“Do you by any chance know why my children call you Dad?” It was eleven in the morning the next day at the workshop that I put this question to Wack. I did not know if he had all along been expecting it or not. I had no way to tell. All I saw was that he quickly put down the chisel in his right hand, with which he was working on a piece of wood. There was silence as I was all ears and pregnant with plenty of eagerness to hear him talk. Wack looked up from his tools and work table, and looked at me with eyes that held no particular expression. He shook his head in a manner that said no.
“I wish I knew,” he said. “I think kids can sometimes act strange.”
“No,” I cut in, a bit angry and in complete rejection of Wack’s response. “Children don’t just start to say a thing as serious as that unless somebody is telling something.”
“Come on, Jan, you’re going too far,” Wack said and laughed. “Let kids be kids. I’m not trying to say in any way that they should be calling me Dad instead of you, but all I’m saying is that they are kids and will stop doing that when they get a little older.”
“Bull shit!” I said. “You talk bull shit. How come you can’t see what I see?”
“Because I think you’re acting a little bit wired.”
“You think I’m weird, Stefi thinks I’m not just weird but need to check into rehab in a mental institution. And maybe the whole worlds thinks I’m out of my mind, but somewhere deep down in my heart, something tells me something messy is on. And that is the root of my worries.”
“Don’t tell me you want to go home and start to hate your kids for simply being kids. Come on, Jan, stop this,” Wack said to me, his widened eyes telling me, I hope you won’t.
“I don’t live to hate. Of all the persons in the world you should be the first person to know that, especially in this messed up family situation of mine that has you involved in a way I can’t see how it’s any fault of yours. If I was a hater, I would have told you to stop visiting my home.”
“Don’t go that far.”
“I live alone. I sometimes get lonely and need to go to the home of a buddy like you. Where else would I go?”
“I know! My buddy! That is why I expect that you will let me know what is going on in my home if you know something.”
“You may have a beef with your wife. It’s normal. Most homes do have it, but I don’t think you should be making a lot about what your kids say and do not say.”
“Not when I know Stefi is telling them to call you Dad.”
“Your wife?” Wack asked alarmed, threw his hands to his head in disbelief. “What?”
“Yes, read my lips, my wife! I know you can’t believe it, but is true.”
“How did you know that? Did you come up with any proof? I mean a solid proof?”
“Yes, I did,” I said out of confidence.
“So spill it.”
“My son Tammy told me that.” Disappointed in what he heard me say, Wack looked at me in a manner that suggested I really needed some lunatic asylum, but I was the last person in the world to give a damn about that.
“That’s where you keep getting it all wrong,” he said, walked up to me and put his right hand across my shoulders. “That’s no solid proof. Once again is what Tammy, Dick and Hadley are saying. Give those nice looking kids a break. You need to be strong for them. And that can’t happen when you get yourself in the way of so much mental stress that may even kill you before they grow up.”
“Not when their Mom is making me a stranger before their eyes,” I said gently. There was a tinge of bitterness in my tone.
“No Mom does that,” Wack replied. He went on to shoot me a glance that all said I could not possibly know what I had talked about. What? What could this unmarried dude called Wack possibly know about women who are Moms? That was what I thought before I spoke back.
“Really?” I began my reply. “No Mom does that? Really? Do you truly live in this world?”
A bit irritated by Wack’s response I thought was a testament of his complete lack of touch with the real world, I shrugged off his hand from my shoulders. He did not need to be told I was not impressed with his response. It was as appalling as it was galling as far as I was concerned. He went back to the work table after taking a look at me like he had something going on I was about to expose.
“Easy, Jan, take it easy,” he said to me. “Don’t get your mind and imagination working so hard that they wreck your life,” he further said to me and picked up the chisel and got to work once again on the big hard wood in front of him.
“You can say all you want about how you think I’m all worked up for nothing. I know I’m not all worked up for nothing. All noses can smell, but it takes a special nose to smell explosives about to trigger an explosion.”
“So what’s next for you in this?”
“I have no way of knowing. All I know is that I want to prove you wrong.”
“Prove me wrong?”
“Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about. You won’t stop thinking I’m out of my mind until I hit you with a proof.” Wack looked at me, like he earlier did, like he had done something I was close to exposing. And what could that be, you might ask? A not too distant time was about to say if there was anything like that or not.