him on this trip, but Jimmy couldn’t spare the time. He was forty-five now—married with kids of his own, living in Indianapolis, working insane hours at one of the best law firms in the city.
Maybe this little boy would end up becoming a hotshot lawyer, too. Maybe he would end up being too busy to spend time with his dad. Harvey wouldn’t be surprised. The kid didn’t look particularly affectionate. His eyes were cold and dark, like burned out light bulbs.
“Hi, young man,” Harvey said cheerfully, trying to put the boy at ease. “My name’s Harvey Lipinski. Are your mommy and daddy home?”
“No,” said the boy, his voice tiny and flat.
“Do you know when they’ll be home?” Harvey asked.
“No,” said the boy. He started to close the door.
Harvey began to panic. He couldn’t let the boy shut the door on him. He couldn’t be denied after coming all this way. He had to see the inside of the house. He had to see the place where he’d raised his family, the place where they’d all been together back when things were still good, before he started drinking, before Linda fell out of love with him, before everything turned to shit.
“You know,” said Harvey, holding up his hand like a policeman halting traffic. “I used to live here.”
“You did?” said the boy.
“I did,” said Harvey. “Raised all three of my kids here—two daughters and a son. My son’s room was the window on the end there.” He pointed to the last window on the far right side of the house. “That was his room from the time he was born to the time he left for college.”
“That’s my room,” said the boy.
“Good,” laughed Harvey. “I’m glad it still belongs to a boy. It’s actually the largest bedroom in the house. Did you know that?”
The boy shook his head.
“It is,” said Harvey. “Tracy, my oldest daughter, used to complain because she thought her room was so much smaller than Jimmy’s. In fact, her room was only a little smaller—she had the room over the garage. But she still thought she got a raw deal. I didn’t feel too bad for her. She had a lot more going for her than Jimmy. She was always a better student, and she was the best artist in the family. She used to draw these beautiful pictures of horses on her walls with crayon, and my wife and I didn’t even care because the pictures were so good. She would also sew these elaborate costumes for her dolls. She’d spend hours in her room, cutting fabric and sewing—the quietest, most focused little girl you ever saw in your life. My other daughter, Kimmy, was the hell-raiser. Her room was the one across from the bathroom. We caught her smoking in there when she was just eleven years old, if you can believe that. And she was always blasting her records, playing really dark, evil-sounding music. It scared my wife, but I knew Kimmy was just going through a phase. She calmed down by the end of high school. She used to have an enormous bookshelf in her room filled with books, and she read every single one of them. At dinner she always wanted to talk about what she was reading, but my son and my other daughter weren’t having it, and my wife wasn’t interested either. I was, though. When Kimmy got a little older and started writing her own stuff, I always loved reading it. We got her an old typewriter for her room when she was seventeen. They had word processors by then, but she insisted on a typewriter. She thought word processors were cheating. She got a poem published in the newspaper when she was eighteen, and I had it framed and hung it in the living room right over the fireplace. My kids used to call that wall of the living room Daddy’s Wall because all of the pictures I liked were there, and I built that fireplace by myself. The house didn’t have a fireplace when we moved in back in ’70.”
Harvey stopped to catch his breath. The boy’s expression had not changed at all since he started talking. He began to close the door again. “Wait,” said Harvey. “Would you mind if I came in just for a minute to have a look at the old place? It would do my heart good to see it again. I’ve come a long way.”
“I’m not allowed to let strangers in when my parents aren’t here,” said the boy. He shut the door and pulled the bolt.
Harvey stood there staring at the door for some time. He knew it wasn’t going to open again, he knew he’d never see the inside of the house, but he couldn’t bring himself to leave. He was still standing there fifteen minutes later when the police cruiser pulled into the driveway and the female officer—a girl who looked a lot like Tracy, he thought—got out and started walking towards him.
Bio: Jack Somers’ work has appeared in a number of journals and magazines including Midwestern Gothic, The Atticus Review, Gravel, DecomP, and Prick of the Spindle and is forthcoming in Literary Orphans, Entropy, and Jellyfish Review. He lives in Cleveland with his wife and their three children. You can find him on Twitter @jsomers530 or visit him at www.jacksomerswriter.com.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.