Hope is all I have to give

"Do I look like somebody that can get a job?" he asked me.
He will be the death of me, my son. He just turned 18-years-old. He is tall and so skinny. He is simply beautiful to look at if he stood still long enough to be seen for very long. Every time he leaves the house, some part of me fears for him. His height and his age are a lie. He is not a man yet---but neither am I. I don't think I can give him what he needs to help him bridge the wide gap between the child he is and the man he will have to be to stand on his own in the world and not be destroyed in the in-between place.

He got a tip from a friend about a store that had an opening. He dressed up to go apply.
He struck a pose and waited for my response. He had on an old pair of my khakis that were so big on him he had tied them on with a shoestring. He had on a blue dress shirt over a green tee I knew had been in the dirty clothes waiting to be washed. He had on his brother's cast-off shoes because his brother had used his Dad-allowance to buy shoes while he had spent his money on Taco Bell, the pretty girl down the street and probably pot. He had on an expression of what he thinks is manliness.
"Do I look like somebody that can get a job?" he asked me.
"Absolutely," I said.
It was monsoon-pouring dark rain. He did not have a jacket.
We went to my closet then and he tried on some of my sport coats I have collected from various thrift shops. Most have labels defining their gender as male. All were too short for him. Seeing him there, like that, trying on my jackets, trying on being a man, trying...
It would serve no purpose for him whatsoever to let him know this moment broke my heart.
He is so vulnerable. He deserves so much more. He deserves so much. I cannot give it to him. Anything I once had to give him a better chance I selfishly used up myself. This is what the outcome of that looks like. My bad choices are his consequences.
It's not fair for him, his brother, his sister. 
He walked out of the door and into the dark rain. I hope what he needs will be provided. That there is a bridge there for him even if I can't see it clearly from where I stand.
I hope he is not waylaid along the way by those that spot those like him and offer up what looks like a path to manhood but at a great cost. I see them drive by always, like sharks slinking through dark waters looking for a meal. Their cars are shiny and their music throbs like primal drums calling out young warriors.
He admires them. He admires their giant rims and dark tinted windows and new clothes. The way they ride low in the seat as they cruise the streets. Their seemingly endless supply of hundred dollar bills.
He knows his mother disapproves of them but he has no other examples of men. No father or uncle or older cousins. Just boys like him (also without fathers and uncles and older cousins) with new fuzz on their faces that move around town in listless packs.
I cannot give him a coat of protection from the elements to wear. I can only pray God helps him find his way to get that for himself.


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