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    Dodger
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

A Soldier's Guide to Single Parenting - 7. Saving my Bacon

Todd took David to work on Tuesday but once again, I was too sick to make it. Too much booze during the day and not enough sleep at night. It was becoming a vicious circle I couldn’t seem to break.

It was around lunchtime when I received a call from the police. They told me they had a young man in custody named Simon Morrison and they wanted to know if we were related.

“Simon? No. He’s not a relative but he’s a friend of the family. Is he in trouble?” It sounded like a ridiculous question to ask considering he was in police custody.

“He was picked up during a raid on a house in Roxbury this morning. There were drugs found there. He’s being questioned but we don’t believe he was directly involved. He hasn’t been charged.”

Simon had given our address as his home and the police were calling to verify his story. He had no ID and had told them he didn’t have any parents.

I told them the truth. “He has got a father and that’s where he normally lives but they had an argument. His old man hit him quite bad so we took him in. He ran off over the weekend. He won’t go back home because he’s scared of his father.”

The police seemed happy with my explanation and asked if I would come collect him. It was a relief to hear that he was okay, but it put me in an awkward position. I felt sorry for the kid, but he wasn’t my responsibility. I was tempted to simply give them Darcy’s number and wash my hands of it but something stopped me. I felt guilty for making Simon leave in the first place and I didn’t want to turn him over until I was convinced he was going to be safe.

Contrary to what David must have thought at the time, I didn’t hate Simon. I had known him since he was very young and he had been a regular in our house for many years. He was always a good kid, there was nothing to hate about him. I blamed his father and that wacky cult he belonged to. They were probably the reason why he turned queer in the first place and now they were persecuting the poor kid.

As much as I didn’t want him back in the house, I had to admit it was good to see him in one piece when they brought him out to me. He looked a little grubby and kept his head bowed as the detective explained they may need to question him again in the coming days.

“Will he be staying with you?” I had been asking myself the same question on the way over there. I had already told the kids he wasn’t allowed in the house again but if I refused he would have been sent back to Darcy. I could feel Simon’s pleading eyes on me.

“Yes, until he can sort things out at home.”

“You should call your father and let him know where you are,” said the detective. Simon didn’t respond.

“I’ll do it for him, officer.” I patted Simon on the shoulder. The kid was too honest for his own good. He needed to learn how to tell people what they wanted to hear. If he had done that, none of this would have happened in the first place.

Before we left, I talked to the detective alone while Simon sat in the waiting room kicking his heels.

“We know he wasn’t involved in what was going on in that house. However, those people aren’t the best guys for Simon to have as friends. If he hangs around in those circles he’s gonna get mixed up in it and… Well, I don’t think I need to explain it to you.”

“I’ll have a word with him but I’m not the boy’s father. There’s only so much I can do.”

“I understand, sir. He wouldn’t talk to us about his dad. We can’t do much unless he wants to press charges for assault.”

“I doubt if he would ever do that, he’s too scared.”

“It shouldn’t be your problem though. Look, I think the kid needs some help. If you want, I can ask someone to contact you. She’s a social worker. A part of the mayor’s new initiative on juvenile crime. She’s very good.”

I didn’t like those people at the best of times and he may have seen it on my face, but I agreed anyway and shook his hand. I was hoping Simon would go back to his father before some left wing social worker started telling him it was okay to be queer. I thought it would be a step in the wrong direction. He needed someone to show him how to be a man not someone who would encourage him to wear make-up and high heels.

I had my own plan.

If I could talk to him alone, maybe I could persuade him to go back of his own accord. I could even go with him and talk to Darcy. Maybe have a quiet chat with him alone to make sure we were singing from the same song sheet. I was certain I would be able to lean on him enough to make him think twice before beating his kid again. A promise of like for like, usually did the trick.

We talked on the way home. He told me he had been staying with a friend who he knew from his church. A boy much older than him who had been expelled from the religion a couple of years earlier for using drugs. It made sense and his friend was one of those arrested.

When I mentioned to him I had spoken with his father. He began to get agitated.

“I know about you and David… What’s been going on between you.”

I could see him sinking lower into his seat. “David told you?”

