Image

John ambled through his father’s apartment grazing his finger tips over the items scattered about. He had just closed the last box in the apartment, and now he was waiting for the movers to arrive. Dust and ash had accumulated over the years, and with every breath, John took in the stench of stale tobacco. The place disgusted him. Even when he came as a child to visit he had hated touching anything. Now, he couldn’t stop himself.

There was very little he desired, yet he still felt guilt over consigning his father’s possessions. Lingering in the living room, John spotted two items he very much did wish to have. First, the fifty-inch plasma screen. He figured he could sell it and use the money to buy his sons’ Christmas presents. At least the old man would finally contribute to his grandkids lives. He also wanted the old gaming system. He and his brother had bought it for their father as a birthday present many years ago. In retrospect, it was a selfish buy.

John had used it as an escape from his father’s drunken musings. Every weekend he stayed with his father, he was kept up until two or three in the morning listening to his rants and lectures. As a little boy, John did not know how to respond. He was constantly informed of relationship and financial issues all of which he couldn’t care less about. He just sat in the chair, his back to his father, watching cartoons to fade out the words floating with the cigarette smoke over his head. Soon his father realized this and began muting the television forcing John to be a sounding board for all of his father’s anger, pain, and frustrations. By the time John reached high school, he could no longer stomach these sessions. He began to play video games as a way to drown out the droning.

Now, he stood before the console having not touched it in years and the same apprehensions and dread filled him as when he was a small child. 8 years old was too young to be put through that. He knew it at the time, but now that he had his own kids the thought of what his father had created inside him made him sick. He hated his father for it. And he hated his father for making him do this now. All John wanted was to escape to some place unknown, some other state perhaps.

Suddenly, he remembered the message from last week. The woman from Florida had given an entire family history but John hadn’t recognized any of the names. With no immediate connection, he put it out of his mind. There were too many lose ends to tie up. But now he was finished. A loud horn blared outside signaling this truth to him. Soon large men poured into the small residence carrying out every box and piece of furniture. Within minutes of their arrival, the place was empty. They had even placed the plasma screen and game console into his sedan for him.

John was now free of his father.

Free of his drunken ruminations.

Free of his manipulations.

Free of guilt.

Free.

As he sat in his car, John gave one final glance toward his father’s door then peeled out on the loose gravel and headed toward home. But now his curiosity sagged on him. The woman from Florida and her question ran through his mind. If he was to find the answers now was his time. The thought festered in him throughout the ride home. By the time he arrived, he had no other thought than to pick the scab of intrigue. His wife and sons were out for the day leaving him to research on his own.

Before getting to work, John brewed a strong pot of coffee. The sweet scent poured throughout the house and revived his nostrils from the stench of his father’s apartment. He took a sip and keyed in the words to an ancestry research site. Within seconds, hits returned from his father’s name. Anxiety slowly began to build. Seeing his father’s name in a database made the whole ordeal seem more real somehow. John clicked on the first link, and it opened to reveal a copy of his father’s death certificate. A slight pang of guilt and horror gripped his stomach. He could see in the scanned copy his own signature testifying to its authenticity.  He added it to the portfolio of documents associated with his father.

The next link brought up his marriage certificate to his mother. It was dated eight months prior to his own birth date and in the state of Nevada. A laugh burst forth from him. Their marriage had begun with a shotgun wedding. He added this document to his father’s list as well. John took another sip from his mug savoring the warm flavor of the brown liquid. These files were interesting, but they weren’t what he was looking for. He wanted some connection to the woman in Florida. He thought about trying his grandfather’s name.

The only link associated with this man was a death certificate. Odd. Only one link? The document read that his grandfather had passed away in California. That matched his father’s story about the awful move from Florida to California. But there was nothing else? No birth certificate? No marriage certificate? John was shocked. Why was there so little information about his grandfather? He decided to try someone else. He couldn’t remember the name of his grandmother, so he used his aunt instead.

Her name brought up only a couple of links. The first was a marriage certificate to her only husband from the state of Nevada. The second was her death certificate dated seven years ago. He remembered that day like it was yesterday. She had died from years of incessant alcohol abuse. When her liver failed, her skin grew more sallow until she eventually passed on. The event had prompted his father to give up drinking for fear of his life. That lasted a week.

Nothing more was had from this search.

John was becoming frustrated. He took another sip. His father’s name had brought up the most hits, so he decided to return there. Entering his father’s name again, he saw another marriage certificate link. This was to his older brother’s mother. It was dated June of 1981. Roughly nine months before his brother was born. A pattern was emerging. John shook his head at the absurdity. Apparently, his father couldn’t keep it in his pants and felt obligated to get married. Another sip of coffee.

Then John saw another interesting link. This one was dated January of 1982, a mere seven months after his father’s first wedding. It was a birth certificate of a baby boy. The baby was born in the same county in California that John lived in, and it had his father’s name as the father. The woman’s name he did not recognize.  Could this possibly be for another brother he did not know about? He was beginning to learn a lot about his father he didn’t know. He saved the link.

Suddenly, John had a thought. He wanted to find his father’s birth certificate so he could remember his grandmother’s name. He scrolled through the list of links but none of them opened to his birth certificate. He saw there were twenty-three pages and decided to narrow down his search. Before he could, he needed more coffee. He left the table to find the coffee pot. He poured the dark liquid into his cup and filled the room once again with the sweet aroma. It reignited his senses. John took a warm sip. Then returning to the computer, he filtered his search by selecting only birth certificates. An error message appeared on screen. What? He tried again and still nothing returned. He saw a link on the site that asked to expand the search to include birth certificates, residency cards, and immigration files. What an odd collection of documents, he thought to himself. He decided he had no other option and clicked on it. This time the search reported one document. An immigration card dated 1959. Why would my dad at the age of one have an immigration card? He was born in Florida. Before John could find the answers to his question, the front door burst open and his two sons sprinted towards him.

“Daddy!” they yelled in unison.

John picked up both of his boys and gave them giant hugs. Then he shut his computer deciding to continue his investigation later.

Continue on to Part 3

Advertisements