Chapter 5: The Traveler
The Traveler was a vagabond with a flashy wardrobe. Moving from town to town he made a living in card games and billiard halls, but rarely from honest work. His pockets were often lined with dollar bills yet he called no where home and never stayed long enough to wake up in his own bed. Many, including his wife, wished that he were around a little more frequently, to help with the children and the bills. But, while his teeth may have flashed a million dollar smile, his anger was just as quick and his fists were always clenched, never far from a fight. For this reason, when he did make his exits, they were always on the heal of a violent outburst, his charm faded, the wounds fresh, the babies crying and the older children wishing he would go away and never come back. Yet, as the wounds faded, his family began to miss the man that capped off what meager family they had. Sometimes, a no good dad is better than no dad at all.
The Traveler had been gone for a few weeks when his wife received a letter saying that he would be home in time to share Christmas dinner with his family, just a few days away. With promises of gifts for everyone, the family eagerly anticipated his arrival. Christmas day came and the children all took turns bathing, putting on their best Sunday clothes. The Traveler’s wife prepared a turkey with all of the fixin’s and together, sans dad, they sat at the table and waited for his arrival.
After an hour of fidgeting and growling stomachs, The Traveler’s wife carved the turkey herself and dished out servings so that her family could eat. Her children sat silently, pushing their food around their plates, hoping and praying that The Traveler would walk through the door any minute. Their mother, knowing better, said the Lord’s Prayer, took a few bites of her turkey and began to clear the table. The children, disappointed that their father failed to return, went to bed early. The Clockmaker, just 8 years old, cried himself to sleep.
A few weeks after the New Year, the The Traveler had still failed to return, and his wife grew anxious, fearing the worst. She had visited the local police station to report him missing, had filed a report, and went home to wait. But her door bell did not ring.
Spring came early that year, melting the snow up north, bloating the rivers that nurtured the desert valley where The Traveler’s family resided. The much needed sustenance turned the crops a vivid green… and brought the police to the doorstep of The Traveler’s home.