Rich + Radical

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Chapter 8

After a quiet lunch, Ronnie and I went our separate ways again. She started on a new novel, Oedipus The King. Again, it was somnolent.

I could barely stomach my cheeseburger for lunch. I could barely drink my soda even after we made it back to the unit.

Jude had no choice but to stick around. So he had to have a family therapy session with my father, my stepmother, and I

He had us all seated in a small room. I was with him on his side, my stepmother and father were on the other.

"I'm sorry that you had to go through this, Mister and Missus Hawkins. It's awfully hard when people close to you, especially your own child go through this.."

"I think it's hard on us too, Doctor. It's not all about him, is it?"

My stepmother tapped her foot, waiting for an answer.

"That's why you're here too.. I want to hear everything. Both sides of the story. I'm not calling you out for being bad parents, but you've messed up somewhere for your son to end up here."

"Haven't we all, Doctor? Haven't we all screwed up? I want what's best for my two sons. I want them to be sane and educated.0 And how can I have that now?"

My father was speaking, and only waiting to lash out on Jude. He was always right, he had to be. It was how he operated. And every flop with the business was blamed upon inexperienced employees. Like I was, at a point, before quitting my repair job to focus on my schoolwork.

"Well.. You have the latter. And for now, it's good enough. Being depressed doesn't correlate entirely with insanity."

"Then what does? Driving off in the middle of the night and never coming home? Leaving the business in turmoil? Yes, that does."

"That was a mistake. And maybe, he doesn't want to take care of your business. It's not his. It's yours!"

I didn't bother to say anything until I was asked to do so. Instead, I sat and listened.

"And how long is he going to stay here?"

"As long as he needs to. Which means he could leave tomorrow, or he could leave in a month. It depends on his progress."

"Progress? What progress? He never had a problem in the first place! I want him out of here tomorrow. I didn't want him here today or yesterday either. I want him home tomorrow!"

Jude paused. And I just kept on being silent. Of course, I knew he would say that. It was something I knew right from the get go.

"Look at it this way. He had a downfall. He was fine before he came here. At some point. The progress he is making is not having him be better at things he's already known how to do. It's something he's learning. He's learning how to be normal again."

"Then why can’t he just adjust?"

"It's not about that. You're here with me for the opposite. If he was able, he would have bounced right back from what happened to him. He would have been able to come back home after school. He wouldn't have left home again in the first place. He was angry and he disappointed with himself. And maybe you too."

"Of course he disappointed me.. He went and ran away. His hair's kind of a bonus, really."

"He never said he intended on making it so.. Blue. But, it's going to be all settled. Everything. He decided that after his mother, Melanie, came to visit that he would like to move in with her. Which is the only reason he came here to speak with you in the first place."

Just like that, my father went into shock. He was quiet and uttered not a word.

"You have to understand him as he understands you. He knows he's not the best at everything like you want him to be. He's tried and tried and can't meet up with your expectations. And that's why a lot of children and adults end up in places like this.. Because it takes a huge toll on their everyday life."

My father looked into Jude's eyes, which until then, he hadn't for the whole appointment.

"Let him speak for himself."

Jude looked right back at him.

"He's too scared."

I realized the whole appointment was going to become pure turmoil if I didn't say anything. Usually, with my father, it was the other way around. He was the talker. Not me.

"He's right. What do you want me to say?" I asked.

"Your side. He said there were two sides to this story. I think three."

For the first time in a long time, my father prepared to listen to me.

"I was stressed out and depressed and I wanted to go away. From life. I didn't really think that going away was killing myself until I ended up back in Fort Wayne. Driving far away from home and coming back told me that. Dying my hair was an impulse decision. And no, it has no true representation to anything. It's just blue. It's just my thing now. And maybe I like that. So… I'm sick and I'm trying to fix it. I fell in love with a girl and I'm working on myself. I just have to start from square one. And think about what I want to do in my life. Not about you. Not about her and not about my brother either."

My father gave me a simple response. His hands were on his face.

"You're just like your mother, Johnson. She's probably so proud of you.. Because I'm not. And I have every right to how I feel, as she does. I'll see about you moving in with her. I couldn't keep her in a cage. I kind of pushed her out. I can't keep you in my hand either. I tried too hard."

"You didn't try at all. And thank you for finally realizing that. You're no Atticus Finch. You're the worse damn father I've ever met."

That conversation with my father made me realize so many things. Including the following:

"Johnson, you're right. And this session, is over."

My father walked out. My stepmother walked out. And Jude was still sitting down.

"Would you have done that before you came here?" He questioned me. His blind eyes were up at the ceiling.

"No. I would have submitted to him and said I would leave."

"Not ever, ever, has anyone made such progress in this shit hospital. Being the only one in the Midwest gives it an image but yet puts a toll on it's actual essence. It's supposed to be for kids like you. I just see more and more Ednas and Megans throughout my career.. My sightless career. And why is that? Who told you to have a way with words? Patel doesn't do much and really, I don't either..."

"It's Ronnie. It's Ronnie. She has a gift with words and a soul older than any other person I've ever met in my life. And I love her."

"Maybe it's time you told her. Maybe it's time you get released from here. And maybe, just maybe, you can be my client. Because I know if you're depressed now, you'll be depressed again. Hiccups are just a part of life. You're proof of that."

Maybe. I thought. Maybe, you're right, Jude.


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