Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Vision (08/03/06)
- TITLE: Who's Your Daddy?
By Marilee Alvey
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Sixteen years old. His grandson’s whole life lay ahead of him and yet, he’d been less than a crimson pint short of the end of it. Pausing momentarily, Harry took a deep breath, then tried to push the door open. Applying his shoulder to it, he was able to enter the sterile room.
“Hey, Tray, it’s grandpa here.” Harry’s hand with its blue veins was quite a contrast to the youthful arm it rested on.
“Hey,” Tray answered weakly, not meeting his Harry's eyes.
“Son, they tell me that you cut your wrists. Why?”
“Sorry…” Trav sat up a little and reached for the glass of water.
Quickly picking up the glass, Harry held the straw to Trav’s lips.
“I don’t wanna talk about it…”
“..and that may be part of the problem. Tray, you don’t belong here.”
“Son, I know it ain’t been easy with your mom’s druggin’ and all. Grandma and I done our best to raise ya…but we can’t replace your mom.”
“I called Jack last week.”
“I’d never call him that…” Tray replied, bitterly.
“How’d you find him?”
“I wanted to see if he might be willing to keep me for awhile.”
“Oh, Tray…. And?”
“I could tell he was drunk. He rattled on about himself, about how he never got any breaks in life and how’d he know I was his kid, anyway…” His red rimmed eyes betrayed his bravado.
Harry felt like he’d been kicked in the stomach. “Tray, there’s a story I need to tell you. Not even grandma’s heard this before. You need to hear it. Can you keep a secret?”
“Yeah,” Tray said, sitting up a bit straighter and leaning in.
“When I was a kid, I lived with an old woman. I never knew what to call her, so I just called her ‘Hattie.’ She’d told me she was raisin’ me because my mother didn’t want me. Well, one day when I was thirteen I went into the barbershop to get my hair cut. I was waitin’ for my turn and I hear some guy talkin’ to the barber.”
‘Who’s that out there?” he says.
“That’s Bart Martin’s boy, Harry,” the barber says.
Well, it was news to me. No hair cut for me that day. I ran home and asked Hattie. Know what she did? She slapped me! She says, ‘Don’t you ever speak like that again…’ Bart was her son. He’d gotten married and already had the first of his three daughters. Well, Bart’s wife, Myrtle, had no use for me. See, Bart gave Hattie money every month to take care of me and times was tight. That right there irritated Myrtle to no end. Money that could feed her daughter was goin’ to me, ya see.”
“So, what happened? Did you ever ask Bart?”
“Yep. One night, when he was sittin’ on the front porch, as close to me as you are, I asks him, ‘Bart,’ I says, ‘One time I heard somebody say you was my dad. Is that true?’ Well, Tray, he went white like a ghost for a moment, then he says,
“I met your mamma in St. Louis. I was there for medical school. I couldn’t stand the sight of blood, so I left. There’d been this gal in my boarding house in a tough spot who didn’t want you, so I told her I’d take you. I took you to my mamma to raise and paid her something for her trouble. I don’t know who your daddy is.”
“Wow! How’d you do it, grandpa?”
“How’d you make it all those years with no one claiming you?”
“You really wanna know?”
“Yeah. I mean, couldn’t you get Bart dug up and his DNA tested?”
“Not necessary. You gotta have vision, Tray. See, I finally figured out whose I was.”
“I thought you never found out.”
“Oh, I’ve known for a long time now.”
“Tell you what, if you’ll start sittin’ upright and takin’ nourishment, I’ll come back this afternoon and we’ll talk some more. How’d that be?”
“Okay, grandpa. Hey, when you go past the nurse’s station can you ask them to bring me something to eat? I’m getting hungry.”
Harry pushed through the door so easily he almost knocked down a nurse who was trying to enter.
“Kill the fatted calf,” he said, laughing. “With his appetite, you’re gonna need it.”
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