“Hi. I’m here to pick up your daughter.”
John Green held his hands behind his back so his white knuckles wouldn’t show. He was the first guy, so far as he knew, to actually ask Alex out on a date. And as he looked at General (ret.) Beck, he was hit again with the reason why. Despite the fact that Alex’s father was shorter than John, he was still intimidating as hell. He looked John over, evaluating him. After evaluation, he made a noncommittal noise – apparently nothing had impressed him, but nothing offended him, either – he turned back to the house.
“Alex! Your date is here!”
The only response was a squeal and a slammed door.
“I guess she’s not ready yet.” He said mildly, which made John all the more wary. “Why don’t we wait out on the porch?” He gestured to a chair. “Have a seat.”
John sat on the edge of the chair as Beck settled comfortably in his.
“So.” He said abruptly. “This is the traditional time to scare the crap out of my daughter’s date.” John nearly fell out of his chair at the abrupt bluntness. His father had given him some advice about this situation, but none of it covered this. He simply did his best to stay in his seat and not say anything that would get him in trouble.
“Most fathers would tell the prospective date that he’d better have her home by curfew – or else. A shotgun is the typical prop.” John simply stared at him, surprised at how relaxed the general was as he spoke. He wasn’t even trying to stare him down, instead looking out at the sunset as he talked. “But I’m not going to do that.” He rocked back and forth in silence for a few seconds, then looked over at John. “What, you thought I was going to give some big speech?”
John finally cracked a smile and began to relax.
“Well, yes, actually. Something about ‘removing elements from the equation’ or somesuch.”
The general chuckled at that.
“Well I’m not. Alex is almost seventeen years old and I trust her judgment.”
They sat on the porch for perhaps another minute, simply waiting. The general perked at some sound John had missed and rose from his seat.
“I believe she’s ready now.” He paused just before he turned away, and dropped his voice so that Alex couldn’t hear him as she came out the door. “Just know that if you go any further than Alex wants to, I won’t need a shotgun.”
“John!” Alex cried out, throwing her arms around him, oblivious to his sudden discomfiture. “See, daddy, I told you he was a good guy.”
“Seems decent enough. Have a nice time, kids.”