The night was damp and cold. Very few people out and about on a night like this, but there I was still searching for answers. I was a private detective, tasked with getting the lead on the whereabouts of some hidden treasure. Antiques, I think. I was in a particularly bad mood because I noticed earlier in the night that my hairline was receding.
I couldn’t believe the signs of aging were starting to set in and I was terrified that this was the beginning of the end, and before I knew it, I was going to end up like my dad. Dead. Or alive? Or injured, maybe? I hadn’t seen my dad in 25 years, so it was weird that I had that thought. Maybe it’s just an instinct a man has no matter what kind of relationship he’s had with his father.
I didn’t know much about my dad at the time. I knew he worked in the steel business. I knew he attempted to start his own line of Sno-Cone kiosks. I knew he signed up for a credit card in my name.
I also knew he was why I became a private detective. I was supposed to be using this time to locate my father and deal with a litany of unresolved issues like, why do I cry during halftime shows? But when you become a private detective, you’re automatically listed in the yellow pages, and before I knew it, I had six clients and a pretty hefty set of work responsibilities. It was always fun though. One time I caught a husband cheating on his wife with her brother. Those were the best cases because nobody really knew how to react. At first you’re mad but than you realize it’s kind of a compliment. The guy was just really into her whole family. Can’t get mad at a man for that.
So there I was, about to order a funnel cake at this carnival, and it hit me: I should get back to doing what I originally intended and that was finding my dad. So I canvassed the carnival.
“I’d like to order a funnel cake, please,” I said. “Extra powdered sugar.”
“Okay, that’ll be $2.65,” the funnel cake man replied.
“Here’s a $5. I’ll need change from that,” I said.
“Yep, sure thing. Here you go, that’s $3.65, $4.65 and $5,” the funnel cake man said, handing me my change with about as much disdain for me and his position in life as humanly possible.
“Thank you. Hey, you’re not my dad by any chance, are you?” I asked.
And just like that, I had found him. As it turned out, my dad was working for a carnival selling funnel cakes. Before that he said he was working as a roadie for Alien Ant Farm. When I asked him if there were any differences between working for a carnival and working for a band as successful as Alien Ant Farm, he just laughed and said, “you know what? There really isn’t.”
My dad was due a fifteen-minute break so we walked around the carnival and pointed out body types we thought were odd looking. It was great catching up. I told him about how I became a private detective to find him so now that I had accomplished that, I wasn’t sure if it was what I really wanted to do anymore.
He said he could talk to his manager and see about getting me a job at the carnival. He said he knew for a fact that they were looking for teacup operators. But then he paused for a second, and he turned to me and he said, “You know what? Do what you want to do.”
“I want to work those fucking teacups, man,” I replied.
“Oh, okay. I’ll talk to Mirin. He’s my manager, Funny name, right? We call him Helen Mirren. He hates it,” my dad said. “You know? We could make a great team. Darren and Darrien, back together again. The ol’ one-two punch. Father and son.”
“Do you work near the teacups?” I asked.
“No, no I do not. They’re on the opposite side. I guess we’d hardly see each other,” my dad said.
“What’s new?” I retorted, and boy did we have a laugh. It was great laughing with my father like that. My heart swelled with pride and joy.
After my dad’s break ended, he introduced me to Mirin, who really does hate it when you call him Helen Mirren, but even still, he got me a job working the teacups and I was to report to my first shift on the very next day, 8 a.m. sharp.
When I showed up, I could sense that people were unsure of how to react to me. I mean, teacup operator right out of the gate? Obviously I had some pull internally and that wasn’t going do me any favors with the rest of my co-workers. I was also two hours late, which seemed to be the main cause for all the looks.
I took my break immediately and went looking for my dad. I went by his funnel cake stand and he wasn’t there, so I reverted back to my experience as a private detective and started asking the tough questions.
“Have you seen my dad?” I asked a person I saw.
“I haven’t seen him, but he did leave this letter taped to the funnel cake stand this morning,” the person replied as he handed me the letter.
I ripped into it and opened it up, so much so that I ripped off a good chunk of the letter. I was able to piece it back together so that I could read it.
Gotta run, kiddo. You looked great.
I ripped the letter apart again. I was so furious. Why didn’t I ask him about that credit card he signed up for?
So I gave the carnival my resignation, effective immediately. I never saw my dad after that. I got word a few years later that he was working as a scuba instructor in San Diego. A few months after that he drowned when he descended to depths too deep to go without one’s scuba tank. I, of course, went out to San Diego to investigate. After months of interviews, scouring over documents and evidence, and publicly accusing innocent people of hateful crimes until their reputations were irreparably tarnished, I came to the conclusion that he just plumb forgot to wear his scuba tank on that fateful dive.
The closure was nice though, and I had somehow made enough money that I was able to buy hair plugs.