"He's been that close this whole time...?" The 26 year old man clenched his large fists irritably as he looked at the light
rain through the window pane. The last thing he wanted to do was put more stress on his ailing mother. Though she was only 44 years old, she was suffering from heart failure. It was caused by
constant palpitations due to the stress that she had endured throughout her life. Harvey felt as if he owed her his own life. All she ever did was for him, and she did it entirely alone.
Camilla St. John did not like to talk about her son's absentee father, though she would never let on why. The only thing she would do once in a while is simper nostalgically and say: "You remind me
so much of your father when you do that..."
"No ma, forget I said anything..." The bachelor squeezed the phone between his shoulder and his ear while he laced up his brown boots. "I will drive to Hood River right now and get him... I'll try and make it back by this evening, will you be okay? Do you want me to stop by before I leave town??" The dutiable son patiently awaited orders. "...Are you sure? Positive?? ...Ok ma, I love you. I will see you tonight... Yes, I'll be alright; please don't worry. Love you..." Hesitantly, Harvey St. John ended the call. It worried him that the end was drawing near; he would never forgive himself if he wasn't at his mother's side when she left this world. The responsible young man grabbed his black jacket off the coat rack and walked into his mother's office, clad in mahogany. Sure enough, there was a cut out in the cedar floorboards underneath the computer desk. It led to a compartment that contained the box safe his mother had mentioned. As his heart began galloping, he entered the code and unlocked the secrets. Harvey almost felt the urge to rub his eyes to be certain he was seeing correctly. A man that appeared identical to himself was seen in handcuffs in an old newspaper clipping. There had been omissions that were obviously the work of his mother, trying to protect her son's curious mind.
Shaking his head to snap out his daze, Harvey set the scrap down allowing himself tp focus on the task at hand. Underneath a couple more incriminating photos of his father was the prize. A letter addressed to Benjamin Everett that had never been sent with their current return address. Though Harvey was obviously tempted, he simply took the addressed envelope while resisting the urge to open, and headed out the door.
The sun was beginning to paint the landscape orange and gold in the Oregon Desert as Benjamin Everett rocked in his wicker chair out back, smoking on long leaf tobacco. The years had been pretty kind to him considering he was now 58 years old, but then again it was 2040; there were many products and practices to help sustain a youthful appearance. Benjamin's brows knitted as his black shepherd Porter perked up his ears and began barking. Shortly after, his own ears picked up the sound of a car coming down the dusty road. They were out in the middle of no where, there was no reason for any visitors. The sturdy man walked through his screen door and grabbed his 12 gauge from the cabinet.
Before Harvey could knock on the door, it swung open and slapped the siding on the house. The barrel of a shot gun greeted him. "Jesus Christ!" he leapt backward, putting his hands up in confusion.
Benjamin saw his reflection on the other end of his Remington and let his pipe fell from his agape mouth. The older man released his gun on the porch and stared at his son for the first time. "Harvey...? My god, son! It's really you!!" With tears in his weary teal eyes, Ben wrapped his arms around his only child.
Harvey was not what he had expected, but certainly not such a warm welcome. Emotions were aplenty, but he would have to deal with them in time. For now, he accepted his father's embrace.
Finally Benjamin beheld his son, wiping tears from his eyes. "Wow, you're the spitting image of your father..."
"That's what mom always said... You remember mom, right?" Harvey couldn't help but expose his bitterness, just a bit.
A hurt expression crossed Ben's face. "Of course, I do son. Not a day has gone by that I haven't thought about you both... She hasn't told you anything..." A sigh escaped him. "Which was smart of her... Where is she?"
"She's dying, dad..." When Harvey saw all the color leave his father's face, he realized the man truly did care for his mother. This scenario was much different than he had ever anticipated. "That's why I'm here."
"Was it Sullivan?" The growl of pure venom fell off Everett's lips as his expression twisted hatefully.
Harvey's brow furrowed together while goose bumps inexplicably rippled up his arms. "Sullivan...?" he repeated.
Ben let out a slow breath, deflating his puffed up shoulders in temporary relief. "Never mind..."
"Come with me to Portland. Her last wish is to see you, one last time." Harvey insisted.
The grave statement collapsed on Benjamin like a house of bricks. The love of his life that he had waited for and longed for all these years was now on the brink of death. It was certainly not the reunion he had hoped for at all. But at least he would get to look into her eyes once again and be a family for the rest of her life... As short as it may be.
Noticing how fidgety his father was, Harvey made a suggestion. "We are about 10 miles from the hospital, do you need to smoke a cigarette or something?"
Realizing he was drumming his fingers on his already restless leg made Ben see his point. "Good call, son." The well dressed man lit a smoke and rolled down the window of Harvey's wagon.
