Going up the walkway, I wondered how my reception would be. When I knocked on the door, it was immediately flung open, as though he was expecting his wife to have changed her mind. I could see the disappointment on his face.
"Oh, it's you... well, you might as well come on in. Seems like now I've got lots of time for you..."
"You know, now is not the time to give up, my friend," I told him. "Tell me what happened after I left, if you don't mind. Like how did she decide to up and leave?"
He bowed his head, shamefaced, and not willing to look into my eyes.
"I began shouting at her again, and telling her it was all her fault that Allan was afraid of me. I think she babies him. He needs to stop being a fraidy cat. If he hadn't been acting like such a baby, he wouldn't have left this morning and gotten into trouble. She then told me that they were leaving and I could reach her at her mother's when I came to my senses. She packed up some of their clothes and then left."
"How old is he? Six, seven?"
"Six almost seven."
"How old was he when you left for the army?"
"Three. He knew me back then, and she showed him my picture often."
"How has life been since you got back? Have you worked at all? Have you been drinking? Don't you have nightmares and yell in your sleep? What does he see when he looks at you?"
"I would like for you to imagine that you have just encountered a giant who shouts regularly at you. He casts ugly hateful looks in your direction; you don't know if he is going to hit you or not. You have no defense against him. He sleeps some at night, but when he does, he yells and shouts even more, awakening you. You want to run to the woman for comfort, but she is shouting, too. How would you feel?"
could see he hadn't looked at it from this viewpoint, because he looked
at me as though he was seeing the problem for the first time. He was
seeing himself through his little boy's eyes, I thought.
Continuing, I said, "I brought you a Bible, and I want to invite you to go with me to church in the morning. Would you, please?"
"I don't know... I don't know if I can face other people in a place like that. When they find out I served in Vietnam, they turn away from me. It's not like when people fought in the big war back in the forties. They were heroes, we're not. That's one reason I can't find work. Nobody will hire me."
"Listen, I talked to the pastor of that church. We will be welcomed. If we're not, then you will have me to stand beside you, cause I served in this war as well. Please, come with me and we'll support each other. Okay?"
"I'd like to trade Bibles now, and I'll see you tomorrow. First, do you have any questions for me?"
He shook his head in a negative manner, and I took my leave of him.
Heading next door back to the Walsh Rooming house, I began whistling, thinking of the supper that was ahead of me at Glenny's home.
Entering the house, I took two steps at a time up the stairway, continuing my whistling as I went. I wanted to spend some time in my Testament before supper.
(To be continued)