This is gonna be hard for my boy. I know it. I hate it. But I can’t stop it, either. This is the way it has to be.
“Is this thing on? I hope so, because I am not doing this twice.”
My face was on the computer screen, I clicked the record button and the red light turned on, but then I touched something I wasn’t supposed to and the screen went black. The red light is still on, though, so I’m sure it’s still recording.
“Well, Gerry, it’s Thursday. The day you come back and I . . . go away.” My hand rubs across the scar on my head. Soon, he will understand.
“I want you to know that I’m not afraid. Maybe I should be, but I know you can set things right. Whatever sounds reasonable to the rest of us, you do the opposite so that will help. Even if you’re mad at me for what I’m about to do, you have to know, there is no other choice. I like to think of it as hedging my bets. Sacrifice with purpose.”
My hands grip the arms of my wheelchair as I raise myself up. Working into a shuffle, I make my way to the bed. My dressy trousers are already wrinkled. The lines crumple again when I sit on my bed. My final resting place.
I look back to Jeanine’s computer to give one, last reassurance. “I love you, son. If you don’t want to see this, you’d better stop the tape now.” My legs swing up on to the bed. I lie down, make myself comfortable, and then all I can do is wait.
Searching for just the right way to rest my arms, the heavy regret returns, weighing down my chest, reminding me of why this is so important, why I have to go through with this. So many times I was sure that what I was doing was the right thing. But how can anyone beat a demon at his own game, when he’s the one that makes the rules? I never realized the implications could be so severe. I’m sure now, that he was counting on that—knowing I would ultimately do what was best for me.
The power I felt, the things I could do with it . . . it was entrancing. Supremacy; at such a cost.
My father taught me the fundamentals but in the end, no one could teach me not to be greedy. That was a lesson I had to learn on my own. I couldn’t gather the courage to face the monster I created, so I had to let him go. Now he’s grown and I can see one final time the ways I have failed. From here on out my son must carry the cost of my sins just as I carried the cost of my fathers.
All my life, all I wanted was a way out of the legacy that held me captive. Now I’m passing it on. Another regret; another failure to add to my list.
The door moves and though it’s slight, I startle at Jeanine strolling in, holding a covered breakfast tray.
“I’m not hungry. Go away.”
“You don’t have to eat it, but I have to leave it.” She rhymes, setting the food on a bed side table.
“I’m going to sleep. Make sure you give my son that box. He’ll come by for it soon.” She looks worried and I don’t have time to argue. “Humor me and go away.”
After the door closes I cross my hands over my chest. To the camera, I say, “Make sure you tell her I said ‘thank you.’”
In the quiet of the still room, I start to hum my favorite hymnal. The soft words bring me comfort. Freedom from a life enslaved.
The door moves again and a wiry beard pokes through the opening. Hovering in the space above it are two beady, black eyes.
“Nahuiollin,” I use his proper name, “I have been waiting for you.” Merciful Heaven, let it be quick.
He slinks to my bedside, hissing, “Where are they?”
“They’re not yours anymore.” As sorry as I am for the harm I’ve caused, I can’t give him what he wants. Even if I changed my mind, they’re buried too far away. In a place where he’ll never find them.
“Liar!” He spits, following with a string of words in his native tongue. My muscles lock up as his calloused, dirty hands stretch around my neck. “Where are they?”
“For-give me.” With the apology, goes the last of my air.
My mind is resigned to going quietly, though my body wants to do what it has always done. Breathe. Struggling will only prolong the process and I want to get this over with. He’s come for vengeance and when he feels he’s taken it, he’ll go. It isn’t enough, but offering my life in return for the ones I took is all I can do. I have nothing else for him.
Amazingly, his coiled grip tightens. Sickening joy glosses his eyes and maintaining a penitent heart quickly becomes unbearable.
My skin boils hot and bloated. Tiny pricks burst on my cheeks and forehead—blood vessels popping over the surface of my face. The pressure is unbelievable. My bulbous eyes try to fly from their sockets. My lungs scream, my fingers fumble over his grip on my throat.
His grunting and ruthless grin makes it all so plain: I was wrong. This was a stupid idea. And I’m failing again.
This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. This isn’t right.