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Roy Can't Swim (A Father's Day Tragedy)

Short story By: Kay
Non-fiction


The Uncle I never had. My mother's brother. In loving memory...


Submitted:Jan 14, 2007    Reads: 137    Comments: 2    Likes: 0   


One day before Father's Day. Homa, Louisiana. 1972.

Sweat gleamed on his face like jewels and his back was sticky with labor.

"You think we'll have enough money to get the gifts for our dads?" Sam asked Roy tired and ready for that swim they had been talking about since early that morning.

"Sure. We should have enough by tomorrow", Roy replied while sitting down for a rest and a swig of water. "Dad sure is going to like what I am going to get him."

"What?"

"I'm not telling", Roy smiled with his lazy eye shining with mirth at his friend's curiosity. "Come on lets go for that swim."

"Whatever...but you are going to tell me before the day is through!" Sam said annoyed.

"Oh no.. Here come our sisters!" Roy started yelling for them to go back home.

"No! We are coming too!" Nancy persisted staring her brother Roy in the eye.

"Yeah!" Kathy said backing up Nancy.

"Go home or I am telling Mom. You arn't suppose to be out of the yard in the first place", Roy said smiling and knowing he had won again.

The girls both protested for a bit longer then finally turned their bikes around and went back home.

Roy and Sam raced to the bayou and jumped in cannon-ball fashion. Jeff and Jr. soon showed up and were anxious to join in the laughter.

"Hey Roy! Take this!" Jr. slammed his arms into the water making a wave and blanketing Roy.

The twelve-year old Roy went under blinded with water in his eyes. Seconds later the boys see Roy's hands hitting the water in wild panic. His head bobbing up and down trying to catch air. Jr. dives for Roy and grabs him by his waist thrusting him upwards and starts pushing him towards shore. Roy kicks Jr. violently in panic causing him to let Roy go out of pain. Roy begins sinking again and the other boys try to grab him for a good half minute but Roy was overtaken by the undertoe. The boys dive for Roy while Jr. runs barefooted all the way down the beaten path to the nearest house with a phone.

"Miss Winnie! Miss Winnie! Roy might be dying call the police quick!"

Miss Skipper gets a call to come to the front of the grocery store.

"You have a call Miss Skipper", says the clerk with a worried look on his face.

Miss Skipper takes the phone,"Joanne Skipper speaking."

"Miss Skipper I am sorry to be the one to inform you that your son Roy has went under at the bayou and we can't find him", said the some what sickened cop.

"What!" Miss Skipper drops the phone and stands there for the longest time with her face in her hands. A clerk offers to take her to the bayou and she slowly walks to the car.

The community is wading through the bayou trying to find Roy Skipper. Man, boy, woman, and girl diving and scanning the banks. Jr. is about two miles away from where Roy went down and is skidding his feet across the murky bottom and his foot hits something cold and lifeless. Tears fill Jr.'s eyes as he sticks his arm in the water and pulls Roy's body out of the water.

"I was only playing Roy. I would have never done it if..." He begins to sob violently as he pulls Roy's bloated self onto the bank.

Miss Winnie pulls Nancy into her lap, "Nancy, your brother has drown" said almost in an unrealistic tone to Nancy's ears.

"He wasn't suppose to go swimming! He can't swim! He was just suppose to watch the other kids!" Nancy shoves away from Miss Winnie and begins running for the bayou with tears streaming down her young and once innocent face. She runs through a bunch of people trying to stop her from getting to the scene but she gets by. She runs all the way to the stetcher and throws back the blanket and saw a purple bloated face that was similar to her brother's.

"That isn't Roy! He doesn't look anything like that! Where is Roy?! Where is my brother?!" Miss Skipper runs to her daughter and holds her while she screams and cries.

Mr. Skipper is sitting in the passenger side of his boss's car.

"Mr. Skipper...your son drowned about noon today. I am sorry to be the one to tell you. You can take off as much time as needed", said Skipper's boss with tears in his eyes. Skipper is his favorite employee and he knew Roy. They pull up at the bayou and Skipper gets out and walks slowly to the stretcher and pulls back the blanket as he hears his wife and daughters sobbing off to the side.

Tears well up in Skipper's eyes,"My son...my boy...my only son."

The youngest of Skipper's children Suzie walks up to her daddy and says "Daddy....Roy can't swim can he?" Her green eyes shining not understanding the situation.

"No baby....Roy can't swim."

Roy Skipper was buried on Father's Day, 1972...





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