Chapter 29 – David
Sunday, May 12th and following
It was important what Elizabeth felt. David couldn’t go back to sleep. He kept thinking about Paul, and then he would think of Elizabeth. He wanted to love Paul. He missed him and wanted to see him. But it seemed that it was like Jay had said. Paul wanted him but not Elizabeth. Even someone as stupid as he was could figure out that was what Jared’s father had wanted, and he hurt her really badly. David vowed not to let Paul do to them what Jared’s father had done to her and Jared. No one would separate them.
He wished Paul wanted her, too. Then all three of them could love each other. He just couldn’t believe Paul didn’t want her. If he were Paul, he would want her. Why did he want David? Was it because he was lonely and wanted him to go and live with him? Well, David wouldn’t live anywhere without Elizabeth. He could call him his son all he wanted, but David would never go live with him.
David wished he could just come back here, and they could all live together. Of course then he would probably be sleeping with her. He had a hard time believing he didn’t want to before, but she was sick. But maybe Elizabeth wouldn’t sleep with him, and that’s why he didn’t want her.
David guessed Jay wanted to marry her. He was just waiting because he told Becky he would. Jay wanted her, but David guessed he really didn’t want him. But he would probably let him stay. But then he’d live here, and then Becky would, too. David hoped Elizabeth didn’t marry him. He would never be able to get away from Becky. Why did the girl look at him all the time? Even after she found out he was stupid, she still looked at him and followed him.
It was easier to focus on Becky than to admit he didn’t want anyone to marry Elizabeth. He couldn’t even stand the thought of her with Paul, but he wanted a father — someone strong like Paul to protect him, to love him more than any other boy around — even Jared. But Elizabeth…. He couldn’t stand it. He knew it was wrong to want Elizabeth this way, so he begged God to stop the bad feelings until he fell asleep.
When David awoke it was almost noon, and Elizabeth was preparing lunch. “Why didn’t you make me get up?”
“I slept in a little myself.” She pushed a plate with a peanut butter sandwich to him. Then she sat down at the table near him. “I wish we didn’t have to do your school work today, but we do. I know you’re starting to get bored.”
“No. I need to learn as much as I can.”
Elizabeth smiled. “It’s okay to admit there are some days you would rather work on your music.”
David realized she understood and smiled. “You know me.”
“Of course, my son. But it’s just like my work. Some days I hate doing it, but I still have to. But after you take the placement test the first Friday in June, we won’t have to do anymore, except for the driving book, until the first week of September.”
“Really? I can use that time to practice?”
“Whatever you want.”
“I… I’ve got this music in my head. I’ve even got a few words. Words are the hardest. But I’m trying to get it down right. There’s a few parts, and I’ve recorded the one part.” David paused and studied her. What did she think of him trying to put down his little tune?
“I’ve heard you. I like it. What words have you got?”
“You really like it so far?”
Elizabeth smiled and placed her hand on his shoulder. “Yes, I really like it.”
“My words aren’t clear yet. I more know what it’s about than what the words are. Do you… Do you think you could help me? You edit Paul’s stuff, but I don’t know near as much as him. I can’t even figure out how to say it. I just feel it.”
“I can try. I’m not much of a poet, but it’ll be fun to work with you.”
David hugged her. “Thank you. It will be fun.”
“Yes. But after we get our work done. Your school and my newsletters.”
That evening Elizabeth began working on the lyrics with him. David tried to explain what he was thinking and sang the only couple lines that were more than vapor. He played the music over and over. She listened and wrote down his two lines. By the end of the evening she had helped him fill in two lines in between his, and they had a verse.
They worked on it the rest of the week, but they just seemed to have a collection of barely related verses.
Friday Jared came, and David knew they’d get no further until Monday. David watched Jared critically all weekend. He never even mentioned that Mother’s day came. He never said he loved her. He didn’t even care. David wondered if he had done anything for Alisa.
Sunday, May 19th
Sunday David sat at his keyboard in the office working on his song. He wanted to sing the verses with the music to see if it would help him see the whole picture, but he didn’t want to do it in front of Jared who had come in to watch him. He glanced at the clock. Elizabeth must be cooking dinner. He thought about going to help her and started to get up.
Just then Jared went to the piano and took David’s kinnor harp from its stand on the piano. Jared had seen it before, and Elizabeth had told him not to touch it, but now he bounced it up and down in his hands.
“What would you do if I dropped it?”
Why was he doing that? Did he still want David to hit him?
“Come on, tell me. What would you do?” He grabbed the strings and held the kinnor by them.
“The strings are not supposed to be held like that.”
“So, what are you going to do?”
David reached for the harp, but Jared jerked his hand. The harp flew across the room, hitting the CDs under the table and thudding to the floor.
