Pappy part 20

Pappy spent the next day with Trevor at the radio station.  He was always fascinated with media, in any form, and he involved himself with little restraint in everything that Trevor would allow.  When Trevor went on the air, he declared that he had Santa Clause in the studio, and invited fans to call in and chat with Santa.  Pappy happily played along, and stammered his way with seasonal charm and exuberance through a myriad of telephone calls.  I listened as Trevor addressed his listeners, with a faintly noticeable stammer of his own.  The mood was light and fun, and well received by all.  I cannot help but wonder if some folks did not believe—just for a heartfelt second in time—that they had chatted with the jolly old spirit of Christmas himself.  I did.

That evening Trevor, Darcy, and I treated Pappy to a delectable Tex-Mex feast at Matt’s Cantina, complete with cervezas and margaritas, of which Pappy drank precious little, and I consumed entirely too much.  (I highly recommend Matt’s if you are in Dallas and are hungry for comedia perfecto).  Darcy and I retired early, and Pappy went off to Trevor’s.  Pappy would go with me the next day, while Trevor was a work.  We would stop by the Rose and I would introduce the old man to my friends and co-workers, then we would do a little Christmas shopping.  I wanted to drive to East Texas, an hour drive to a charming store in an old house that I had visited earlier in the year.  The place was intriguing, and I had seen a cameo there that I wanted to enquire about as a possible gift for Darcy.  I have little doubt that Pappy and Trevor filled the night with extreme tale swapping and wagging, which I am sorry that I missed, but number two sons cannot always be privy to the secrets of a daddy and his first born.  I was looking forward for the next day, and I slept well.

After brunch at the Rose, during which Pappy flirted with all the ladies and confirmed to the fellows that I was indeed his son, we drove to the enchanted little shop that was on the outskirts of Cross Plains, in a rather rural setting.       

It was a white, two-story house, with a small attic gable window that was open.  Clean, white, lace curtains hung at every window, and wafted in the breeze at the upper, open window.  Three steps led to the porch, which was well swept, and accommodated a white wicker love seat and two chairs with pastel yellow cushions, and an abundance of potted flowers.  The front door had an intricate, clear leaded glass design, and stood open behind a screen door.  This was a house that emanated a soft glow of passive salutation, and we entered without pause. 

The first several rooms were neatly arranged with gift items for many imaginations, selected from a group of artisans that were not usual.  Debussy was playing quietly in the background, and olfactory delights lingered delicately.  We saw no one there.  I showed Pappy the cameo, that was juxtaposed in a display case with an assortment of unusual, smaller selections: rings, bracelets, necklaces, pins, pill boxes, pens, unusual coins from other times and places, amulets, and stones of all color and brilliance.  Nothing was usual, including the cameo of interest.  It was old, though in very good condition, and was not the standard silhouette of a woman’s face.  It was, rather, a heron with a fish in its beak.  It was fascinating, almost magical, and I truly wanted to obtain it, but was uncertain if I could afford it.    

“Hello.” Her voice was low and sensual in its timbre.

I turned to see an older, thin, quite lovely lady, wearing a flowing, gently yellow, linen dress, with a pale orange shawl.  Her hair was silver and long, braided nearly to mid-waist.  Her eyes were emeralds, green, with an Eireann twinkle.  I followed her trim torso and legs to view her ankles, but her short, laced boots covered them. 

“Well, I, uh…” I turned, mostly to avoid embarrassment by my abandoned gaze at her presence, and I noticed that Pappy was enraptured. 

“Would you like a reading?” She asked, smiling with reassurance at Pappy.

“Oh, I didn’t know that you did that.” I replied.  “Actually, I wanted to just enquire about…”

“Yes!” Pappy interrupted with a stammer.  “That would be interesting.”  

I detected that he was nervous, but certainly not frightened.  He seemed to pull his shoulders back and stand a dash taller.

“Please, come with me.  My name is Irene.” She motioned to a room toward the back of the house.  “Please make yourself comfortable.” Irene said to me, as she swept her delicate arms toward the stairway, and pointed with her long, enticing hands to the upper floor.  “You might find the upper room of interest.”

As she and Pappy exited to the rear of this peaceful, mysterious house, I felt myself a bit jealous.  Irene was intoxicating.  I wondered what was upstairs, and climbed the twelve steps to a small hallway where there were three doors—two to the left and one to the right.  I was confused.  To which room did this mystifying lady refer?  Being quite drawn to the intrigue now, I stood quietly at the top of the stairs, breathed deeply, and paused for a clue as to which room I should visit.  I cannot tell you why, but I choose the last door on the left.

