A childs BFF

By Delbert H. Rhodes 

A fatherless child is one filled with loss, one living with hurt, a child ever wondering why daddy didn’t want me, why did he leave me. Still, the child grows, plays, laughs, and learns, until one day he learns to cry. He cries for an irresponsible father, an uncaring man, and a man never his daddy. This child lives to die never feeling his father’s love.

I am that child.

 The following is a story not created by me; but for me, because I live. Mine is a story shared surely by many, though if you are the weak at heart, or simply caring never to know, then this story (as it develops) may not be for you.

My birthplace is in the northwest coast of Florida, known as the “Panhandle.” My town is a small seaport town, and racially segregated, though in childhood, I have never known racial hatred, just separation. The people of my town shop together, move about together, but are separate in the neighborhoods, movie house and schools.

Early in childhood, my stepfather informs me about the “hanging tree,” and one day takes me to the spot. Near the courthouse and in the town square, a spot above a street curbside is symbolic of hurtful memories.

My mother is of mixed heritage, my male contributor, and note: I did not write father, is black (more about him later). Physically and fortunately, I am (more) like my mother.

I am about five years old.

My mother’s family is large. Her paternal family resides throughout the town, and at its center is “Rhodes Ville.” Rhodes Ville is a small compound of houses including a tiny store, owned and operated by my mother’s paternal grandfather, Thomas, “Papa Tom,” Rhodes.

My mother’s maternal family resides nearby, and on the opposite side of town. At the midline, is the most important family member of all, my mother’s maternal Aunt Katie. She is the backbone, the storm’s rage and the sea’s calm. Aunt Katie’s word is final.

An educator on my mother’s maternal side (Robert Allen, former Principal of Dunbar High School before fire destroyed the building) built the town’s (black) high school, Wallace M. Quinn High School.

My mother’s maternal side: Scotch-Irish, Seminole (Creeks), Creole.

My mother’s paternal side: Scotch-Irish (Immigrants), African (American, Black).

My first house of memory, is a tiny three-roomed structure, referred to as a “shotgun,” house. If one fired a shotgun from one end, the projectile (s) would travel straight through to the other end. On the house’s back porch sits the bathroom. Here I learn the finer details of littleboydum. The little house sits across the street from the Catholic school. Here, I begin my education. In the house next door lives a family, whose oldest son, Lewis, becomes my first (human) friend.

My family is small, as tiny as the house. In the beginning: there is my mother and stepfather, and one little sister. Later, another (baby) sister arrives. Unfortunately, she does not stay with us long. Each day before going out to play, I always stop by her crib. I enjoy playing with her, she loves to laugh and I love to hear it.

I never play with my other sister. Actually, I see her at bedtime. Our mother places my sister at the foot of my bed for sleeping. Sometimes my sister and I share the small rubber pool, but nothing more. Probably while I am outside at play, my sister stays indoors, keeping our mother company. The baby I seem to favor. Maybe, and for such a youngster, I believe I love her.

One day I could not locate the crib and my baby sister. I ask my mother about her, and my mother’s response confuses me. Somehow, I realize that my baby sister and I would play no longer. Saddened: I venture outside to begin my day.

Oh, I failed to mention another family member: “Blackie.” Blackie is a beautiful black Lab, and my friend. I love her very much. Before meeting Lewis, Blackie and I are inseparable. Even afterwards. Blackie lives beneath the back porch of the house, there she mothers her pups, and each day (there), I would meet her. Always, she welcomes me with a smile and cheerful eyes. Her eyes are deeply dark. They are black moons glowing beneath the porch, brilliantly crystalline in sunshine. Yes, I love Blackie.

Often we play in the yard, sometimes sneak off property to learn more about the neighborhood. Surely, my dog is well acquainted with the surroundings; but yours truly is not. The yard is home to me.

Beautiful light brown almost white sand blankets every yard. Because the sand is sunlit for long periods, the yards sometimes are uncomfortable to bare feet. I often walk and play without shoes, after-all, I am only a child. My yard is large, and I make it my (little) boy business to become well acquainted.

