TUXEDo

June 29th, 2019 by P. Starks

When I was just ten years old my dad took me out to buy my first tuxedo. He said it was what made a man a man, but mom always felt a suit would’ve been just fine. Even though dad didn’t like them, she still bought them for him anyways in the hopes that he would start liking them. But lord only knows how much dust and cobwebs are collected on them by now. I think there somewhere behind the tuxedos in his closet, but he keeps moving them so that mom doesn’t find out he hasn’t been wearing them. So, I honestly wouldn’t know.

Funny part is, mom had become so furious with dad being so unappreciative that on April’s fool’s day she had hid all of dad’s tuxedos before he woke up the next morning. It was hysterical and sad; dad was squirming all over the house, nearly scratching out his eyes in the hopes that he would find even a bow tie, but nothing ever came up. It was amazing, mom was like Houdini. Even I began wondering what she had done with them. I mean, she did tell me she was hiding them, but where? I wondered.

 But then mom had finally showed dad where they were, for she couldn’t help but see the man she loved so miserable. Dad was, of course, mad for about two weeks, but then he came to realization with himself that maybe he hadn’t been as appreciative with mom as he should’ve been or what would’ve like to have been. So, on the third week dad had sent to mom’s job five dozen roses, with a snoopy card, that of which she could never get enough of. They’d made amends.

Nevertheless, for my first tuxedo dad had finally gotten the chance to take me to his favorite and only tailor Mr. Buzby. He was an elderly man, seventy-five or eighties years of age from what I could tell. He had an odd smell, like after shave mixed with something that it shouldn’t have been mixed with, whatever that is. He to wore a tuxedo but obviously had been worn since the time he was my dad’s age which had been decades ago; it was surprising that it even fit.

“Well look at you,” smiled Mr. Buzby. “You know last time I saw you; you were just a little one in a deep sleep of your mother’s arms.”

“Good to see you again to Mr. Buzby,” I replied.

Dad then headed to the bathroom to take as he like to have put it, a tinkle. Meanwhile, Mr. Buzby got his preparations in order to measure me. The sun was beaming straight through the windows of the room, reflecting off the mahogany floor better than what a mirror would do. It was a normal day for the month of April—warm and bright.  

After about 15 minutes of prepping Mr. Buzby would begin measuring me and dad still had not come out. It was strange but neither Mr. Buzby or I paid it any mind; what a man did in the bathroom was his own business, Mr. Buzby would say.

But then a man entered the store.

“Sorry sir we’re closed…” said Mr. Buzby, shooing the man away.

But the man said not a word. He stood at the front door quiet, with his eyes bouncing around the room like a pinball. He was looking for something, but I could tell that it was more than a tuxedo.  

“Sir… I’m sorry but you will have to leave. I told you we are closed for the day,” Mr. Buzby repeated.

The mans eyes then turned onto me and Mr. Buzby.

“I heard you,” said the man, with his eyes still scoping around the room. “But I won’t be leaving, not yet. Not until the boy’s father shows up.”

Mr. Buzby then paced his way over to the phone but about time he’d reached it, the man was already there. It was as if it was… No, that’s exactly what it was. I mean… I only saw it when X-men came on the Fox channel, where nightcrawler would poof into a ball of smoke appearing in different places of his choosing. But the man who entered was different than that. It was like a blink of an eye. And there was no doubt about it, that it was teleportation. The man then grabbed the phone and smashed it down on the floor, shattering it into a handful of plastic scraps. How much force did he use? And so, now I guess he was pretty strong to… I don’t know.

“Hey!” yelled dad. “Is everything alright in there?”

The man then gave Mr. Buzby a wicked stare, and Mr. Buzby would literally be shaking in his penny loafers. But then the man nodded, and Mr. Buzby would reply to dad hesitantly, but calmly.

“Y-yes, yes. Everything’s fine just knocked over one of my lamps,” said Mr. Buzby, with his voice trembling. “You know I’m not getting any younger.”

And then all that was heard after that was dad’s laughter in the background, and the sound of the toilet flushing, and sadly no sink running. Mom would’ve killed him.

I don’t know what it was that triggered it, but it was then I put the man’s face into perspective; he looked just like my dad, only older and ruthless. His eyes were just as brown and his teeth were just as white, except they looked like they had seen better days for that a few were jagged. Who was he?

