Raul ran across the fourteen-foot expanse of the room in about two seconds flat. He reached out and grabbed Raphael by the waistband of his pants and hurled him on the bed. Raphael displayed the classic pose of someone in shock. He never witnessed this action from his father before and he didn’t understand how to process the information. So he cried.
“Boo, hoo, hoo,” he moaned through his tears. “Why did nyou hit me, Daddy?”
Raul went to reach for Raphael and hug him and Raphael backed away to the head of the bed in shock. Raul experienced the pang in his heart at the thought he might, quite by accident, scare his son. To be honest, if the truth be told, Raphael scared him.
“Ssssh,” he whispered. “Ssssh, you’re alright. You scared Daddy so bad standing at the window. I didn’t hit you; I pulled you away from falling.”
Raul moved closer and pulled Raphael towards him in a hug. His little boy kept crying while daddy patted his back and tried to make him calm down. Sylvia came in the room and smiled at the two in an embrace and thought all seemed well.
“Is everything alright?” Sylvia inquired.
“Raphael attempted to jump out of the window.”
The blood drained from Sylvia’s face and a vision of her little boy splattered in the alley came into her head. In an instant, she broke into a pool of tears as she rushed across the room to cuddle Raphael. The three sat on the bed for a moment until at last, Raphael, between his sobs spoke.
“I nwasn’t going to jump,” he bawled. “I nwas only looking out the window.”
“Perhaps I over-reacted son,” Raul nodded. “My first impression of you standing on the window sill, I assumed we upset you and you intended to jump out. You scared me so much.”
“Do I nstill need to go to school?” Raphael questioned in an innocent voice.
“Yes,” Raul and Sylvia repeated in unison. “Nothing is going to change about our decision.”
Raphael let out a sigh of disgust. The only thing he could do would be to capitulate. He tried crying, he tried snuggling and he tried to make deals with Raul and Sylvia; only to find out they both turned a deaf ear to his pleas. They were inattentive to his arguments. He made one last ditch attempt. He needed to try one more thing or he would be a student.
“What about home nschooling for me?
“Son,” Raul told him in a gentle voice, “Mommy and I are going to be at work during the day. You’re not going to be left alone because Natasha is staying here with you until we get home from work. We must go to work. Your Mommy is on part-time and she wants to go back to full-time work. We need money to pay for all the wonderful things we surround ourselves with. We need money to pay for Natasha. We need money to pay for the little toys I get for you. So we are not being mean. The fact is, school is so important and you are important. We only want the best for you.”
Raphael conceded anything he might use to influence Mommy and Daddy no longer existed. Beaten at this game he sighed, as if to resign himself to the fact he would go to school. To him, this presented itself as an awful task and one he couldn’t avoid.
“OK I’ll Go,” he mumbled, “I’ll go to make you happy.”
When the apparent crisis subsided, they all retired into the living room to view the television. The news program showed a special on an earthquake, happening out in California.
“Boy, am I ever glad my sister got out of that crazy state.” Raul chuckled. “They sure got nothing but fruits and nuts living in California, and now earthquakes give them something else to deal with.”
“Is she your older sister Maria?” Sylvia quizzed.
“Yes,” he confirmed, “the eldest of the family.” She lived out in the Los Angeles area for about five years and her husband died last year. I kept telling her to move back here and at long last, she listened . Maria and her son live over on the West side.”
“Her husband died?” Sylvia spoke, almost in shock. “What did he die from?”
“Ricky, her husband, pretended to be a mortgage broker,” Raul told her.” I say pretended, because in reality, I think he acted as a loan shark. I thought Maria acted rash or crazy when she got involved with him, but she acted young and dumb. He always seemed to be a sleazebag. I’m sure he cheated on his wife because he bragged about his ‘alleged’ conquests. So no surprise came when I found out he got shot. This was an unfortunate outcome for Maria because she found out he owned no life insurance. They were left high and dry.”
“My God Raul,” Sylvia broke in, “what a terrible thing.”
“Well,” Raul recounted, “at least they are free from him and are living back here now.”
“We should invite Maria and John over for dinner some night,” Sylvia offered. “Neither Raphael or I ever met her or her son.”
“I love fantastic ideas honey and I love my sister,” Raul remarked, “but there is a story circulating her son John is quite the little Kleptomaniac. I work for a client who dated her and he said he broke off their relationship. He claimed every time they came over to his house, something came up missing.”
“Why does your client think John swiped anything?” she asked.
“Because,” Raul explained, “Maria, Fred, and John happened to be the only ones in the apartment.”
“How old is John?”
“I guess he’s six or seven by now,” he replied, “I’m sure he’s right around the same age as Raphael.”
All this news and chit-chat bored Raphael. In actual emotional terms, the term ‘pissed’ came to mind. He was still upset because both of his parents promoted the fact he would go to school. He could do nothing about the problem right this minute.
“Daddy,” he complained, “I nwant to nwatch cartoons.”
“Sorry Raphael,” his father answered “but this is Mommy and Daddy time now.”
Raphael said nothing, but he got up and took the remote from the end table and clicked to the Cartoon Network. Raul couldn’t believe this bold move, and he grabbed the remote away from him and switched the channel back.
“I said NO,” Raul shouted. “Now if you don’t like the news, you can go to bed.”
“Why are nyou being so mean to me Daddy?” Raphael demanded.
“I’m not being mean son,” he responded. “You must understand when I say no, or your mommy says no, we mean business. You need to learn we set boundaries you don’t cross.”
Raphael got another sour expression on his face and he stormed out of the room. He ran down the hallway to his room and made sure he slammed the door three times.
“I don’t need to listen to his bullshit,” Raul said.
He got up and charged down the hallway himself. He opened the door to Raphael’s room, half expecting to find him on the window sill again. But this time Raphael lay prone on the bed. At first he thought about giving him a spanking but decided against using any kind physical discipline. He realized Raphael still suffered from being upset earlier.
“Young Man,” he declared in a thundering voice. “You need to learn some lessons. You don’t go around slamming things when you don’t get your way. The next time you pull anything like this, you will earn an appointment with my belt. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?”
This was the first time Raphael ever caught sight of his father this mad. He never received a spanking before, or any discipline. But the thought a leather belt on his butt didn’t sound too appealing. So he sat in a quiet manner and tried to avoid his father’s intense glare.
“Now since you don’t like the television we are watching,” he told him, “you can stay in your room for the rest of the night.”
With a final glare at his son, Raul left, hoping he would not be required to come back and deal with him anymore. Where did all this come from? Neither he nor Sylvia ever showed any sharp words or discord in the house, and he also assumed Natasha didn’t act as an aggressor either.
This singular issue proved confusing to Raul and he got worried. Worried because he may , need resort to corporal punishment against his son. He considered any violence repulsive that wore an ugly face he never wanted to encounter.
He prayed he would never need to.