Later in childhood, I realize the sand to have multi-layers. Below: are rust brown, black, and silver. The silver layer, by far, is my favorite. Rubbing it between my fingers, it feels smooth, silky. Also, and even at midday, the lower layers are cooler.

To the rear of every yard is the Alley. The alleys connect two separate and adjacent avenues. Naturally, I did not know it, but these are fire lanes. The alleys permit quick access to residences in need of emergency assistance. During my childhood, and brief stay in Florida, I never witness a house or any other building afire. Although a fire of a different type did catch my eyes.

My favorite area to play is along a sidewall of my house. This side faces Lewis’s house, and during the earlier part of the day, is sunnier. The opposite side hosts a fence, separating my house from the house of an unfamiliar neighbor. Later, and because of this neighbor, once again, I am to feel sorrow. After the rains, water dripping from the roof creates tiny holes beneath the overhang. Here I love to explore.

The shiny rocks peering up at me mesmerize my little boy eyes. Excited, I move from hole to hole, along the column. Stooping closely: eagerly, I probe and dig with my fingers. Moving the sand, the tiny rocks, each its own color, shape, and size beam up at me.

I love the sand: parentally, it provides me a home where even my shadows feel welcome. Daily: making my way through an unfamiliar chasm, the sand embraces a curious boy. Shortly: I grow and mature, my shadows peering up at me.

Yes, the boy searching, probing, investigating and thrilling from the mysteries of wonderment, would soon learn a new lesson. He would become disappointed by a newly found hole in his world. Within this hole he quickly and joylessly realizes, he would never be the same. He would ever suffer mentally and emotionally from a hurt following closely, a pain (always) waiting and watching from the shadows. He would never out live an everlasting joy permitted others, and not him.

Mine is a tiny world, but it is my world.

During my childhood, I play laugh and even love. The world around me blossoms as it avails opportunities of further exploration. Blackie and I walk together through a neighborhood though strange, soon becomes our playground. Quickly, I learn that the neighbors and my mother are friends, and Lewis and I begin bonding. Somewhere in my mind’s eye, in my heart, I also know, I also feel something I cannot explain.

Throughout my life, this thing has embraced me. This unwanted weight adding poundage to my shoulders: an ever-unrequested fairytale lulling me to sleep, accompanying me on walks; and without solicitations, sharing my conversations. Nightly the thing dreams my dreams. Distract, as I must, and as I do, still the demon haunts and chills and taunts and grins, and lusts for the one thing I most cherish, my thoughts.

Thinking offers solitude, it avails a light in a darkened tunnel, the knight advancing with outstretched lance to deflect every foe. Yet this hole this chasm this labyrinth these hurtful hands choke my screaming soul.

Aging cast me into school and the 1st grade. At six years old living becomes more complicated.

I sit in a classroom of many children, and before us, a Nun, Sister Mary Louise Richardson, instructs our young minds. Previous to entering the halls of academia: I soon realize other family members. On the near corner is (my cousin) Joe’s family, my Aunt Katie and Uncle David.

Life has its woes and mine forever haunt me.

Though school never poses reasons for sadness, and by 2nd grade, I have extra-curricular activities to cherish; I remain haunted by a thing I cannot visualize. School is fun learning intrigues me; I learn competitiveness and the feelings of accomplishment, yet, never quite shake the weight from my shoulders.

Playing in my yard, and Blackie content beneath the back porch, many times I walk in a stooped posture. For reasons unclear to me: I never want to grow-up. These feelings are powerful and penetrating. Repeatedly while stooping in stride, I chant, “I don’t want to grow-up.” My feelings embrace me, and though I am never clear about them, the matter remains private.

Boys are (sometimes) able to busy themselves, enjoying distractions of play, ignoring feelings; to better deal with the world as they know it, though the world (too) is strange.

A man resides in my house; I know he is not my father. This man I never call daddy, but by his first name. I cannot remember my dad, and never ask about him. I am a child happily fulfilled by-play. The following years permit me images of a man; and though I look at him, I see only a shadow.