“Yes, he told me the morning after you left.”

“Did you talk to my dad about it?”

“Yes, briefly. Look, I think it would be better if I were to take you home, Simon. Your father has calmed down a lot. It must have come as quite a shock to him. You should give him the chance to explain.”

He began shifting in his seat, looking nervous and edgy. “You told the police that I could stay with you.”

“And you can, if it doesn’t work out. Why don’t you give it a chance? I can talk to him if you want, make sure he knows not to hurt you.”

“You don’t understand at all, do you?”

“Simon, I’m trying to be reasonable here.”

“Is that where you're taking me?”

“That’s where you live, Simon. Your dad’s worried about you, he’s—.”

“NO!”

I was stopping at a red light but the car was still moving when Simon opened the passenger door and attempted to jump out. I yelled at him and grabbed his arm, pulling him back into his seat.

“What are doing? Are you crazy. You’re gonna kill yourself.”

“I DON’T CARE. I WON’T GO BACK THERE!” He struggled to free himself from my grip and I had to slam on the brakes. There was a sharp squeal as the tires locked up on the hot road and we both lurched forward. He hit his head on the windscreen and the passenger door nearly flew off its hinges.

He sat back in his seat rubbing his head.

“Are you okay?” I asked as he tried again to leave. “Wait, I’m not gonna take you back there. I promise.”

He looked panicked and scared. It shook me up too. Until then he had been quite pleasant. I wasn’t prepared for such a sudden and extreme reaction but it wasn’t manufactured. It wasn’t an act designed to fool me into taking him back to our house. It was genuine fear coming from a kid who would have jumped from a moving vehicle rather than face his father!

“Don’t ever try that again, okay? You scared the hell outta me.”

“Sorry.”

“It doesn’t matter.” I handed him an old box of tissues. “Here dry your eyes. Only little girls cry.” I hoped he wouldn’t be offended by that remark but a little further down the road I apologized anyway. He couldn’t help it. “Don’t take that the wrong way, kid. You know it’s just the way I talk.” When I turned my head though, he was smiling at me through teary eyes.

There was something about Simon that made it difficult for me to dislike him. It was a quality I struggled to define or understand but that moment seemed to sum it up perfectly. The fact he was able to find something amusing in all of this was astounding. He surely hated my guts. I had given him every reason to.

I was starting to get the impression that he was a lot tougher than he looked. Both mentally and physically. He was a survivor and I suppose he had to be with Darcy as a dad.

When we arrived home, Jon was on the driveway fixing his bike. He glanced up at us and waved but looked confused, no doubt wondering why Simon was in the car.

“Is David at work?” asked Simon.

“Yes, for another couple of hours.”

“How is he?”

It wasn’t lost on me that in spite of all his problems, Simon was still able to temper his own scary predicament with genuine concern for my son. It was clear how much he cared for David and I knew he had tried to protect him on Saturday by taking the blame.

“David wanted to tell me the night you left didn’t he?” I said.

“Yes.”

“Why did you stop him?”

“There was no point. He didn’t need to get into trouble. He shouldn’t have said anything.”

“You didn’t need to do that,” I said but I was glad he did. I thought it was a good thing to do and it was brave too. It gave me something I could respect about him. He may have been a deviant but he had integrity.

I studied his face. He looked pained but his eyes were steely and determined; no more tears.

“I didn’t want David to get hurt. He doesn’t deserve to be hurt. It doesn’t matter what you or anyone else says, he’s done nothing wrong. I love him.” I shook my head. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear. “I know you don’t believe me but it’s true.”

I was out of my comfort zone with this one. I had close friends too; guys who I had fought alongside and risked my life for but nothing like this. His words made me realize the extent of the problem. It was worse than I expected but I doubted if he knew what love was.

I think it was the longest conversation I had ever had with Simon and certainly the most meaningful. I learned a bit about him, enough to want to give him a chance to redeem himself. He was a good kid, just mixed up.

Whatever was going on inside that head of his, I don’t think I had ever seen so much sadness in a boy’s face before.

“Lets get you inside and cleaned up before the mad missionaries are back to spy on you.” I wasn’t expecting him to find it funny but he chuckled.

