The Eyes of Doogle Chapter Four — Kern

Every father wishes for their child to belong, be liked, have friends, and raise a family. And to provide grandchildren. Looking at my son in those first moments I knew life with Doogle and his green eyes would change everything.

Doogle’s eyes dominated our lives; they were green in a world of amber. Had his skin been a different hue or his shape different things would have been different, but his eyes? The eye dominates our world. Our eyes colour our history, our myths, our songs, our heroes, our very ethos.

The one child rule of Taman was especially hard. It was suggested by a friend that it would be best if Doogle died. For disadvantaged children to die unexplained deaths no explanation was required or offered.

Hadra and I made a promise to raise him as an average child. We believed that we could overcome any and every barrier for the sake of our son.

At first, we wouldn’t acknowledge his eyes. We pretended that Doogle was like any other child. But showing our child to others was straining. Despite our resolve they fixated on the green. None could hold back their shock: even our parents. Though they became accustomed to the strange sight and joked to lighten the mood. They wished it were different.

A normal life was not to be. Doogle was too much a spectacle. The responses to our child rubbed our spirits raw, and we withdrew. Yet life at a distance in a world that values relationships strained us. Doogle begged to play with other children. Why couldn’t our son be content with a protective family. Why must this child crave relationship? What could we do? We relented, resigned to the hurt and distress it would cause him. Certain of the ache we would feel for our child.

They laughed and pointed. they teased and fought our son. Eventually some accepted the green-eyed playmate. Doogle was pleased. He was no longer isolated but still young and innocent to see his place at the bottom of the child hierarchy. That too was a quality of Doogle that would shape his destiny. He was perceptive in so much, yet naïve in the intricacies of social life.

His mother and I met a similar resistance. Some treated us like we had conspired to create a life that would give us this misery? Or raised superstitions that put us league with disturbing forces to create a Doogle. Some even hinted of past sins and indiscretions repaid. Too few embraced us with the acceptance we required and the understanding we craved.

It was inevitable that the root prejudices of parents would taint the children. Doogle’s playmates resisted coming to our home, and he was never invited but once. A naïve playmate asked him to play. Doogle returned in tears, sharing that his friend’s parents insisted he leave. We would hear the children mimicking their parent’s words. Understanding enough to know their words were hurtful even hateful.

Doogle’s insights of the lives of others were developing faster than the wisdom needed to harness it. This added stress for him and us. I would explain the necessity of discretion in the use of his “gift.” Doogle would listen — he wanted to be obedient, he wanted to

please — but what he saw in his spirit often overruled my counsel and his good judgment. My son’s green eyes teared at the anger his words extracted yet he failed to remain silent. Even knowing what was to come.

Doogle made me a better man and a stronger father. I couldn’t hide my indiscretions from a son who saw through me. So I determined to be an example to my son of what a man could aspire. It improved me.

I took perverse pleasure in the hypocrisies Doogle would uncover. He could not help but reveal the incongruences of lives. But it improved honesty, integrity and truthfulness to our neighbourhood. Corrupt politicians cringed to see the green eyed boy in the crowd as he was sure to call them on their dishonesty. For me, it was the rare opportunity to hear others laughing with my son, not at him.

My son was sure what he was to do in life. He never doubted that his gift — he always believed it was a gift — could and should make our people better, stronger. This conviction made me both proud and fearful. I ached for him as his resolutness increased tension in our community. Like a pebble thrown in the water, the effects of his insights rocked those beyond. By late adolescence, Doogle lived in the margin of regular life. His remaining friends found it difficult. I can’t blame them for the increasing gap with their green-eyed friend. Nor did Doogle hold this against them. Still, it was hurtful and painful. I determined to be his friend as much as a father. I was a listening ally. Paying attention to his frustrations and redirecting his criticisms.

On holidays we would journey deeper into Mount Nellis. Enjoying a rare normalcy in the absence of crowds fixated by his eyes. Doogle’s friendship with Levi happened on one such a trip. We were in a place unknown to us far from home when a sea creature stung me. Its barb pierced my arm paralysing it. I was too hurt to move more than a few metres without needing rest. Doogle called and shouted trying to attract help. When massive Levi responded we were surprised. Our people subjugated the Livyatan long ago. So we never expected a Livyatan to offer aid. Yet he did. On the journey home atop his massive back, Doogle and Levi became friends.

