Family Matters

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. 

Show and Tell Pt. 2

The walk to the principal’s office was the longest walk Matt had ever taken. His teacher’s heels echoes in the halls of his school as she dragged him behind her. He could tell she couldn’t quite decide what to do with what he’d brought to show and tell that day. One step she held it loosely at her side, the next she tucked it under her arm, the next she made to hand it back to Matt only to snatch it back against her chest in fear.

“Marissa?” Matt recognized his math teacher. His expression at the scene hurrying past any other time would have Matt smiling. 

“Not now Randal.” His teacher moved even faster to the point that Matt had trouble keeping his feet on the ground.

Entering the main office, Matt’s teacher rushed to the secretary. “I need to see the principal. It is very important.” She stressed.

“I think he’s on the phone at the moment. What’s the emergency?”

She held up the bag. The woman behind the desk narrowed her eyes. “Is that…?”

Matt’s teacher nodded. “I’ll go get him,” The receptionist pulled herself up from her chair and flew across the room, not pausing for the courtesy of knocking before entering the Big Man’s office. That’s how the teachers described him. “You best behave before I send you to the Big Man!” They always threatened. Matt had never been sent to the office once until now.  

Voices could be heard from behind the door. Matt’s face flushed. Was he really doing the right thing? He knew what he had was a deal, he just didn’t know how big. He felt a hand rest on his shoulder. His teacher smiled down on him. “It’s going to be ok,” She said. “We’ll take care of you.”  

Matt felt bad for putting her in this position, using her really, but he hadn’t seen any other choice. He wanted to smile back, but before he could move the secretary reemerged and ushered them inside.

Behind a faux expensive desk sat the principal. He was a grave man who looked particularly dead today. The room looked somber and dim, the lights themselves hiding from the coming conversation.

His teacher sat him down in one of two chairs. She sat down next to him, then sprung back up to awkwardly set the package she still held on the desk.

The principal looked at the bag with awe. He hadn’t believed what the secretary had told him at first and even now needed confirmation. He looked across the table at the only woman in the room. She didn’t say a thing.

Breathing exaggeratedly the principal rubbed his legs and folded his hands together. “This is an… unusual situation to say the least. Matt,”

Matt was not feeling ashamed except that he was disappointed he was here. His father had let him down, no two ways about it. But he could set things straight, could right the wrong. For that he knew he had had to be strong, so he steadied his gaze and sat up straight.   

“Matt, do you know what this is?” Matt nodded. “Where did you get this?”

The moment of truth, no pun intended. Matt didn’t know all the consequences of his actions or what his future, no, even tomorrow would hold for him. Matt saw his father as he used to be. It hurt; Matt understood that things would never, ever, be the same. They would never be able to return to what they used to be. It wasn’t fair, but it was the way it was.

“It’s my dad’s. I found it in our basement.” 

His teacher reached over and squeezed his shoulder. The swallowed and picked up his phone to make a call.

I’m sorry daddy, but I don’t know what else to do.

Show and Tell

I’m sorry daddy, but I don’t know what else to do.

Matt didn’t lead a difficult life. He’d never known his mother, but then again that could be said for most around him. All he had when not in school, in limbo between days, was his father. At first it had been good. At first he had been a good father, working a stiff eight to six Monday through Friday in order to provide. To provide was all he knew how to do.

So when things changed, and really you can’t prevent it nor stop it when it happens, Matt had little thought about what to do. By all statistics and stereotypes he should have been the one. The one to start missing work. The one to start staying out late at night. The one to get moody.

So when his father left one night, without a word or sound, Matt went exploring. His father had been spending long hours in the basement lately he knew. Matt found the door easily enough and tried the handle. Even in his current state Matt’s father was smarter than that. The door was locked. Getting down on hands and knees Matt craned his eyes under the sliver of a crack between the wooden floor and door. A dim light helped reveal the situation little. He could just make out the feet of tables and chairs against the far wall. Try as he might, moving his face this way and that, pressing it up against the edge of the door until it left an imprint on his forehead, he could see nothing of much use. Matt sighed and took at deep breath. There was something there. It was faint but very distinct. Matt heard the front door open. Rushed, he bolted back into the living room where cartoons were the night’s entertainment for him.    

His father was back but still didn’t say anything. Matt missed the nights they would sit and watch cartoons together. He couldn’t help but wonder what his mother would do if she were here. It didn’t take much to know she’d left, abandoned is how most people worded it. Still, what would she do?

Matt knew what he had to do. His father was his father, but that didn’t make him perfect. Matt kept watch, waiting for the best moment. A mere week later it came. His father left every night now, hardly speaking a word when home. Every night Matt checked the door. One night his father made the fatal mistake of not checking twice.

Matt heard the initial click and stopped. Swallowing his fear, he turned the knob the rest of the way and swung the door open. It wasn’t an impressive sight. Most home made equipment, the dim light still illuminating. The more he explored the more his heart stopped beating. Matt was not an overly smart kid, his age prohibiting him the most at this point, but nor was he stupid. He knew what he looked at for what it was. He knew with the utmost certainty.

The next day just so happened to be show and tell at his school. Normally Matt did not participate, having nothing he wished to show and tell about. Not today. With gravity he carried his backpack into school past teachers and peers. In class the minutes passed by. He watched the clock religiously. Finally his teacher called for it. All the students grabbed their objects and headed to the back of the room. Solemnly Matt clutched his backpack and sat between two others, one with a teddy bear, the other with a watch. Round Robin it went until attention settled on Matt, his teacher having noticed how he held his pack this time.

No turning back now. Matt stood and pulled what he’d stolen from his father out between a pair of zipper teeth. “This is my dads,” He said. His peers looked curiously on as his teacher’s jaw dropped. He guessed a few moments later her shock wore off as she jetted across the room and grabbed his shoulder. “Where did you get this?” She whispered anxiously. Without much chance to answer she dragged him out of the room.

Yes, no turning back now.