“You don’t know them. They won’t stop until I’m punished or I repent.”

“What kind of punishment?”

“They’ll send me away to the mission. To cure me and teach me how to serve God. It’s their way of being nice because they’re giving me the chance to return and I’ll have everlasting life.”

“You don’t believe in that shit do you? Sorry, I didn’t mean it to sound like that.”

“It’s okay. I’m not sure anymore what I believe. When you have to attend meetings twice a week, every week, for as long as you can remember… And then go to bible studies in between and annual assemblies. And people tell you the same things, again and again, over and over, for years and years. You believe it because that’s all you know.”

I knew what he meant, I had been privy to such procedures when questioning enemy combatants in Vietnam. Brainwashing and psychological warfare. The army wasn’t the only ones using these techniques.

“Where is it they send you?”

“They call it a mission. It’s where they print the magazines. Young, let’s say offenders, are sent there to work for free. It’s in the middle of nowhere. They don’t lock you up, but you can’t leave because it’s too far to walk anywhere and you have no money. You don’t need money because they feed you and keep you warm and look after you. Providing you attend the bible studies each day. It’s really just a prison. They can send me to prison forever if they want to.”

“That can’t be legal surely?”

“They get around the law. They have their own lawyers. They’re clever. Most of the kids that are there are too indoctrinated to question their fate anyway. There’s a lot you will never know. They always win in the end. They’ll find me eventually and send me away. If I don’t conform and I can’t be saved, I’ll become a victim. I’ll have a drug overdose, even though I’ve never used drugs in my life. That kind of thing. They’ll use it to scare others into believing that bad things happen when you leave. ‘We tried to save Simon but he was tempted into sin and now he’s dead’. They don’t want anyone to leave and be happy or successful.”

“You mean they would kill you?”

“Who knows? I’m sure it’s happened before.”

“I don’t know what to say, Simon. I don’t have a solution for you. I still think it’s wrong what you and David are doing but you don’t need to be punished for it.”

I caught a hint of that smile again, fighting to get to the surface in what must have been a sea of hurt. I put my hand on his shoulder to comfort him and he flinched before accepting my gesture. It was something else that bothered me.

“You can go upstairs and take a shower. Borrow whatever you can find from David’s wardrobe. Are you hungry?” It was a silly question. He looked even thinner than usual. I doubt if he had eaten a decent meal in the three days he had been away.

I led him into the house past a bemused Jon who followed me into the kitchen as Simon trudged upstairs.

“Suzanne’s out with Bobby,” he said as I searched the fridge and cupboards. “Where did you find him?”

“It doesn’t matter. Look. Jon, I need you to lay off him for a while.”

“I haven’t said anything.”

“Good, keep it that way.”

“Is he gonna be staying here again?”

“I don’t know yet… I’m not sure what to do.”

“I thought you said he wasn’t allowed in the house anymore?”

“Well, obviously this is different.”

“I don’t get it… Why can’t he just go home?”

“He’s too scared to go home. His old man.”

“It’s not our problem. I don’t see why he has to be here.” Jon shook his head at me and went back outside to his bike. It was clear his views hadn’t softened any.

I hit my head against the wall. Simon had only been in the house for a couple of minutes and already there were problems. He seemed to be a catalyst for trouble. It followed him around wherever he went. That much was undeniable and Jon was right when he said it wasn’t our problem.

Allowing him to stay would likely cause a lot of upset. Especially with David who would be home soon. I told him he wasn’t allowed to see him anymore, under any circumstances, only to go out and bring Simon back.

I was worried about my son and how this would affect him but I kept seeing Simon’s face in the car as he tried to jump out. No child should ever be that scared of their parent. I thought about what the coach had told me and what David had said about the old man wanting to kill Simon that night. The evidence, coupled with everything he had just told me, was undeniable.

I punched the table in frustration. If Darcy had been there, I would’ve punched him instead.

It was hot and stuffy in the study but I was able to find some solace in the bottom drawer. A difficult and confusing afternoon suddenly became a lot more manageable after the first drink. It slid neatly down my throat in one steady movement and I shuddered as I rested the glass onto the desk and leaned back in the chair.