I had chosen a room of mirrors.  I counted twenty-three.  There was a doorway with an opened door leading to the room at the front left.  I looked in and counted another twenty-three mirrors. 

The light in these rooms entered through three clear, leaded-glass windows in each room, and bounced subtly about from mirror to mirror in a dim dance of refraction.  As I stood in the doorway glancing into the room to the front, I was startled by the reflection of an older woman, positioned at an angle slightly out of view.   She appeared to be looking out through one of the windows, and I was unable to see her face, though I sensed familiarity.  It spooked me.  I closed that door and turned into the room that I had first chosen from the hallway.  

Delicate light danced about, and the bare, winter branches of a tree outside tapped on a window.  I was reminded of Burkhart’s house, and a strange, warm acquaintance with my youth crept over me.  I felt attended by other than the multiplicity of my image in the many mirrors.  In fact, I was intimidated by the presence of those reflections, and rather comforted by the company of a nebulous chimera that had no apparent manifestation. 

In this room there were several chairs, each with a small end table, situated along the walls.  There was a richly printed round carpet, well-aged though yet in splendid condition, that welcomingly filled the core of the room.  I sat in a wing chair that was placed in the corner opposite the two doors, between two of the leaded glass windows that so gracefully filtered the light.  I could imagine this space used as a sitting room, with high tea by day, and brandy by night.  The subtle hues were hypnotic, and my eyes felt heavy.

“Hello Sonny Boy.” 

I was startled from a moment of drowsy rumination of years gone by.

“Oh, Uh…” I looked up. 

There sat three figures.  I first noticed a mature, quixotic fellow dressed in a tarnished, golden armor.  He was clean-shaven, though his hair was shoulder length, and unruly.  His face and hands were whitely opaque and painted, and resembled papier maché, although there was a twinkle in his eyes that sparkled with tireless principle.  His movements were puppetesque, which was especially evident in the motion of his jaws when he spoke.

“It has been many years.” He spoke.

“Indeed, it has.” I responded.  “So many that I am uncertain to whom I speak.”

As he sat his dented helmet on the small table next to his chair the rusty clatter of his armor sounded the fragments of a long, incomplete crusade.

“I, sir, am Sir Uck Uck, the Golden Knight!” He proclaimed.  “And, Mark, I know you from many years ago.

A voice interjected from a chair beside Sir Uck Uck “You, weary old knight, know nothing except the aimless bearing of your lance upon gullible windmills!”. 

I looked in the direction of he who spoke the pungent remark.  There was a haze of thick, blue smoke lingering about his face as he fixed dramatically upon a cigar that he held at a slight distance, as if he had taken it from the dry, skeletal lips of poor Yorick himself.  When he turned to look at me I saw that he was young—in his early twenties—with a pencil thin mustache and slick hair combed straight back.  He grinned mockingly at me. 

“I presume that you know, of course, who I am.”  He directed his question to me.

“No, sir, I do not.” I replied, rather defiantly, having felt his presumptuous barb.

“I,” he replied flamboyantly, “am Buck Star.                

“You, sir, are a figment of imagination!” Retorted Sir Uck Uck with sudden vigor.

“And you are a quixotic, old puppet.” Buck laughed. 

“I have conquered far greater foes than you!”  The knight declared vehemently, and began to reach for his helmet.

“You have conquered nothing more than the passage of time.  You are a hopeless dreamer.” Buck Star laughed theatrically. “And you are a dream! A soulless apparition” Sir Uck Uck spoke as he pointed toward Buck Star as if to joust him back to before his idealized and unrealistic conception.

“Silence!” I commanded.  “I know something of both of you.  Sir Uck Uck, you gave Trevor and me much pleasure in our youth, but your damnable quest was undefined.  It was apparently more important to challenge the wind than to listen to it.  Perhaps you should have stayed home and built kites.  And you, Buck Star, all the illusionary roles of the heroic figures of life.   It was you that led Pappy astray.  It is better to dream the impossible dream than to connive and tempt vulnerable romantics with two-dimensional promises of stardom!”

Then I turned to the mysterious third chimera.  This figure was amorphous; rather like a reflection that had not yet manifested itself in this room of mirrors; this was negative space to an artist. 

“And you, silent one, who might you be?” I inquired.

With an anthropomorphic shift forward in his chair, and a broad sweeping motion that representatively encompassed the space in which the four of us sat, he asked, “Do you know where you are?”

