呃，我上次发过感慨以后开始动笔，写得很慢，先贴点儿出来，省得又成了 drive 里一篇不见天日的半成品。这个故事的主题是 Tim Gutterson 的 mother issue.
Tim spotted Mother the moment he walked in the restaurant. She sat at a table by the window reading something decidedly not the menu. Knowing Mother, Tim was pretty sure she had known what to order before she set foot in here.
She didn't look a day older than he had last seen her, as polished as ever, and she had the US Marshal Service dress code to thank for for him not showing up in his army fatigue. Tim thought without much feeling. He had become an expert of feeling vacant when it came to Mother at a tender young age. So it was with this vacant preparation for everything to come that Tim approached the table.
Mother sensed him, looked up, and froze. Tim could tell that she was holding her breath, and her eyes went round ever so slightly--imperceptible, if not for his combined military and law enforcement training--in panic.
"Tim, Jesus!" She remembered to breath a split of second later when she realized it was just her son, "You look exactly like your father!" And therein laid Tim’s cardinal sin with Mother. The resemblance to the man who fathered him. The man they both hated.
"Mother." Tim answered.
Mother motioned for him to sit and signaled for the waiter to take order. A middle aged man in a smart suit materialized with two menus, Mother waved the menus away and said: "I will have your spring salad with pine nuts, and he will have the steak, medium."
If the man was taken aback, he hid it well. He wrote the orders down with an amiable smile and inquired: “Anything to drink?”
Mother said: “Yes, an Evan Williams, twenty-three year, neat, and a soda.” Tim recognized and accepted their long-standing eating-out arrangement: Mother would order for them both, and Tim would eat and drink whatever was put down in front of him, input from him unnecessary and unwanted. But this time, Mother stopped in her track here, turned her eyes to him, as if asking his opinion. Tim even noticed a tiny twitch around her eyes that was a close imitation of embarrassment, which was alien on Mother--she had always been meticulous, efficient, and composed. Embarrassment was not something Tim would ever associate with Mother, nor would he expect Mother to inquire his likes and dislikes, per their long-standing life arrangement. Tim filed all these new things away for when he’d have time to mull it over, waved a hand, said: “Soda is fine. I am working.”
The drinks were served in heavy glasses. Mother picked up hers with both hands. They were shaking just the tiniest bit. Tim considered all the reasons why Mother would be so shaken that she needed a stiff drink to calm her nerves. Then he decided he didn’t care and looked at Mother’s hands. They were large for a woman, fingers long and bony. They were strong and steady. A surgeon’s hands.
“You have really steady hands! You want to be a surgeon like your mom?” He remembered someone had said that to him. The voice was warm, kind, casually affectionate. He dredged his memory and fished out a name.
“So, how is BaoMan?”
“Excuse me, who?”
“BaoMan, the woman who used to work for you?”
“Oh, she is doing well. She went back to her home country, head of her department now.” Mother sipped her bourbon, which might be the only reason why she continued, “Sam, her son, lives in California now. He is working on a startup, married, expecting a second child.”
Tim looked sharply at Mother, “Something must be wrong with Mother” the thought came to him unbidden. This was almost a normal conversation, which was something they had never done. Mother would have been annoyed if she had to say more than two sentences to him at one time, and he had learnt to be quiet around her.
Then Mother frowned, looking at Tim without seeing him, thinking back on how he had intruded in her carefully partitioned work life, the one she hold the most dear, built a fortress for, wall, moat and all... “Oh, you have met them.”
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