I badly needed that drink and consoled myself by looking at my watch. It was ten after five and that was my first of the day. It was step in the right direction; I was starting later each day. The problem was, I was also finishing later. There was only so many sick days I could have from work. I needed to get up early in the morning and show my face. One more down the hatch and I was able to think more clearly.

The house was quiet. Simon had been a while but still hadn’t come downstairs. I heard the shower go off ages ago, so I decided to see if he was okay. The bathroom was empty except for his dirty clothes so I headed for David’s room and tapped on the door.

“Simon. Can I come in?” There was no answer and I couldn’t hear anything so I knocked a little louder. There was still no answer as Jon came out of his room, wondering what was wrong. “Have you seen Simon?”

He shrugged as I turned the door handle but the door wouldn’t open. There was no lock on it but something had been put in the way to keep me out.

My heart missed a beat as Todd’s warnings came flooding back with a vengeance.

“SIMON!”

“What’s wrong?” Jon was behind me as I put my weight to the door and began pushing.

“Stand back, Jon!” I pushed him away before kicking the door until it opened enough for me to get in.

I expected to see him hanging from the light fixture, lying in a pool of blood, or unconscious on the bed with an empty bottle of pills by his side, but the room was empty. The only clue was a chair left by the open window.

“How did he climb down?” Jon had a point; it would have been very difficult. Then he tugged on my sleeve. “Dad, he’s still here.”

When I looked to where Jon was pointing. Simon was sitting in the corner of the room with his knees up to his chest. He had covered himself in a sheet. I let out a sigh of relief and told Jon to leave us alone.

“Geez, Simon. You had me worried there for a minute. I thought you had… I thought you had run away.”

“I tried, but it was too far for me to drop. Your house is too high.”

“I’m sorry. I should get it lowered one day.”

“It’s not funny.”

“Neither is running away. Why?”

“I don’t want David to see me like this. It’s not fair. It’s just gonna make things worse.”

“There’s not much else we can do, Simon. Unless you want to go home.” He was silent except for a few sniffles. “Yeah, I didn’t think so. Are you gonna come downstairs?” I held out my hand to him but he wouldn’t take it. “Come on, kid. Stand up.”

*     *     *

“STAND UP KID. COME ON. GET OUT HERE WHERE I CAN SEE YOU.”

The young man ignored my shouts, cowering in the corner until the South Vietnamese soldier dragged him across the dirt by his collar and stood him against the wall. The boy was no older than fifteen or sixteen. He was scared and looked at me for help as the soldier shouted at him in Vietnamese. He was asking him if he was Vietcong. The boy screamed his reply over and over, pleading with his interrogator, before falling to the ground as the soldier fired two quick rounds into his midriff.

I was sick, numbed by the sheer brutality of what I witnessed. The boy was one of four supposed Vietcong executed that day by South Vietnamese soldiers. Cold blooded retaliation for an attack on their barracks earlier that morning. It wasn’t clear whether any of those boys were Vietcong or not and there was no evidence to link them to the attack. I watched his mother screaming at us as she knelt over the body of her fallen son and spent the evening throwing up.

It was the last action I saw—if you could call it that. Three days later I was on my way home. Leaving a war that was fast getting out of control. I was pleased to get out. We were killing civilians; some were children. Younger than David!

*     *     *

“Dad, are you okay?” Jon was worried about me. I was sitting on my own staring at a blank wall. I hadn’t even noticed it getting dark. When he switched on the light it was almost nine o’clock. I lost three hours replaying ten minutes of my life and I didn’t know how or why. They were hours I didn’t have to spare.

Sometimes, I couldn’t get the image of that terrified boy out of my head. He just wouldn’t leave me alone. He had been dead for years but time had done little to diminish the memory and I could still picture him as vivid as ever.

I hated him!

I could go for months without seeing him and then suddenly he would come back and his face would be everywhere I looked. The only time he would leave me alone was when I was drunk!

