The phone is ringing, I look at the clock and it’s 2:50 a.m. or close to it. I crawl toward the sound in a daze searching for the phone wire in the dark. I locate it and pull, reeling it in like a fish. I can’t imagine who would be calling me at this hour on my landline. I convince myself it can’t be good news. No one calls at this time to give you good news. Maybe the birth of a baby but I’m unable to think of any other reason.
“Hello, good morning.”
“Hey is this Santiago? It’s Dasheil, you know your son.”
“Ya Dash it’s Santi, I know you’re my son. What’s going on? Please tell me some good news.”
“I need to tell you something and I want you to listen.” He requests.
“It’s so important it couldn’t wait until morning? You sound a bit diminished Dash, have you been drinking?”
“Ya I’ve been drinking with friends at a party for a Movie Premiere. That has nothing to do with it. Let me explain the reason I called.”
“Go ahead, cut to the chase. I’m listening, you know you can tell me anything that’s on your mind.”
“See, that’s an example of part of my problem. You always listen objectively without making judgments, never voicing a discouraging comment. No matter what my predicament you’re constantly supportive.”
“I’m not sure how this is a problem that warrants an early morning discussion. Have you considered discussing this with your mother?”
“Just shut up. She’d think I was being dramatic. Listen to me I need to tell you…I’m Gay and don’t comment with any of your trite witticisms, this is serious. I want you to understand that I’m Gay.”
“Dashiel I’ve known of your sexual preference since you were in High School. I never addressed it simply because I didn’t consider important. Secondly, I was raised Catholic, now that’s not an easy thing to deal with your entire life. I’m a Recovering Catholic.”
“There you go with your sarcastic anecdotes that only you think are humorous.”
“You have my approval if that’s important to you son.”
“I’m not asking for your approval. Will you please just listen to me?”
“Take it easy Arbolito (little tree). No me gritas (Don’t yell at me). Ok, I’m listening.”
I head to my bed and fall backward landing on top of Pilgrim, my Yellow Labrador Retriever and bunk-mate. It causes him to jump up knocking over the lamp and other items on the table next to me.
“Damn it! I’m sorry Pilgrim.” I apologize petting his back.
“Is everything ok? What’s going on?”
“Fell on top of Pilgrim in bed. Hold on a second.”
I set the phone on the floor and walk in the dark to the switch on the wall to turn on the overhead light.
“Ouch Hijo De Perra!” I scream.
I step on various items in bare feet that had been knocked down and broken on the floor. Slowly I crawl to the wall and flip the switch. Pilgrim has commandeered the entire bed lying cross ways on the mattress.
“Hello Dashiel you still there?”
“Yes I’m here. Are you ok?”
“Absolutely dandy. Just being my usual clumsy self. You were saying?”
“The thing is, we were sitting around partying and then everyone began telling stories about personal experiences that happened when they first ‘came out’. Ya know, told your parents and family you were a homosexual, Gay. Some told stories where they were hit or beaten by their father or brothers. Others told of how entire small towns persecuted, harassed or mocked them. In one instance, parents sent their son to a sexual reorientation retreat to cure him. Mothers cried in disbelief not able to accept the truth. They were disowned, thrown out of their homes, banished.”
“My God that’s horrifying. Shauna and I never considered punishing you for what’s a natural occurrence of birth. Who you have sex with is your business. You’re blessed to be the person that you are and Shauna and I couldn’t be more pleased with the man you’ve become.”
“And therein lies the source of my quandary.”
“What? I don’t understand what you’re trying to say Dashiel?”
“I’ve got nothing! Understand I’ve got nothing! When I was asked to relate my story I declined saying I didn’t want to talk about it. No one is interested in how their parents and family accepted their homosexuality without prejudice. Who wants to hear crap about how my family never treated me with disrespect or disapproved of my lifestyle. Tell them my family knew it wasn’t a choice but a genetic trait. I feel uncomfortable with expressing my experience. Do you get it? I’ve got nothing!”
“So let me understand. You’re upset with me because I never reacted negatively to your lifestyle? Hey Dash, if they’re your friends it shouldn’t matter that your family was supportive or how you were treated with respect by them. Should I be apologizing for having not acted like a jerk?”
“No Santi, I’m just apprehensive about relating my experience I guess. I don’t know. Well, they’re not all my friends just people from the film industry.”
“Oh really. Since when have you cared about what other people have thought about you? That California mentality is starting to mess with your sense of identity. To hell with those self righteous hipster snobs. If you’re bothered by the truth then make something up. Listen son, you’re a Movie Director, you write Screenplays and Television Scripts, use your imagination. Make me out to be an Ogre, I don’t care.”