The sound of footsteps then slowly paced around the corner, and the man would hide around it until dad came. His eyes never left me and mine never left his. There was no doubt in my mind that it had to be dad. But from the future.

Dad had come our smiling with relief, although, his smile had faintly gone away the closer he came. If there was anything my dad was good at, it was reading faces.

“You two alright? You look like you just seen a ghost or something,” said dad.

“Don’t move,” said the man, holding what we assumed to be a gun under his trench coat.

Dad immediately through his hands up in the air and did his best to swallow his sudden fear. He looked at me and with his lips voiced out to me, everything is going to be okay.

“What do you want? Is it money? If it is, my wallets in my left pocket,” said dad. “Take whatever you want. Just don’t hurt anyone.”  

 “Turn around!” yelled the man, yanking dads shoulder around.

When dad turned around, he had hard time holding his arms up. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Both dad and the man stood for what felt like hours evaluating each other, like dogs looking into the mirror.

“Wow, I remember now… I was so handsome then or now,” the man mumbled. “Yet, so much has changed.”

Sweat was pouring down the side of dad’s neck like a frozen water bottle being defrosted. He put his hands down, and the man tucked his gun back away.

“What do you mean?” question dad, concerned. “Are you saying that you are me and I am you?”

“Yes…” replied the man, instantly. “We are the same. Take a hard look because this is you in the future baby.”

Dad smiled and laughed up at the ceiling; he didn’t believe it, except for everyone else in the room.

“Oh, come on… If you are me then you would have on tux, but from far as I can tell your just a homeless man looking for a little excitement. And if you’re looking for that then it’s probably best you head down to Aurora on 78th street.”

“You have no idea what has happened or what will. We lost… We lost it all but…”

The man paused and dad would take two steps back to place himself in front me and Mr. Buzby. Out from his pocket the man pulled out a picture and dropped it on the floor as he fell to one knee. Black blood was spitting up from his mouth and oozing from his nose.

“It’s too late…” he said, skin turning blue. “Take this and you will understand why I came… I just wish I’d come sooner… D-dammit…”

On the floor in front of us now lied a dead body and the only clue to what was happening, but then the body had gone from translucent to just us looking at a floor with spots of black blood on it now.

“Jesus… what happened to his body?” asked Mr. Buzby.

Dad said nothing. He bent down where the picture had fallen and picked it back up.

“What is this?” he whispered, with his hand trembling.  

“Are you alright son?” asked Mr. Buzby, curiously. “It looks like you’ve seen a ghost now?

Dad then took the right arm of his tuxedo and wiped the side of his face. “Yeah… Yeah I’ll be fine, but Mr. Buzby could I have a moment with you for a second?”

“Yes… of course.”

There the two left me, in a room where a man had just died. Did they forget how old I was? Or what I would say? But to get my mind off it I ran to the lobby area of the store where Mr. Buzby kept the old tube tv. Maybe I could find something that would get me to laugh out all the fear I held, I thought. But as I flipped from channel to channel not a thing was on that took my mind off what just happened. There were a few re-runs of WWF but still, not even the Rock telling someone that he’d whip their monkey ass was enough.

A big thump then echoed in the back room.

“Dad!” I yelled, peeking around the corner.

But again, dad said nothing. And it surely wasn’t like him to be so silent. It was then I started to think that whatever it was in that picture, set him apart from his original self. But what was in it? I wondered. When dad arrived, there was a different look in his eyes, it was like the man from the future, ruthless. There was a red paste around his hands, neck, and on the inside of his tux. Blood? Or Hair dye? No, it had to be hair dye. Right?

“Son…we need to go,” said Dad, pacing fast around the hallway.

“What about Mr. Buzby?” I asked, as I was being pulled through the front door.

We were halfway to the car. Dad’s eyes were beamed straight down to the cement floor.

“Mr. Buzby…” he paused, pulling me to the car. “We unfortunately won’t be seeing him anymore. He um… is not the man he used to be and well after what we just witnessed today; he’s decided to… retire.”