I stumbled into the living room where Suzanne was watching a movie with a boy I assumed was her boyfriend. She introduced us and he stood up to shake my hand but I must have looked like a wreck. I could barely see him as his face drifted in and out of focus and I forgot his name the moment I walked away. I hadn’t even heard them come in.

What’s wrong with me?

Jon was in the kitchen. He told me to sit down. “Dad, you look ill. Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. Is David home?”

He flicked his head toward the backyard. “They’re outside.”

I guessed ‘they’ meant David and Simon. It was a warm evening and we had a big garden. I usually wouldn’t have given it a second thought but normal rules didn’t apply anymore.

“Have you eaten anything?” Jon was looking into my eyes like I was diseased. “When did you last eat, Dad?”

I couldn’t remember. Who made him the boss all of a sudden? It was my job to moan about his eating habits not the other way around. It was as if everything had been turned on it’s head without me noticing.

Boys were dating boys and kids were telling the parents what to do. The world had gone crazy. I wasn’t sure what to expect next.

I chose to ignore Jon’s advice to sit down but allowed him to make me some food. He started cooking bacon and eggs and handed me a glass of water.

“You don’t drink enough water. You're dehydrated. That’s what alcohol does!” Up until then, I was happy to play along but I didn’t like it when anyone pointed out the obvious to me. I didn’t need to be told what I already knew.

I would stop drinking when my life allowed it, but that wasn’t going to be anytime soon by the look of it. I could see the problem through the kitchen window. David and Simon sitting in the dark on the back lawn. They were talking and laughing. It was good to see but at what cost. I would have preferred it if they were playing ball or climbing Fred’s big oak tree at the back. Sitting on the grass together suddenly seemed wrong, even though there was enough room between them to park a bus.

Suzanne was in the living room with her boyfriend and David was in the garden with his boyfriend. Who was I supposed to watch? I opted for David and Simon. At least Suzanne was normal; I longed for the days when I only had to worry about her.

After Kate died. David had looked the stronger of the boys. He turned to his friend for support and Simon was always there for him. It enabled me to concentrate my efforts on Jon and Bobby during a particularly difficult period.

It wasn’t until the dust settled and the relatives on both sides had gone back home the grief really kicked in. Up until then I had fumbled through it in a state of shock, propelled by the constant well-wishers and fueled by words of sympathy.

Once everything was over, you could have heard a pin drop in that house. Even when we were all at home. I remember sitting with the kids on the first day after the funeral, looking at one another as if we were suddenly unsure of our roles. No one said a word.

Kate’s loss had left a gaping hole which no one person could possibly fill on their own. Up until then, the full enormity of the task ahead had eluded me. She had played a pivotal role in the family, providing a bond which had somehow held us together and kept us all on the same course. Everything passed through her. She knew all of our secrets, our weaknesses and our strengths. I may have provided the muscle but she was the quarterback who made it all happen.

We were left to pick up the pieces and I was forced to take over the running of a ship which I had neglected for years.

David had told me that he had been seeing Simon for about a year so there would have been something going on between them even before Kate died. I hadn’t noticed a thing and wouldn’t have done if Simon hadn’t been thrown out.

“I never noticed.” I was talking out loud and Jon shook his head.

“You don’t notice most things.”

“This is what’s been bothering you?” He walked over to stand beside me watching his brother.

“That’s nothing. Wait ‘til you see them kissing.”

Jon had a smirk on his face but I was horrified. The thought of them kissing added a totally new dimension to all of this.

“They do that in front of you?”

“No, but I’ve seen them. They didn’t know I was watching.”

He was spying on them but it didn’t make it any less serious.

“It doesn’t matter. They shouldn’t be doing that kinda thing where someone can see them. It’s not right. What if Fred was to see them? What would he think about it?”

I was allowing myself to get stressed again and my body started to crave more alcohol. It was fast becoming a solution for everything. A cure for all ills but it was gradually destroying me.

“You should’ve told me about David. You didn’t need to cover up for him. It’s not your fault. I’m not surprised you felt awkward.”

“I don’t know how I feel about it. I just don’t like it. That’s all.”

“You know what I don’t like? Burnt bacon.”

Jon ran back to the stove in a panic at the same time Suzanne came sprinting in. Maybe I could get Simon to cook a meal tomorrow.