David had two urges at once — one to kill Jared and the other to run and examine the kinnor for damage.
David wanted to smash the smirk off his face, and only knowing that Elizabeth would hate him if he did made him stop. He placed his hand firmly on the back of Jared’s neck, like Paul had suggested. Then he squeezed the muscle there.
“Oww. Stop it.” Jared tried to twist away.
David squeezed tighter.
Jared punched out, but his arms were shorter than David’s and he couldn’t hit him hard. Then he tried to twist and grab David’s hand away from him.
David caught both Jared’s hands in one of his. Then he walked a screaming Jared through the living room, down the hall, and into his room. He let him go with a little push. “Stay there and never touch my kinnor again.” He slammed the door shut, turned and bumped into Elizabeth.
David brushed past her and went back to the office. He carefully picked up the kinnor and carried it to the chair. Then he studied it intently for damage. A small dent marred the smooth wood in the back. No. Oh no. If Saul saw it… How could he play for him?
His eyes grew hot as his anger gave way to despair. He felt Elizabeth’s hand on his shoulder, and he reached one arm around her waist to pull her closer, resting his head on her stomach. She ran her fingers through his hair in a comforting way. “Saul won’t like me anymore. I won’t have a grandfather.”
Elizabeth kneeled down, took his face in her hands, and looked into his eyes. “I know it seems like a large dent to you, Honey, but I don’t think he’ll see it. And even if he does, I don’t think he’ll change how he thinks about you. You could always tell Paul what happened and see what he thinks.”
“But Paul will tell him. And Paul will be mad.”
“Paul will be mad at Jared, not you.”
“He’ll think I should have stopped him. I tried, but I wasn’t fast enough.”
“David, make sure it plays fine and then write to Paul. Don’t keep wondering.”
David started retuning the kinnor.
“Mother,” Jared said from the doorway.
David’s anger returned. His jaw tightened, and he stared at Jared, still wishing he could smash his smug little face into the floor.
“I think you better go back to your room, Jared, and stay there until your grandfather comes to get you. I’ll bring you something to eat in a little while.”
“But Mother! He hurt my neck really bad.”
“Go to your room, Jared.”
When Jared left Elizabeth turned back to David. “I know you’re angry, David, and I understand it. You did really well to remember how Paul said to handle it. But I think it’s hard to remember that sometimes, isn’t it?”
“I hate him. He never leaves me alone. I just want to smash him until he never grins at me again.”
“Oh, David.” Her voice broke.
He realized he’d hurt her. “I’m sorry. Oh Mom. I know you love him. I won’t hurt him. I promise.” Her tears fell on him, and he couldn’t stop his. He never wanted to cause her any pain. “Really, Mom, Mommy. I’m sorry. I’m sorry I hurt you. I promise I won’t hurt him.”
“David. David, my son. I’m worried about you.”
“I… You won’t make me leave, will you?”
“Jared’s dad won’t?”
“He can’t. It’s just that I understand why you hate him, but David, I don’t know if it’s what God wants. I mean, for you to be so angry and hard. But I want you to tell me when you feel this angry, okay? I get angry sometimes, too. I think I read that we can be angry and not sin, but if we let it control us, or let it grow to hate….”
“I can’t help it. If he would leave me alone I wouldn’t hate him so much.”
“I know, Honey. I know. You let this build too long, but it’s not your fault. You didn’t know what to do, and I didn’t know what to tell you so that you would.”
“I won’t hurt him, Mom. I promise. I wouldn’t hurt you like that.”
“I know that, David. It’s you, I’m worried about. Please try to forgive him for your own good. Pray that you will know the right things to do to help him.”
“But….” David wanted to protest. He didn’t want to pray for Jared, but he saw how concerned she was. He loved her so much. For her, he’d try to pray. He nodded.
Elizabeth returned to her cooking, and it wasn’t long after they ate that Rob came to pick up Jared. David didn’t stick around to hear the explanations she had to give for him. He hid in his room until they left.
That night, because she had asked, he tried to pray for Jared, but couldn’t. He finally asked God to forgive him for hurting Elizabeth by his hate and to help him not hurt her that way again.
He heard a small noise in the hall. Elizabeth must be going to work late again. He got up to follow her, but stopped outside the curtain when he heard her speak quietly.
“Hello, Paul? I hope you don’t mind. I just needed someone to talk to who might understand.” “Oh it’s just this thing between David and Jared again. But I’m worried about David. He became so angry. I could see it in his face. And he admitted afterward that he wanted to smash Jared.” “I talked to him, but I don’t know. I understand it. But I also understand that there is probably a lot of anger from the past that he’s never dealt with, and now that he’s more secure it may start surfacing.”