Dad had never told a lie before, and I could see why. I didn’t believe a word of it, but still I trusted him. Whatever he was doing I’m sure his intentions were good. Before we left, dad had gone back in to change into a better… well, a cleaner tuxedo. I wanted to say goodbye to Mr. Buzby but dad told me that he wanted to be left alone. I didn’t want to think of it but still all clung to the sides of my skull like pictures on a wall—death. And it was death that I could feel that was in the air.

On the car ride way back home, it was so quiet that I could hear the sound of my own breath. I looked over at dad and could still see a little of the red paste behind his ear. He never looked back at me once, his eyes just stayed beamed to the road. I was confused, scared, and frustrated all in one. All that had just happened, not once did he ever check to see if I was okay. It wasn’t like him. And so, then I asked the question that I’m sure he didn’t want me to ask.

“Did you kill him?”

Dads eyes then widened but they still stayed focused on the road, pondering on what I’d just said. His hands rubbed the steering wheel nervously.

“W-what was that son?” he swallowed.

“Did you kill him? Did you kill Mr, Buzby?” I repeated.

Dad then pulled over and stopped the car to the side of the road, while he sat and took a deep breath, with his chin tucked in towards his chest. He through his back to the head rest, and then gradually turned to me and said.

“No son… I didn’t.”

Did he just lie again? For the first time in my life my heart felt as if it was going to jump out from my chest. Out of all the people in the world he might’ve had a reason to kill, I never would have thought it be his best friend; a man that was like a father to him. Although, I was now beginning to wonder if Mr. Buzby was that to him at all.

“Son… there’s a lot about me you and your mom don’t know…” he said. “A lot that can’t be explained but I promise that everything I do moving forward will be for the best. And yes, I’ll explain everything to you both when the time comes.”

Dad then took his hand and ruffled my hair. He started the ignition and we were back on the road. I’d didn’t notice until I woke up but apparently, I’d fallen asleep. I looked out the window and we were nowhere that felt familiar to me. It definitely wasn’t home or downtown. It was completely an open field with what looked to be a warehouse sitting in the middle of it. Dad was nowhere around but his jacket to his tuxedo sat over the driver’s seat like blanket.

Eager to find out the truth, I reached over and pulled the jacket into my lap, checking the pockets for anything that would give me a clue about dad’s past. My hands would jittery, all until I felt something that felt like paper. Without thought, I pulled it out from its pocket.

It was a black and white photo. Something that looked like it was from the early 1800’s. In it was dad and a few others that looked like himself. One that looked like dad in his twenties, the other that looked like dad in his seventies, and another that looked as if he was the same age as me, whom of which resembled me. And now I know why grandfather always joked about how much I looked like dad. But that’s another story.

The car door then opened and I jumped, high enough to hit my head against the ceiling.

“Alright son… you ready to head home now?” dad asked.

“yeah…” I nodded.

Dad looked around the car. And then looked at the jacket in my lap. “Is everything alright… No, of course, it’s not… I don’t even know why I would ask you such a stupid question. Your just a kid for Christ sake… But please… trust me son, everything’s going to be just fine. I won’t let them hurt you…”

“Let who?” I asked.

“N-never mind… let’s get moving okay. Before your mom starts to worry.”

Suspiciously I nodded, and we are on our way.

When we pulled up to the driveway, mom was already outside waiting. She had tears running down her face, mascara and all, with her head down into her knees, all while the front door to the house was wide opened. Dad immediately hopped out of the car and rushed over to make his way over, and mom would throw herself into his arms, sobbing and shaking.

“They destroyed everything!” she cried.

“What?” asked dad. “Lidie what are you talking about? What happened?”

“They destroyed everything! They said that they were looking for something!”

“Jesus… Are you hurt? Did they…” concerned dad, looking all over moms’ body for any signs of abuse.

“No…” she said. “Well… one of them hit me… But that was it… They said they were looking for a specific tie and tuxedo… I mean, why the hell would they be looking for something so stupid Jonathan?”

Mom then pulled away from dad, slapping, scratching and clawing at him with all the frustration that had built for the time that we were gone. Whatever it was that was going on, mom had already put together that dad was the reason behind the house being destroyed and her getting hit. For as bad as dad was at lying, it was surprise that she didn’t find out sooner, although, she had never asked the right questions, I guess.

Our neighbors were at first, peeking through their windows with their beady eyes but then later they would disappear. Dad had done his best to calm mom down and put her back inside the house, but it was too late. The sound of sirens grew louder as they made there way over to the neighborhood. 

