Spare Tires

Blood is thicker than water.

Even when that seed is spread like wildfire.

Spare Tires by Geoffrey Philp

I knew something was up when one of the ushers whispered in my ear that the bride had  arrived, but that Charlie, my father, couldn’t be found. Typical, I thought.

Charlie was always a careless man.

Maybe it was because of my father that I’ve lived such a cautious life. I’ve held the same job as an accountant for fifteen years and I’ve been married to the same woman for ten. So when my father told me he was getting married for the fifth time and that he wanted me to be the best man, I took a leave of absence from my job in Miami, flew down to Kingston, and took over the planning of the wedding. I wanted everything to be perfect.

I’d left Jamaica because I was tired of watching out for Charlie in his affairs, business and private. As my mother, his first wife, told me, “Wha’ eye no see, heart no leap.” But I still felt guilty because as his eldest son, I always thought it was my responsibility to make sure he stayed out of trouble.

I got up from my chair and eased past my younger brother from Charlie’s second marriage, who was only six months younger than me.

It must have happened before I was born or maybe after my mother left him, but Charlie always seemed to have some distraction in his life.

I went straight to the bar. Charlie wasn’t there.

The bartender pointed with his lips to a closet in the hallway.

I marched down the hallway and opened the door where I found Charlie with the bride’s cousin.

“Stay there,” he commanded her and shuffled over to the door. She covered her face with her dress.

“Again, Charlie?” I said.

“Son, you know me. Even if I’m buying a new car, I always have to make sure I have a spare tire.”

I knew my father, all right, so I stood on guard outside the door. At least this time, he wouldn’t get caught on my watch.

Born in Jamaica, Geoffrey Philp is the author of the novel, Garvey’s Ghost. His work has been published in the Oxford Book of Caribbean Short Stories and the Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse. A graduate of the University of Miami, Geoffrey teaches English and creative writing at Miami Dade College.