I saw his face again and for the umpteenth time I woke up in a cold sweat. He died. He was dead. It was my fault for not being there. It would never not be my fault. It will always be my fault. I reached over and took a sip of water from an almost spent water bottle. There was no going back to sleep now. Besides, I needed to take a piss. I climbed out of bed and almost immediately bumped into his desk. My desk. It’s my desk now. I reached up and pulled the chain and blinked in the sudden light of a bare bulb.
I trudged to the bathroom and did my business. When I stepped back out, I swore again to get somebody to clean the place. At the very least it hadn’t really been cleaned since before he died. With mom gone, it could have been years since it was cleaned. His pictures and his achievements were still up on the walls. The only thing of mine was my old high school diploma but he had hung that up. He had been more proud of it than I ever was.
I had thought of packing it all up and moving it out more than once. Diamond Investigations had been there for ages though. If something operates in the same place for decades, is it not an institution? It seemed a crime to let it all go even if it was just so I could set up shop elsewhere. Dad wouldn’t have given up the fight so easily.
He created Diamond back in the day to put food on the table and keep a roof over our heads. He always said he picked the name because it sounded classy. I think he picked it to honor all lof those baseball games he and Pop Pop shared. The diamond should have been green and not blue but there was no way to change Dad’s mind once it was set.
There was a little bit of coffee left in a cup from the afternoon and I sipped it with a grimace. I hate coffee but I need it so I drink it under protest. Besides, if I have to have it around to offer clients then I should probably drink it now and then. It tasted no better after being left out so long. It didn’t taste any worse either. I pulled out my desk chair and sat down. Since there was little hope of going back to sleep anytime soon, it would be better to look through files. At least it was more productive than tossing and turning for an hour.
The Edwards case was pissing me off. The husband was cheating. The wife said she was sure of it. After two days, I was sure of it too but the slippery asshole proved elusive. I just needed one picture and it would be payday. Ther had to be a way to get it done. Dad would have said what he always said: “Anything it takes, just get it done.” Which was how I broke my in middle school. I learned lessons and grew some character that day but I definitely got that Frisbee off the roof.
I looked to my left and there he was sitting in one of the client chairs. Luke Wyatt, my dad. It was as if the last few months had been a dream and he was alive. He was right there but he wouldn’t look at me. He was not looking at me.
He stood up and started to walk out. It reached out but he was already out of reach. I stood up and followed but he was moving so fast. I knew Dad had entertained dreams of playing in the minors and had run track in high school but this was ridiculous.
He still did not turn. I followed him as fast as I could to the door but between pushing the door open and climbing the steps to street level, I lost him. I stood in the middle of the sidewalk at a loss in my socks. There was no sign of him. There was no sign of anyone.
He was dead. Wasn’t he?