The Sentinel – Anthony Dragonetti

I know it doesn’t work the way it works with God. He listens to prayers and answers them, if one keeps an open mind. I still ask you for things, though. It’s like muscle memory. Sometimes you give answers. I know where to look.

I’m convinced you played some role in the job offer I got last week. I heard it in his voice when he called to ask if I could start next Monday. There was a strain. Like someone in the room was threatening him. “You call that boy right now and tell him he’s hired, you pencil neck.” I can picture you saying that clearly. But, that’s impossible, isn’t it? I just interviewed well. Said all the right things.

When I say certain phrases, my voice, how I hear it in my head, it sounds like yours. I’ve listened to recordings of myself and it’s close. I’d swear it’s you in my head. Maybe your voice is the one he heard during the interview. “I need a man with some presence in this organization,” he thought. It’s funny if he hired you and not me. Not that he would ever know. That would be our secret.

I have my own secret. Maybe you already know what it is. It’s the God thing, again. I don’t know how far you reach, if you can at all. So, I’ll tell you what it is now. It’s more of a question. And I’m sorry. I want you to know I love you. Let me say that first.

I walk the way you walked. That weird bowlegged strut. Mom always points it out. The whole sentence is a sigh when she does. I used to be skinny and short. Now I’m muscular and short. I kept your dumbbell set and brought them to my place. I could still grow my hair long if I wanted to, but I keep it cropped close like yours. You were balding, so you had no choice. I do it for presence, to complement your voice. There have been times I’ve been standing with my back to the door and mom or Sabrina walk in and they gasp because, for a second, it’s you peeling those potatoes or figuring out how to get the Blu-Ray player working.

Do you remember what you said to me? You were in the hospital. Your muscles were gone. “I need you to take care of Frankie, Sabrina, and your mom for me.” I was the oldest, so I had to do it. I had no choice but to be the one. Is that really all it takes?

That’s not the question. This is the question. I’m stalling, I’m sorry. Tomorrow will be twelve years. I’ve done what you asked. How many more rooms must I stand in, facing a wall, waiting for someone to come through the door and think for one second about calling out your name instead of mine.

When do you leave? And when do I get to return?