A Fathers Twist for Love
The old man sinks his teeth into the bloody stake. His jaw moves slowly as age has taken to this old mans body. He sits alone as his somber face looks to an empty seat. His hair slicked back, his glasses sitting snug upon his face.
He wears a black tie and a black suit. Appearing as if from a funeral. As I sit from my table I watch with a strange feeling of sadness. I know nothing of this old man, but he sits alone, challenging himself with each motion.
His frail body postures in a slump as I assume his bones are not longer a concern of his. As he sits chewing his steak he places down his fork and reaches into his suit pocket. From it he pulls out a rose, with a stem no longer that of a finger.
On the other end of the table sits an empty glass and other dining amenities. He carefully stands up and starts to walk, doing his best not to strain himself. Each step is merely inches, his hand reaches out with the rose and as he makes it to the other side of the table, he leans over and places the rose in the glass.
As I watch, I feel my heart warm and my soul weep. As if I know what this old man is doing, as if I am familiar of his habits. My food sits with no attention as all of me is upon this somber moment. The restaurant is bustling with voices and I am the only one observing this human behavior.
The old man puts his right hand on his heart and tilts his head to his chest. I see his lips slightly moving, he must be whispering something? He lifts his chin and with slow motion reaches again into his pocket and from it pulls a small picture in a frame.
I cannot see who it is but I can see it is someone he held or holds dear. He raises the picture near his face planting a soft kiss upon it. My heart sparks with a joyful sadness as I watch. The old man places the picture down upon the empty plate and faces it toward his end of the table.
He adjusts the rose and pours a bit of water into the glass. He returns to his side of the table, each step gaining only inches. As he walks he stops at his seat and before siting down, I see his lower lip start to quiver. And from his left eye drops a tear.
He ushers his handkerchief from his breast pocket and wipes away the residue of the tear. He sits back down planting one hand on the seat for support. Sitting, he looks over at the picture with complete stillness, complete silence.
I take a drink from my glass and watch carefully. As I do I see him fold his hands in prayer and close his eyes. After a moment or two he opens his eyes. I see they are soaked in sadness, in some form of grief.
He takes to his drink and finishes off his steak. In the middle of the table flames a small candle. After eating the old man reaches for the candle and extinguishes it with his breath. He watches the smoke rise with a twinkle of intrigue then diverts his gaze back to the picture.
I am interrupted by my waiter as I look intensely at the old man. I quickly and politely respond to my waiter, he leaves. As he does I look back at the old man and he is gone. And the picture frame is still there. I get up from may seat and walk over to the table and without looking at the picture I grab it and head for the exit.
I look outside for the old man but he is not there. I return to his table and place the picture back on the empty plate. I return to my seat and keep an eye on the picture. After sitting down I realize I never looked at the picture.
So, I remove myself from my seat and walk over to examine the picture. Midway there a waitress comes up to the table to starts to clear it off. I approach her and mention the picture to the waitress. She looks over at me and at the picture and says,
"That old man is Roger. He has been coming here I guess for the past three years every Monday at the same time. He orders the same thing and requests we set up for two. And every time he pulls out that frame and places it on the table. He forgets it every time but remembers the next day and comes back for it."
The waitress cleaning off the table walks over to the picture lifting it to her eyes, "I always wonder who Mary is. I've tried to ask him before but every time I ask, he can't answer, it's as if it physically hurts him to respond." She puts down the picture.
"I wonder Who Mary is?" I question as I reach for the picture to see for myself. And when I look at it I am greatly confused.
The waitress looks at me, "Me too, but I don't know if we will ever know. It's just a name written in the frame."
Looking at the picture I see it is just a frame with a piece of scrap paper in it with the name Mary. I feel myself become saddened. As who ever Mary is, Roger no longer even has a photo of them, but dearly feels for this name, this person. Enough to have memory of them to weep for them, even though he cannot see her face anymore.
I then gently place the frame back down and thank the waitress for the help. I then walk back to my seat and as I do I see the old man sitting in my booth. He is sitting with his eyes looking to my food. I approach carefully and stand at the table and ask. "Hey sir, may I help you?"
The old man looks up at me and asks, "Is your name Theo?" His hand shaking as he points to me.
I look at the old man with bewilderment and respond, "Yes."
The old man then swiftly pulls something from his jacket and I am suddenly struck with a sharp pain.
The old man, with a resentful look says to me, "Your mom killed my wife."
I look down at my gut and I am bleeding. I look over at the old man with panic and confusion and he is dead, his eyes are rolled back in his head with his right hand on the table holding a gun.
I walk up to my table and ask the old man if I can help him. He lifts his hand and gestures me to come closer. I walk over and lean in, he speaks into my ear and says "Is your mothers middle name Mary?"
I slowly lean away looking at the old man and respond, "Yes, do you know my mother?"
The old man coughing pulls out an envelop from his suit jacket. On it is my name Theo, he pushes the letter over to me and says with a lethargic voice,
"Your mother is my daughter and I was never a good father. I have been coming here for the past three years because I found out she used to work here. Hoping to run into her to ask for forgiveness, but I fear my time is no longer granted. So take this as a gift, (He pats the letter.) And let your mother know I am sorry. I should have done more for her and her mother. Everything in this letter will hopefully explain it all and may my gift for you be a reconcile of all my horrible and lack there of, love."
The old man goes silent and taps on the envelope. I take it and look to him to open it. He nods yes. I open the letter and in it are three pieces of paper. All hand written back to front. I unfold the papers and something falls from between them. I reach down and pick it up off the floor. I turn it over and in printed numbers is the number Seventy-five million dollars. And above that, in the to sections, is my name hand written.
I'am now even more overwhelmed with the moment. I look to the old man and go to sit down next to him but as I do, he slumps over on his side. I stand up and observe him for a moment. I then reach into my pocket and call nine-one-one.
I take my hand and feel for a pulse, there is nothing there. A tear escapes me and five minutes later the ambulance arrives. They try to resuscitate the old man. But it is too late, they bag his body and that is the only time I ever met or knew of my grandpa.
We never know what each moment may bring. Danger or grateful surpise!
What is your favorite ending?
How far are you willing to go to fill your heart? A Man's Traveled Heart
Coming soon, The Bleeding Of Words
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