“Hachooo!”, I really couldn’t stand the foul smell of the gutter. I’ve been into many shit-holes but this one really stands out. No wonder this is where he runs away. Quite smart for that little scum! But not smart enough. My months long of investigation finally tracked him down. He thought he had a clean get away. No sir! I may not be the right man for this job, but it’s funny where fate takes us.

I heard footsteps. Right on the clock! He’s finally coming! I won’t last another hour in this alley. This is it! Need to keep calm. However the anger just wants to get out! No! I don’t need to give in to rage. I need him alive.

He’s here! I came out of the dark and shouted, “Hey pretty boy!”

He was stunned. “Remember me?”, I asked.

But before he can move his lips, I punched him straight into the nose. Another to his stomach. He dropped dead on the pavement. I cuffed him and brought him to the car.

An hour later we arrived at last. The young man is still knocked out. I’d better wake him up. So I kicked him hard in the groin! He screamed! But I don’t care. He finally opened his eyes and he didn’t expect what he saw.

“What am I doing here, uncle? I thought you were in Russia”, he said.

“I wanted a little reunion for the three of us, Ricky. Just like in the old days. Those were the best days of my life.”, I answered.

“What do you mean, uncle? Is this about the robbery earlier? You know how I live by these days. I gotta eat you know!”, he said nervously.

I grabbed his hair and made him kiss the tombstone in front of him. He can’t seem to look at it though. Funny how a man despises the sins of his past.

I spoke, “I don’t give a damn about what you do everyday! You know why I’m here. Took me months just to figure out that it was you all along. It was no break in. You masterminded the crime, you sick fuck! But I am not here to get revenge. I want to understand the reason why you did it! I want to understand him and you as well. For god’s sake! Both of you are like brothers!”

Ricky bowed down and said, “How did you find out? You know I wouldn’t do that to Charlie. He’s my best friend, uncle! Believe me! I swear I have nothing to do with it!”

“How I found out? It doesn’t matter now. Just answer me why! You can leave here or stay in a body bag!”, I declared and pulled out my knife.

Then stabbed one of his hands! That must have been excruciating.

After a minute he then spoke, “Yes I fucking killed him! Revenge, is that it? But who are you to be a dad to him now?  You’ve been gone for so long that we thought you were dead! Being a parent is not a given right, it is earned!”

That killed me. That was the last thing my son said to me a few years back when I came to see him. I dropped down to my knees. It seems that I can’t take hearing that again. Tears start to fall. Forgive me, my son. I was too scared to be father that’s why I intentionally worked far away to escape you and your mom. If I have been a better dad, you might not be laying there right now.

Fuck this! I got up. Kept thinking almost all of my life. I have been weak for myself and for you. But this time, at this moment I need to be strong!

I started to talk again, “You may be right, Ricky. I was never a father to Charlie all his life, but he is still part of my blood. And that makes me his father still. You can’t take that away from me. Now I can be a dad and give him justice! Speak up boy! I wanna know why!”

I stabbed his other hand. Ricky must share my pain! Somehow I found comfort seeing him bleeding.

Then he finally gave in, “Okay okay! Stop it, uncle! I had my reasons. Your son was a fucking backstabber! He stole my woman! And that whore runaway with him. Imagine that! I loved Mary so much that I couldn’t bear it. My life is nothing without her. I lost my brother and the love of my life. So I decided to kill them both! If I couldn’t be happy, then nobody will!”

I was caught off guard. Didn’t expect that answer. I laughed.

I said to him, “You boys didn’t grow up at all. All this shit has to happen just for a woman!? How cliché life can be?”

Now it’s time to get it over with. But the poor kid is begging for his life. He knows as much as I do, this ends with blood on my hands.

Surprisingly, while I’m watching him begging I can’t help thinking this is my boy’s best friend. This may  not be part of my plan but I am still his Dad. I need to know what’s best.

So then I dropped my knife and bid him farewell,

” If I was still the man I used to be, I’d kill you right now!  But i guess that wouldn’t make my Charlie happy. He stole your woman and in return you killed him. You could have been a better man than my son, Ricky. You could have! You two are brothers! If you can’t forgive him then I will give you forgiveness! I know that will make a boy happy! I think that’s what he wanted me to do right now. Go on live what’s left of your life ,Ricky! You’ve been a second son to me just so you know. Goodbye and I am sorry.”

He was surprised and cried. I think he never knew this will happen. So did I. He laid flat on my son’s grave and kept saying sorry. I guess that won’t change anything now. I understand the misery of regret. That is worst than death itself.

As I walked away I kept thinking of what I was about to do today.

I may not have been a great father to my son all his life but somehow, I’ve felt our Father up there wanted me to be a good father even just for today.

author:  Seiki

p.e./mj