Sunday, November 18, 2012

Perfect 10-Before the Always

Jimmy got to his parents house quickly.  There was an ambulance and two police cars in front.  He also saw a black van that didn’t have any windows.  Something was wrong. His mom was sitting on the front stoop staring at the ground.  She had a kleenex in her hand she had shredded to pieces and watched the remnants fall on the cement of the porch.
“Mom?”  He put a hand on her shoulder.  “Where’s Dad?”
Anita closed her eyes and looked over at the cars.  “In the van.”
“Does he want to see me?”
Anita shook her head.  “Even if he did, he can’t now, Jimmy.  He’s dead.”
Jimmy turned pale in an instant.  He dropped to his knees and stayed in front of his mom.  “Heart attack?”
“He found his gun, Jimmy.  He found his gun and he left a note and then he-”  She closed her eyes again.  “He shot himself point blank.”
“Why?  Why would he do something like that?  I thought he was getting better.”
“You, Jimmy.  Okay.  He tried to stop you and failed.  You did exactly what he told you he wanted, but he didn’t really want that.  He wanted you to do something for yourself not for him.  He lied to you, Jimmy.  The army won’t do anything for you except lower your self-esteem and give you nightmares about the front line.  Why on earth did you decide to join?”
“Mom, did you see the planes crash into the towers.  Do you want to jump to your death from a building.”
“If I could be with your father,  I would.”  Anita ran her fingers through her hair.  “Jimmy, he’s gone.  He didn’t even say goodbye.”
“Coward,” Jimmy mumbled.
“Don’t you speak ill of the dead, young man.  He’ll always be your father.  Don’t you forget that.”
“I’d rather forget that.  He didn’t even think about where that would leave you or me.  He’s selfish, inconsiderate, and he never liked me.  I never did anything right by him.  Ever.”
“Jimmy, that’s not true.  You married the girl you got pregnant.”
Jimmy stood up from the porch and threw his hands in the air.  “Mom, how many times do I have to tell you?  Lyddie and I did things in order!  And don’t make this about her anyway.  This is about my dad, not my wife.”
Anita reached over on a table and grabbed an envelope.  “Here.  He left this for you.”  She put the white envelope with his name scrawled across the front of it in his hands.
“What is it?”
“I’m guessing a letter.  It isn’t mine.”
Jimmy handed it back to his mom.  “I don’t want it.  I don’t want anything that’s his.”
Anita stood up and put her hands on her hips.  “Jimmy,please.”  Two tears trailed down her cheek.  “Forgive him.”
“I can’t.”  Jimmy shook his head.  “I can’t forgive someone who couldn’t even be happy for me, who didn’t believe in me.” He stopped and ran his fingers through his high and tight haircut.  “Who couldn’t even come to say goodbye to me before I went off to basic.  He’s a coward, Mom.  I don’t want anything to do with a coward.”
Anita hugged her body and looked down at the cracked cement of the porch.  “You’re coming to his funeral, aren’t you?” she whispered.
“Why should I?  He wouldn’t come to mine.”
“That’s a terrible thing to say, Jimmy Alexander.  Terrible.”
“The truth hurts, Mom.”  He kissed her cheek.  “The truth always hurts.”  He hugged his mom and backed away.  Her body was stiff.  “I’m going home.  I haven’t seen Lyddie in three months.”
“Jimmy, you’re father is dead.  Don’t you think I need you more?”
“My wife is pregnant.  She thought she miscarried earlier tonight.  I need to be with her.  If you wouldn’t have insulted her on the day I left, I may have thought twice about leaving.”
“I’m sorry, Jimmy.  I was upset.”
“A little late for sorry.  Goodbye.” 

