A Father's Dilemma

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A middle aged father has gone through an ugly divorce and discovers that the woman who he thought was his soul-mate was really a liar and a cheat. Now he wonders if he she lied about his son's paternity.

Submitted: October 28, 2011

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Submitted: October 28, 2011

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When the pizza arrived, it was overcooked, but nobody else seemed to notice. After six grueling years, Bill's son Bobby had finally graduated from the University of Chicago. Family members from three states had flown in and there seemed to be an endless supply of beer, food and laughter.

The place was Bobby's favorite bar and grill, Club 225, which was very popular with the twenty-something crowd. Just as the clock on the wall, read 12:00 am, the youthful invaders began to pour in.

This was no place for the middle-aged, so after giving Bobby a hug, Bill and his new girlfriend, Dawn said goodnight to the young revelers, and headed for the door.

It was a beautiful evening. The full moon hung high like a nocturnal sentinel, its only companions the stars twinkling in their constellations. Together, they illuminated the parking lot more than the incandescent lamps overhead. Bill liked these unseasonably cool nights, event if his arthritic knees didn't.

"It was great to finally meet Bobby," Dawn said, "you raised a wonderful young man."

"Yeah, I'm proud of him," Bill said. "I'm just glad he finally graduated."

"Well, considering the car accident he had, it's a wonder that he finished at all."

"Dawn slipped her arm through Bill's as they strolled to the parking lot.

"Yeah, he's a good kid. I can't complain." Bill said.

"I just wonder if you've made up your mind about that test," asked Dawn.

"Not really."

Dawn paused as if choosing her words. "Not to be critical, but why didn't you find out when Bobby was little?"

Bill gave a small laugh. "You have to understand that Bobby's mother and I got along pretty well in those days and I had no reason to suspect her of cheating. I just thought he looked like her side of the family. I guess I was pretty naive in those days."

"Weren't we all?" Dawn said.

As they sat in the car with the engine running, jazz softly playing on the radio, Bill talked about his contentious divorce from Bobby's mother. It saddened him that the woman he thought was his best friend and soul mate was really a liar and a cheat.

As he steered the car onto Halsted Street, toward the expressway, he tried to change the subject. He talked about the weather, sports, anything to escape the unpleasant memories.

At first, Bill ignored the flashing police lights that camefrom an oncoming car, but then there was a second, then a third; no sirens, just lights.

"What the hell's going on?" Bill said.

"Something terrible must have happened," Dawn said.

Then, there was the faint ring of Bill's cell phone. It was a text message that read:

"225 being robbed! They won't let us out. I'm OK."

"What?" Bill said.

"That's where all the cops were going! Let's go back."

As Bill made a U turn and sped toward the flashing lights, Dawn made a futile attempt to call Bobby. "No answer," she said.

When they arrived at the scene of flashing lights there were two or three ambulances, and a huge truck that looked like a mobile command vehicle from the movies. The entrance to the parking lot was blocked by a police car; its driver directing traffic away from the club.

Outside, Bill waited across the street from Club 225, as close as the police would allow. He paced back and forth as a crowd gathered on the corner. Dawn tried to calm him, to reassure him that everything would be okay.

Someone on a loudspeaker shouted instructions to the robbers, to no avail. One hour turned into two as the standoff continued into the night.

Somewhere overhead, the thump,thump,thump of a news helicopter's blades beat heavily against the night air.

Collapsing onto a curb in exasperation, Bill said a silent prayer, and saw Bobby in his mind, not as a man, but as a boy; the strong confident little kid that he used to be; the smart athletic, charismatic kid who was always the leader of the pack. Bill remembered him as a Little Leaguer, the perennial all-star; the one that the coaches couldn't do without.

He missed those days.

Bill squeezed Dawn's hand and said another prayer. He prayed that God would protect his son and send him home safely. He asked for another chance to see him again, and asked for forgiveness for his anger toward his ex-wife. It was at that moment that he realized that he didn't care if he was the biological father of Bobby. He just wanted his son back.

Then, there seemed to be a commotion across the street as the crowd began to cheer. A long line of people filed out of Club 225, holding their hands up. The robbers had decided to give up, rather than deal with the SWAT team that they knew would come crashing in the back door.

As the police sorted out the good guys from the bad, Bill frantically searched and found the son that he was blessed with, the one that he almost lost. To hell with that DNA test.

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