My brazen command of the situation stalled abruptly.  “No,” I answered with slight trepidation. “I don’t really.”

“You are in your father’s room.” 

Sir Uck Uck looked at me and awaited my response.  Buck Star puffed on his cigar and pompously blew smoke rings, all the time maintaining direct eye contact with me. 

“And, who are you?” I asked again.

“I am Arthur Morris Kidwell.  I am an amiable and very capable handy-Andy showman, who entertainingly stretches the truth.  I am a seemingly strong, but embittered, self willed, hate filled, confused individual, who rates masculinity by the seductions of women.  I am an “Entertainer, unemployed.”  I am a faltering human being, divided into too many persons, all un-integrated, and in hostile camps.  I am Doctor Frankenstein.  I am the father figure personified.”

I mused upon his words for a moment.  The Golden Knight and Buck Star moved closer to the edge of their seats in anticipation.  From Uck Uck I felt encouragement and defense as he held his helmet and awaited orders.  From Star I sensed disdain and hollowness as he examined his cigar, glanced at the many mirrors in the room searching for a hint of his reflection, and then awaited my demise. 

“However, you are not Pappy?  You are not Don Fought, are you?  I finally parried.   

“No, I am not.  I never was.  Oh, for many years I thought that I could assimilate Donn Fought.  I haunted his psyche for long periods of time.  Time and time again I claimed genealogical squatters’ rights in his unconscious mind.  I attempted to control him through his insecurities and his doubts.  But, Fought had dreams, splendid dreams of chivalry and success.  I created a stammer in his speech to retard those aspirations, but he stumbled onward.  It only took him longer to express his dreams.  He learned that if he sang that he would not stutter, and he often sang to me, as if I wanted to listen.  I found his voice annoying, and would not linger long when he began to sing a happy tune.”

“It is a good thing that he created me.” Buck Star interrupted.  “I became the perfect figure to relieve his longings!”  He doted on himself.    

“You are a fool, Star.”  Announced Arthur Morris Kidwell.  “I created you!  I made you in order to divert attention from myself.  You are but a figment of imagination.  You are not.  Yes, it is true that, like Dr. Frankenstein, you became a monster.  Fought eagerly absorbed your presence.  You were dashing, charming, and successful.  You were all talented – all man, and all great.    

But I misjudged Fought.  I never viewed him as a great or talented man.  I was there when he made up stories about you.”  And he motioned nebulously toward Sir Uck Uck, who sat rigidly ready for battle.  “You see, Fought was able to create characters in his defense.  Sir Uck Uck, you were always there to guide him beyond his fears and doubts, by your unfailing quest for truth.  And he created others: Charlie Horse, Snappy Dragon, the Cross-eyed Carpenter, and the indisputably wise and Buddha-like Walkin’ Pokin’.  Through these characters Fought applied his talent.  And, he created drawings and puppets that secured creative justification.”

Arthur Morris Kidwell continued.  “Then there came you!”  He pointed, not so nebulously, at me.  “You and Trevor.  Suddenly Fought became a man.  Oh, perhaps there are those who would argue the nuances of responsibility that it takes to become a man.  This is your father’s room.  When you investigated the adjoining room did you see your mother?”  He looked at me, knowing that I had seen the reflection of someone, though I knew not who.  No response was expected of me, and he continued. 

“Star, I created you as a neurosis.  You were designed to dash across the silver salts of Donn’s mind’s camera and projector, distracting him while I eroded his psyche. Fought was a greater man – conceived in a woman’s womb out of lust and passion – not out of emotional, neurotic need…” Lust and passion—who would have guessed that Fought would not view those as sin, and therefore as weakness.  Where were man’s teachings of God then?  Star, I should have made you a charismatic preacher rather than a dashing actor.  You would have been less visible as a neurosis, and likely more effective.   

Furthermore, I did not calculate the power of child.  I did not understand that Child is truly the father of man.  Buck Star, neither you, or my genealogical bag of tricks envisioned that one.  You never swayed Fought as a father, because Star never had, or wanted children!  It was, essentially, this fact that eventually built the strength in Fought.  So, While Sir Uck Uck and his companions covered Fought’s blind side, he became involved in the painful process of murdering Star – so that Donn Fought can then relive himself of Kidwell and Morris, and be one whole, creative, and talented person.  As he destroyed you, Star, he relived himself of me.”

This haunting specter then turned back to me.  “As for Pappy, well, he was only born when Donn Fought was reunited with Trevor and you.  His struggle had been long and tedious, but Fought eventually transcended the influence of both Buck Star and myself.  You boys are simply his finale.  Now, Mark, when you looked in the adjoining room did you see your mother?”  

