Freshly cut grass jumped on my sneakers as I entered the City Courthouse grounds. A commercial landscaping crew was finishing work. The yellow caution tape would keep most people away, but I had privilege. I tried to get the attention of the grass cutter by waving my hand if front of him. He turned off the mower.
"Hey Van. Where's dad?"
Van Munroe, my dad's business partner for 27 years, had known me all my life.
"Hayyeb Caleb! Get a rake and do some real work like you used to. I'll buy ya a co cola when we're done."
"I'm good, Van Man. You don't have any left handed rakes. I looked. I really need to talk to your lazy partner. I know he's around, I saw his truck next door."
Van took off his University of Georgia Southern baseball cap, wiped his sweat glazed bald head and sighed.
"He's around the side of the courthouse talking to that lawyer friend of his. He seems preoccupied today. Something's up. I just don't wanna know, you know?"
My dad usually wasn't about secrets. With the revelations about my birth and medical conditions combined with his peculiarity today, I felt scared.
I walked a few hundred feet through the newly layed rock and sand lining the manicured estate. A pebble got caught in my shoe near the cuff of my jeans. I stopped to remove it, when my dad spoke.
"Hey son! How was New York? Did you come to help? Van and I are finishing the Courthouse area ourselves, then heading over to the Courthouse cafeteria."
The dumb grin gave him away. He was expecting me.
"We need to talk pop, alone. New York was crazy, I have a feeling you know why. Tell me about September 9th, 1970. Try to be thorough this time."
Whenever my dad was stressed or uncomfortable he stammered, rubbed his temples, and started talking baseball.
"The Yankees were out of town while you were there, huh? Guess you watched the Braves on the hotel tv. Derek Lowe pitched good. Brian McCann had 3 doubles day before yesterday."
Fed up and exhausted, I just decided to kick the respect I had for my father aside and get to the point. I was dying to know, literally.
"Tell me about the day I was born, dad. It's important! Tell me about Anson Cluber and Connor Bulas!"
My anger was building, my fever was spiking while my dad was sweating. It was a hot day.
"Caleb, it's all really complicated. Your mom said she got a phone call from her doctor. I know you have been asking questions. Let's go to the courthouse cafeteria. I'm starving. You look weak."
We walked inside, got some sandwiches and sat down at the brown metal tables. I looked at a man I admired every day of my life. He worked so hard to help me get into college. He raised me and my two sisters lovingly. Now, I saw someone with a weight on him. He deserved a velvet glove, not the iron fist I had inside me.
"Dad, do you know Spencer Johnson?"
He looked me blankly then tried to make a joke.
"Who did he play for?"
I was becoming irritated again.
"He's not a ball player, he's an author. He wrote self help books. I don't read them because self help books are crap, but you know the book Gramma has on her bathroom shelf, Who Moved My Cheese?"
My dad laughed.
"Yeah. I know that one. I laugh at that every time I'm over there."
I smirked and thought briefly about my daughters asking my Grandmother why she had a book about Mickey Mouse in her potty.
"Yeah me too. Look, Spencer Johnson has this quote. 'Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people' . Right now, I need for you tell me what happened when mom had me. I found out some things in New York that don't match the story you guys told me growing up. I'm not judging you. I'm trying to save my life and the lives of others."
The shock on my dad's face was impressive. He seemed to be floored by my words. He rubbed his forehead and tried to find the words.
"Your life, son? What's wrong? It's your heart isn't it?"
I nodded in agreement.
"It was a confusing experience, Caleb. Your mom got sick in the hospital. Her blood pressure shot up, your heart stopped beating. Then they delivered you."
He began to tear up. I did to. I put my right hand on his left hand and squeezed tightly.
"This one doctor, Bulas, the hippie one. He said they could save you, but you'd need surgery. We signed whatever paper work they put in front of us and the other doctor, Cluber. He was a slick guy, very smooth and professional. He kind of took over. Dr. Cluber took you into an operating room. A couple of hours later they brought you to us room. They said you'd need doctors appointments two or three times a year til you were a teenager or more."
My dad was crying. Few things made me weep more than seeing my dad in emotional tumult.
"I love you dad. This isn't about me being mad at you. But the heart that Cluber and Bulas put in me is dying. There are at least five other people that were given operations. One of them is a girl, born a couple of days later. Her name is Breann Lucos. She's like a female version of me. I wouldn't surprised if we had the same parts, like robots, but even weirder. We may even share DNA or something. I need all the information on Bulas and Cluber and anyone else that talked with you and mom."
My dad wiped his eyes and grabbed my right arm tightly.
"How long does your heart have, Caleb. How much time?"
I pushed my tray with my turkey sandwich and chips over to him and rose to my feet.
"Give my food to Van. I don't know how much time, dad. But I need you to help me as soon as you get home today. I may be leaving for New York soon. It would be nice to have all the facts."
My dad hugged me.
"I'm sorry son. We we were so..."
I didn't let him finish. He didn't have to to. I knew why he did it, and I was alright, for now.
This is episodes of a story I'm writing. This entry is based on a writing prompt from @Studio30plus aka http://www.studiothirtyplus.com/ 'Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people' The other episodes are here:
2) personality crisis
3) serendipity 6
4) Hot Dog Harbinger
5) Goodbye Stranger
6) House of Irony
8) Dead Man's Party
9) Hope Springs A Turtle
13) The Girlfriend Experience
14) Sympathy for the Devil
Today's song is from one of my favorite records of the 1990s, Tomorrow, The Green GrassI listened to the song Blue and this line - Thought I was Someone, Turned Out I Was Wrong - stood out as I was writing this. Here's Blue by The Jayhawks.