Friends and Fathers
Alan walked out of the back door off the kitchen of his and Denny's suburban home holding the chocolate chip cookies he had managed to scoop up from the cooling tray on the counter before the cook had shooed him away. It was a sunny, seasonal, mid – June day and he knew that Denny was out and about on the grounds somewhere. When he got to the gazebo, he found it unoccupied, so he continued past it heading toward the stream where he saw the older man sitting on a large log in the shade next to the water. He seemed to be deep in thought.
Alan came alongside Denny and sat down. Offering up one of his purloined cookies, he said, "Hey, Denny. What has you looking so serious?"
Denny accepted the cookie, smiled his appreciation and took a bite. Nodding at the goodness of it, he answered, "I was just thinking. Do you know what next Sunday is?"
Alan put his left foot up on the log and wrapped his arms around his leg. "The nineteenth, right? Isn't that Father's Day?" In answer to Denny's nod, he retorted, "Yeah, so what about it?"
Denny looked at Alan, then down at the passing flow of the stream. "I miss Donny," he said quietly, "He used to send me a Father's Day card every year. But, ever since he found out he's not my biological son, I haven't heard from him. The last time I saw him, we were at the courthouse and he told me that he had confronted his mother and demanded to know who his real father was. He was devastated to find out that he had died years ago."
"Does he blame you for that?"
"No, he blames his mother but, he did say that he was very disappointed that I didn't tell him the truth when he got older. He is resentful that he didn't have the chance to meet or know his bio – dad. He said he doesn't know how to feel about me anymore so, I'm thinking I won't be getting a card this year." Denny sighed heavily and continued to watch the stream.
"I'll see you later, Denny. I brought some work home from the office so I'll be in the den. Tell you what: How about we head into Boston later for dinner? My treat."
Denny glanced up and smiled. "Trying to make me feel better, my friend?"
Matching Denny's smile with one of his own, he replied, "I am, indeed. Let's leave around 6:30, shall we? I'll see you later."
When Alan entered the den, he closed the door behind him and sat down at the roll top desk to look through Denny's Rolodex. Despite Alan's best efforts to get Denny to use his phone to store numbers, he insisted on writing contact information on the little white cards that snapped into the cardholder on the desk like he's done for the last fifty years. Finding the name and number he was looking for, he pulled his cell from his pocket and dialed. "Donny, this is Alan Shore. Yes, I'm fine, thank you. I want to ask you if you intend to contact Denny for Father's Day. Uh – huh, I understand that but, that was Denny respecting your mother's wishes. I think you should continue to applaud and appreciate what Denny continued to do for you; even after he found out he was under no legal obligation to do anything for you. No, you're wrong, he does miss you. In fact, I think it would be a great idea if you took him to dinner for Father's Day. No, just the two of you; I'll make myself scarce on Sunday. Excuse me? What would happen if you don't take him out? Do you really want to find out? Good, we understand each other. Yes, I do believe that you miss him, too. I can definitely understand loving a father who has failed you. Have a pleasant evening, Donny. Goodnight." As he replaced his phone in his pocket, he checked his watch, used the intercom to apprise their chauffeur of their plans and departure time and then headed upstairs to shower and change for dinner.
When he walked into their bedroom, Denny was standing at his closet wearing his blue terry cloth bathrobe, hair still damp from his shower, holding up a suit in each hand. "Guess what? Donny just called and invited me out to dinner for Father's Day! Just the two of us. You don't mind, do you?"
Alan looked at the big smile on his best friend's face and answered, "I don't mind at all, Denny. Seeing you happy makes me happy. I'll be ready to leave in fifteen minutes. Wear the Versace suit." As he watched Denny put the Armani suit back in the closet, he couldn't help grinning to himself as he went into the bathroom. Happy Father's Day, Denny, he thought.