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To My Beloved Son, Robert

By Roger Washington,2014-06-16 20:05
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To My Beloved Son, Robert ...

    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

    Charity?!”

    “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

    problems!”

    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

    him back.

    “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

    local park.

     “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

    bushes.

    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.

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