In childhood: I never remember the sound of my father’s voice, the touch of his hand, or anything to connect me as a son. Life for me is my mother, the day and play, and (then) learning and my cousins on the near corner. School and church quickly become important. I love learning I love being an Altar Boy, I anticipate the next day.

Children cannot anticipate life delivering hurt, a hurt forever to hold them.

Copyright © 2011 Delbert H. Rhodes

8 thoughts on “The Man the Boy the Bastard: A Fatherless Child

  1. I am still waiting for more on this story. Let me know if I can be of assistance in completing your story.Love you.Joe Bell.

    1. Hi, Joe. I know, man; but to complete this tale I must feel it flowing through me. I have attempted two or three times, since the first section, but the words fail to come as they should. I ache to complete “Bastard,” however, it must flow with the passion and intent and hurt as did the first write. Actually, and believe it or not, I began to feel somewhat sorrowful about the first section. That is, writing it.

      Though the story of my experiences is quite real and meaningful, I began to worry that (and maybe) I should have left the underlying theme, the abandonment, in my mind. I am an “honest” writer and feel and believe it to be important to convey my thoughts and feelings with sincerity. Still, I am human and suffer the ghosts of perception and sorrow. The end does not (always) justify the means. In other words, how do I profit from the tale of a lost father, life is what it is, and does anyone truly care.

      Hang in there, “Little Brother,” the tale is soon to be completed, one way or another.

      Love you, man

  2. Delbert, this is a POWERFUL story. . .you are a true Rhodes scholar. Your story is similar to Tyler Perry’s, but I don’t think he had a dog to be his friend. I too spent my early years underneath the porch. Until I was three years old, I didn’t speak to another soul except for my cat.

    I am white and female and grew up outside St. Louis. Still, our stories are painfully similar. The male who fathered me was in the house every day, but he was as absent as the male person who fathered you. I’m not sure which path is more cruel ~ they both are ~ male people who don’t have the courage and strength of character to be real men.

    Please write part two.

    May God bless,
    Anne Caroline

    1. Hi Anne Caroline, your message is ironic. After retiring I realized an error; I had sent a message to Ms. Marlow, but without acknowledging you. I encountered your message while beginning to send one to you.

      Thank you for the praise. I enjoy writing stories, and have been for more than ten years; though it’s been more than forty years since my first poem.

      Yes, in childhood many of my days were spent beneath the backporch. Though in the third house the cooler space was shared with a viper. For reasons unknown to me (now) the snake never harmed me. Often while I sat on the porch, the snake would crawl into the yard. I never feared snakes, but then children sometimes are innocent of dangers; possibly this innocence is what saved me.

      The Man the Boy the Bastard has been in the making for a long while; though part-2 is yet to be written, it would be and soon. Life without a father is difficult; especially for boys. The latter years require close male contact and instruction at home. Though Mom does all she can she cannot be a Dad. Surely this you know. Yes, some men are without responsibility and seemingly live careless and carefree of the children they have sired. Today I have no children, but love them.

      Anne you are female white and grew-up outside St. Louis, yet your experiences are similar to mine; that says it all. Children/people suffer similar hurts, and no matter the walk of life the pain feels the same.

      By the way: I think your hair is lovely! Tell me about St. Louis.

      Anne Caroline, I disbelieve that people meet purely by coincidence, there is reason: I hope our meeting would grow and develop into a wonderful friendship…even if it is remote.

      Be Well.

  3. Part-2: Great! I have yet to write it, permitting the “juices” to mingle and then flow. This story has been long in the waiting and finally is demanding attention. (As) you well know, we (writers) are subject to intuition and MUST heed the creative call. The theme notwithstanding, the tale must be told.

    Hang in there, buddy, the thing is manifesting, into what…(well) why don’t we wait and see.

    Surely, I would be as surprised as you, by the results.

    (A) Good day to you man

  4. I look forward to reading part 2. Um. I’m not sure if I should recommend this or not, but in the end I guess it’s your decision to make – check out “Daddy” on my page. It’s in the Deimon section, so it’s entirely fictional. It’s also… well. It’s not a particularly “nice” read, as such. I don’t know. Like I said, it’s your decision.

    You also answer the question in my previous comment here, too =P

    Take care man.

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