It was in the
summer of 87, early June if I recall, that I first met Kurt. He had called
my home phone, in response to an ad I had placed in the local paper "Apartment
for rent". About forty five minutes after he had called, he arrived in
I'll have to admit, I was somewhat surprised to hear what sounded like, and was indeed, a Harley Davidson... Not today or any other day did I ever expect to end up with a solidly built, long haired biker in my driveway, much less have one wanting to live in the other portion of my home. We spent a short time talking in the driveway, then proceeded to the back of the house so that I could show him the apartment that I had for rent; two bedrooms, one bath, den, and large livingroom, with a nice kitchen.
Even though I was a little put
out at the thought of having a guy like this living in my home, there was
something about him that I just couldn't put my finger on. Something that
told me that despite the leather jacket, the long hair, and the Harley,
he wasn't exactly what he appeared to be. Approximately 2 hours, some ear
bending, a pot of coffee, and $1050.00 dollars later, I had finished up
the paperwork with Kurt, and he headed off with plans to move in come the
first of July. Now, I'll have to admit, I was impressed with him after
reading through his tenant application; twenty-seven years old, self employed,
confident, but not harsh or rude, oddly soft spoken, and a trucker by trade.
Sept 26 1990
I walked out my door that night to get some firewood from the bin on the side of the house. That's when I noticed the song that was coming from Kurt's apartment, and another noise...
He sat in the old frayed lay-z-boy in my livingroom, sullen, shaking, slowly sipping from a mug of coffee I had given him a few minutes after talking the pistol out of his hand.
"I don't know Don, I just don't... I'm so fucking sick of this, my life..."
"Kurt, for Christ's sake, Do you really think for a minute that Derrick would've wanted you to quit living?"
"You don't get it Don, HOW THE FUCK CAN YOU? Huh... I mean, what do you know about what I've gone through, or what I'm feeling.., he raged at me and then continued, "I'm sorry Don, I didn't mean that.".
"There's more Kurt, a lot more." I said softly.
I got up and walked back into my bedroom to retrieve a picture that sits on my night stand. As I picked it up, I took a minute to think of the boy in the picture, that distant look in his eyes.
"That's my son. His name was Tim, He'd a been twenty-six today, it's his birthday." I said, handing the picture to him.
I felt a tear roll down my cheek. "The difference between you and him is that I was here when you chambered the round in that gun, I wasn't when Tim did."
Kurt looked up at me from the chair, it seemed like he was looking into my soul or maybe right through me, I'm not quite sure which. His eyes moved slowly back to Tim's picture, where they remained for some time.
"Don, I.., I don't.., Tell me."
I couldn't find the words, no, I couldn't speak the words that came rushing into my head right there. Instead, I signaled with a finger for him to wait for a minute as I walked off to the cabinet by the TV to get out some tapes that I hadn't looked at in years. I knew that they'd say more to him than I ever could. Maybe it was time for me to look back and remember Tim again, when he was happy, when we were all happy.
I opened the cabinet door and looked across the vast expanse of tapes contained therein. I located, at the back of the top shelf, 5 tapes all marked with only dates and one word, Tim 1974 - 1979. Just looking at them made me shudder in remembrance of my son, of how I had failed him. I extracted the first tape from its plain black casing and inserted it into my VCR, and pushed play.
Kurt and I didn't talk much for the next several hours aside from the occasional question about some small facet of the tape that was playing, or the offer of a refill of coffee. I found myself lost in a sea of emotion as I watched my son grow up again. Watching him dive from the docks into the murky water of the Ipswitch river. Laughing as he and his best friend wrestled in the water amid other children. I drifted back many years as I looked at the backdrop of Parker Mountain, outlined behind my son, as he went off for his first summer away. We watched as yet another of Tim's birthdays went by, a new Yamaha kx80, a boom box, that aggravated look all kids get on their face when the present they open contains some obnoxious piece of clothing.
