In the hot rural sun, Paul diligently worked in the garden, picking tomatoes and squash for the evening supper. He filled a tub to the brim with the ripened vegetables and
with his bones aching and beads of perspiration tricking down his face, trotted down to
the well behind the house to fetch a cool drink of water. Replenishing his thirst, he sat
down to cool off and rest under a tree after a hard day’s labor. Being in the country made
him remember the days when he and father would work on the old farm back in
Oklahoma. He loved it there, and the warm relationship his shared with his father made
him think of what kind of relationship he could have had with his own son. He had seen
him in fifteen years. It pained him not to know if he was alive or dead, and after years of
waiting for him to come home, it seemed helpless to think that he would ever return. But
there was still a sense of hope flickering in Paul’s mind that some day, he would see his
boy again, and when that time came, they could truly be a father and a son.
Armed with two rabbits, which he had killed earlier in the day, Paul brushed his soiled boots against the doormat and entered the house. “Comet!” he called, “Where are
you, boy? I’m about to fix us supper.” He waited for the dog to crawl to him as usual, but
there was no sign of him. “Comet!? Come on, buddy! Ain’t you hungry?” The room
remained silent. All that could be heard was the muffled buzzing of flies. “Comet?” He
slowly walked to the back room where his entrusted friend slept and continued to call,
“Comet? Comet?! You come here, now!” but it was to no avail. He gently creaked open
the door and a hideous swarm of flies was the only thing live beings to greet him.
Cold and empty, Paul carried the bloated body of his 10 year companion to an
open area in the backyard and buried him against the dark blues and grays of the evening
moonlight beside he graves of his wife and granddaughter.
He staggered back into the house and lit a candle on the mantle in the living room
area. He looked around. There was no sign of life anywhere .The livened dancing of the
candlelit flame in the darkness seemed to mock him with its vibrant presence in the
otherwise dead home. Paul went to the cupboard and poured himself a glass of whiskey.
He drank it slowly, looking up into the utter nothingness of the room in between the tiny
sips, and each time he grew and grew to know what his life had now become.
With quivering lips he fell to his knees and prayed, “Almighty God! Please bring
my child back to me!” It was a prayer he would whisper every night as he and his wife
would lay in bed, a prayer that remained unanswered for 15 years. He beat the ground
and wept, “Please, help me, Lord. I beg of you!” He wished his son would just walk
through the door, but the threshold remained vacant and indifferent to his suffering.
Feeling that all was truly hopeless, he pulled himself up and took the candle to his
bedroom where his desk sat waiting as if it was expecting his company.
He placed the candle on the draw and from a drawer pulled out a paper tablet and
an ink pen. In the presence of the flickering candle, he began to write.
January 15, 1995
To my Beloved son, Robert, from your father Paul.
Today the only companion I had in the world died. My dog, Comet, is now
gone, and I now know that there is no further action but to end my life. I
am writing this letter to you in the hopes that one day if you decide to
return that will know what drove me to this decision.
Paul took a deep breath as he dove into that fateful moment in his past. It was the
last time he had seen or heard from his son.
It was the year 1980 on a cold November night in Lawton, where he and his
family used to live. Robert had come in late to pick up his 5-month old daughter whom
Paul and his wife and Robert’s mother, Pamela had been babysitting. Paul had emerged
from the bedroom when he heard his son stagger through the door.
“I’m here to pick up my daughter,” Robert growled.
“You said you’d be here five hours ago,” Paul responded.
“Well, I’m here now ain’t I. Where’s my little girl?”
“She’s fast asleep. It’s 3:00 in the morning.” Paul sighed and shook his head.
What have you been doing?”
“I do have time to answer questions. Meg’s waiting in the car.”
“Let me see you eyes, first.”
Robert became upset. “I ain’t gonna show you my damn eyes! I just wanna get
my little girl and leave!”
“Take off your shades.”
“I ain’t gonna take off nothing!”
A struggle ensued, and Paul was able to rip of his son’s sunglasses to reveal of a
pair of bloodshot eyes. “I knew it! You went back to using those drugs, didn’t you?”
Robert began to weep. “I’m sick and tired of this bullshit, dad! Where’s
“Why do you do, Robert? For Christ’s sake, you have a little girl now?’
“Why are you asking?! You make me do all of this!”
Paul how surprised by his response. “How do I make you do this?”
“You don’t love me, dad! You never did!”
“Robert you know I love you. I’ve always had.”
“We never played catch. We, We never went to games together. You never spent
any time with me.”
“I was busy putting food in your mouth!”
“It was always work, work, work, but you never find time to hug me or tell me
you loved me!”
“I told you everyday that I loved you! Don’t you dare blame me for your drug
Their shouts awakened both Pamela and Charity, who was now crying in her crib.
“What’s going on!?” Pamela asked as she cradled the infant. “All of your yelling woke
up the baby!”
“Pamela, take the baby in the bedroom,” Paul commanded.
“Give me her, mom! I gotta go!” Robert lunged for the baby, but his father pulled
“What’s wrong with you, Robert!?” Pamela screamed.
“Take the baby into the room, now, Pam!”
As soon as she exited the room with the baby, Paul gained his composure and
pulled his son to the corner to speak with him. “If I ever hurt you, I’m sorry, but I’ve
done the best that I can do with you.”
“Is that all you can do?” Robert sneered. “I want my child.”
“You know that I can’t let you take her.” Meg honked the car horn outside.
“If you won’t let me take her, I’m just gonna leave.”
“Please, don’t go, Robert. I don’t want you to get hurt tonight. You and Meg can
stay here in the spare, room.”
Robert looked his father in the eyes. “You wanna care about me, now? Well it’s a
little too late for that.”
“You’re gonna regret this, Robert. Please stay.”
“Goodbye, Dad. I hope I never see you’re sorry ass again.” Robert walked out of
the front door and out of his family’s life.
Your mother wanted to look for you the day after you left, but I decided you were
a grown man and you can make your own decisions. I’ve regretted that decision for all these years. I never thought I wouldn’t see you again, and I still don’t know to this day why you left your daughter. I guess it was guess it was the drugs talking. I remember how
she would always beg me to go to the park. She was such a beautiful little girl.
“Look at me, Grandpa!” Charity laughed as she danced around the freshly green
grass. It was spring 1985 and Paul, Pamela, and their granddaughter were together at the
“It’s unbelievable how fast they grow,” Pamela said as she looked at Charity play.
“I remember when I would bring Robert to the park when he was her age.” She giggled.
She looks so much like him, Paul!” she began to cry. “It’s like I’m watching him now!”
Paul put his arm around his wife to console her. “Don’t worry, dear. He’ll come back one day. I know he will. We just have to give him time.”
“It’s been five years, Paul! He’s probably, dead!”
“Please don’t say that. You don’t know for sure.”
In the midst of their conversation, Charity went unnoticed and came across an
eerie object hidden in the bushes. “Oooh,” she said. “What’s this?”
“We have Charity now, and that’s all that matters,” Paul said.
Pamela looked up around the park. “Where is Charity?” The two looked frantically around the park and found her lying unconscious beside the
She had pricked her finger on a needle thrown in the bushes. I learned that all the
junkies used to shoot up in the park at night and throw their needles there. Me and your
mother sat in the waiting room for six hoping that she would be okay. Then the doctor
came in and sat down and said there was nothing that he could do. The heroin had
completely shut down her body. It damn near killed me, but it really killed your mother.
Charity was the only thing in the world that we had of yours, and now she was gone. I
always thought that drugs would kill you, but never in a million years would I think that
they would kill my granddaughter.