Bob ran in the park every Saturday morning without fail. He didn’t particularly enjoy running. In fact he hated it. Still run he did, the scenery his only motivation to commitment. No, not the pretty, fragrant flowers full in bloom or the well-sculpted shrubbery lining the paths. What attracted Bob to run through the park Saturday mornings was the other visitors. During such a welcoming part of the season the grounds always seemed full to the brim with families, couples, and dogs to observe. Such a sight could not be passed up.
It was on one such fine day Bob’s life changed forever. Running along the same path as he always did Bob was observing a man playing fetch with his four-legged companion rather ungracefully when an elder man stepped forward to block his path. Standing firmly, ready to stop Bob if he should barrel into him, the man looked as if he’d just seen a ghost.
“You alright, mister?” Bob paused a few feet away, jogging in place.
“Bobby?” The man softly spoke.
“I’m sorry?” Bob craned his neck to hear.
“Bobby! Ma’ boy!” The man suddenly grinned, lunging forward. Taken off guard Bob found himself wrapped within the man’s strong arms.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Bob struggled to detached himself from the obscenely affection man.
“ I’ve been looking for you everywhere!” The man cried. Finally prying his fingers apart Bob all but threw the stranger away.
“Do I know you?” He asked, wishing he could remember his fifth grade karate lessons on self-defense.
“I’m your father!” The man said happily. By then many people had drawn closer to see what all the hub-bub was about. Upon hearing this they burst into cheers. How sweet! A long-lost family reunion in the flesh! Let’s take a photo…
“My dad’s dead.” Bob said, more than a little put off. “Has been for five years.”
The man blinked. “But that’s…”
“He died of cancer.” Bob stressed. “I don’t know who you are but I don’t appreciate the sick joke.”
The man blinked rapidly. In a flash his entire demeanor changed from needy father to distant victim. “You monster.” He hissed.
“What?” Bob questioned.
“How dare you.” The man folded his arms crossly. “I have been searching for my son as far back as I can remember, and here you are taking advantage of that.” The crowd turned towards Bob, shock deeply felt. How could he?
Bob, more than a little confused, panicked. “What are you talking about? You were the one—”
“I hope you’re happy with yourself.” The man shoved past Bob roughly heading on his way. Everyone else left moments after, returning to their own activities a little wiser to the world and true nature of man.
From that day forward Bob never ran on Saturdays. Anywhere. It just wasn’t worth the personal risk to one’s reputation.