Therapy V. 01byEdge23©
"Okay, big men," I said to the three boys playing on the floor. "Time for bed! Put your toys away, make sure your teeth are brushed, and hop into bed!" They scattered and all three headed for the bathroom at the same time, so I started picking up toys and tossing them into random bins. I'm sure Brendan would have a fit in the morning about where I threw his Power Soldier toys, but it was a small thing, so I wasn't worried.
Our three boys, in order from oldest to youngest were Thomas, Brendan, and Steve. Tom was the leader of the group, taking more 'sponsitility' at age eight, including helping with chores and watching his brothers while we were out of the room. He was a cute thing, with his brown hair and his green eyes and a smile that lit up the room. He got the hair from me and his eyes from his mother. Tom was the athletic one, always wanting to try a new sport or game. I did my best to keep up with his interests. He also stuck up for his younger brother, Brendan, when necessary. Needless to say, a couple of kids down the block learned that Tom has a hair trigger and a solid right cross when his brother is in trouble.
Brendan was seven, with the same brown hair and blue eyes as his brother. He wore glasses to help his vision. He was maybe twenty/thirty in both eyes, so not too bad. To make up for his 'physical deformity' (his words, not ours), he tried to make up for it by being smarter than his older brother. Hell, he was probably smarter than I was. He won awards for science projects and had ribbons for perfect marks on tests strewn about his room. He had a habit of pushing his glasses up on his nose when he talked, probably trying to make himself look more grown up.
Steven was four ("Four and a half, daddy!"). He was the baby, but I had worked on bringing his up so that he wasn't spoiled. He chipped in where he could, helping pick things up from the floor that the rest of us didn't see. At least he wasn't feeding them to the dog, Flash. Flash was Stevie's best friend. They went everywhere in the house together. When it was cold out, Flash even got to sleep in Stevie's bed to help keep him warm. I had thought about starting a photo album called 'A Boy and His Basset Hound' but one album wouldn't have been enough. Blonde and blue eyed, he was always talking to Flash, even using him as a brown and white pillow when he read his Dr. Seuss books out loud. I picked up Stevie as he ran out of the bathroom last and I set him down on the bed.
"Daddy? Can we have a bedtime story," Brendan asked. He didn't like going to bed.
"Sure. What do you guys want to hear?"
All three said in unison: "A scary story!"
I laughed and got everybody tucked in. "Okay, okay. A scary story. Once upon a time, there was a mean old man. When he was younger, he wasn't mean. He was a big, strong handsome sailor. In a far-away land, he met a beautiful woman and they fell in love. A few years past and they had a daughter and a son."
"Awwwww," Tom said. "Did they make 'the sweet loooooooooove?'" All the boys fell into fits of laughter. I let them go for a minute.
"Okay, funny man," I said, reaching over to tickle Tom's foot. "Yes, they made the sweet love, because they were IN love." We had had a small discussion with Tom and Brendan about sex. We explained that people in love 'make love' while people not in love 'have sex.' It wasn't technically correct, but it was a start. We'd explain it better when they were a little older. "The sailor settled down and worked hard to support his wife and their two children."
"Dad," Brendan interrupted. "When does it get scary? This story is boring."
"Hang on there, genius. I'm getting there. Anyway, the sailor took a job working in a factory and sometimes, at night, he would go to a tavern and play music in a band. Now, in the tavern one night, there was a witch. And somehow, without the sailor man's knowledge, she cast a charm on him, making him love her more than he loved his wife and children."
"Oooo, she's a MEAN witch!"
"That's right, Stevie. She's a mean one. Then, one night, the sailor man had taken his son with him to the tavern, because the boy was always asking if he could go. During the show, the witch cast her spell again, making the man go home with her. Since his son was there as well, the sailor man had to bring him along. The son saw no harm in this because he was so young. They went to the witch's house and while they were there, the boy played with the witch's small, baby daughter while the sailor man and the witch were in the other room.
"Were they making love," Tom asked again, not laughing this time.
"No, they were not," I responded. "They were engaging in the most hideous and awful kinds of sex imaginable. The boy couldn't hear them because of the witch's magic spells."
"Wait," Brendan said. "Aren't a husband and wife supposed to be together forever? 'Till death do us part.' That's what they always say in the movies and on TV."
"Right you are, B-Man. Your mom and I said it to each other at our wedding, too. But this man had a weak power of will, so the witch was able to enchant him. But do you know what happened next?" All three of my boys leaned forward, their mouths a little slack. Stevie had pulled his blanket up around his chin. "The man took the boy home and when the man's wife screamed at him, wondering where he had been. The boy, not knowing any better, told his mother where they went and how he had met this 'nice lady' and played with her daughter. They saw their mother start to cry. Now remember, this is the middle of the night, and now, the boy and his sister are scared, because neither really knows what's going on. The boy's sister wrapped him up in her arms and placed herself between him and their parents, protecting him. The mother yelled at the sailor man, knowing he had be unfaithful."
"What happened next?"
"The mother slapped the father in the face and told him to get out of the house and never come back. He packed a few things and the sadly walked out, knowing what he had done was wrong, but that he couldn't fix it. The boy and his sister cried each other to sleep that night, thinking they would never see him again."
"They saw him every now and then. They would visit him, since he would never make a trip to see them. Every time the boy went to see his father, even when the boy grew up into a man, he hated his father just a little more and a little more. Finally, the boy and his sister moved on, each one having families of their own. The sister was the kinder of the two. She took her children to see their grandfather, but the boy just couldn't do it. After everything the father had done, the boy could not forgive him and would not let his father meet his children."
"They never saw their...um..." Stevie struggled with the right word.
"Grandpa," Brendan finished for him.
"No, they did not and the boy, now a man, did everything he could to keep it that way."
"But he didn't really have a daddy, did he," Tom asked.
"Not really, no. And that, boys, is the really scary part." I went around the room and kissed all of my boys goodnight and gave them all really tight hugs. "Goodnight, boys."
"Goodnight, daddy," they all said together. I flipped off the light.
I made my way out to the living room, where my wife Lisa was on the phone.
"Oh, hang on, Bob. He just came into the room. Uh huh. Love you too." She covered the mouthpiece with her hand. "Sorry," she said quietly. "He called while you were in with the boys."
"It's okay," I said as I took the receiver. "Hey, dad."
"Hey, kid. How you doing?"
"Pretty good. Just put the boys to bed, but I had to tell them a story first."
"Was it a good story," he asked. I could hear the drunkenness in his breathing.
"Funny you should ask. It was about you."