His son did the same and sped on into the city. By the time they reached the hospital, Benjamin had puffed down two cigarettes already. It brought a smirk to Harvey's face to see him so nervous to reunite with his mother; they had both waited a long time for this. "You ready?" he asked as he shut of the engine. When his father nodded, his smirk turned into a smile. Harvey almost chuckled.
Benjamin took a deep breath and looked at his offspring. "Yes, I'm ready." he smiled back.
Taking the lead, Harvey brought them into the large rotunda of the lobby. There was a oval desk through the two automatic doors that welcomed them to the hospital. "Hey Georgina." Harvey greeted the employee behind the desk.
"Oh hello Harvey! Late this evening!" The receptionist teased him. "And you brought a friend... this time..." The woman's expression faded realizing the two appeared identical. "You found him..." Clearly she was well aware of Camilla's strong desire to see Harvey's father. "Very nice to meet you sir, you have a wonderful man for a son."
"Thank you, I can see that." Benjamin proudly beamed.
"Well I won't keep you any longer, I know she is anxious to visit with you."
The men nodded and proceeded through the hospital. While they waited at the elevators, both were silent. Each of them were absorbing the intensity of the impending situation. When the bell chimed, the two men started just a bit; snapping out of their own daydreams. Not a word was uttered as they continued up three floors. Harvey took the lead when the gold doors opened to a buzzing 4th floor.
Greetings from nurses and doctors were sent their way as they walked toward room 432 until finally, they were outside the door. "Are you ready...?" he asked again, though partially for his own benefit this time.
Without speaking, Benjamin nodded, eyes locked with his son. When he received a motivational nod, he took a deep breath and opened the large teal door. As soon as he saw her long auburn tresses and topaz eyes, Benjamin Everett nearly crumbled to his knees. By the time he got to her he had. Tears and sobs of joy and sadness escaped the otherwise intimidating man as he clasped the hand of his long lost lover.
Camilla removed her oxygen mask revealing a glossy eyes and a smile as beautiful as ever. "It's really you..." she weakly spoke, happiness ringing in her tone. The woman ran her hands through Ben's hair and face, still just as gorgeous as she had ever been. "Look at you..." she admired her now distinguished love.
Openly weeping on his knees, Benjamin remained at her bedside caressing her as if they were the only two people in the world. "Claire, I never thought I was going to see you again... You are still so beautiful!"
Harvey swallowed a lump in his throat before catching his father address his mom by another name.
"Awww really??" Camilla laughed for the first time in years. "I'm 44 and on my death bed..." she mused. Seeing the hurt in Ben's eyes brought the corners of her lips down. "I am dying, Ben... My heart just couldn't take it. I tried so hard to stay strong, I am sorry."
The bearded man shook his head. "Don't you dare apologize...I amsorry. You did a magnificent job raising our son whom I've only met today... I've searched for you for 26 years but the letters never had return addresses--"
"You know we didn't have a choice, sweetheart. But we are all together now. That's all I've ever wanted." Camilla waved her son over. As she was setting her hand back down she started having trouble breathing. Before she could panic, Harvey was at her side with her oxygen. She inhaled deep breaths and after a few moments, her eyes were smiling up at her son as she took the mask off. "You are such a sweet boy Harvey... You take after your father."
Both of the men smiled at her as they all shared a moment together. Her hands cupped one side of each of their faces. "My boys... Look at that. I love you both tremendously. I wish I had more time..."
"Don't say that baby, we can take it day by day; we will never leave your side." Ben tried to convince her.
"I don't have a day, Benjamin. I'm so sorry you have to see me like this. I have thought about you every single day... Harvey, I love you with all my heart. I'm beyond elated to see you with your father. He is an amazing man, I wish I could watch you two grow close." Camilla took a rigid breath. "Now it's your turn Ben. I love you so much, heaven is seeing you again. You can't let him get our boy... And please... Find his sister." Only a moment later, the light began leaving her aqua marine eyes.
"Claire..." Tears streaked Ben's cheeks as his soul mate's eyes shut and the beating of her heart became scarce. "Claire!" He cried. The burly man brought his lips to hers one last time before she flat lined. As the nurses came in, Benjamin's forehead remained pressed to hers as he wept.
Harvey's hand covered his mouth as he mourned his mother's peaceful, lifeless face. He took her hand in his and kissed it before excusing himself to let it all out and recompose himself. There were so many mysteries that needed solving now that his mother had passed. Was Claire her real name? Who could possibly be after him?? And most of all... Did Harvey St. John have a sister??
© Copyright 2016 Autumn Leaves. All rights reserved.
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