38 Years Old (Never Kissed a Girl): Epilogue
Author’s Note: This is Part 15 of a series of posts serializing my novella 38 Years Old (Never Kissed a Girl). For more information on the origins of this novella, including all disclaimers, and a complete chapter list, please see the announcement regarding this series.
Mike got another five years tacked to his sentence for the escape. All but one of the fugitives was caught within seventy two hours. The last escapee was apprehended six weeks later in Manitoba trying to get across the border into the US in a stolen car. That was the farthest any of them made it.
Mike refused to see me for a couple of years, and I stopped trying after a couple of months of rejections. I kept making the steel bars and steel plates, day after day in the shop until Tony got me into the Plumber’s Union in ’78.
Mom died in ’79 of lung cancer. She was never the same after that night in ’73, and I had to move in with Davey for a short while to get away from her manic-depressive episodes. She could never really look me straight in the eyes till the day she died. That was hard. Real hard.
But Pop and I got closer after that night. We’d go out for beers pretty often, and talk about the old days. We went to a couple of Maple Leaf games with Tony and Ricky. Pop died of a heart attack after Christmas in ’84, six months before Mike was scheduled to be released. Burying him was the hardest day of my life. It was also the day I finally let it all go, and went about to set things right with the family.
Mike got out the weekend after May 24 in ’85. The four of us kids were all there to pick him up. We left all the families at home, and went as brothers and sisters. We picked up Mike outside the Millhaven gate on a slightly cloudy morning. He wore his old work boots as he walked out that prison yard gate, and though he was now forty eight years old, for a moment, he looked twenty again.
We stood there, in the warm spring air, wrapped our arms around each other, and didn’t say a word. We didn’t need to. The horror, as Mom had once said, had finally ceased.
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On the whole, a satisfying family drama novella.
Still, this wasn’t quite the ending I was envisioning. Structurally, it feels like there’s a loose thread. The story opens in ’73, with Jimmy getting punched in the face and all that, which is used as a way to segue into the extended flashback of the story proper. As a reader, that leaves me looking for an eventual return to that point in time, to pick up on that scene. To see some kind of ramification, like Davey getting in trouble or who knows what. But we never do.
Chapter 11 jumps back to ’73, but at a point that is presumably _after_ chapter 1’s scene but before the breakout. They have to come in that order because chapter one says he went to visit Mikey for his birthday, and this epilogue says Mikey wouldn’t see him in prison after the breakout. Basically, there’s this missing piece of time between the events of chapters 1 and 11 that involves the consequences of Davey beating up Jimmy. That’s the piece that chapter 1 set me up to expect we’d eventually see, so that’s the loose thread.