The last tape in the line showed Tim, his "best friend" Stevie, and the other boys that played in their band. Sure, it was just a garage band, an idealistic child's fantasy, but isn't that what growing up is all about, dreams? They weren't all that bad either, for what they had to work with. I think for the first time in my life I realized just how much of his soul he laid bare when he played and sang, for the first time in my life I really listened to the music that he held so dear. I listened to that same song roll from their fingertips, the one that drew me to Kurt's apartment tonight.
" The clock strikes twelve and moondrops burst
Out at you from their hiding place
Like acid and oil on a madman's face
His reason tends to fly away
Like lesser birds on the four winds
Like silver scrapes in May
Now the sands become a crust
And most of you have gone away
Come Suzy dear, let's take a walk
Just out there upon the beach
I know you'll soon be married
And you want to know where the winds come from
Well it's never said at all
On the map that Carrie reads
Behind the clock back there you know
At the four winds bar
Hey, hey, hey, hey
Four winds at the four winds bar
Two doors locked and windows barred
One door let to take you in
The other one just mirrors it
Hey, hey, hey, hey
In hellish glare and inference
The other one's a duplicate
The queenly flux, eternal light
Or the light that never warms (repeat twice)
The clock strikes twelve and moondrops burst
Out at you from their hiding place
Miss Carrie nurse and Suzy dear
Would find themselves at the four winds bar
It's the nexus of the crisis
The origin of storms
Just the place to hopelessly
Encounter time and then came me
Hey, hey, hey, hey
Call me Desdenova, eternal light
These gravely digs of mine
Will surely prove a sight
And don't forget my dog, fixed and consequent
Astronomy...a star... "
I caught hint of something there in that song. I rewound the tape a bit to see if I could make sure of what I had heard. Sure enough it was there, and what's more, I saw Tim's gaze directed over towards Stevie as he sang...
"Come Suzy dear, let's take a walk
Just out there upon the beach
I know you'll soon be married
And you want to know where the winds come from"
Only it wasn't "Suzy" I heard, it was "Stevie".
I saw Stevie also, the sparkle in his eye...
I looked over at Kurt to see if he had heard what I did, he caught my glance and nodded, confirming what I had thought. It was then that I realized I had done more than made my own son's life unbearable. I realized that it was because of me that Stevie had... Oh shit. I can't begin to explain the horror that I felt over the thought of what I'd put those boy's through, but I think Kurt knew. He stood, reached for me, pulled me into his arms, and just held me as I cried. I thought about why Kurt had that gun earlier, and I think I began to understand. I looked up from his shoulder as I began to regain some control over myself, and noticed that the sun was well on its way across the morning sky. I released my deathgrip on his shirt and backed away, wiping my eyes.
"Thanks Kurt, I just realized a lot tonight, and I got alotta thinking to do"
"I understand, I think we both do man. I need to get some rest though, I'm so beat I can't see straight." He said
"Me too, I'll make you a deal, I've got some more free time tonight, and I'd really like to talk some more, we kinda got off the subject of you, and I don't wanna leave that hang..."
"I think I'd like that Don, and I know I didn't say it before, but thanks, and your right, Derrick wouldn't think to much of where I was heading last night. I have a funny feeling that we need to talk some more, for both our sakes."
I nodded and with a last hug, we parted. Me to my bedroom, and him back to his apartment. I took a few seconds to return to the livingroom before I went to sleep, I didn't want to leave Tim out there alone, and I wanted to make sure that Kurt's gun was safely locked away, from both of us.
Before I crawled into bed, I did something I hadn't done since I was a child. I kneeled by my bedside and put my head down...
" Tim, It's dad, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry for all the things I did, and more for the things I didn't do that I should have. I don't have any excuses anymore Tim, not that the ones I used were worth a fuck to begin with... I love you boy, I always did, but I didn't have the balls to accept the cards you were dealt. I know I can't settle up with you for all that I did, but I'm gonna do my best to help Kurt, and if I can, I'll try to make amends with Stevie. I really wish I could go back and make it all right my boy. I hope wherever you are, that your happier than you were here with me. G'night son..."
