I was eavesdropping again.
You can’t really help it when you’re out carousing alone. It’s as though you have an antenna that picks up random frequencies, frequently, I might add.
This time I was perched on a park bench attempting to read when a middle-aged couple sat beside me. I did have a rather nice view right in front of the boat pond, but they could have opted for one of the many empty benches…but then I wouldn’t have been so aptly entertained.
I tried not to listen but they were arguing over what I figured was her son by another. “He’s lazy,” the man said. “Why do you let him live off you the way he does? Let him go out and get a job for God’s sake.”
The woman didn’t say anything which let me know this was not new ground. Like every other conversation I listen to, I want to put in my two cents usually refraining.
After ten more minutes of his horrific harangue I turned to him and said, “I gather you don’t have any kids.”
“Excuse me, are you talking to me?” He did have a Travis Bickleness to him which should have sent me running, but we know me better than that.
“Yes…since I’ve had to listen to you carry on as though I weren’t here, I think it’s a fair question.”
Something told me I just addressed Hitler by the frightened look on the woman’s face.
“I don’t see why it’s any of your business,” he said, his tone of voice razor sharp.
“Technically it’s not, but you’re permeating the air with such hatred I must protest. Your lady here clearly can’t be happy you loathe her son so much, and frankly I find it very sad, very sad indeed.”
“You don’t know anything about it,” he said, flabbergasted at my temerity. I mean this guy wasn’t used to anyone standing up to him being an obvious bully through and through.
“Of course I do, since you’ve just educated me. Hell, I could write an essay I know so much (little did he know).
“The kid’s a lazy bum and she just won’t admit it.”
“She? Does She have a name?”
For the first time the woman spoke. “Claire, my name is Claire.”
“Susannah, nice to meet you.”
“And I’m fit to be tied,” said the asshole.
“Hi Fit, how’s it goin so far?” Yes, she was in it now right up to her navy Wellingtons she wore since it looked like rain.
“I think you’re out of your mind,” the guy said, throwing up his hands that I’m sure wanted to choke me.
“Is that the very best you could do? If what you say is true about this kid, then it sounds to me he needs help. Why can’t it come from you?”
The woman shook her head. “He hates him, that’s why.” Boy, did my heart fly open. The sadness in her voice as she said this filled it to the brim.
“How old is he?”
“Old enough to be on his own,” snapped Fit.
“Nineteen,” the woman said softly. “My first husband died in a accident with him in the car and he’s never been the same. You see his father was teaching him to drive. He just can’t seem to forgive himself.”
Now I really wanted to slam husband number two. How could he be so heartless. Yes, I was in full-blown judgmental mode but felt it warranted. I turned and spoke softly to him.
“You know, those are very sad, not to mention unusual circumstances and this kid clearly needs love and understanding in a big way. You strike me as a very strong, forceful man who could probably help him heal. As a bystander, I wonder if you could possibly reconsider your feelings by giving it a try. If not for his mother then for humanity’s sake. (Who the fuck was I channeling?)
To my surprise he didn’t answer. Instead he got up and started throwing pebbles into the pond. It would have had a Huck Finn feeling to it if he wasn’t so outwardly mean.
“I appreciate what you said to him,” the woman said. “I could never have done that. He has such a temper and can’t see the pain my boy is in.”
“Well you know Ma’am, there are no accidents. We shared a bench today for a reason so maybe he’ll soften toward your son. Stranger things have happened. What’s his name by the way?”
“Matthew, like his dad.”
Matthew, what a great name, like the Apostle.