I read and write mystery novels. Human beings, including my own children, provide the most puzzling material.
Our younger son died last year. As the anniversary of his passing approaches, my thoughts of him have lifted to reminisces.
Jim was our fourth child, the one most like his dad, a man whose thinking and personality still surprise me.
Jim was the least emotional of our four children. Pragmatic, he did not lie and, was impatient with artifice. Right was right and wrong was wrong, easy for him to see.
This son was left-handed and was neither academic nor athletic. He was certain there was an easier way to learn multiplication tables than memorizing them. He spelled phonetically. He had a tall, strong, coordinated body, could have been an athlete, but he didn’t like sports, shunned the idea of social popularity, and had little regard for the usual motivators.
Jim mystified me.
After he graduated high school, a couple of college enrollments fizzled, and a number of jobs ended in mutual dissatisfaction. Finally, he enrolled in a small Catholic university and became friends with a CLEET-certified security guard. Jim got into security training, which he completed easily, became certified, bought a handgun, practiced on the firing range and passed requirements on his first go-round.
Recruited by several city security companies, he signed with one and settled in an apartment, happily supporting himself, and drawing praise from bosses and supervisors.
I marveled when “my baby” at six-foot two, arrived home one night in uniform, complete with gun, pepper spray, handcuffs, etc., and bearing an unfamiliar grim demeanor.
Kidding around, I asked if he ever had occasion to draw that weapon.
“Several times,” he said frowning. “I drew it last night, as a matter of fact.”
“Really.” I sobered. “Why?”
“It was after 2 a.m. I’d finished my shift and half of another one and I was beat. The manager at my apartment complex had passed the word about a drug dealer working our parking lot on weekends. He described the car.
“I was unloading stuff from my trunk, when the car he mentioned came roaring out of the night pointed right at me. I wasn’t in the mood.”
“What did you do?”
“I pulled my gun, dropped to one knee and took aim. I was going to blow that driver right out of his socks.”
He paused and I pushed. “So? What happened?”
“He jammed on his brakes and his car shivered to a stop about 10 feet from me.”
“What happened then?”
“I waited a minute, holstered my weapon, got my stuff off the back of my car and went up to my apartment.”
“What did the driver do?”
“He drove out of the lot doing 10 miles an hour like a rational person.”
I write fiction. I plan to use that scene in a future novel, although I didn’t really understand the way it played. For me, it was another of those baffling guy things. The memory of that conversation popped up while I was reminiscing about my wonderful, unfathomable son.
Jim was 39 when he died March 1, 2015, not in a shoot-out, but after 16 months of a courageous battle with cancer.
Recalling, I don’t think I knew him very well. Didn’t understand him at all. But I do still really miss him.
Jim was proud of my books. You can find them under my name on Amazon.