Andrew squinted back at his father. “Everything OK?”
Clarence slapped the phone back into his holster. “Yeah, we’re fine.” Widening his eyes, he pointed with his thumb towards the stairwell that lead to the dorm’s entrance — “Mind if we grab an early dinner? All that moving, got me feeling tired and hungry.”
Andrew pointed at the empty bed behind his father. “Thought you wanted to wait for my roommate, invite him to eat with us?”
Clarence smirked, clapping his son on the shoulder. “That, was your mother’s idea. And in case you couldn’t tell, she ain’t here right now.”
Dinner was short, a pair of pizza slices for each at the small restaurant down the dorm’s street, casual conversation about Andrew’s class schedule. The sun was still hot and high in the late afternoon sky as they walked back to the dorm, stopping several feet from the entrance. Clarence turned, extended his hand — “Guess this is it, then?”
Andrew took his hand. “Guess so.” And without a word between them, they released their handshake and threw their arms around each other in a warm, firm hug.
Stepping back from their embrace, Andrew stared down at Clarence’s shoes. “Thank you — for giving me another chance.”
Clarence raised a hand to his son’s cheek. “This isn’t about giving you another chance, it’s about believing in you.” He lowered his hand, putting it and the other in his pants pockets. “It’s about knowing the type of man you are, how you’ve learned from — ” He shook his head, crossing his arms across his chest. “No, not lessons. It’s about character, that strength inside you that can’t be taught. It’s why I know you won’t get in trouble again — you’re too strong a person to let temptation get the better of you a second time.”
He realized he was looking down, like his son had been. But when he raised his eyes, he saw the youthful smiling eyes of his son. And held that gaze a long moment, soaking it in, before a final hug and a walk back to his car.