February 2023 Somewhere a Loving Heart

  • How do I find my loving heart?
  • Do others know my heart?
  • How does my loving heart speak?

Bonds of Trust

By Eugene Marckx

Narrated by Eugene Marckx

Here is the mother – dying – from a disease or from abandonment? The daughter tends to her. The father hasn’t time. He’s at work – desperate to avoid the tragedy of his wife that he just can’t handle. He’s never been sick a day in his life. The son sees this and goes into the streets. He’s okay with his boyhood friends – until he isn’t. He comes home. His sister – so caught up in her mother’s illness – can’t even speak to him. No one can speak to the father – except his dying wife. But her words are soft – close to death. He looks at her and no longer sees the woman he promised everything to, without thinking of the cost. She dies. The daughter is infected with the same disease. He tries to talk to her – and listen – but it’s too late. The daughter dies.

The next day the son is gone into the streets – to his death as well? Not if the father can help it. He searches every street in the city, every back alley, every fallen-down house. Each day he checks the hospitals and the morgue. No. The son, after months, is completely gone.

The father resumes his daily life – that used to mean everything but now means so little. Fate is laughing at him. His ventures, where he always ended up losing, now turn a profit. With a bit of money in hand, he borrows more from the bank. Those who work for him can keep their jobs. With nothing much in life to lose, he gambles and wins – respect, power, money. Twenty years go by. He moves to a larger city and builds apartments, condos, tall offices, and expensive homes for the wealthy who want to live large. He can afford anything these days, but he lives in a modest home on a quiet street. Yet he has a driver who takes him to meetings. One day he is passing a church, and in a soup-line he sees a man – his son. Drive around the block, he says. After all these years, is it true? Yes. The driver parks, and he runs toward his long-lost son.

The son, hardened and streetwise, sees a strange man in a classy business suit running toward him. It’s trouble he sees and ducks out of line to disappear up the street. The father – for once in his life – feels – feels – what is it? Feels helpless. He starts to question those in line, but no one will talk. Fate can’t stop laughing now. The father obsesses. A friend tells him about a stray cat he is befriending. A year ago this cat did not allow him to even look while it ate the food he set out. Now it comes and eats out of his hand. This miracle did not happen overnight.

So the father inquires around to find where his son is living – in homeless encampment doing drugs. He asks one of his foremen to go there and recruit some parttime help to clean up a construction site. Men are hired. The son does not respond. The foreman calls again a few days later. Same thing. After two weeks the son takes the parttime day-job. Relations with the foreman are tentative. The money is for drugs. His drug habit gets in the way of the job. But the foreman doesn’t ask for much – just cleanup. And he’s a man the son might trust. Might. Depends on the day. Then one day the son sees a woman in the camp fighting off a drug-addled bully. The son defends her. She’s not addicted to anything, just in a terrible run of bad luck. His parttime work is something she respects. When a full-time job is offered, he accepts. She tells him about a rehab program. He starts making enough to rent a small place to live. He invites her. She finds work as well, assisting others off the streets.

Meanwhile, the father “finds time” to inspect a work site where the son is hired and hears that the man works hard and is well liked. The foreman says he trusts him to finish the work he starts. The father, with a wave of his hand, invites the whole crew, along with their families, to his house for dinner on Sunday. He meets the son’s woman partner. A month passes and the father promotes the foreman along with the son. A year goes by. The son’s partner has a child – a little girl. Now the father cannot hold back. He invites the son and partner, the mother of his granddaughter, to his house for dinner, where he tells them his whole life story. The son, now all the wiser, is upset that his father has favored him unfairly over other men who also work hard. The father smiles and offers him a new roll in the business – to find, train, and promote those who have been overlooked.

They celebrate their newfound family, as well as a promise of new vigor in the business. But a war breaks out. Their country is invaded. The city is bombed. Many lives are lost and buildings destroyed. The enemy ransacks everywhere goods are stored – warehouses, railyards, even hospitals. Jails and prisons are crammed to overflowing, with enemy soldiers at every crossroads. The city and countryside are destitute. People are on the verge of starvation.

The father – feeling his age and without any resources – can only watch his little granddaughter waste away, her listless eyes sinking into her skull. But the son – now a father – takes to the streets. Before dawn he brings food to his family. A warehouse lock may be broken, a nightwatchman may never awaken, but this family will have food. They survive, the old, the middle-aged, and the precious new-born. In these times of danger and want, the old father winnows what wisdom he can. Live or die – he now feels more than ever the bonds of trust in his new family. And fate, holding a grim smile, looks down with favor on him – at last.

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