 “I saw someone.” I humbly replied.

“That is her room.”  He continued.  “You should visit it someday.  But you are here now.” 

“Why are you here?” Asked Sir Uck Uck in my defense.

“Why are you here?” Asked Buck Star contemptuously.

“Who do you think you are?”  Asked Arthur Morris Kidwell.

The tree branch outside tapped again on the window.  The wind whistled through an opening somewhere in the hallway.  Luminiferous junctions of desultory refraction bounced silently from mirror to mirror.  I retreated into my large chair and searched for an immediate answer to a question that had haunted me all my life. 

“Yes, I am curious myself.” Buck Star ended the deafening moment of silence.  “Are you Curley Wilcox?  Are you going to arrest me, or shoot me with a little pine pistol?” He mocked me.

“You are Ivanhoe, or Robin Hood!” Proclaimed Sir Uck Uck.  “Come lad, onward into battle!”

“Onward to the next windmill, you feeble old knight?  Perhaps he would prefer a more formidable foe.”  Star guffawed, as he conspicuously placed his cigar over the edge of the small end table, as if he were going to make a pool shot.  “Perhaps…” He took a flask from his coat pocket, opened it, took a stout slug, and wiped his mouth on his sleeve.  “…He is Mr. Hyde!”  He took another long belt, and then laughed theatrically loud.

“You are an actor, a two-dimensional image that is powerless without a projector.  You would ripple and tear in the wind!”  The picaresque Sir Uck Uck rallied in riposte.     “I am son of Pappy!  I am Donn Fought’s number two son!”  I declared, perhaps more as a means of halting the petty bickering between Uck Uck and Star than as an answer to the question asked of me.  It worked.  They both quieted and awaited my next words.  I stalled, yet indecisive. 

“You are truly the son of Pappy.” Spoke the murky Arthur Morris Kidwell.  “You are not, however, the son of Donn Fought.  Your lineage on your father’s side is that of Kidwell.”

“Yes, I know that.  I know that Pappy was adopted.”  I responded.  “What of it?  It does not matter now.  Pappy, Trevor, and I have determined not to go backwards, not to dredge up the past.”

“It is wise at this time to let bygones be bygones, don’t think that the past means that much.  The past is what you have done.  The past is what your boys have done.  It is the present now.  Your father does not want to go back.  He did not live an easy life.  During his incessant conflict with his own destiny he made many mistakes.  If he were to return to the past he would have to don the golden armor once again.  If he were to return to the past he would have to once again struggle with the likes of Buck Star, And, Donn Fought could never really emulate the ever … talented Star.”  Arthur Morris Kidwell was talking methodically.  There was almost a comfortable tone in his voice.  But his presence was mysteriously grim.  “Look at them now.” He motioned in the direction of the puppet and the actor.

Buck Star was sipping from his flask and puffing on his cigar.  His teeth were darkened from the tobacco, and the liquor dribbled down his chin.  He did not look so dashing.  Sir Uck Uck remained alert in his chair and ready for combat, but he was old and bent, and his paper face and hands were tattered.  His eyes twinkled with unrelenting youth, but his movements were those of a scarred, old warrior.  Still, I was glad that he was there.

Arthur Morris Kidwell continued.  “There is a little of each of them in you, and in Trevor, sonny boy.”  I felt anxious, and uncomfortable.  “Your father’s time is near.  You boys are the answer to a prayer.”

I was flabbergasted, unsure how to respond to the prognostications of this amorphous figure.  Pappy was only in his early seventies.  Surely there was much time left.  Time to make up for lost time. 

“And you are just like your father!  You are a dreamer.  You are an idealist, and eventually it will haunt you.”  Buck Star had resumed the conversation with force.  “Would you like a drink, Mark?”  He offered his flask.  “I know that you drink.  You drink entirely too much.”  He laughed haughtily.  “Maybe you would like a puff of my cigar!”  He took an ostentatious drag and blew the thick smoke in my direction.  “No?  Of course, you no longer smoke.  Hell, you work in a bar, you share every cigarette lit.  I know, let us look at this girlie magazine!”  Star was frenzied, as he pulled a magazine and a book from his coat.  “You like girls, don’t you, you have certainly been promiscuous in your time.  Oh, maybe you are just addicted to romance.  Here,” He lifted the book with his left hand and placed his right hand on the cover.  “Maybe you would like to read the Bible with me.  You are addicted to religion, calling out at all hours of the day and night for Devine help, while never finding the time to extend a helping hand.  Fought, you are a fifty-year-old bartender, who drinks too much, who woes the ladies yet accepts no responsibility for their fragile hearts, who argues with the very God from whom you beg mercy and miracles!  The fight against God, in the name of God.  Oh, yes, you are son of Pappy.  You are your father’s son, a classic underachiever. You will never amount to anything!”

