AND FOR THE FATHER…NOTHING

Jake wanted only to forget. But, in the end, he only wanted to remember. It was what they all wanted in a way; from Jake, a simple solitary thing or perhaps, a task. This thing that they sought after reflected not only what they had taken from Jake but also what he had given in return. It was an enigma; Jake always gave but what was the dark thing he would receive with each given gift?

Was it pieces of the essence establishing who he was; fundamental bits of that which he could not retain nor utilize to save himself, secrets of his soul and maybe answers to his survival. He never knew how to stop giving nor they how to end the taking. They would go on taking; pilfering Jake's psyche until nothing was left to give by Jake nor to possess by them.

Each gift given and received was a reflection symbolic of what we all are, in our minds eye as we gaze upon all others and in some way, what we thought we should have been. Each action revealing more of the nature of our relationships with ourselves and of the emptiness defined by that which is denied cognizance to our mind's eye. It is the truth about why we allow those we love to do what they do to us. It is also the reality of what we do to those we love.

Jake wanted to regain lost honor, respect, trust and in some sense, be relieved of his guilt for having been seen as an abject failure by his family and Sis in particular. He longed for the remembrance of a long ago time when Sis would hold his hand before crossing the street, trusting him to protect and guide her in the face of a dangerous world. Jake wanted to redeem the ghostly specter of lost greatness and competency.

But what did she want of Jake? He was not sure but at times it seemed sordid. Glimpses of a terrible truth became apparent as she wanted Jake to be strong in ways he could not be and perhaps, never was. She wanted his strength as a provider, a shield and panacea for her soul-sickened ills and for him to be the object of her angst, her wrath and finally her vengeance. She needed a martyr and manipulating Jake just might conveniently produce one.

Jake's daughter wanted none of those things. She wanted the silence of his absence. A silence that ensured absolute freedom from a paternal-caused embarrassment that comes with the territory when you're the adult child of an alcoholic with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Jake's pain inflicted by her would be a kind of payment, an acknowledgement of his lost and abandoned fatherhood. She symbolized the extraction of this pound of flesh by her persistent refusals to give in to Jake's frequent requests that she send him a photo of she, the grandkids and her mother, whom Jake still loved.

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?

Chirping away like a mockingbird's song of longing, Jake's cell phone heralded it's message. He glanced non-chalantly at the glowing LED screen indicated the caller's I.D. It was Sis. An involuntary shudder and frown gripped him, causing his stubble marked face to fill with the chagrin of another bad family encounter. He needed a shave, he thought and also a haircut. Too bad, he mused, Sis was still playing hide the sausage with his paychecks.

Jake asked her what was up. Sis replied she wanted to know whether the funeral for Rochelle would keep him dorm handling the new case she and assigned him to earlier. Jake was miffed by her insensitivity and asked her, in the high-pitched tone he always used whenever his emotions were on the edge, if she thought the lack of pay contributed to the absence of pre-natal care he could not afford to provide Rochelle. Did she think, he said, as he downed a squig of cheap white wine, he had anyway to pay for a decent funeral without income?

Sis became sinister. In reply, she hissed that Jake needed to focus on taking care of his own personal business on his own time. She said she did not feel the need to put up with his distractions right now. His lousy money would come soon enough, she whispered, whenever business picked up and at no time sooner.

Jake took another long squig of wine and tried to remember a time when he and Sis got along better. Strange, he thought, he could not summon the memories like he used to. His mind felt sluggish lately, even when he was as sober as a judge.

Stranger still, Jake wondered within himself why she did not 'feel' like his sister anymore, deep inside his soul. It was as if an unfilled pit had been dug; as though he, quipped, perhaps something deeply rooted had been snatched out of its fertile soul.

This was the thing which, more than ever, Sis gave to him lately; whenever they would cross paths. But, for this thing, what did she get in return? The answer came unrepentantly in the message carried by Jake's buddy, Nate.

Sis left Nate a message on his cell phone, Nate said. She wanted to kick Jake's butt…in Bid Whist. She wanted them to get together for the latest Strange card game.

So, that was it, Jake thought, grimacing as he did whenever something was up his behind. Cut-throat Bid it was then.

STRANGE DAYS AHEAD

Strange custom dictated a gathering of family and so-called friends, usually at the bar or at Sis' house. This was where, habit had it, all ended around the dining room table deeply engaged in the life and death struggle of winning and losing at Bid.

Friendships, marriages, lasting liaisons and solid partnerships were created, bolstered or destroyed during these magnificently epic duels of lying and cheating. More so, Bid also involved savvy out-maneuvering and a deft strategic mind that used bluffing like a Japanese Samurai wielding the Bushido blade.

The only rule to be obeyed was if you attended this gathering you had to fight. Albeit, verbal, emotional, psychological, symbolic and physical; the throat-cutting was on and no one took any prisoners. Fools were routinely debased and heroic conquest, at any cost, would involve just how well you could call out your opponents cheating or rule-breaking ways.

This was an absolute necessity, especially playing with Sis, because they were all prone to slipping ace's off the bottom of the deck or signaling plays to each other by talking across the board. There was rampant reneging and brutal fights over who would be forced to give up their books as the penalty if caught. No one willingly gave up their hard-won books nor did anyone easily acquiesce when caught unimaginatively peeking at their opponents hand or their partners for that matter, while going to the kitchen for a beer. Nothing was sacred as the brutal banter of insults, rumor-mongering and interrogations carried on, adding to the exquisite ambience of such a graceful affair.