Jon’s well-meaning attempt to provide me with sustenance wasn’t going too well but he resisted my half-hearted attempt to help.

“Are you gonna let Simon stay in David’s room?” asked Jon.

“No, of course not. He can sleep down here until I figure out what to do with him. If his dad wasn’t such an evil man, we wouldn’t have this problem.”

“Why don’t you kill his dad? Then David can go live with Simon.”

“JON!” His sister wasn’t happy but I allowed him to finish.

“That’s what you did in the army, right? Kill people. That’s what they do in special forces.”

I didn’t realize Jon knew I was in special forces. I couldn’t remember telling him or talking to him about any of my experiences in Vietnam.

“Who told you that, Jon?”

“Is it true? Did you kill people?”

“Jon, leave dad alone.” Suzanne had heard enough and finally ushered her brother out of the kitchen. She quite literally saved my bacon, but sooner or later I would have to answer Jon’s questions. It just wasn’t a subject I wanted to talk about.

Thanks to Timothy and Carlos.

 

If you enjoyed this chapter then please take time to like, follow the story or leave a comment below. Your feedback is always appreciated.

 

Chapter 8. Next Sunday.

Copyright © 2018 Dodger; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

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Jeff desperately needs help with both his alcoholism and his PTSD, but I don’t think they really understood PTSD back then. In any case the alcohol problem is caused by the PTSD. Getting him to acknowledge that he has a problem would not only be a miracle, but would solve several of his other issues!

 

When I was homeless, I met a guy who was suffering from PTSD. Apparently he had been some sort of medic onboard a ship that had an engine fire. He had to deal with sailors who had been badly burned. They had him on some extremely powerful meds and it was clear he was very high after taking them. (He claimed to be straight, but he flirted with me enough that I’m sure he’s not a Kinsey Zero. The last time I saw him, they had gotten him an apartment by himself. He didn’t have even the minimal support of the shelter anymore and was on his way to being evicted for non-payment of rent.)

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9 minutes ago, Canuk said:

This is going to take some sorting! They are going to need some outside support, and I don't see where this is going to come from, at this stage.

Jeff’s poor brother can’t do it all by himself!

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Bft

Posted (edited)

2 hours ago, Wesley8890 said:

I don't particularly like jon all that much. He's a right awful prick, must be inherited

I don’t like Jon either, but I wonder if he is a little bit closeted? 

With the ignorance of his old man, of course he has a little bit of hate and 

ignorance towards gays. 

Edited by Bft
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Just now, Bft said:

I don’t like Jon either, but I wonder if he is a little bit closeted? 

With the ignorance of his old man, of course he has a little bit of hate and 

ignorance too. 

Hadn't thought of that!

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3 hours ago, Wesley8890 said:

I don't particularly like jon all that much. He's a right awful prick, must be inherited

Jon obviously has a problem with Simon but I think it's more out of ignorance than anything else. He hasn't had much in the way of guidance and schools weren't as accepting as they are now about these issues. Thanks @Wesley8890

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4 hours ago, Israfil said:

Jeff's redeeming moments here... It really just shows he's human and not completely lacking in empathy.  He's still a fool and a drunk, his times notwithstanding, as we can see with Todd, who's of the same generation and a lot more thoughtful.  The events at the end of the last chapter confirmed that when Jeff threw the bills away and sat there pouting - is this a man or a child?

 

I smirked when Jon said he didn't like David and Simon together.  Child, what's your opinion got to do with the price of tea in China?  Of course, teenagers seem to think their thoughts should almost always count for something in family matters (I know I was like that) and get super pissed when told to go fuck themselves.  I don't really like kids, in case that wasn't clear ;) Though he might be on to something with how to deal with Simon's dad haha.

Haha. Your comments always have a good helping of satire in them @Israfil and I love them. Particularly your take on Jon which has been really amusing. Thing is, I do agree with you. he's not my favourite character either, although I do make excuses for him. Jeff throwing the bills out of the front door was a sign of his immaturity as well as his growing frustration as he realizes he cannot support a family and a heavy drinking habit. 