My defenses were weakened by Star’s barrage, and I was speechless.  Sir Uck Uck came to my rescue.

“Pay no heed to him Mark.  He is a holographic soliloquy, expressing anger at your father.”  Said The Golden Knight.  “You are a dreamer, but that is a wonderful trait.  Dream on, I say!  Dream of a better time for yourself, and the entire world.  Believe in mercy and miracles, and they shall happen.  Use your talents.  Create music and art.  Your father was very talented, and he never gave up hope that someday he would stand at the pinnacle of his aspirations.”  Sir Uck Uck seemed to have found renewed vigor in his speech.  “Dream the impossible dream!  Climb the highest mountain!  Have faith!  You are your father’s son.  You can do whatever you want to do!”  

“Pinnacle of aspirations!  Ha!”  Star injected.  “Donn Fought struggled most of his life to hold down a steady job.  More like the windmills of his aspirations.  He chased windmills in dingy, smoky lounges, shielding himself from his from his insecurities with a silly, little song.  He chased windmills in Hollywood, acting like an actor.  Fought was no actor, he stammered worse than Porky Pig.  He deserted you boys for vacant dreams of grandeur, and for the lights, cameras, and action of a life that was meant for me.  He incessantly relinquished to my dominance, and ricocheted from failure to failure.  He accepted piecework along the way, and inevitably linked to a woman for emotional, and I dare say, pecuniary insulation…”

“Your words are cruel and wicked, Buck Star!”  Sir Uck Uck declared with authority.  “It is…”

“…And his relationships were only additional mishaps.”  Star would not acquiesce to the Golden Knight’s interruption, and continued his tirade.  “After Hollywood chewed him up, and his second divorce spit him out, Fought ran to Florida to be close to his mother.  There he remarried twice, and continued chasing windmills.  Of smaller dimension perhaps—painting murals, window painting, building floats, even working in a small grocery, juggling apples no doubt—but windmills none the less.   And you, Mark, you and Trevor, are just like your father!   You are hopeless dreamers, continuously chasing an ubiquitous windmill, and you have nothing to show for your time.”

“Enough!” Sir Uck Uck had stood up, prepared for combat.  “Star, your words are as hollow as your image.  You are a pathetic neurosis without a host.  You are angry because Don Fought was finally able to extricate himself from your parasitical manipulations and find happiness.  Yes, it is true that he grappled with the likes of you most of his life, but he was not a weak man.  On the contrary, he dared to dream the impossible dream.  He courageously picked himself up after each fall and marched fourth.  The truth is, Buck Star, that it was you who fell from public dominance.  It was you who refused to act, or work.  It was you who gave up public appearances.  … Became a hermit – and he began to hate the race of mankind – particularly Fought – because Fought was insisting on cutting the umbilical cord that gave you birth… you were reduced from that heroic birth – full grown – to the sniveling parasite, clinging to only a rudimentary hope of survival.”  The old knight slowly sat down, and turned to me.  “You, Mark, believe in yourself.  You are, I will say again, your father’s son.”

Suddenly the room became very quiet.  Both Sir Uck Uck and Buck Star were silent.  I was weary from their dissertations.  I looked at Arthur Morris Kidwell, who had remained unspoken for much of this dialogue. 

“What about you?” I enquired of him.  “Surely you have an opinion that you would like to voice.”

“They are only partial dimensions of your father’s life, however.  There is much that you do not, remember, or shall never know.  Everyone has a darker side.  The presence of your father’s darker side played a supporting role in the discord of he and your mother. 

Be wary of the Kidwell atavism, Mark.  That is the role of Buck Star, and he would sell his soul to Oscar—be it for his reflective rendering of Jeckell, or his more masterful portrayal of the ominous Hyde.  Buck Star, keep in mind, is psychoses.  The Golden Knight is of Morris genus.  He is a dreamer, but a man of honor and vision.  Yes, perhaps often oblivious to the attendance of reality, but kindly.  This is the heritage of Mum Mum and Gramma Xenie, with the empathetic support of your grandfather Fought. 