“No, I’m not really worried he’ll hurt anyone. I just wish I knew how to help him through it. I guess it’ll be one step at a time, just like the fear.” “I hope he doesn’t try to hide it from me. I can’t help him if I don’t know when it’s there.”
“I wish you lived closer, also. You don’t suppose the military will transfer you out here, do you?” “I didn’t think so.” “Those things you told him though about how to deal with Jared really helped. I just wish I knew some more things that could help him.”
“I don’t know. When I get mad I usually just….” “Right.” She laughed. “Being called macho must have been a very traumatic experience, I’m sure.” “But when I get angry it’s not so intense that I want to do anything but yell a few words and slam a few doors, and then I feel really guilty and have to pray until I can get my mind right again.” “Yes. I tried to suggest praying when he gets angry. I guess I can just tell him again.”
“Yes, it’d be great if he could talk to you about it, but I don’t know if he will.” “I hope he’s not mad at me for saying anything to you.” “I know I’m alone, but that’s not an excuse for me to tell….” “Well, yes. This is the first time I’ve ever gone to anyone, but I know you love him.”
“I’ll let him tell you the details if he ever wants to. I told him he should write to you about it. I hope he does.” “I think I’ve said enough. He’ll have to tell you the rest.” “Thanks for listening, Paul.” “I miss you, too. Bye.”
David silently went back to his room before she caught him. He wasn’t sure how he felt about the conversation he had overheard. At least Elizabeth hadn’t told Paul about the harp. But she was so worried about his anger. And she worried that he had anger from the past, too. David didn’t understand why she worried. Those people would never come here and bother him. They better not come and hurt him or Elizabeth. He wouldn’t let them. He’d have to hurt them because they wouldn’t hurt him any longer. He’d….
O God, she’s right. I hate those people, too. I hate a lot of people. But they hurt me so much. What is right, Jesus? Is it wrong to hate them when they hurt me so much? They’re evil people. How can it be wrong? Just help me, Lord, not to hurt Elizabeth by anything I do. I want to do what you want me to do, Jesus. I just wish I understood exactly what it is. Please help me. Make me more like You.
Monday, May 20th and following
The next day Elizabeth was at the computer, and David worked on his school assignment next to her. “Oh, shoot.” David glanced over to see what was wrong. She was looking in her calendar.
“I didn’t even think that Jared is supposed to be here Father’s Day Weekend.”
“But we’re going to see Paul. I don’t want to take him.”
“Don’t worry. Even if we wanted to take him, we couldn’t. Let me call Alisa and see what we can work out.” Elizabeth pressed the speaker button and then dialed the number.
“Hi, Alisa. This is Elizabeth.”
“Oh, yes. I planned to call you. Do you realize that Jared is scheduled to spend Father’s Day with you?”
“Yes. I just noticed.”
“Well, don’t you think it would be better for him to spend it with his father?”
“I know Rob probably told you that you shouldn’t let us have him because you didn’t have him Mother’s day, but it’s not like you’re his only mother. Wes is his only father.”
“Yes, Wes is definitely his father. I don’t know. I suppose I might be willing to let him stay, but this is just an exception, you know. Only as a favor to you. But he should come here the next two weekends.”
“If you insist. I’m sure that Wes will appreciate you allowing him to have his son on Father’s Day.”
“I’m sure he will.”
“Now what was it you wanted to talk about?”
“Oh, I think we just about covered it. Bye.”
Elizabeth disconnected and laughed. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have pretended, but it’s not often they have to ask a favor of me. Especially one I was about to ask of them.” She turned to face him. “You have one more weekend with him, and then you’ll have two weekends without him. Why don’t you keep the kinnor in your room next time he’s here?”
It was two days later when David finally logged on the net. He had been avoiding it even though he knew there was probably a letter from Paul waiting for him. There were two, but neither one mentioned anything about his anger or Elizabeth’s call.
“Paul, Your father wants me to play the kinnor for him when I visit, but Jared put a dent in the back of it. It plays fine, and Elizabeth says no one will notice it, but I know that your father will be mad at me. I tried to stop him, but I wasn’t quick enough. I didn’t think he would throw it. If I was smarter I would have known, but I’m not. I’m sorry. You probably do not want to have a son as stupid as me. – David.”
David couldn’t do anything the rest of the night. He tried practicing the kinnor but couldn’t concentrate. After Elizabeth went to bed he crept back out to the computer to see if Paul had answered his letter.
“David, I will always want you for a son. I do not think you are stupid just because you couldn’t anticipate Jared’s destructive behavior. If Beth says that it’s not a noticeable dent then don’t worry about it. But even if Dad does see it, he’s not going to be upset with you. He might be with Jared, though. I imagine you were pretty upset with Jared when that happened. I know I am just hearing about it. Did you ground him to his room? I wish I were with you so we could talk more about it. I miss you. Love always, your father, Paul.”
