The Canadian years, 52 confidence

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Tuesday 06 January 18:20



 ‘ Hey Don, man,’ I said, ‘thanks for everything,’ when I got out. He had come the long way around and had just made a stop next to the alley, you could not just stop at 14th street, it was a busy thoroughfare. ‘No thanks,’ he said,’it was nice eh?’ ‘You bet,’ I replied and closed the door.’ I'll see you all Monday’ and I watched Don drive away. I stuck my crutch up to wave at Bev. We lived just a few houses from the corner so it was an easy distance to cover. Bev had been right when she had spoken about the insecurity of Don. That is why he had passed himself off as a pipe smoker. He had, probably without thinking about it, copied  the Marlborough man on the big advertising signs that you saw all over town. We had learned a lot from her, you do not have to put on masks among yourselves.

I saw the door of the work shop wide open and the nasal country western voice of Jim Reeves came floating out to meet me. Jim, who was singing about how it was that he loved a woman who in turn  did not love him,’ Why must I love the heartless one, ‘ it sounded,’ who never knows the harm she's done’. ‘Yep,’I thought, ‘life is rough if your wife is cruel and heartless and does not  realize what damage she brings about. My father was tinkering in there, I assumed. There was a link between the operas and the country western songs that he liked to listen to. Both were often about melancholy themes and I understood that my father's emotional life was guided by bombastic pathos. ‘Oh well, no accounting for tastes, I thought.

I stood in the doorway and went unnoticed by the two men who were at work soldering. My brother held with pliers something with cables and my father had a soldering iron in his hand with its head glowing red bluish of retained heat. My brother kept his head turned away and my father stood with intensity and concentration and a fixed look in his eyes focused on some connections he was soldering together. ‘Jim Reeves sang on with nasally pronounced vowels from a radio that was too loud and I came closer. I did not say anything because I did not want to dsiturb them and break their concentration. I saw that my brother’s job was to act like a live vise. You could see he was tense and not at ease. I could understand that, even if you held the printed circuit board with wires, with pliers, it must have been unpleasant for that scorching hot soldering iron of a few hundred degrees ever so close to your hand. He held it with fear it showed in his attitude.


‘I tell you,’ my father said with emphasis, 'look at the work and keep it still! My brother kept his head turned away. ‘Trust me,’ my father said, look at the work.’ My father approached with his red hot iron and I saw the expression in his face change, just briefly like a fleeting shadow, but in a sort of grimace. He pressed the glowing iron against the arm of my brother, slightly below the elbow.’ Ahh,’ my brother roared and dropped the pliers. He watched in horror at the spot on his arm that was not even a blister but immediately turned red and began to bleed. The smell of scorched hair and skin reached me with a delay, it was a foul odor.’ Go inside’, my father said, ‘and nurture that and then come back to finish it’. My father had turned into a caring man. ‘Oh boy’, he said, I told you’, he said to look and trust me, and now you have touched with your arm the iron. My brother just stood shrinking away in pain. ‘Show me,’ I said as I stepped forward. My father froze. ‘Have you been here long,’ he asked me, while my brother showed me the burn which now turned  red and black. ‘Yes,’ I said, ’ long enough.’

‘I will finish this,’ I said, ‘you go in and disinfect that.’ I picked up the PCB and the pliers and I rolled up my sleeve.’ Should I look at you or at the PCB,’ I asked, in a cold tone?’ What do you mean,’my father asked? ‘Just like I say,’ I replied.’ You know what’, I continued, I'll look at the PCB, then it will probably go well. My father looked uncertain, he was probably wondering what I had seen. He saw my rolled-up sleeve which was rolled up for no reason and he realized I defied and challenged him. It was done quickly and I picked up my crutches which had fallen over when I had jumped forward. My ankle hurt again. I had put too much weight on it.


I’ am going to study,’ I said and left without waiting for the answer and left the workshop through the side door. While limping, I realized that my father had punished my brother for the lack of confidence and there was more, I could not put my finger on, and suddenly I knew. The main reason was that he had been disobeyed. There was no doubt present with me, I had seen what had happened. But my father had performed his punishment without my brother knowing it. He had not realized that he had been observed by me. It had been no accident, he had deliberately pushed the red-hot iron against my brother's my arm and later had blamed him for it. My father suspected that I knew, but tried to reason that away. I had seen the altered expression that had  passed over his face.

It had been done deliberately, there was no doubt in my heart. I could read him, and what I read, I did not like. He then felt sorry for my brother, that had to do with the reality that he had created himself. By saying that it was my brother’s fault. More than ever, I realized what a dangerous man my father was. Nobody would believe what had happened. My father the church man, the good Christian, the esteemed colleague with his civilized manners, I had just seen him in his real subcutaneous form. There were quite a few cracks in the veneer of civilization and culture with which he surrounded himself. I would ask tomorrow after the service, if I could talk to the pastor but only if he promised  to keep it to himself.

I limped into the kitchen. ‘How is it going’, I asked my brother? ‘Pheww’, he said bravely, first it hurt terribly but now it's an unreal numbness. ‘I am going to the basement’, I said, ‘to study.’ I just could not be in the presence of the man who was capable of such things. I knew that he had also read me and that gave me an unpleasant feeling. I walked to my mother's chair and kissed her forehead, ‘I am  going  to study,’ I said, but the words never reached her, she had slipped past me into a state of sedation, the blank look that was focused on the TV. My heart cried when I descended the stairs to my basement domain.

San Daniel 2014

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