I started to rise off the floor, but stopped and prayed again.
"God, it's been a long time since I talked to you, not so long since I cursed you and swore that you couldn't exist... If you've got it in your heart, I need your help. I need to find Stevie, beyond talking with him I don't know why, but I know I need to start making up for all the damage I've done..."
With that, I crawled into bed
and drifted off into a deep exhausted sleep.
In Tim's Time
I could feel the softness of the bed of pine needles under my feet, occasionally disrupted by pine cone or small branch. I feel the warmth of the summer sun as its rays stream through the branches of the pine I'm under. I smell the lazy comfortable smells of summer as the heat rises off the ground. I think I can even smell the oil that leaked into the dirt from the old Volkswagen that's around the back of the house. Somehow, it feels like I'd lived here forever.
It's a large old house that I'm walking around. Some deep shade of yellow with dark brown trim. In its own way it's ominous looking. But there's a deep sense of comfort here. Peering through a window I see that its basically the way it's always been. I can almost feel the history held within her, I do sense warmth in the old wood that frames her walls.
As I continued walking towards the back of the house, the old coop came into view, it used to be a chicken coop, but we converted it into a shop of sorts. It was far to low to get a car into, but the roof jutted out far enough to cover half of a car nosed into the open stall. I could see a depression in the earth, erosion from where the rain had dripped off the roof for years. I could smell the musty odors emanating from her depths, hear the old AM radio that was set on a high shelf inside.
"Daddy!!" "Daddy!!" I heard as Timmy came running from the house and leaped into my arms. Smiling , giggling, happy Timmy...
"Can we go fishing Daddy? Can we? Pleeeeeeeease?"
I couldn't help but smile as I told him we could, and as quickly as he had appeared, he bounded off to get his gear. I opened the door of the Volkswagen and took a moment to fire her up, she always was an obstinate car.
"That's odd." I thought to myself, after warming the car up. "Where the hell is that boy."
I left the car running and went in the back door in search of him. Hearing noises from the kitchen I went that way
"... I'll ask, hold on" I heard him say, followed by a dull thud as the phone was dropped to the table rather abruptly.
"Daddy!" he yelled as he came around the corner, running directly into my legs.
"AAAAAAAARGH!" he screamed in fright, not expecting there to be anyone there. He fell backwards, landing on his butt, calming quickly, laughing.
Looking up "Can Stevie come with us dad?"
A giggle, and then a mad scramble on his part to get from the floor back to the phone to tell Stevie his good news. "He said yes!!!" "He said YES!!!" "Hurry!"
The sound of the receiver being slammed back into the phones hook reached me at about the same time as he started to yell that Stevie was on his way over.
I heard the closet door open in the hallway off the kitchen, some rummaging, an exasperated sigh escaped Timmy's lips. The closet door slams shut, and I hear Timmy scramble down the hall and up the stairs. I know he's in search of his tackle box.
"TIMOTHY ALLEN YOU SLOW IT DOWN IN THE HOUSE!" I heard Kathryn yell, followed by a soft chuckle
Timmy returned a somewhat muffled grumble, and continued on his search.
I put my hands on Kathryn's shoulders as I walked up behind her. She turned her head away from the book she was reading, and smiled up at me "Going to the river Don?
"Yeah, we shouldn't be home to late"
"If your home early enough I was thinking that The Sportsman would be good for dinner tonight"
I began to salivate at the thought of the best Lobster and steamers I'd ever had. "That works for me, want me to make reservations before we head off?"
The phone Rang as I reached for it. "Hello" I said into the mouthpiece.
"Hello" I said again, and again the phone rang.
I rolled my head to the right to avoid the bright light streaming through the window as the phone screeched in my ear again. I reached out from my bed and grabbed my phone "Hello"
"Don, It's Kurt, I suppose I just woke you up..."