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4 hours ago, Canuk said:

this is one train wreck of a family. and no one is getting any help whatsoever. Jon is typical for his age, a bigot about everything and a bloated idea of his importance to the world, Suzanne is possibly the most normal, Simon is in a nightmare situation of trying to sort his own sexuality, having a friend that helped him through his mothers death and his family, and finally Jeff with post war/battlefield stresses, losing a wife, bring up three children without any idea how and verging on alcoholic. 

 

This is going to take some sorting! They are going to need some outside support, and I don't see where this is going to come from, at this stage.

 

Great read, amazing characters that its possible to feel real empathy with.

Thanks @Canuk The family are suffering along with many of the readers by the sound of it. Thanks for sticking with it. It will need some sorting before Jeff loses everything.

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4 hours ago, droughtquake said:

Jeff desperately needs help with both his alcoholism and his PTSD, but I don’t think they really understood PTSD back then. In any case the alcohol problem is caused by the PTSD. Getting him to acknowledge that he has a problem would not only be a miracle, but would solve several of his other issues!

 

When I was homeless, I met a guy who was suffering from PTSD. Apparently he had been some sort of medic onboard a ship that had an engine fire. He had to deal with sailors who had been badly burned. They had him on some extremely powerful meds and it was clear he was very high after taking them. (He claimed to be straight, but he flirted with me enough that I’m sure he’s not a Kinsey Zero. The last time I saw him, they had gotten him an apartment by himself. He didn’t have even the minimal support of the shelter anymore and was on his way to being evicted for non-payment of rent.)

I'm not sure when PTSD became fully recognized but I'm pretty sure it wasn't that well known in the late seventies. This chapter gave us a better insight into the horrors he witnessed during the Vietnam conflict. Thanks @droughtquake

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Need to be careful since I've read the next chapter. :P

 

I liked and felt sorry for Jeff from the start. I'm glad so many others are coming around to realize he's not the most enlightened person in the world but not inherently evil. As far as his addiction, it's a disease and not everyone is sufficiently self-aware to recognize their illness. Most times they have to hit rock bottom before there's a chance for recovery. I hope the family can survive if the bottom falls out.

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6 minutes ago, Carlos Hazday said:

Need to be careful since I've read the next chapter. :P

 

I liked and felt sorry for Jeff from the start. I'm glad so many others are coming around to realize he's not the most enlightened person in the world but not inherently evil. As far as his addiction, it's a disease and not everyone is sufficiently self-aware to recognize their illness. Most times they have to hit rock bottom before there's a chance for recovery. I hope the family can survive if the bottom falls out.

Thanks @Carlos Hazday It must be difficult to comment on a story when you're a chapter ahead of everyone else, without giving anything away but you're pretty good at it.

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We all want it all to get better... we expect it, we readers do... but the fact is this was the state of many families back then. Men and women came back from wars changed... I expect that will always be the case, but there wasn't the help or the understanding back in those earlier generations. Yes, the world was changing, but for some it was difficult to keep up. We all had our ingrained ideas and expectations. Men were supposed to be a certain way. Women too. We had clearly defined paths we were supposed to take, and our parents had the job of keeping us on them. 

 

You show this family on the cusp of a revolution. David has that respect for his father, however unearned, but how long will it last. In most cases gays were ostracized if they didn't bow to the pressure.  This was the time of flower power, womens' lib,  gay lib... shackles were being thrown off... and freedom to be who you are was seen as a right. Churches were in a state of panic over the loss of their hold over the masses.

 

So, the million dollar question... what will happen in this microcosm of the world? They are being led by a man out of his element... a selfish, grieving, damaged alcoholic. He isn't equipped for this, but he's a dad, and that is his bottom line. Either he's going to see the light and get help... and grow as a person... or he's gonna F it all up. Such is life... growing up gay was a minefield in those times... and being a parent during such social change had it's own challenges. Kids need love and acceptance, and that has always been and always will be. 

 

Great job, buddy. This is true social commentary. The family you depict is sadly realistic, and Jon is just a kid who doesn't know what to think. He has no example to help him steer his way forward. Anyway, as is often the case, I talk too much... cheers... Gary....

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