He couldn’t believe he’d been summoned. He just couldn’t! After all these years of hatred and rejection, his Father finally wanted to see him. Maybe it had something to do with his Father dying of some strange disease he picked up on one of his jungle excursions, but he’d take it.
As he climbed aboard the private jet and settled in for the overseas flight, he began to think about his life and how his relationship with his Father had changed so radically. As a boy they’d been great friends. As soon as he could walk they were always doing the manly things together that his Father liked: hunting, fishing, boating, sports, that sort of thing. And he was pretty good at them all too which pleased his demanding Father to no end. It seemed to him that his younger years were a blur of being on one team or other, vying for captaincy, trying to be the best, all to please his Father and garner his love. And then there were the trips. Oh yes the trips. When he wasn’t too busy at some sport or other, they were off to Africa to hunt lions, or to India looking for diamonds, or trekking down some god-forsaken river just to see where it went. And he loved every minute of it. His Mother took this all in stride, smiling to see her men as she called them having great adventures together.
Then it was time for college and he had to move away. He still tried out for every team and made most of them, captained quite a few as well but it just wasn’t the same without his Father right there to see it all. The trips came to an end. There just wasn’t time for them with all his school work. His Father was pushing him to take classes that would mould him into someone who could take over his financial empire and the truth was he hated them. Those were something that he just wasn’t good at. His grades were very poor. Once his Father got wind of how poorly he was doing, the fights started. Arguments over how much money was being spent on his education and how little effort was being put into his classes, as evidenced by his grades. His Father even went so far as to tell him he was wasting his time with his sports and that he should drop them and concentrate on his studies for a change, to grow up. His Mother was no help as she did not understand his side of the situation and even if she did she would not have said anything to his Father anyway.
That’s when the drinking and the drug use started. At first it was just to try to fit in somewhere, find someplace he felt welcome to replace what he felt he had lost at home. For a while, it worked, but it of course affected his grades even more and he got kicked out of school. His Father was enraged once he found out three months later. Not only had he been kicked out of school he had used three months of school money for one long party and drug binge knowing full well what the repercussions would be once he was caught. His Father sent a bodyguard to collect him and bring him home for a chat. He remembered the chat well. It was more of a one sided screaming match to be precise. He sat, saying nothing, and took it all in. Then came the moment, the true and only moment he ever wished he could take back in his whole life. He told his Father about his boyfriend Clint. Silence fell in the room. His Mother was shocked but his Father was beyond fury. He’d never seen him so angry. The first time their eyes locked he saw something he’d never seen before in any person – pure hate. Of course the name calling started. Fag, pansy, pussy, and all the rest came spewing forth from his Father but he’d sort of expected that. What he didn’t expect was what came next. He was disowned. Ejected. Expelled from the family. He was allowed the keep the clothes he was wearing but nothing else because his Father had paid for it all. His Mother was allowed five minutes to say goodbye and then he was escorted off the grounds and left outside the front gate on the street. That was seventeen years ago. He hadn’t seen his Father since.
In the time since then, he had tried to make amends, but was always rejected. He had heard from his Mother through what she called safe channels, meaning ways she thought that his Father didn’t know about, and she had even sent him money from time to time. Five years ago when his Mother died suddenly of a heart attack and he tried to attend the funeral he was roughly escorted away by his Father’s bodyguards and not allowed to even been at the interment. He had to console himself with visiting the gravesite after everyone had gone.
He’d made a good life for himself though in the last seventeen years. He’d stayed with Clint and they’d even married when it had become legal in their area. About three years ago they’d adopted a two year old boy from Japan who was left an orphan after the flooding there. Due to his knowledge of sports, he became a nationally known sports photographer and was making a good living at it too. They were happy.
The plane landed and he was ushered into a limousine. When they got to the house, he smiled as he was flooded with warm memories of playing games with his Father on the grounds and in the halls of the huge mansion. It seemed like nothing had changed since he’d been there last. He went up the grand staircase and down the wide hall to his Father’s room. Just outside there was a Doctor waiting for him. The Doctor warned him that his Father didn’t have much time left and was very weak so he should make this as brief as possible.
He opened the door and walked into the large room. Most of the furniture had been removed and replaced with medical apparatus that was there to help his Father stay alive. He recognized some, others he didn’t. In the middle of it all was his Father’s bed and in the middle of that was his Father.
He was stunned. His Father used to be a large imposing man. Now a small and shriveled shell of whom he once was, he lay in the center of the bed, tubes coming out of his arms and chest, wheezing and coughing, fighting for breath. Raising a shaking hand, his Father made a motion for him to come closer. He walked to the side of the bed. He motioned to come closer still and tried to say something. He bent over his Father, moved by the joy he felt that his Father wanted to use some of his precious remaining energy to speak to him. Coughing into his face his Father finally spoke:
“I’m… I’m…” his Father stammered.
He leaned in closer to his Father so he could hear him better.
“I’m… I’m…I’m… contagious.”
Note: Every week we choose from four topics to write about. This week one of the topics was “Joy” and I’ve chosen that.
Your comments and creative criticism are more than welcome.