One’s darker side—and you know well from personal struggle—can only be suppressed by the continuous invitation for light.  All things affect all things.  Whatever you may choose to do in life, proceed with loving-kindness.  Your father may never have been a great star, but he has been a beacon to many.”

I was suddenly aware of movement from outside the room—the shuffling of someone’s feet as they climbed the twelve stairs to the hallway.  I looked at the three figures, rather curious as to their reaction.  Buck Star suddenly appeared frightened, and without hesitation he rose from his seat and moved into the vague mass of space that was Arthur Morris Kidwell, and was absorbed. 

“Your father.” Spoke Arthur Morris Kidwell.  “He enters the hall.”

With frail action and a rusty clatter, Sir Uck Uck rose to his feet, as if to stand at attention.  His pale, paper face showed a tired, but proud warrior—never one to capitulate, though always one to revere his king.  

“We must be on our way, for now.”  Arthur Morris Kidwell declared. “Take heed to what you have experienced in this room, however.  Time is a perpetual wheel.  Your father’s moment is near.  You, and your generation, are waning as well.  It is only corporeal decay that defines the difference between your continuum and ours.”  His murky mass then transformed into a fluid exit between positive and negative space, and he was gone.

The gallant Golden Knight, Sir Uck Uck, stood at crooked attention, but the light reflecting from his armor seemed brilliantly bright, though not as radiant as that which glimmered from his ever-chivalrous eyes.

“Sonny boy.”  Pappy stammered from somewhere within the hall.

“Until we meet again, Sonny boy!”  Avowed Sir Uck Uck, and then he vanished into the ballet of silent light that reflected throughout the room—my father’s room.  

“Yes Pappy,” I spoke up, “I am here.”  I rose and went into the hall, where Pappy stood with a wide smile on his face.  “I must have fallen asleep.”

Pappy glanced into the room from which I had just exited.

“Seems like a very comfortable room in which to catch a cat nap.” He said, and I smiled at him.

“Come, Father, we’d better go…” He looked at me rather amazed, as I had never called him that before.  “…It’s getting late, and we have to drive back to Dallas.  The traffic can be brutal out there during rush hour, Pappy.  Especially during the holiday season.”

Irene was sitting on an exquisite divan that sat across from and faced the stairway below.  Her charm and seasoned beauty glowed warmly.  She stood up as we descended, and smiled.  I was captivated.

“Well, I trust that you were not bored while your father and I chatted.”  Her voice was soothing.

“I seemed to have dozed off for a while.  An enlightening little nap, though.”

“Yes, Mark.  That room can be rather seductive.  Your father and I had a pleasant communion; he’s a charming old goat.”  Pappy beamed with a dash of embarrassment as Irene took his hand at the bottom of the stairs.

“The cameo is quite expensive Mark.”  She continued.  “I’m sure that there are other special gifts from which you can select something unique for your lady.” 

Yes, the cameo was expensive, though I had not said anything to that effect.

“Are you reading my mind?” I grinned, with perhaps more than the cameo in mind.

“Oh, certainly not.” Irene responded.  “I wouldn’t be so daring.”

The winter wind was chilly when Pappy and I stepped outside.  I looked back at the unusual little house and saw Irene pull the pale, orange shawl over her head, and then I turned away allowing reflections from the room above to flicker and extinguish from my immediate memory.

It was nearly dark as Pappy and I returned to the city.  The festive lights of the season were all aglow, but the traffic was atrocious.

“Old goat, eh?” I prodded Pappy.  I was hesitant to discuss my experience with him, and he remained illusively silent about his.

“Did I ever tell you—I know that I told Trevor—that your mother once called me a leering, lecherous, prancing goat?”  He laughed heartedly.

 “A leering, lecherous, prancing goat?” I repeated, and we both guffawed loudly.

“Yes, she had a way with words!” Pappy declared, as we continued to chortle. 

I had not heard Pappy mention our mother in forty years, and perhaps I was listening to my own thoughts, but I was sure that I sensed a minute dash of lingering love.

Love does not just vanish.  It abides everlastingly in the ether of ubiquitous Heaven.  Oh, perhaps any return path is so mired in the muck of hate and despair that it would be insane to ever look back, lest one turn into a pillar of salt.  Never the less, love, once loved, no matter how distant, remains written and sealed.

I turned on the radio.  Joy Emmanuel.  The Christmas music was festive and Pappy and I sang a carol or two as we forged our way over the river and through the woods, where Trevor and Darcy were waiting.  Dinner was prepared.

Continue to Part 21
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Mark T.K. Fought