Lt. Baker walked Lydia up to the apartment door.  It was dark outside and she didn’t want to walk up alone.  Before she opened the door, she heard a loud crash. The key turned in the lock and she went inside.  The shelves that had books on them were empty.  Instead, they were scattered on the floor.  A lamp was knocked over.  A few of her wooden trinkets were on the ground.  She heard a loud growling sound and knew it was Jimmy.
“Jimmy?”  she called out.  She looked at Lt. Baker with pleading eyes.  “Daddy, don’t go, yet.”  She walked into the kitchen.  “Jimmy?”
He wasn’t there either.  She walked back to the front room and saw Jimmy holding on to the couch kicking the back of it.
“Jimmy, stop!” she ordered.  “Stop that right now!”
Jimmy looked up.  The realization that Lydia was ordering him to stop hit him.  His eyes darted around at the mess he had made.  “Lyddie, oh.  I’m sorry, baby.  I’m sorry.  I’ll clean it up.”
Lydia walked towards him, but he held up his hand.  “Don’t, baby.  Just stay away for a second. I need a few minutes to myself.”
Lydia walked back over to her dad.  He rested his hand on her shoulder.  “Jimmy, what happened?”  She saw him grip the couch harder and his knuckles whitened.
“My dad killed himself.  My stupid dad put a gun to his head and said to heck with Jimmy.  To heck with life.”  He kicked the back of the couch.  “To heck with everything!”  A painted wooden statue of a little girl fell over on the table and broke.  Lydia picked it up with watery eyes.  “My daddy--“
Jimmy put his hand over his eyes.  “Your daddy made that didn’t he?  Lyddie, I’m sorry.  I’ll fix it.”
“I’ve had it since I was a  baby.  You stop being one!  You’re scaring me, Jimmy.  I’ve never seen you like this.”
Lt. Baker pulled her closer to him when he saw Jimmy coming towards her.
“I’d never hurt your daughter, Leiutenant,  I swear.  She means too much to me, sir.  I won’t hurt her.”
“I’m not leaving you alone with her until you calm down, Jimmy.”
“Then, you might want to call Mrs. Baker and tell her you’ll be sleeping on our couch tonight.”
Lydia knelt down on the floor and picked up some of the books and a few of the trinkets that had fallen.  Jimmy knelt down in front of her.  “Lyddie, I’ll clean it up.  I was mad.  I’m sorry.  Okay?  I’m sorry I made such a mess of things.  I shouldn’t have.”
Lydia wiped her  tears with the back of her hand.  “You broke my favorite one, Jimmy.  I could care less about the rest of them, but this one-“ She held up her statue.  “This one he made while he was deployed before I was even born.”
“Lydia, you don’t have to tell him the story.  He’s upset.  Don’t make it worse,” Lt. Baker warned.
“Lyddie, please stop crying.  I’ll fix it.”
“You can’t fix it!  It’s not yours to fix! He made it because he wanted a girl.  The boy died.  He didn’t finish it until the day I was born and you broke it.  You broke it because you were being selfish.  Your daddy died. I get it, but you’ve got other people in your life who care about you-who love you, Jimmy.  Don’t let him get to you even when he’s in his grave.”
Jimmy looked at Lt. Baker’s eyes.  They had a cloudy look in them.  A cloudy look he had seen too many times in his own father’s eyes.  “Leiutenant?  Are you okay?”
Lt. Baker shook his head like he was clearing out his mind.  “Fine.  Just thinking about something.  Lydia, I’ll take the statue.  I’ll repair it.”
“Why can’t anything go right tonight?”  Lydia pushed passed Jimmy and her dad and made her way into the bedroom.
Jimmy crossed his arms and stared down the hall.  He took several deep breaths before he exhaled slowly.
“You squared away?” Lt. Baker asked his son-in-law.
“Yes, sir.  I need to go-“
“I know where you need to go.  I’ll just show myself out.”  Lt. Baker walked towards the door.  He put his hand on the knob and turned toward Jimmy.  “Watch yourself around my daughter, please.  She’s sensitive.”
“Yes, sir.”
“Don’t hurt her.”
“Never, sir.”
“She may not want you to fix this,” he pointed to the statue.  “But, you need to fix whatever is going on in this.” He pointed to his temple. “Understand?”
“Affirmative, sir.  Good night.”
Jimmy let Lt. Baker out the door and he walked back to the bedroom.
He found her curled up on the bed.  Sobs came from her direction. He crawled on the bed and put his arm around her.  She wouldn’t turn around.  “Lyddie, I need to talk to you.  I need you to look at me.  I’ve got some issues I need to work out before nine months is up.  I don’t have a daddy like yours.”
“You don’t have a daddy at all, anymore, Jimmy.”  Lydia sniffed.
“That’s what scares me.  What if I’m like him?”
Lydia turned around so she was facing Jimmy.  He saw the trail of tears and wiped them away before she spoke.  “Jimmy, you’re not-“
“I’m not now, but what if I am when our baby is born?  I’m going to have a son.  You’re supposed to have a role model in your father.  I had a terrible one.  What if I end up thinking that he’s never good enough?  What if he doesn’t live up to my expectations and I tune him out?  I don’t want to be that kind of dad, Lyddie.”  Jimmy blinked to keep the tears from surfacing.
“Your daddy just died, Jimmy.  You can cry.”
He tucked the stray hair behind Lydia’s ear.  “Not in front of you, baby.  Never in front of you.”
Jimmy rubbed his thumb along her cheekbone.  Lydia held Jimmy’s wrist and kept her eyes on his.  He could look into her eyes and let all the worries fade.  The way she looked at him let him know that everything would be fine.
“I’m sorry I broke your statue,” he whispered.
She put her finger to his lips.  “You’re going to be a great daddy, Jimmy.  If you take care of this baby the way you take care of me, everything will be just fine.”
He took her hand and kissed the back of it.  “I love you, baby.  Always and forever.”