Pain is nothing more than pain. That tooth pulled without Novocain. Yes it hurt, but once he decided to accept the pain, it became bearable. His arm bone snapped back into place after being broken, the doctor thought he was ‘out,’ but he wasn’t; he wasn’t sure who was startled more by the expletives that flew from his mouth. The fingers jammed in the car door; all of those things had happened to him at one time or other. The car thing came when he was but a child, and he had not said a word as the door jammed his fingers against the frame, and he only shouted that he needed to get the door back open; then came the pain, and he screamed.

After that he pretty much took pain as it came.

Of course, not all pain is physical; not all pain is inflicted by some outside force. Some greater pain had to do with what is possible and what is not, in the world we live.

He was not old by any means, yet he had enough time to watch the old world go round the sun a few times, watch as people groped for a living, see the greed and the power of the few against the many. He was not involved in the sadness of the masses by any stretch of Mother Theresa, yet he knew the wheels that turned, and how they rolled over those not able to get out of their way. He was no fool to how things worked.

Today his mind was on the justice system, the grand Tower of Babel. It stretched its shadow unto the poor and the rich alike, the able and the disabled, the predators and the victims, the knowledgeable and the ignorant. How it affected each one, however, was a whole different matter.

Justice has never been blind. He smacked the dashboard. The blind are those who perceive justice as some “splitting of the baby” from the wisdom of Solomon. Laws and judgments, jurisprudence its proud name, sit in volumes on top of volumes to guide the way to the truth. It’s like getting a map of the world laid out upon your table, and you are expected to fine a small cave, without a single clue that it is buried beneath ten feet of snow, in the bowels of Alaska.

 No, he knew better. It has always been about common social expectations, and of course, money. He had stopped wearing a suit for that reason. His profession called for suits. And when he entered in jeans, it was always to stares and an expectation of some shortcoming; an expectation he was well able to take advantage of.

But some advantages where not at all available to him. He cried now; he had lost, not because he was deficient, rather because he was a man. It was all about social expectations. Mothers are assumed to be the care givers, the nurturers, the place where a child should go to get a hug from a scraped knee, or sit and receive a special meal when a child is sick. And that might well be the case.

It was far beyond his reasoning to allow that one parent was more deserving than the other, or that such a decision would be necessary. But he had learned just a week ago that indeed it was the case. Two people cannot dictate the terms of a child. One parent must rule.

Even that he understood. The mother would provide, she would cloth and feed. Certainly she would need recompense for her efforts.

What he did not understand is how where they would live and where they might move to was all beyond his control.

And so he sat today and watched; the tears refused to halt. Two daughters, one nine, one five, would be leaving today. He was not moving, they were. A soon before divorced mother had a lover, far away, perhaps taken before it all took place, and she was moving there. There was no discussion, it was a right of the mother. And she would still require that financial support, it was the law.

Her car moved out the driveway, the girls in the back. He decided to sit there awhile.

The darkness rolled in, and in the darkness he got out and pissed on the rear tire of his truck. One needed to claim connection to something that he might belong to—a dog would do the same.

And then he found a highway that would allow speed before the answer found him.