• CHAPTER EIGHT: You Can Always Come Home

    It is not by accident that Jamison is sitting in the living room with Les when Craig walks in the door from work. It is not by accident that the room is quiet and filled with tension. Craig has checked the mail and is coming in with bills...and a postcard. While it is not by accident that Jamison is there, Craig is surprised to see Jamison sitting in his living room.

         "Well...look Pop, it's the guy from tv. You're a long drive from the White House. Oh wait...did you drive or did Marine One drop you down?"
         "Hello Craig. I was just telling..."
    Craig interrupts,
         "Pop...mom got another postcard..."
         "So...that's what you gonna do? Interrupt and ignore me?"
    Les addresses Jamison calmly,
         "Why are you here?"
    Jamison takes out a small, black gift box from his fine leather attaché case.
         "I came to deliver your card…"
         "I don't want it."
         "Pop, you don't have a choice."
         "Sure I do. I will always have a choice."
         "Not about this."
    Craig interjects,
         "So, that's what you're doing now…going around and taking away choice."
    Jamison takes out a second gift box and plops it on the coffee table,
         "Call it what you want."

    Jamison stands up and goes over to the wall of postcards. He raises his hand to touch a card. Craig stops him,
         "Touch that wall and I'll break your hand."
    Jamison turns quickly,
         "What is your problem?!"
         "You.  You standing in my house like you belong here!" You haven't been here in years. You left and became a big man in the big house and..."
         "And what?! Sold out? Or would you rather I had stayed and picked cotton in the stockyard? And I don't see Frank or Dex here either Craig. You're here because you have nothing else!"

    Craig rushes on Jamison but Les commands the room,
         "BOYS! STOP!"
    They do, but it would give them both so much pleasure to beat each other cold. Les continues,
         "Now...this is my...house. As long as I'm breathing...my...house. My sons will always be welcomed in...my...house. Now...that said, one day it will be Craig's house and you boys need to fix this. You are brothers and I will not have you fighting in here like drunken strangers. Do you understand?"

    Both men are still fixed on each other, breathing heavy, sweat falling off Craig's brow...they are silent.
         "I said, do you understand?"
    Reluctantly, they both answer,
         "Yes sir."

    Craig backs off and crosses away from Jamison to the other side of the room, by the front door. Les takes the new postcard and walks up to Jamison.
         "Son, you have missed a lot since your mom's passing. We..."
         "I know dad, I've been..."
         "I'm talking. You've been away and so it seems you have forgotten basic manners while living in DC."
         "No sir, I have not. I'm sorry."
    Les gives Jamison a long, hard look. There is a sadness in Les' face. Jamison finds it difficult to maintain eye contact and keeps looking away at Craig. Les looks over at Craig, following Jamison's eye line,
         "You find it easier to look at your little brother? Your old man is standing right here in front of you and you're still trying to intimidate your little brother. Look at me, son."
    Jamison stays on Craig for a moment. He turns his face to the floor, takes a deep breath and then looks up.
         "That seemed to be a lot of work for a son to look his father in the face while he goes on to destroy his family's name. I suppose that type of betrayal takes a lot out of a man."
         "How did I betray you, Pop? How is it that you are not proud of me? I am saving this country. Our name...the Dracel name...will be in the history books..."
         "Written in blood."

    Les reaches for a button pin and finds a place on the postcard wall for the new postcard: "Having a great time in Hawaii" the card reads. Les reads the card,
         "Having a great time in Hawaii. You know, your mother never went to Hawaii. Always wanted to go...never went. We sent you and Frank to school. Dex went into the service. Dex and Frank offered to send her but she wouldn't hear of it. Craig was still a youngster and her health wasn't all that good. When we finally talked her into going, the boys got it all together, Craig was going to stay with Frank, and she was all set...except one thing. She had never been on a plane before."

    Les chuckles and seems to leave the room as he continues the story,
         "She was scared. She was scared something might happen and it would take her away from her kids. I tried to tell her people fly everyday and that MOST days go without incident. I thought I was saying it right. All she heard was "MOST days" and not "EVERY day". She talked to Frank, Dex, and Craig again and they all assured it would be fine. Go. She insisted on talking to you. She called. She called again. She got Craig to send an email. You know she didn't have much to do with technology and email and Facebook and whatnot. She did everything but drive to DC herself. And where were you?"
         "Pop...I was..."
         "Busy. Yes. I know. You were busy. Busy taking away choice and makin' little cards with our name on it. I don't want my name on it. I don't want any parts of it because I look at THIS card and I see why your mother couldn't reach you. I look at THIS card and see why every time she called your house, she got to talk to Miss High and Mighty if she got a person at all. She use to recite your outgoing message on your answering machine before the beep let her leave her message. You were busy. She died. She didn't go to Hawaii. She didn't add her own postcard to this wall. She died. You were busy. She died.
    Jamison tries to walk away. Les grabs his son,
         "No. You're here now. For the second time SINCE she died, you are here and so you may as well stay awhile..."
         "I've got to go..."
    Craig jumps in,
         "You wanted to stay a moment ago. Had your chest all puffed out..."
    Jamison fights back tears,
         "It's not my fault...Pop..."
         "No, Jamie...it's not your fault she died. But not being a better son to your mother...to me? You have to carry that one alone."
    Jamison fights back,
         "Pop. You got me out of here. You and mom...you wanted something more for me and I found it. I worked and worked and now I'm changing this nation...for the better. She would have wanted that."
         "Yes, she would have. And she was proud of you. She'd talk about you at church. She'd tell everyone how you were doing important things for the government. She didn't know a thing from a thang but she was steady tellin' everyone how you were doing so well for yourself. And I would always hear, "for yourself" fall like a ton of bricks out her mouth."
         "Stop it, Pop."
         "You forgot us Jamie. You traded us, your family, in for this card. Your card will let everyone know you're my son, but do you know it? Will that even BE on your card. I guess our lives is simply a stream of information and we can program it to be anything we want it to be now, huh? You can now program my money...my health...my driving record...my citizenship. Can you program in here that I once had a son name Jamie and that he was my second oldest child and I loved him dearly...and I miss him."

    The two men stand in front of each other for a while. No one says anything. Jamison picks up his bag and heads for the door. He stops in front of Craig. Craig steps aside to let Jamison pass. Without turning around, Jamison says,
         "Don't lose the card."
    He walks out the front door, down the walk and into a black town car.
    Les hasn't moved,
         "Nevermind the card, I've lost a son."

  • 1 comment:

    1. This chapter was emotional. You could feel the tension between father and son / brother and brother and I suspect it is not going to get better before it gets worse. I really love the concept of the post cards. I actually had to link back to a former chapter to remind myself again why (deceased) Mom was receiving them. This was a really good chapter but you are a master at keeping us in suspense. I need to measure my heartrate before and after your chapters!! Thanks for eight chapters of intense. xo


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