Love thy son

Love thy son

A Story by thebusch

It's a weeknight in Brooklyn. A man comes home to his wife after a long day working at the docks. They live in a small townhouse. The dining area couples as their lounge. The man, Paul, enters the dining room and takes his place at the table.

"Hello, Elle, I'm home. Whatcha got cookin'?"
A middle aged woman enters from the bathroom, shoving her power brush into the front pocket of her apron.
"Hello darling, how was work?"
"Shipment of toys came down from China. Useless pile o' crap. Mick and I broke a tonne of 'em haulin' 'em off the rig. Sure as hell glad I ain't no toy maker in this country."
"Did you see any for Robbie?"
"I ain't givin' no grandson o' mine no goddamn Chinese toy. Besides, his uncle's prob'ly got him dressin' his dolls or sumthin'."
Elle signed, "Come on Paul, you know he loves that truck you gave him last Christmas."
"Of course he loves it. Boys oughta love stuff like that. Now that was a shipment of toys, direct from Philly, that was."
At the mention of Philly Elle became contemplative. "We should really catch the Amtrak down to see my sister, actually."
"I don't see Sally making no such effort to come up and see us."
"You know she finds it hard Paul. What, with Steve on the road.."
"..making a living for that family, yeah he is. I don't see no Sally pulling thread in one of those factories down her end o' town." Paul got along well with his brother in law. "What's for dinner, anyway?"
"I made casserole."
Elle placed their meals on the table and took a seat opposite her husband. Paul frowned at his meal. "I thought we were havin' steak?"
Elle's shoulders dropped. "You know things have been tight Paul, what with your hours being cut."
"Those a******s wouldn't last three days here in Brooklyn off the scraps they give us. It's a disgrace, truly."

The couple ate their dinner. Paul was hungry and didn't waste time looking up from his food. Elle pushed the stewed vegetables around her plate. Her appetite had gone. When Paul had finished Elle started cleaning up.

"What's wrong, Elle?."
"It's nothing Paul."
"Don't give me the whole it's nuthin' thing while you stand there like a stiff. Tell your husband what's wrong."
"Paul, really, you've had a long-"
"-goddamn it Elle I've dealt with worse today just spit it out."
Elle struggled to glance beyond her feet. She stood there with her delicate fingers fiddling the neck of her blouse. "I just thought, maybe, since you have this weekend off, and it's been so long since you had a weekend off, we could go out together."
"Well Elle you know Steve and I.. no Elle come on, don't be like that. Sure, fine we'll go out. Do something nice. Why don't I take you shopping'? I know you love shoppin'."
With her head still bowed, Elle raised her eyes to meet Paul's. "I was thinking more dinner."
Paul was taken aback. He leaned towards his wife. "What's wrong with shoppin'?"
"No, I mean sure shopping would be nice-"
"Am I not good enough to go shoppin' wit you?"
"Paul come on."
"That necklace you're wearing, who gave you that?"
Elle placed her necklace back under her blouse. "It was you, honey, I know that."
There was a pause.
"Is that what you guys do?"
"It is isn't it. It's like dolls for him. All grown up."
"I told you not to goddamn mother him. Every time he fell of his bike, or he got in a fight at school he ran to his mommy. You made this."
"This isn't something you can make, Paul."
"Well it sure as hell ain't natural Elle! You don't get born that way. How else would he turn out that way? It obviously ain't me, nor his pop. Four generations of hauling cargo in his goddamn veins and all he can think to do is act like he does? It's embarrassing. You made him a pansy. There's no man in him."
Elle was defeated. They had been here before. "We can't be like this Paul."
"We can't be like this? We can't be like this? You know what, you're right. I can't be like this. I shouldn't have to be. I get the fucken' shakes just thinkin' of the kid."
"You cannot speak about our son like that!"
"He's not my son. Not anymore. He's not a son in my eyes. He's not a son in God's eyes. Even I'll be lucky if St Peter lets me through with the shame he's brought our family."

Elle finished cleaning up. She left Paul to the television and went upstairs to get ready for bed. Paul sat there in front of the television for quite sometime. He wasn't absorbing what was before him, though it did bring him relief. Relief came in the form of watching the news, relief in watching the re-runs of beloved programs. There was relief because the world was just as it was and nothing true was revealed. Though what the box provided it took away when turned off. And when Paul walked upstairs in the dark got to bed there was restlessness and unease. Once in bed he sat upright and spoke. It wasn't clear as to whom.

"How do I do this? I know I still love the kid. He's me kid, for Christ's sake. But the people, they stare. The guys at work, they don't ask. They don't wanna know. I wanna tell 'em how proud I am o' him. But can you imagine? Guys don't want no shirt lifter raising fella workin' with 'em. Hell I don't blame 'em. 'Cause I don't know no reason other than me for how he turned out. He's my son. He's part of me, my blood. Oh God please forgive me for what I done. I can't help it. I can't."

A chick sits atop a tree branch peering down. There's unknown and there's apprehension. Mother bird stands by assured. When the time is ready the chick leaps and the chick flies, as mother bird always knew. As it was with Paul. Though Paul never admitted he flew. And as Paul once again sobbed himself to sleep, so remained the turmoil and shame.

© 2013 thebusch

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Added on May 25, 2013
Last Updated on May 25, 2013




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