“Damn Jefferson’s,” whispered dad.

Thankfully before any cars had arrived, dad had finally gotten mom inside the house and sat her down on the sofa; he made me sit with her. There was a knock on the door.

“Stay here,” said dad.

But I didn’t… Instead, I followed.

“Hello sir, Mr. Cruze is it. Jonathan Cruze”

“Yes, that’s me,” dad replied nervously. “What’s the problem officer?”

The man that stood at the door had a flat hat and wore all black. He had vest strapped around his torso but even for child I could tell that it wasn’t the kind my dad wore with his tuxedo’s.

“Sir, we got a call from someone about a disturbance in front of your house… Said it might turn into domestic abuse if we weren’t careful.”

“No, nothing like that… You sure that wasn’t from another house,” dad swallowed.

“Nope, they said it came directly from this address,” said the policeman. “Sir do you mind if I come in.”

“I do… Sorry, but the house is a little messy and my wife is not in the proper clothing for guest if you catch my drift,” dad winked.

The policeman smiled. But still there was an awkward pause between dad and the policeman. Almost as if they were doing a standoff, except dad didn’t have a gun hanging from his hip like the man in front of him.

“That’s it Jonathan!” yelled mom, coming around the corner. “I can’t take this anymore I’m going home to stay with mom for a bit. Until…”

Dads eyes then widened. Shit, he whispered.

“Put your hands behind your back!” yelled the policeman, pulling his gun from the holster. “Yeah dispatch, yeah I got him.”

He had another gun that looked the same but had the color of a bumblebee, but I guess that was used for something else maybe to kill, who knows, but it looked a lot less horrifying than the one he held.

“No, stop!” yelled mom. “What are you doing?”

“This man is going in for domestic abuse,” yelled the policeman

“On whom??”

“You and the mark on your face,” said the policeman, walking dad out from the house.

Mom then ran over to dad, kissing him as hard as she could. Again, no one had noticed me, but it was trait I felt would come in handy later on. Something like a ghost.

“Wait!” yelled dad. “Please let me talk to my son… just two minutes…”

The policeman snarled. “Fine! But two minutes is all you get. And make it quick.”

The policeman had walked over to his car to do whatever cops do when reporting, while dad remained cuffed to the front grill of the car so that he wouldn’t run. It was stupid.

“Ok son listened carefully. Under the table in my study is a key held by tape. Take it and go inside the closest where I hold all my Tuxedos. Walk all the way in until you come across the red tux your mother bought me. Behind it will be a door, but before you can get to it you will have to walk past all the dirty suits. And promise me you want tell your mother… she might not try to bail me out. But behind that door everything will be explained. Can I count on you to do this?”

My body was completely frozen. I was just a kid. What could it have possibly been that dad wanted me to see? But then an image of that picture again popped up in my head. So, then again, I guess there was something for me to see. Something bigger than I could ever comprehend.

“Well, well, well…” said the policeman, lighting away a cigarette. “Looks like we got you as a connection to a murder to. My friend I think, I might’ve just hit the jackpot.”

“Murder… Jonathan what is he talking about?” asked mom, crying profusely.

“Son, can I count on you?” dad repeated.

I nodded and just before I said anything, the policeman would interrupt.

“Alright convo’s over, I’m taking you downtown,” he said. “Say goodbye to your dad boy, might not see him again.”

“Oh, piss off pig! Go eat a doughnut,” yelled dad.

“Yeah, like I haven’t heard that one before.”

As I watched the policeman pull off with dad, I walked mom back inside the house, thinking about the key in his study. But before I would even go to it. Mom was first priority. I fixed her a cup of tea, while she lied still sobbing on the sofa, curled into a fetal position. For everything that was good about our lives it seemed that within one day it had turned for the worst; I couldn’t blame her for feeling the way she did.

Nevertheless, mom had eventually cried herself to sleep. I was now standing in the middle of dads study, staring at his desk. It still had his shot of whiskey from earlier that morning on it, with half eaten bagel, somewhat burnt, but it was just the way he liked it, oddly. When I reached up under the table I could feel something cold, with plastic over the center of it. The key said the voice in my head. And then dads voice came right after, everything will be explained.

TO BE CONTINUED

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