So this was how he was bringing up the anger thing. David never would have guessed Elizabeth told him. But she loved him. Paul said he did, too. Maybe he should try to talk to him a little, but not about anything but Jared. He didn’t have to know about those other people.
David did write a little to Paul about how angry he was, and they talked about it for several letters.
He and Elizabeth managed to finish the lyrics to the song, and they called it “Born to You, Lord”. David practiced it while Elizabeth worked. She started singing an echoing background melody. Then she stopped and turned to look at him. “I’m sorry, David. I know you’re trying to work. I didn’t even realize I was doing that.”
“I liked it. You should do it all the time. It fit well.”
“You think so? I think you should play it for Dylan. We could stop by there on our way back from Virginia.”
“Dylan doesn’t want to hear our song.”
“Sure he does. You can play it for Paul, too.”
“Maybe for Paul, but it’s not good enough for Dylan.”
“Then maybe he can give you some tips for making it better.”
“Do you think he’d help me fix it?”
“Trust me. Dylan’s a pretty decent guy.”
“He wants to send me back.”
“No. He doesn’t.”
David came to the chair beside the computer and sat facing Elizabeth. “Does Paul know? Does he know I’m a dog? Does he know I’m from Chicago? How much have you told him?”
“I haven’t told him anything except that you’ve been hurt, but I didn’t tell him how. I didn’t tell him anything about your past, except how I met you at Dylan’s and a little about how much you’ve grown and matured in the last year.”
David felt a wave of relief. “Please don’t tell him.”
“I think you should tell him eventually.”
David shook his head. He’d never risk that.
Elizabeth shrugged. “It’s up to you, of course. But there is something else we need to talk about, and since you brought it up we may as well talk now. Do you want to sit on the couch.”
They settled on the couch, and Elizabeth let him lean against her with her arm around him. David loved to be this close to her. He never felt safer or more loved than when they sat on the couch like this. But tonight he couldn’t relax. He knew she had something bad to tell him.
“David, you are not a dog. After all this time I hoped you knew and believed that.” She rubbed his back and kissed his forehead. “But, David. You know I was never able to legally adopt you, although I want to. I don’t really think about it too much because I feel like you are my natural son. But the state disagrees with me. The state also says that since they are responsible for you they will not allow you to change your name. The paper I have just says that you use the name David Timothy Weaver, but it’s not legally your name.”
David sat up to face her. “I’m still a dog?”
“David, I just told you. You are not a dog, but the state says that your name is Dawg Ed Revine. That is the name that they will place on your driver’s permit and on your driver’s license.”
“No. I don’t want to do it then.” David stood and looked down at her. “I don’t want to be called that. And they’ll call me that at school, too, won’t they?”
Elizabeth held her hand out to him. “Please, Honey, sit back down here. I plan on calling your instructor and asking if he will call you David and not mention the other name in class. I am praying that you will have a kind teacher who will do that.”
“But I don’t want to have to carry a paper that says I’m a dog and I belong to her. I want to belong to you.”
“David, you know what we have to do before your name can be changed legally. You either have to go back and testify against her, or you have to wait until you’re eighteen. When you’re eighteen you can change your name to whatever you want.”
David came back to her and sat down on the edge of the couch. “That’s three years. But then my license would say David Timothy Weaver?”
“Yes, if that’s what you want. You may want to call yourself David Timothy Israel, since Paul has become your father.”
“I want your name. I want to stay with you.”
“Weaver wasn’t my name until I married Jared’s dad. If I marry again, it will change. You’ll always be able to stay with me no matter what name you decide to use.”
David leaned against her. He wanted to protest that she should never marry anyone. The two of them didn’t need anyone else. But he would not make that mistake again. Instead he focused on the best alternative. Besides, maybe he did need Paul. “Maybe Paul will marry you, and your name will be Israel.”
“You can dream, I suppose, but don’t get your hopes up. He’s made it clear that he’s not the marrying type.”
David snuggled against her and let her hold him while he tried to think about everything she had said. At first he was relieved that Paul wouldn’t marry her and nothing had changed. But then that disturbed him because he wanted to see Paul again.
He focused on the other words she’d spoken. He had vaguely known that the name was still attached to him. He saw the checks that came every month for Dawg. He wished he could change his name now, but he would never go back and let that woman know where he was. She would hurt him and Elizabeth. He couldn’t let that happen. “Mom?”
“I can’t go to the school if the teacher doesn’t call me David. I don’t know if I can go anyway without you, but I know I can’t if that happens. The kids, they would say it again and again, and they would bark at me, and… and… Please don’t make me go.”
“If the instructor isn’t kind, then we will see if we can’t figure out something else. I hope you don’t have to wait until you’re eighteen.”
