by Vickie Tucker |
“Unfortunately, there is no mistake,” she said, closing the file. James sank into his chair as he heard the words leave the doctor’s mouth. The news caught James by surprise, evident by his enlarged eyes and blank stare.
“Are you sure?” James asked, “Maybe there was a mix-up in the lab or something?”
“I’m sure.” The doctor said, nodding her head.
James took the news from the doctor’s office and he carried this distressing news with him all the way to the bar where his buddy, Aaron was eagerly waiting for his arrival. “So, how was it?” Asked Aaron as James sat down. Seeing the look of despair in his friend’s face, Aaron urged, “Was it that bad?”
Staring at the table, James kept silent until his beer had arrived. With one huge gulp, James downed half the bear in his mug and started, “The doctor says that the tests were all conclusive.”
“Oh man. So sorry to hear that.” Aaron put a hand on James’ shoulder in an effort to comfort the man. But all James wanted to do was to drink his troubles away.
What did I do so wrong to deserve all this? James thought as he finished his beer in another big gulp, then raised his hand for the waitress to bring him another. With his elbows resting on the table, James grabbed his brown hair and pulled at it, trying to get all the worries of the day out of his head. Then he stopped, because all the pulling hurt and he was afraid of going bald.
“So, how are you going to break the news to Julie?” Aaron asked as the waitress brought James another mug of the golden delight.
“Well, I was hoping that she’ll never have to know about it,” James said and took a big sip, “I mean, what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.” Staring into Aaron’s eyes, James continued, “Right?”
“True. But she will eventually find out about it all. Women have a sixth sense when it comes to secrets.” Aaron’s remark was meant as advice and not a retort.
“I know,” James lowered his head and sighed into his beer.
On his way home after having emptied a few mugs too many, James passed a church. He had not been to one of these places of worship in quite a long while now. James doesn’t even know what denomination this church belonged to. All he knew was that it was a church because it had a cross on its roof. And, he went into the church where he sat in a pew for an hour or so before a gray-haired man in clerical shirt with a tab collar came up to him, “We’re about to lock up for the night, son.”
“Oh, okay,” James awoke from his trance of staring and slowly wriggled out of the pew.
“You look as though the weight of the world is on your shoulders. What’s troubling you my boy?” The old man had a smile on his face that was as big as James’ grin.
James stood still and ruminated for a second on whether or not to tell this holy man, a stranger, about the troubles that befell him on that day. “I paid a visit to my doctor today,” James started with the hopes of finding solace in this man of the cloth, “and it was not a pleasant visit, if you know what I mean.”
“Oh dear. I’m sorry to hear that. Let’s sit down and you can tell me all about it.” The old man said and guided James into the pew with his wrinkled old hands.
When the two men had settled into the pew, the priest looked at James with a big smile, “So then, what happened at the doctor’s office today?”
After taking in a deep breath, James continued, “Well, the doctor said that the results came back positive.” James paused for a moment to rub the tiredness out of his face. “The doctor says the labs were very thorough, no mistakes were made. Which means it’s an end to the life that I’ve built. And I just got engaged to this wonderful girl.”
“Oh my. How serious is it?” The old man held up his hand to his mouth.
“Dead serious. If my fiancé finds out, there probably won’t be a wedding. My life is over.” Sighed James.
James started to recall that night a few years back. It was at a party downtown where he met Jamie. They hit it off right from the start with help from a few bottles of golden delight. And they chatted and drank and flirted and got drunk. By the end of the night, both of them were dangling around each other’s necks, lips locked, intoxicated by one another’s youthful attractiveness. Then they went home, together. And the morning after that, they parted on their separate ways and never saw each other again. Until last month when Jamie looked James up so that she could tell him about the surprise she got from their one night of passion.
“Always remember to use protection my son,” the priest’s advice was a little too late, “This little accident may turn out to be a blessing of some kind.” The old man lets out a short chuckle and looked up at the wooden cross above the altar, “You never know with these things, God has a mysterious way of playing with our lives.” The old man then turned to James. “You should learn to have faith. Have faith that everything will turn out fine.”
The advice that Father Francis had given James was ample to persuade him to leave the comfort of the church and head home to face Julie. James stood at the front door for a few minutes, reluctant to go in, but he had to go in some time. So, he calmed his nerves the best he could and slid his key in the door.
“I’m home.” James called out, his tangled nerves made his heart race.
“I’m in the bedroom.” Came Julie’s voice.
James proceeded to the bedroom, every step he took made his heart race faster because in his head he was still trying to come up with the words to tell her of his day. His feet moved forward even though his heart told him to head for the nearest exit.
“Hey honey.” James said and gave Julie a peck on the cheek.
With his heart still pounding so hard that he found it difficult to breath, James took off his clothes and made his way to the shower. The water washed away the stench of the day, but not all the troubles that were plaguing him.
Julie was sitting up in bed reading her book when James came out and sat on the bed. Seeing the trouble that was haunting his eyes, Julie put her book down and grabbed James’ hand, “What’s wrong, honey?”
“I had a doctor’s appointment today,” James stopped to take in a deep breath and let it out as slowly as he could. Then he continued, “I’ve got something important that I need to tell you.”
“Oh no, what is it?” Julie wriggled her way closer to James and looked into his eyes. Eyes that were as blue the oceans that they both loved so much. Then it hit her. The possible answers raced around in her mind: cancer, diabetes, HIV, AIDS, tuberculosis.
“Well, about four years ago…” James began and told Julie all about his night with Jamie and how this Jamie woman had recently looked him up. “So, out of the blue Jamie calls me and tells me that I’m the father of her son. I didn’t believe her at first, so I didn’t tell you. I wanted to make sure and got some tests done.” James finished and looked at Julie.
Julie’s mouth hung open and her eyes wide as ping pong balls. After having processed what James had just told her, her eyes grew smaller as she said, “Oh. So, you have a son?”
Canon in D Major emanated from the instruments of the quartet as a little girl walked down the aisle, scattering rose petals as she moved along the path. Behind the little girl came a chubby brown-haired boy, with a glint in his ocean-blue eyes, carrying the rings on a cushion. Julie followed a few steps behind the chubby boy in her white dress. The trio strolled past smiling guests and ended their journey once they had reached the altar of the church, where Father Francis and James stood waiting.