A Conversation

Essay by ah_dull March 2009

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In a peaceful Saturday night, I was sitting beside a bar table, tried to figure out the stories of my photos, which I was going to publish in my new photo album. The bar tender gave me a drink and asked what I was doing here. I told him about the album.

“A photographer, huh?” he said, chewing his cigar. He pointed to a figure sitting in the seat with his back to us.” You oughta check out that guy. Now there’s a story.”I hear this all the time.

“Oh, yeah? Why’s that?”“He played basketball once.”“Mm-hmm.”“I think he made a World Series.”“Mmm.”“And he tried to kill himself.”“What?”“Yeah.” The man sniffed, dropped his cigar and stomped on it.” Go on up and ask him if you don’t believe me. His name, William”He returned to the kitchen. I got off the bar table, approached the man with a drink, trying to found out some special for my album.

“Have you ever lost someone you love and wanted one more conversation?” he started to tell me his story.” I wanted one more chance to make up for the time when I thought they would be here forever. But, what if you got it back?”I hesitated, still looking into his eyes, telling him to continue.

“I began to unravel the day when my mother died, around ten years ago. I wasn’t there when it happened, and I should have been.”His mother, according to what William said, was a mothering woman. She had been all over him as a kid advice, criticism etc. There were times he wished she could leave him alone. But when she did, no more visits, no more phone calls and no one stood up for him. And without realizing it, he began to drift, as if his roots had been pulled, floating down some side branch of a river.

“A year after my mother died, I did the dumbest thing I’ve ever done. I had a relationship with a woman, in the status that I had married and have two lovely girls.”Certainly, her wife and children left him when these come to them. Then, he started drinking, much more than during our conversation. What finished him, pushed him over the edge was his daughter’s wedding. He haven’t see her for 10 years, and was informed the news by a letter and some photos of the ceremony.

“Though my drinking, depression, and generally bad behavior, I had become too great an embarrassment to risk at a family function. “He explained.” But why? Why couldn’t they tell me before the wedding? Were they afraid I might visit them? You got shut out of my only child’s life, you feel like steel door has been locked; you’re banging, but they just can’t hear you.”He felt liked all the things were over, including his life. Then he decided to commit suicide. He went to the top of his house and jumped down. All he recalled was twisting, snapping, brushing, flipping, scraping and a final thud.

In his coma, he saw his dead mother. She was standing by the bleachers of his old house, wearing lavender jacket, looking at him.

“Look. The trouble you get into.” William repeated what his mother said to him.

““Can you spend a day with your mother? I said yes of course.” He continued.

“You wanted she back?” I asked.

“Yea. I wanted her badly. But I think myself as a burden instead of a wish granted to her. She told me, so do my children.”“AH-HAH.” I agreed.

“When I discovered that, I knew there’re still hopes. I spent the day with my mother, learning to be a good parent. In the next morning when I got up, she had gone.

“What’s next?”“I started writing letters to my family, apologizing and seeking their forgiveness. But there is no reply.”Here came the story end. William welcomed me to his house to stay overnight. I did so as I wanted to know more about him.

I couldn’t say how long I slept. When I woke up, I saw William holding a letter, with words” To my Dear Father”The sky began to lighten with the first stirring of dawn. The crickets grew louder. A tear went out of the man’s eye, combined with hopes, happiness and touch. And this became the last picture I kept in my new photo album, with a special story behind.