“I want to be able to help you. If it weren’t for that, I wouldn’t go at all.”
Elizabeth kissed his forehead. “I love you, David. And I’ll always be here for you, even if I can’t go into the classroom with you.”
When David was in bed and she was about to leave him, he asked her again. “You won’t tell Paul about my name, will you?”
“No, David. Not since you don’t want me to.”
“I love you, Mom.”
“I love you, too, David. Good night.”
The next time Jared came he avoided David. When he had to be in the same room with him he watched him warily. When he left Sunday evening, David felt a sense of victory that he had never experienced before. He wrote to tell Paul about the visit.
Paul wrote back encouraging him, but warning him that Jared may try to get him back in other ways so that he must stay on his guard. He should lock his favorite things away when Jared came next, because from what he had witnessed of Jared’s father, Jared might be the kind of person who seeks revenge when he feels wronged no matter whether he was really wronged or not. David was glad that Paul warned him.
Wednesday, June 12th
Finally they were on their way to Virginia. David liked these trips with Elizabeth where it was just the two of them and nothing interrupted their conversation or silence. They listened to music and sang at the top of their voices and did not have to worry about any neighbors. And he liked being able to talk to her all night if he needed to.
It was after nine when they pulled into the hotel where Paul had made their reservations. As they walked to the desk, Paul got up from a chair in the lobby and came to them. He wore a tan uniform.
Elizabeth didn’t see him as she talked to the clerk, and she whirled around when he greeted them. “Paul! I….” She stopped, and they stared at each other.
Then Paul smiled and included David in his look. “I’m so glad you could make it. Let me help you carry your things to your room, and then we’ll get something to eat, if you’re hungry.”
“We stopped a couple hours ago. I hope you didn’t wait too long.”
“Less than an hour.” Paul and David carried their luggage upstairs. They set it on the stand and the beds. “You brought your keyboard, too?”
Elizabeth laughed. “Yes, we almost had to leave our clothes behind.”
Paul smiled and sat on one of the beds. Then he looked at the smaller case. “Is this the kinnor. I haven’t seen it yet. Will you show it to me?”
David took it out. He knew that Paul wanted to see how badly it was damaged.
Paul examined the front. “This is nice. What did you plan to play?” He handed it back to David.
“The dent is on the back.” He hadn’t even looked for it. David turned it around for him to see.
“It’s not noticeable, is it? But I know you must feel the same way I do when I find someone has put a scratch on my car.” Paul studied him. “You know, I’ve really missed you, David.”
David nodded. He’d missed Paul also.
Paul smiled with a slight shake of his head. “Will you play it for me, or do I have to wait until Dad comes Friday evening?”
David took the kinnor and played through two songs. He looked at Paul when he was finished.
Paul seemed pleased. “Dad will be impressed. You’ve learned that quickly. I don’t think he really believed me when I told him about your ability. What are the names of those songs, or did you just make them up?”
“The first was one Greg Buchanan recorded, but I’m not as good as him. The other….” He looked at Elizabeth who was sitting on the other bed watching them. “Did you think it was good enough?”
“I liked it. Did you write it?” Paul asked.
“I… Well, Mom helped write it.”
“No, David. I didn’t write any music. I’m not that talented. You wrote it. This was a variation of a song David’s been working on for the last month or so.”
“You wrote most of the words, and you sing the background.” Maybe she didn’t want him to know. Maybe it wasn’t that good.
“Really?” Paul looked at Elizabeth and then back to David. “I’d like to hear you two sing it.”
“I don’t think the people in the other rooms would appreciate it if we took out the keyboard and gave them a concert right now.”
Paul laughed. “I guess you’re right, Beth. But promise me we’ll take it to my place one day, and you’ll sing the song for me.” They talked for a while longer, and then Paul told them he’d be by around noon to take them to lunch.
Thursday, June 13th
After lunch the next day, Paul took them on base and showed them where he worked, introducing them to the people in his office. He told everyone David was his son, and they just accepted it. It sounded like he told them that they were coming.
Paul took them around the base, explaining a little about what was done at each building. Almost everyone saluted him. Some people stopped what they were doing and stood still to salute him. And he just nodded. David wondered if he ever saluted anyone. He must be really important. Why would such an important man want to be his father?
Paul took them to dinner. “I thought I could take you to practice driving this evening, David. I know someone who has a place where we can go. That way it won’t be all new to you when you take your class.”
David looked at Elizabeth. “Mom was going to take me to a parking lot when we got home.”
“I’m sure she won’t mind you practicing with my car first.”
Elizabeth smiled. “Trust me, David. I don’t mind. The more practice you get, the better.”
Paul drove them a long way out into the country. Then he pulled into a gravel drive and stopped. “Okay, let’s all switch. I hope you don’t mind sitting in back, Beth.”
