An excerpt from part one: "I'm sure if I could get him to stay home for a time... I know he'd change. I'd could get him back..." I set my jaw and made up my mind; I would chase him to that house in New Orleans. I'd bring him back, I would get back what was hers.
The place was easy enough to find. A simple question asked of a few locals would lead me out of the city to a run down building at the edge of a swamp. This was the gambling house that had such a hold on my father? It was little more than a roadhouse inn. A restaurant & bar, a card room for low stakes poker, some table games, and a dozen rooms for rent. I kicked my way across the sawdust floor, through cigar smoke, avoiding the poor drunken stupefied souls strewn about; heading for the toothless barmaid. She stood wiping down the counter with a rag that threw the smell of whisky and mildew into the already thick air. I asked after my father, the dubious look she gave was telling. Probably more so than she intended. Visions of loan sharks and police flash across my field of view. I explained who I was and her expression relaxed.
"Oh, den he back'air workin' shug." The relaxation in her expression gave way to, what could have been, relief in her voice. It was hard to pick up the nuance in her accent. The completely alien dialect.
I learned that my father worked as a cook and a janitor; anything he could do to make the money that he gambled and drank. He'd rent a room when he could but most nights he spent in his own little place right outside the backdoor of the kitchen. That was where I was told to wait for him. It was a shed, my father lived in a shed. An old plywood structure, barely standing, with a cot and some very rusted tools. It was all probably left over from the construction of the main building, The Rising Sun.
I had been waiting for nearly three hours before he appeared. He smelled strongly of liquor. I wondered how much of my wait he'd spent drinking. I launched into him with all the passion and guilt I could muster. My mother's words and sentiment flowing through me.
"Don't you need us? Can't you be satisfied with your family?"
"Now... The only thing a gambler needs is a suitcase and a trunk. And the only time he's satisfied is when he's on a drunk." He swayed and slurred as he spoke. I could feel my face heating up, my body tensing, the surge of adrenaline that makes your heart beat in your eyeballs.
I lashed out. In an instant of rage and base instinct my fist connected, smack, against his jaw. He fell. He fell for what seemed like hours. Slowly he drifted toward the ground, his booze addled mind too slow to react. He never reached out to break his fall. Maybe I knocked him out. Maybe he never knew he was falling. One of those old tools caught him. Just before the ground, an old rusty lump of metal jagged and angry caught my father just above and behind his right eye. There he hung bleeding from his mouth and nose and the new orifice that lump of metal had made... I had come for redemption but would have to settle for revenge.