The day L arrived home from the war he felt alive for the first time in two years. He was coming home to see his boy, jump back into the family business and do nothing but enjoy life from now on. He was far from the fighting and far from the hospital bed he laid in for nearly 2 months in Vietnam. The surgery to remove the shrapnel from his skull left an intriguing “X” pattern across the left of his forehead that resembled that of a laurel crown. It made L look noble. He often stopped before a mirror and traced his finger along the jagged scar. The doctors did a good job, he thought. Even his son Jesus thought his scar looked daring. L was happy that he looked like a hero to his son. If only one person appreciated what he did for our country, he hoped it was his child.
Life became normal after the war. At 7AM he’d drop Jesus off to the private school he had saved up for, then head back home to get started on the day’s work. L was in the animal balloon business. The company had been handed down from his father’s father to his father and now to L. L hoped to one day pass the business along to his son. The family business did well because the family home was located in the middle of town. While all these newfangled skyscrapers and highways sprouted up around them, the Tostig household remained the same. L was born in that house on Christmas Day as was his son. The house was firmly planted in the soil and as the visits from developers became more and more frequent, L only became increasingly confident in maintaining the family legacy.
The Tostig home was a two-story Victorian structure with a beautiful garage and wrap-around porch. L would make animal balloons on the front lawn for passersby and when his pockets became too full of bills, he’d run back into the garage to count his money. The family did not start out wealthy- only in the past ten years had they seen an increase in revenue from their balloon business- so L was very particular about his money. The anticipation to count his bills created a high like no other. More dollars meant that Jesus would continue going to the best school in town. He wanted his son to the get the education his parents could never afford. He wanted people to equate the Tostig family with wealth.
After school Jesus would help L blow up balloons on the front porch. He’d blow up 30-40 balloons in an hour, one after another. L had no idea that Jesus hated animal balloons, he hated the idea that his father expected him to carry on the family tradition and he hated the big musty house in the middle of progress. Jesus didn’t even particularly like the school his father forced him to go to. He never told his father how people made fun of him for his name, how they made fun of his father’s scar and the family business. Jesus told his father that his scar looked daring, but he only said it to try and make himself believe it. Jesus wanted to run away from it all. He wanted to make a balloon rocket ship and ride it into the sky. He wanted to leave his school, the house, and his father as far behind as he could.
L would never know this and Jesus would never tell him his.