“No. I don’t.”
They switched seats, and David nervously sat in Paul’s seat. Paul explained the pedals, the steering, and a lot of other things that Elizabeth had already told him about while they were driving down, but he listened patiently again. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to do this anyway. “Okay, now David. Just follow the path.”
Where else was he going to go? Into the trees? He hoped not. David didn’t hit any trees, although he thought he might a couple times, and he would have sent everyone through the windshield if they hadn’t had their seat belts on, or so it seemed to him. He was surprised that Paul didn’t get upset with him.
Paul sent him up and down the long path several times, and by the time he decided that they could stop, David was no longer hitting the brakes quite so hard or coming as close to the trees. He was relieved to get into the back seat so he could relax.
“That was good, David. We should do it again before you leave.”
David sunk down in his seat. Again! He almost hit those trees a million times. And he bet the dent left by them would be a lot worse than the one on his kinnor.
“It’s still early. Do you want to go to my apartment and play me your song?”
“Did you want to do that?”
“I don’t care.”
They stopped by the hotel to pick up the keyboard, and then Paul took them to his apartment. David looked around. Everything seemed very functional. The kitchen was a small hall which had an opening over the sink that looked out into the living room. One side of the living room had book shelves and a desk with his computer on it. The other side had a couch and two chairs. In one corner was a large cabinet. He looked through the glass and saw two rifles. “You have guns?”
“Yes,” Paul said, but he looked at Elizabeth as he did.
“Do you go hunting much?” she asked him, sitting down in one of the chairs.
“Dad and I go almost every year unless I can’t get away. Maybe David could come with us this year.” Paul still watched Elizabeth.
Elizabeth turned to David. “Would you like to go hunting with them, David?”
“Would you go, too?”
“You’re welcome to come, also,” Paul told Elizabeth.
“I don’t know. Isn’t that a guy thing?”
“I’ve met a few women who like to hunt.”
Elizabeth and Paul were watching each other now, and David watched them both. “Did your mother go, or was it always just you and your dad?”
“Mom would go camping with us in the summer, but she preferred to stay home in the fall.”
“Because of the cold, I imagine, or because she thought it would be nice for the two of you to have some time alone.”
Paul looked surprised. “That’s what she said. Both of those things. Would you mind if David went hunting?”
“If David wants to go, I have no objection. But frankly I don’t know if I’d find it all that fun myself.”
Elizabeth didn’t want to go. “I won’t go, then.”
“Why, David?” Elizabeth asked.
“I don’t want to leave you.”
“You wouldn’t be leaving me, Honey. It’d be what, Paul, a week maybe?”
“Yeah, four or five days.”
“But you would be alone if you didn’t come. I want to be with you always.”
“David, I….” She looked past him to Paul. She seemed upset.
“Mom, I love you. No one is going to separate us.”
“David, we wouldn’t be….” Elizabeth again looked at Paul and then back at David. “Is that the only reason you don’t want to go? Do you think you’d like to go?”
David thought a moment. He wasn’t going to let Paul exclude her. If Paul wanted him, he’d have to have Elizabeth, also. But if she went… And Paul had no other son to hunt with. David had never done it. It was a guy thing, Elizabeth said. Paul did it. David wouldn’t mind being like Paul. But he was not leaving Elizabeth. But if that woman ever found out where he was he might have to. If he knew how to hunt, maybe he could hide in the woods, and he wouldn’t be hungry. They’d never find him there. “Yes. If you did.”
Elizabeth looked at Paul and let out a long breath. “Tell us when, what we need to bring, and where we need to bring it.”
“Beth, I….” Paul looked from her to David and then back again. “I’ll let you know when we decide where we’re going this year.” He focused on David. “Are you going to play me that song before the neighbors go to sleep?”
David set up the keyboard. He started the programmed music and then played the rest. He sang, but stopped half way through. “It sounds better when you sing your part.”
“I’m sure Paul would rather just hear you.”
“No. If you’re supposed to sing, Beth, go ahead.”
“Well, be warned, I’m not a musician. I’m just humoring you men.”
David started the song over, and this time Elizabeth sang along. Her voice shook at first, but it evened out. She must be as nervous as he was in front of Paul.
“That was great, David. And you wrote it?”
“Mom helped. I don’t know enough good words.”
“Will you play it for Dad, too? I know he won’t believe me unless he hears it.”
David shrugged and looked at Elizabeth.
“Paul, this was hard enough, and I bet I’ll have to sing in front of Dylan, also,” Elizabeth protested.
“It’ll be good practice for you then.” It was almost midnight when Paul took them back to the hotel.
