After dinner, my older sister Julie and I were getting up to go do our homework when Mom stopped us by saying, “Hold on you two. Sit down.” She pointed to the other side of the table where Dad was sitting. “Your father has something he wants to tell you.”

I was twelve and Julie was fourteen. I looked at her, and she raised her eyebrows, like what’s this all about? My father never talked to us. About anything. In fact, he was hardly ever home, a point he made that night as he talked on and on about how tired he was because he worked so hard, and how he was sorry he wasn’t home more because he had to work such long hours, and how his boss was thinking about promoting him if he put in a few more hours. And on and on and on.

He might have gone on forever if Mom hadn’t interrupted and said, “What your father’s trying to say,” she gave him a withering look, “is that he’s going to be leaving us. He’s moving out.”

My head exploded. What! I knew he and Mom had their troubles, but I never expected this. I looked at Julie. She got up and went to mom and hugged her. They both started crying. I looked at Dad. He looked at me like do I get a hug too?

Ah, sorry, no, Dad. Mom was always there for me and Julie, and even though we might fight occasionally, I always knew she would be. She was a rock and wasn’t going anywhere, unlike dear old Dad, who was more of a casual parent than anything else, and that was probably being generous.

I loved my mom more than anything, so I joined my sister and hugged both of them thinking all the time, that friggin’ jerk. I’m going to kill him.

And I almost did.

Later that night, I crept from my room to the garage, and then to the door leading to the basement where he was sleeping on the couch in the room where we watched television. Mom told us he’d be moving out in the morning, so I didn’t have much time. In my hand, I held my weapon. I’d taken it from the old man’s golf bag in the garage, a huge titanium club called Big Bertha, a number 4 driver with a head the size of my hand. I guessed it weighed a couple of pounds and there was no doubt in my mind that it could do some serious damage.

I held it reverently by the shaft as I quietly descended the steps. On the last step, I put the head of the club in my palm and felt its smooth metal warm up in my hot hand. It felt good. My dad had tried to teach me golf a few summers earlier when I was ten. I’d had no aptitude for it at all, and he gave up on me after a few lessons. Not that I minded. I wasn’t much of a jock, to be honest.

But, this—I slapped the Big Bertha in my palm—this I could do.

The glow of the television gave the room an eerie feel. I could see his form stretched on the couch bundled in a dark green blanket. I could see the slant of his shoulders and the back of his head. He was only a few steps away.

I could easily picture killing him, smashing his skull to pieces like a cantaloupe. Take that and that and that, I pictured myself saying as I brought the club down hard time after time after time, turning his head to mush, obliterating the man who’d caused my mom so much pain. God, how I hated him.

I stepped within range and raised the heavy club reverently above my head and held it there, savoring the moment, ready to beat him to death.

Suddenly, a voice I recognized whispered from behind me. I turned. It was Julie. “Jeanie, stop. Don’t do it.”

I stared at her. She was disheveled from lack of sleep, her eyes puffy from crying. “I need to,” I whispered. “I hate him so much.”

She stepped next to me. “I hate him, too, but don’t do this. He made Mom’s life a living hell, but this isn’t the way.” I looked at her blankly. “Mom needs us,” she said. “Both of us. Even though they didn’t get along, this won’t be easy on her.” She pried the club from my fingers and took my hand. “Come on.”

Numbly, I nodded.

Julie put her arm around my shoulder and squeezed it. “Let’s go before the idiot wakes up,” she nudged me along.

I looked at him once more, a man oblivious to what just about had happened. One last time, I pretended that I raised that titanium driver and brought it down on his head, crushing his skull. It was a liberating feeling.

Then Julie and I went upstairs.

Dad left home for good the next day, and we rarely saw him as the years went by. By the time I graduated from high school, he was out of our lives for good because by then, he was dead. Killed by a heart attack is what the doctor said. And, no, we didn’t attend his funeral.

Mom and me and Julie were always close and we became closer after he left home. To this day, we live within easy driving distance of each other. Julie and I are best friends, which may seem odd because we’re sisters, but that the way it is.

We never talk about that night when she stopped me from killing my dad. That’s okay. It’s understood. I was lucky. In a way, both of us were. Who knows how our lives would have changed if I’d have gone to town with that titanium driver? It wouldn’t have been pretty, that’s for sure, in more ways than one. I’m glad she stopped me.

But one kind of weird thing is this: Julie and I both play golf. Yeah, two non-jocks like us. We’re pretty good, too. Especially smacking that ball off the tee with our Big Bertha number 4 drivers. We play a lot. It’s really fun.