Family Night Out

Menus arrive at the table.

Conversation begins.

With but without me.

I place an eye on every man that comes in. 

I see him.

He sees me.

Head nods exchanged.

I sort him and all other men into one of two camps.

Those that I think I can and those that I know I cannot take.

It is safe to assume that he does the same.

So, I display.

A civilized fierceness.

But, deep down.

Underneath.

Fear.

Worry.

What happens if I am unmasked?

Revealed for who I am.

A man who loves native flowers.

Birds, bees and trees.

Identifies caterpillars.

Talks to his plants while touching their leaves.

We pay the check.

Exit the restaurant.

Walk down the street.

Conversation continues.

With but without me.

I swivel my head assessing all threats.

Back at the truck.

We drive away.

Four doors open.

Conversation begins.

With but without me.

I scan the perimeter surrounding our house.

Lock all the doors.

Secure all the windows.

Then off to bed.

I stare at the ceiling.

Interrogate the silence.

Will the dogs warm me if someone breaks in?

If someone does, will I measure up?

Can I still take a punch?

Mad Max.

That boy running away.

Blood streaming down the back of his leg. 

That boy should have stayed.

Fought.

Defended her honor.

Until his end.

Fear.

Worry.

Am I a boy or a man?

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