“Not sure I’m comfortable with lying.”
“It’s not actually lying, it falls under the category of embellishment. Say I am a bigoted, macho, jerk, I won’t be upset. And if anyone thinks your story is untrue, just say you were testing an idea for a new movie you’re writing. Although, possibly by having said nothing was actually saying something. You created a mystery by holding back. Understand?”
“Ya that’s it! You’re the best Santi. Thanks man, I knew I could count on you. And thanks for almost creating a perfect childhood. Don’t get all full of yourself, there are still some things you’re going to have to answer for. I love you Santi.”
“I love you…..” He dial toned me that little brat. Hung up before I could finish my response.
I sit on the bed with the phone receiver still in my hand. I try to make sense of what just happened. Did Dashiel actually call me to voice his displeasure with my demeanor concerning his homosexuality? He was upset because he didn’t have a horror story to tell his San Francisco hipster friends? What the Hell? I decide not to attempt to make sense of the reason for his inquisition. I dismiss it as the result of him being drunk.
The fallout from the earlier fiasco has claimed a small night stand lamp, now in pieces on the floor. A ceramic coffee mug that had been filled with tea, an alarm clock that never rang and ran fast rarely displaying the correct time, all victims cracked and broken. I’ll take care of the mess in the morning.
“Hey Pilgrim are you going to share the bed?”
He pretends to be sleeping, his eyes closed while his tail wags thumping the mattress. I’m not going to wrestle an eighty pound ball of hair out of bed only to be stared at with a sad, pouting expression of disappointment.
“I feel like having a snack. What do you think buddy?”
He immediately responds standing and stretching as though he’s not excited about an early morning treat. I suspect otherwise. We’ve been acquainted for eight years and are aware of each other’s idiosyncrasies. The only request I made in my divorce with Shauna was custody of Pilgrim. We settled on joint custody. I would have him on weekends or when my former wife was out of town or spending time with her boyfriend.
The children I decided were better cared for with Shauna than with a drug runner and part time father. She is a wonderful mother and much better disciplinarian. The court granted Joint Custody of our two boys and girl. It was never actually enforced. I can’t think of an instance when she denied me spending time with them. Holidays, Birthdays, School functions we discussed and were usually spent all of us together. The house, car, furniture, TV, stereo system, killer vinyl album collection and antiques I willingly gave to them. I didn’t like the idea of disrupting my children’s home environment by taking articles I really didn’t need. Although I ended up with a variety of mismatched single socks. Pilgrim I determined would be better off with me, or more so me with him.
In the years following that night Dashiel became a recognized talent in the Film Industry. He won numerous awards for his Directing and Screenplay Writing. The story that catapulted his career into the spotlight was based on a young man that continually grew more mentally unbalanced. The cause of his illness was attributed to the fact he was unable to accept the tolerant and supportive attitudes of his family and friends to his homosexuality. It was the shame he harbored for never having paid the price, or experience the emotional pain for his lifestyle. Somehow he had been cheated and was not worthy of being Gay. He became so distraught by the guilt that he orchestrated a mass shooting. Turns out the seven victims of the massacre were terrorists preparing to blow up the building that he chose for his assault.
The young man was viewed as a Hero and awarded with honors. He also became a recognized celebrity in the Gay community. His notoriety created a greater acceptance of homosexuality worldwide. The destiny of the story’s protagonist was blessed with compassion. Dashiel finally realized there was a story to tell. He had something!
On an unseasonably cool July morning in Chicago, equivalent to David Copperfield, Judge Santiago Burdon was born on a Friday. The Bronte sisters, Keats, Burns and Dickens inspired his study of English Literature. He attended Universities in the United States, London and Paris directing his focus on Victorian novels and authors. His short stories and poems have been featured in; The Remnant Leaf, Stay Weird and Keep Writing, Independent Writer's Podcast, Spillwords, The Beatnik Cowboy, Down in the Dirt Magazine, The Raven Cage, Eskimo Pie, Across The Margin, Story Pub, Scarlet Leaf Review, Horror Sleaze Trash, The Stray Branch and Anti-Heroin Chic. "Stray Dogs and Deuces Wild Cautionary Tales" the first book from Santiago was published by HST Publishing in January. He is presently engaged in finishing his book "Imitation of Myself." A non-fiction story encompassing his experiences as a drug runner for a Mexican Cartel. He celebrated his 66th birthday last July and lives modestly in Costa Rica.