(This is fiction. A bit of a departure for me. I hope it has meaning)
By Rocket Worley
Bill found the cord, curled and hanging on a nail, just as he had left it twenty-odd years ago. He took it off its hook and felt a sharp pain on his forearm. The scar was stinging again. The sting took him back to a time, when pain and fear, were as much a part of his life, as breathing.
“You ain’t gonna hit me again! I am done with that!”
It had once lived the life of an extention cord. It provided a pathway for power. Rolled across numerous construction sites, it had been stepped on, triped over, run over, stomped into the mud, tossed into plies of tools, lost, stolen, and thrown away. It had been cut and torn, shortened, and spliced together until it reached a length of two or three wraps around the hand to elbow. Just the right length for a whip.
Bill’s father bought it at a yard sale. It rode home laying next to him on the torn car seat. It’s weathered and cracked casing rubbed against leg; it would be the last gentle contact he would have with it.
The extention cord began its life as a whip a week later.
His father, violent when drunk, somehow found offences so great as to merit employing the cord to help him ‘ discipline’ his boys.
He could really make it sing. Whistling out a sharp air splitting whistle, just before bitting into flesh.
Bill remembered laying in the cornor of this very garage. Dad’s drinking hideaway. His workshop with tools hanging in the walls and dozens of neglected projects plied in dusty cornors. The fear, the pain, the anger and, most of all, the great shame. He still blamed himself as if he could have stopped the abuse. If only he had been smarter, wiser, tougher. If only he had stood up to his father sooner.
Stop it! Stop it! He screamed in his own mind. You are not here for that. You have come to let go and heal! Ma was dead now joining her long departed husband.
At the grave, his father’s grave, Bill had pulled out the paper. The note he had written a year ago at the advice, hell, more like badgering, of his friend Bob.
Friend? No, Bob was his sponsor. And he called Bill his ‘pigeon’. There are a lot of quirks in the field of recovery support, gallows humor being one.
“Your father is dead, you can still make peace with him.”
The idea was to write out a list, Bob was big on lists, for his dead dad. Bill was to read it, aloud, over the grave of his tormentor.
“Sounds like a bad movie.”
Bob chuckled, “it’s been used.”
He was supposed to stand over his father’s grave and read the note. Tell him what he felt, ask a dead man for peace. Not to offer forgiveness, not yet, just make peace. One step at a time.
It was on that last day of pain, that his father gave him the scar. He had dragged Bill into the workshop, yet again, to receive his lesson.
“How many times do I have I got to teach you, boy?”
He was so drunk he fell in the doorway flopping right under the nail holding the extention cord. He reached up and pulled it down. Staggering to his knees he brought the cord around behind him, the wind up before the pitch.
Somewhere deep inside himself, Bill felt something change. Through the heat of his own fear and pain, outrage took him over.
“No!” Bill shouted, “you ain’t gonna hit me again! I am done with that!”
The cord swung through the air, singing it’s song of promised pain.
Bill caught the cord on his arm. It wrapped around his aem and cut deep. He grabbed a fist full of cord and yanked hard, pulling the old man off balance.
His father stumbled, fell, half from force, half from drunkeness.
Bill put his foot to the small of his father’s back. Pushed him down, held him down. The old man squirmed by could not find his feet. He bucked, kicked and fought but Bill held him down. In time, he quit struggling. He began a series of dry heaves, his body trying to vomit out the poison ball of anger, fear, pain and boze.
Bill, stepped away from his old man, never to again receive abuse by his hand again. He put the cord back on its nail. It hung there, never to be touched again until this day.
He pulled out the note and read it, alone, in the moldy old workshop.
“I hated you for a long time. I want to be done with that. I want peace. Bob tells me I don’t have room in my heart for resentment.”
In his mind, Bill could see his father, in a ragging drunk, fists at his side, eyes blind with hate and fear. Through curled lips he hissed, “Boy, it’s time you learned your mangers. I will be respected!”
“You hurt me Dad. And you caused me a lot of pain and shame. Your memory still hurts me. You walk around in my head terrorizing me. But, I am done with that. I am letting you go, I am kicking you out of my mind.”
His father raged back, “I been in your head over thirty-five years now boy, just how you gonna get me out? Exorcism?”
“No,” he paused trying to muster the strength to say it aloud, mske it real, I am going to forgive you.”
“Forgive me!?” scream the Phantom with outraged indignation. “Who, the bloody hell are you to forgive me?”
“Dad…I forgive you.”
His father’s specter faded and tried one last rage.
“You gonna forgive me? For what boy? I gave you what you had coming! You deserved every beating. I did what I did for your own….”
“I forgive you Dad. I release my hate, I am letting go of my anger.”
The ghost of his father was now a weak shadow of itself. While it would never completely leave, it would no longer have power over him. Bob had said, “Forgiveness is a work in progress.”
Bill took the cord and dropped it into the trash. With the thud of its hitting bottom, he felt the ending of a darkness he would never again revisit.
How melodramatic and anticlimactic. Shouldn’t he have paddled out into the middle of a lake, dropped it into the deep, never to be seen again until the credits rolled? And it rose out of the water in that movie cliche of a promise sequel to come.
Coming next year: the Whip Cord II
He walked out into the sun. His scar itched. He looked down at his arm. The scar was faded now, barely visible, almost as if it were no longer there at all.