I was relaxing in my study having a cocktail and admiring the oil painting I had done of Carl and I. Then Beth came in.
“ I’m so glad you and Carl are getting along so good. Carl seems very happy. He’s had a rough time the first thirteen years of his life. But since I befriended him, he is much happier.”
Beth’s expression was strained.
“ What’s wrong, Beth?”
“ Some thoughts have been bothering me. Dad, do you consider Carl as a son?” said Beth, abruptly, glancing up at the huge oil painting.
“ Yes, he is like a son to me. What brought this on?”
“ Well, I’m seventeen years old and I’ve only really known you for a month! And yet I am your DAUGHTER! A BLOOD RELATION! You abandoned my mother and me in England. I’m your daughter and you haven’t had time for me until now.”
I was taken aback!
“ I sent your mother money when I could. She knew my address in Chicago, but she only wrote to me once to tell me she didn’t want to hear from me anymore!”
“ That’s no excuse, I was your daughter, didn’t you care about me?”
“ Of course I cared and I felt guilty, but your mother never even sent me a picture of you.”
Beth was glaring at me now. Was it hate I saw in her eyes?
“ In the following years, I got married and had a son. Sadly, they both got killed in a car accident in which I was driving! I was completely devastated. The, in 1949, I met Carl as a thirteen year old boy. I befriended him and since then we have gotten very close.”
I could feel the tension in the room!
“ So, all these years I had no father but you had two sons! It just isn’t fair, I hate you!”
Beth turned and went upstairs to her room and slammed the door.
My daughter’s outburst rekindled my memories of my boyhood. It was anything but happy…
My father was a drunkard. When my mother wasn’t around he would beat me just to let out his frustrations. I hated my father! I had a father, but I would have been better off not having one. A terrible thought.
When I was a teenager I felt the world was a hostile place. Because of my grievances with life, I acquired a skewed sense of reality.
When I became a man, I felt I had a dual personality. Sometimes I’d be mister nice guy and then I would switch abruptly and do something antisocial. When I was pressured I would lash out at the world!
So when Romato pressured me to pay up my loan and then threatened my life, I did anything to survive!
Then, my wife and son got killed when I was driving. So I linked up with Romato to get back at a hostile world. I got used to big money and the feeling of power that the criminal world gave me.
The dark side of me came to the forefront which resisted any moral control that I might have had.This shadow of my self, now, has complete control over me except when it comes to Carl and Beth’s well being.
I often wonder if my personality is split. But, even the moon has a dark side…
I went upstairs and knocked on Beth’s door and opened it. She was lying on the bed crying. I went over and sat on the edge of the bed and rubbed her back. She moved away from me.
“ Come on, Beth, don’t be like this.”
She sat up abruptly.
“ How am I supposed to feel? Now, you’re trying to lessen your guilt by getting me together with Carl, like one happy family.”
“ Yes, that’s what I would like us to be, a family.”
Beth wiped a tear from her cheek.
“ I’ve had this hate inside me for what you did all my life. I felt guilty for hating you. Now, I find out you have a son figure and you treat him better than your blood relation.”
Beth, I’m sure we can work this out. I love you and Carl and that’s why I introduced you to him.”
My daughter just stared at me in silence.
“ Tomorrow night I’m going to have Carl over for dinner and we three will talk this out”
It was Monday after work. I got a call from John. John and Beth wanted me to come over to talk something out. I wondered what was up. From John’s tone of voice, it sounded important. So I rapped on John’s door within the hour.
“ Come on in, Carl,” said my friend, looking grim faced.
John led me into the lounge, where Beth was sitting, looking grim faced as well!
“ What’s this all about, John?”
“ My daughter has voiced her concern over our father-son relationship, since I never was a father to her until now.” John broke off abruptly, choked with emotion.
Beth jumped into the conversation. “ I feel very left out, wondering where I stand.”
“ I just want us to be a family,” said John.
I looked at both of them and knew I would have to reconcile this situation, otherwise I will lose both John and Beth.
“ I want us to be a family, too. I’m torn apart listening to your two punishing yourselves. I’m so grateful I met John. He’s helped me over many rough spots since my father got killed. Now, I’ve met you, Beth, and I feel so comfortable in your company. It would be a shame to throw our relationships away because of guilt.”
They were both listening to me intently.
“ Beth, I think I’m falling in love with you, and I certainly don’t want to lose you.
John, you are my father-image, ever since I was thirteen years old. I don’t want to lose that friendship. We all feel guilty about some aspect of our relationship. But guilt is a corrosive emotion. It makes us feel like we deserve blame and punishing. Well, I love you both and I very much want us to be a family. So let’s stop this depressive thinking and get on with being grateful we three are together. We should be happy!”
John and Beth stared at me with sadness in their eyes. I hugged them both and we all started laughing. The misconception was over. The rift was healed.
The three of us went out to dinner!