The Prodigal Banker

I couldn’t keep my thoughts straight. I told myself it was the alcohol. It was’t actually safe for me to be driving. What was I doing anyway? My home wasn’t any less lonely than the hotel. Something was wrong with me tonight. Why was I even driving through this neighborhood? I knew it would only bring me pain.

I took a left. “Why?” I asked. “Why am I doing this to myself? I have a new life now, a successful life.” Still I kept coming nearer.

Suddenly, red lights flashed around me, blurring my eyes. What was happening? Everything felt like a dream tonight. Perhaps it was. I should have been asleep by now. The night was terribly black. Still the red lights kept flashing. I looked in my mirror. No! Why tonight? I pulled over and parked the car. My head sank against the wheel. I could see the headlines, something like, “Rich banker breaks the law.” I wouldn’t be the first though. Plenty of my friends had done the same. Well, maybe they were just acquaintances, but they were rich people, popular people, influential. I couldn’t think tonight.

The officer was at my window. “Sir, do you know why a I pulled you over?” I fell back against my chair and mumbled a few attempts at nothing. The officer had me get out of my car and try to walk a straight line. He frowned. “You are obviously intoxicated. I’m going to have to write you a ticket.” I nodded. He said more, but I didn’t hear it.

At last I heard him ask, “Will I have to take you in for the night, or do you have a way to get home?” The question sent shivers down my spine. I couldn’t bear the disgrace of going to jail, even for one night. Another option came to my mind, but – no, I couldn’t. The idea was ridiculous. I felt a strong urge to do it though. Something seemed to be drawing me there. I spoke words I would have never said in my right mind. “Nooo officer, I’m fine. I’m fine, just fine. My home is right there.”

He looked at the house I was pointing to, just beyond the one I was parked by. His eyes turned and surveyed my car. He looked doubtful. At last though, he stepped away. “Alright mister, have a good night.”

I steadied myself and began to falter to where I had said I was going. I went slowly though. I was waiting for him to leave. I couldn’t stand prying eyes – not now. At last, he pulled away and I was left alone in the still cool of the night.

I was up to the door now. The house looked twice as shabby as when I had left it. I shuddered. Why didn’t I just leave this place and go home to the comforts of luxury? I wanted to, but I couldn’t. Somehow I just couldn’t. I reached my hand out to knock, but I pulled it back in shame. What would she think of me? No, I couldn’t enter, still I almost wanted to. I felt strange, very strange. I leaned up against the house and began to whisper.

“… It’s been a long time … I – I should have … There are many things I should have done. I have done much good though.” What was I saying? “I’ve risen above this. I’ve pulled myself up now. I am successful.” I looked at the old house. Condemnation bit me. “I know I’ve forgotten you for a long time, but that is going to change. You’ll be able to live in comfort now. I’ll support you. I’ll be there!” I felt like crying but I couldn’t. “But no,” I stopped. “I can never really be there.” I looked down at myself. I despised myself. I turned away. I didn’t need to stay here. Why had I even come? I should go home.  I began to walk away. “I’ll never really be there.”

At that moment, I heard a creaking noise behind me. “Michael?”

I started and turned around. Then tears began to run down my cheeks.

“Mom?”

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