Brad prided himself on his physical fitness. His solitude called him to go for long runs alone. The only praise he got from a male figure came from the physical training teachers at school. They marvelled as he always led the pack during calisthenic trials. After school, he’d have to rush through his homework so his father could make him do an arduous weights routine. He would have enjoyed it, except his father hurled abuse at him as some perverted form of encouragement. Whenever Brad strained, unable to accomplish a set task, his father voiced his disappointment with anger.
He recalled the first time he failed to bench press an added burden to the bar…
“That’s your Arssy side giving up. Don’t give in to it,” his father said.
Brad would never hit his father, but at that moment, he wanted to. He was American and considered anything else as something less; a fact he voiced whenever the mood took him. To knock Brad or his country didn’t matter to him. It only mattered that his father knocked his mother. He wanted to defend her, but couldn’t… he knew his place.
His father’s bullying attitude grated on people about the immediate community, but nearly all feared to retaliate. If nothing else, he was a big and powerful man. In time, Brad got to dread the sound of his father’s voice, even if he seemed in a jovial mood. He rarely related to him except to order or chastise; never once did his father ever let him know he was a human being of any worth.
The last couple of years it got worse. His father backhanded him every time Brad dared point out the flaws in his reasoning. With no recourse for injustice, Brad shrank into himself, speaking as little as possible to avoid confrontation.
He looked up from his recollections to see Teyata crouched on the edge of a neighbouring roof.
“Wait a minute,” he said, still panting.
He leaned on one hand pressed against a wall, yet didn’t recall doing so. At least he stood in the shade. A glance aside revealed shelves stacked with packed food stuffs. He looked overhead, espying the lighted sign of a corner supermarket.
“I’m getting a drink,” he said.
He pushed open the glass door and entered, taking a moment to savour the air conditioned interior. Teyata appeared from nowhere bounding across the tops of the shelves. Her sense of balance amazed Brad. She crouched on flimsy metal shelves not designed to support half of her weight, yet did so without wobbling.
Brad looked at a selection of drinks through a glass door and took one.
What about one for later?
He took a backpack off the shelves meant for primary school children and placed two more cans of drink from the fridge inside the bag. Cinching the lid shut he slipped it over his shoulders as Teyata searched for an opening in the can.
“Just…” began Brad.
Before he could explain, Teyata gave an angry growl and bit into the side of the can. She sucked out the contents within seconds then opened the fridge door for another can.