Friday, June 14th
The next day they went into Washington, D.C. and walked through an area Paul called Constitution Gardens. Everything he showed them was a memorial to some war person David hadn’t heard of before. They planned to meet Paul’s father, Saul, at six at a certain restaurant, but they were a little late arriving. Saul was still not there. Paul went to the phone once and came back saying that Saul had left a message that he would be late. They ordered appetizers and waited.
The restaurant was decorated with what Elizabeth told him was antiques. He’d been taking pictures all day, and no one seemed to mind when he took out his camera to snap more. He knew he wouldn’t remember everything, and maybe he could study the unusual objects with Elizabeth at home.
An hour and a half later, Paul stood, looking past David. “Here he comes.” He waved to the waitress. “I think we’ll need to move these tables together.” He greeted his father and then introduced him to David and Beth, before introducing Sheila, Holly and Greg.
“So this is my new grandson. It’s good to finally meet you.”
David recognized Saul from the pictures. He gave a slight nod.
Saul laughed and sat down next to Paul. Sheila sat beside him. Holly next and then Greg sat next to David.
“I’m pleased you could make it, Sheila,” Paul said. “Last time I talked to Dad I didn’t think you were coming.”
“Greg and Holly should be able to see their father on Father’s Day.”
Paul inclined his head and gave a slight shrug. He looked at Greg and then Holly.
“Yes, they surprised me at the last minute. That’s why we’re a little late. I hope you weren’t too bored.” Saul directed his comment to Elizabeth.
“Not too bad. We got some pictures of the paraphernalia they’ve got sitting around.” Elizabeth waved her hand to indicate the menagerie of items on the walls, shelves, and floor that decorated the restaurant. Sheila raised an eyebrow but said nothing.
The waitress came and took their order. She brought their drinks and left.
Paul glanced at his father. He had a slight smile. “David will be going hunting with us this fall.”
“That’s great, David.” Saul grinned at him, and then glanced at Sheila. “I would like Greg to come with us, also.”
“Could I? That would be so cool.” Greg lifted his hands like he was aiming a rifle and then made a noise indicating his imaginary gun had been fired.
“No, Greg. You can’t go.”
“But Mom, I’m as old as David.”
“If Beth wants her son to be killed, that’s her business. We’ve discussed this before. I don’t know why Saul brought it up. You’re not going.”
David looked at Elizabeth. She didn’t want him killed. She loved him, didn’t she?
Elizabeth’s face reflected that she wasn’t pleased about something. “I do not want my son to be killed, but I don’t think there’s much danger of that when Saul and Paul have both been hunting for years. I trust that they both know how to handle their guns responsibly. And I don’t imagine that you two will be drinking to lose your judgment, either.” She looked at Saul particularly who had ordered a Margarita with his dinner.
David’s tension increased. A Margarita was alcohol. Now he knew Elizabeth was wrong. Saul would be mad about the kinnor, and he might try to hurt him.
Saul laughed. “No, we don’t drink out there. We started going when Zach was ten, and we’ve kept most of our traditions pretty well.”
“See, Mom. I won’t be hurt. Zach was only ten. I’m almost five years older than that.”
“No. I won’t have you cruelly going around killing poor defenseless little deer.”
“Actually,” Elizabeth said. “I’ve read that if the deer population isn’t cut back in the fall, many will die cruel deaths of starvation. It’s really more humane to kill them quickly, and allow their meat to do some good.”
The waitress came and set their meals down in front of them. David watched Paul and his father exchange looks, and it seemed that they were amused about something.
Sheila had stared at Elizabeth until the waitress left. “You think it’s fine to kill animals? You would go out and look a deer in the eyes and shoot it?”
“Well, personally I don’t know if I could do it. I’d have to be pretty hungry, I guess. But someone has to do it.”
“No, they don’t.”
“Unless you want to become a vegetarian, they do. Someone had to kill that chicken you’re eating.”
Saul laughed then. Paul looked like he wanted to. Sheila pushed her plate away. “I’m glad someone is happy. Killing is not exactly my idea of good dinner conversation.” David noticed that she seemed more angry than glad.
“I’m sorry,” Elizabeth said. “I guess I was speaking more for David’s benefit than with any thought for proper conversation. But I don’t want him to think that it’s wrong, just because you don’t agree with it. He should be able to go hunting without feeling guilty.”
“You’re going, too, Mom.” He wouldn’t go without her. Even though Saul said they didn’t drink, David didn’t believe him. Why was he drinking now?
Saul looked from Paul to Elizabeth. “You are?”
“I’m just going to watch.”
“See, you lied back there. You really don’t trust them with your son.”
“I see what you meant, Paul,” Elizabeth said in a low whisper. “You better rescue me.”
“Beth didn’t lie. David and I talked her into coming along.”
“Beth, please don’t be offended when I ask Zach this,” Saul said. “But why? She said she didn’t want to shoot the deer, and I think she’d be happier at home.”
