Niles returned home and quickly packed. He made a phone call to his dad, gassed his car, and by 2:00 heading north on the Taconic State Parkway toward Hoosick Falls.
The drive normally lasted three and a half hours no matter what the conditions.
Niles’ planned to take his dad out for supper to a place south of Hoosick Falls. His dad was not Catholic, but as a kid from an all Catholic neighborhood it had to be fish on Friday or nothing.
On Friday drives out of the city it seems to take longer to put it all behind. On Friday’s people were making the long journey to their weekend homes. That is a measure of status; two homes, an apartment in the city during the week and a pleasant country home beyond the murk of New York; the more countrified the better. New York is the wife and the country is the mistress.
About an hour down the road he stopped for coffee for no other reason than to glance through the paper and ease the tension from the heavy traffic.
He pulled into the parking lot of the fish fry place. His dad pulled in just past 6:00.
Niles’ dad, Kirk, at 75 years old carried himself energetic and spry. He wore a tan police uniform that fit well except for the slight belly bulge he picked up since retirement. A nicely trimmed gray mustache rested between a straight nose and thin lips. Back in the day they called him The Lawman, because of he resembled the character Marshal Dan Troop of the TV series entitled Lawman.
They embraced in the parking lot and exchanged familial greetings and entered the restaurant.
They finished eating and arrived at Niles’ dad’s home by 7:00. It was a small place, one bedroom. The kitchen window overlooked rolling countryside of grassy pastures crisscrossed with stone fences and dotted with small groves of elm and birch. Displayed around the living room, a few reminders of Kirk’s career on the police force; citations, awards, and photos.
“Have a seat,” Kirk said, “The Yankees game comes on at 8:00. We can talk for a while.”
Niles sat on the couch and Kirk plopped into his recliner.
“Extra innings last night,” Niles said.
“How do you take a three run lead into the ninth and lose?” Kirk said. “It’s beyond me.”
“Not surprised,” Niles said. “They been doing it all year. No bullpen. They got some noodle arms out there doing nothing but collecting a pay check.”
“And guys who can’t hit the broadside of a barn with a handful of chicken turds,” Kirk said.
“That’s what you used to say about me,” Niles smiled.
“And my dad about me,” Kirk smiled.
“Did you ever go to your dad asking for advice?” Niles said.
“It was a different time,” Kirk said. “I went to my dad asking for advice. He slapped me upside the head and said if I’d been paying attention I wouldn’t have to ask for advice.”
Niles cocked his head and squinted. “I’ve never heard that one before.”
“Because it’s not true,” Kirk said. “Dad was a quiet sort. Never spoke much. I remember asking why he was so quiet he said, In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise. It’s from the Bible.”
“Was Grandpa religious?” Niles said.
“No,” Kirk said. “That’s the only thing he knew about the Bible and he lived it. But he was wise. Ain’t that something, knowing only one verse from the Bible made him wiser than most men. Imagine if he knew two.”
“What was the best piece of advice you got from him?” Niles said.
“For no reason one day he said to forgive much, regret little, and hate none,” Kirk said. “Then he said it makes for a healthy mind and body. I think that comes from the Bible too.”
“He was very wise,” Niles said. “I wish he lived longer so I could have known him, but I already do – through you.”
“I’m far from him, lad,” Kirk said.