Doogle made no distinction between races. For he, more than anyone could see that we are all the same on the inside. How Cretore Levi and Doogle came to be friends is even more unlikely. The Arthropo also submitted to the people of Taman. They were an obstinate race and treated harshly. What made the alliance of the three rare was the hatred between Livyatan and Arthropo. The grudge between these races was older than subjugation to our people. Doogle’s status as one misunderstood and alienated drew the three together.

I wanted the best for my son. I wanted him to have a normal life with others of like kind. But having reconciled myself to his gift, I was grateful for these two.

A gift is how I too came to refer to Doogle’s ability to discern the hearts of others. At first, I cursed this thing that put itself on my son. I hated that it set my son apart. I hated that it weighed on my dear Hadra so much she aged and died too soon. I hated that I would not be a grandfather. I hated that I was known as the father of Doogle. Don’t misunderstand, I loved my son, but I hated the connection with his eyes. I hated waking with an anxiety rooted in the eyes of Doogle.

When they exiled my son and his friends I grieved his loss. The peace I enjoyed in the absence of the turmoil his life brought was partial payment for the pain endured. There was also satisfaction. This appreciation began not long after Doogle’s leaving. The wasting of bodies that he foretold increased. Unabated by every remedy our doctors could conjure up. As the wasting swelled among the people of Taman so to did the recognition that Doogle was right. Our civilisation like our bodies was crumbling. Ill and preoccupied with their problems leadership of Taman governed poorly. Infrastructure, policies and policing were ignored. Roads and buildings deteriorated. It was the wasting that prevented total anarchy; for even evil ones were ill.

Doogle’s return to Taman is legendary. Across the expanse of the vast cavern that contained Taman we heard a tapping. The wasting had stopped all but essential activity. The silence magnified the tapping. Who or what was pounding its way through the rock? Our weakened stated exaggerated fear. The activity grew louder. Some said we should defend ourselves. Defending ourselves was a foolish idea; we could barely walk. We waited and watched with s sickly sea of amber eyes.

The scraping and the groaning of the rock grew more defined. Then Silence.

The brief silence revealed what was unknown in Taman; something as different as Doogle’s eyes. Like shards of brilliant stalactites, a white light penetrated Taman. Startled cries erupted as this new light exposed our world. It penetrated our bodies revealing the wasting.

From the light emerged two forms and even from a distance the one was unmistakable for his green eyes. A gasp from the congregated mass echoed through our world. Doogle had returned. We felt fear, guilt and relief. We knew that Doogle and the light represented hope and healing. I wept.

Doogle and the Outlander named Keenan stepped into our lives with purpose. Look to the light Doogle repeated over and over. We did and the wasting began to heal. Shrivelling like kelp exposed to heat. The reversal of the wasting was immediate. The healed would jump to their feet and run off. I was baffled when Doogle encouraged ‘There is more, don’t leave yet.” “The healing is not complete.” For the few who remained Not just the wasting reversed. their personhood changed too. The unseen spirit was also healed. How do I know this? I too changed.

The crowds diminished, but not Doogle’s cries. I begged our leaders to return for a complete healing. They like everyone else replied, “Doogle, the wasting is gone.” Dismissing him they would joke that zealousness overcame poor Doogle. Those of us who chose to remain in the light understood Doogle’s zealousness. The physical wasting found its source in our spirits, so healing our souls was the one sure way to cure our people. We formed small bands of “the healed”. Telling our land of a complete healing and the one who gifted us with the healing. Not Doogle, which he was adamant to remind us, but one called the Great Landowner. Who according to Doogle was the source of the light that filled the gaps of our spirit.

Taman again grew tired of Doogle. Like before, Doogle was the oddity, the outsider. He and Keenan left Taman, this time appreciated but still misunderstood. Some went with them. if I was a younger man, I might have gone. I did not want to feel the pain of his absence again. Instead, we who were “the healed” remained. We continued to share the Great Landowners gift of light.