“If you’re happier at home, Mom, we don’t have to go,” David said. He didn’t want to go now anyway.
Elizabeth stood suddenly. “Please excuse me a moment.” She walked away toward the rest rooms.
“Well, it appears to me that if she did trust you, Zach, she’d stay home. Not that I blame her. You must have manipulated her well. She says your lines with conviction.”
Paul was angry. David could feel it. “Sheila….”
“Sheila, there is no reason for you to insult Zach and his guests by calling them liars and manipulators. I’m sure you didn’t mean it the way it sounded.”
“Saul, I know you and Zach set this whole thing up just to harass me about hunting again, and I’m not going to sit meekly back and let you two try to manipulate me.”
“Here they go again,” Greg said in a low voice to David. “They never stop except to have sex.”
“Greg!” Sheila stopped her tirade, and David was pretty sure she wasn’t thinking about sex. Of course, sex and torture were almost the same thing. “I can’t believe you said that. What must David be thinking?” She looked from Greg to David.
David cringed. What did she want? Stop looking at me.
Sheila finally turned back to Greg. “I better not ever hear you talk like that again.” Sheila turned back to her abandoned chicken and started eating.
David wanted to disappear. Elizabeth was still gone. He only knew Paul. Paul watched him intently. David met his gaze. Paul protected him. He was his father. He wouldn’t let anyone hurt him — not even his father, would he?
Elizabeth touched his shoulders as she came around behind him and sat down. David grabbed her hand until the tension inside him dissipated to a tolerable level. The second half of the meal was less tense, and he managed to eat some of his steak. Everyone else finished before he was half done.
Music began, and David saw a band playing at the far end of the restaurant. “Would you like to dance?” Saul asked Sheila. They both got up and went to stand in front of the band, barely moving.
When the song changed to a faster tune, Elizabeth responded to the music. She smiled at David. It wasn’t a song they had danced to before. She turned to Paul. “Do you mind if David and I try it while we’re waiting for them?”
“I didn’t know you were a dancer, Beth. By all means, go ahead.”
Elizabeth took David’s hand and led him to the band. Saul and Sheila passed them, moving a lot quicker than they had been earlier. The music was very loud here, and he could feel the rhythm run through his body. Elizabeth let go of his hand and started to dance. David was conscious of the people around him. Although there weren’t that many dancing, there were still a lot of people watching from the tables. He watched Elizabeth. She leaned close to him and spoke into his ear, “Just pretend we’re at home, except we don’t have to worry about tripping over furniture.”
David grinned. Now if only they were playing Whiteheart. But he watched her and with the rhythm in him so strongly he was soon dancing with abandon.
When the song ended he followed Elizabeth back to the table. When they were there he could speak to her and be heard. “Maybe we could throw out the furniture in the living room.”
Elizabeth laughed. “I’ve been tempted, but then where would company sit?”
Saul and Sheila were already back at the table and watching them. Paul leaned over to Elizabeth. “Would you like to dance with me before we leave?” She looked into his eyes and then nodded. He led her back out.
David looked uncomfortably around the table. He didn’t really know any of these people.
“You’re quite a dancer, David,” Saul said. “I suppose that will be a skill you’ll use on stage if you’re half the musician Zach says.”
David didn’t know how to respond. He wondered if Saul had any more than the one Margarita. Right now he drank coffee.
“Did you bring the kinnor with you?”
“At the hotel.”
“Then you can play for us tonight.”
David nodded. He didn’t want to upset him.
“What’s a kinnor?” Greg asked. “Are you really a musician? What do you play?”
“I play the kinnor, the guitar, and keyboards, any type.”
“But you couldn’t play as good as that band, could you? You’re only fifteen.”
David looked at the band. He shrugged. “That’s five people.” But studying them critically, he guessed he could play better than that keyboardist.
“The kinnor is a small harp, Greg,” Saul said. “I doubt he’ll get any rock out of it.”
The song switched to a slower one. David looked toward the band. Paul and Elizabeth were still dancing, close together now. He reached down and took out his camera that he had brought in earlier to photograph the decorations. He got up and walked closer to the dance floor to take Paul and Elizabeth’s picture. He took a few more pictures before he started to feel closed in. There were more people, and they weren’t very careful about avoiding him.
A bleached blonde woman, reeking of alcohol came up to him. “You’ve got a cute rear end. Do you want to dance?” she asked in a sultry voice. She reached around him, squeezing his buttocks.
David jumped back quickly. He ran to the table, snatching his camera case as he passed. Then he headed out the door to the parking lot.
Go to Chapter 30
© 2013, 1995 by Deborah K. Lauro. You may make one copy for personal use. To share, please direct friends to this website.