|CHOICES MADE: Fathers and Sons
That’s what the doctor at the private hospital had said, acute depression caused by severe trauma.
Jamy drew an image of a tiny man sitting in an oversized chair behind a desk. The placard on the desk said, ‘Nut Doctor’. Opposite the doctor, he sketched his dad, Paul, and their mutual friend, Syl Anderson, both with furrowed brows. The picture made him snort in derision, “Hrumph.” Jamy could still hear the doctor’s pencil tapping on the edge of his psychological profile. Taptaptap.
He needed treatment more than I did. “Obsessive Tapping Behavior.” “Hrumph.”
“Did you say something, Jamy?” His dad asked from where he sat in the driver’s seat of the Coppertone Dodge Charger racing south.
He didn’t answer.
“Your dad asked if you said something,” Syl growled.
Jamy watched as Syl’s muscular left arm straddled the front seat. The fire-breathing dragon tattoo rippled as though alive. A ruggedly handsome face turned toward him. Though stern, Syl’s lips twisted up in a nearly hidden smile.
“No, I didn’t,” he answered and gazed out the window that still showed streaks from the recent car wash.
Trauma. What the hell did that pumped up Sigmund Freud know about trauma? Tapping that stupid pencil of his every time I said something. Making notes on that yellow pad he kept hidden from me as if the written language was only for Ph. D’s.
Me? Jamy Chance Chaumbers MacGregor? Trauma? So that’s what they call it when you’re eighteen years old and you’ve been shot up. When a bullet is still jammed up against your shoulder blade and you can feel it burn every time you move. When every time you take a breath your lungs scream. When you can’t look in the mirror anymore because your face got blown up. And, those are the good things. Things that had meaning. Things that got me away from the street.
What about the bad things? What do they call the rapes and beatings I took while being pimped? Men using me up and tossing me away with the garbage. What about the torture from the gang — and the drugs? Heroin racing through my body and wanting it so bad I could cry but hating it, hating it when it eased my pain and made me feel safe. What about watching kids die with knives stuck in them and no one caring? What about no one giving a damn — ever?
Trauma. What the hell do they know?
Well, there goes St. Louis. No more Arch. No more Forest Park Museum. No libraries. No more skyscrapers. No more JamyNick. His son’s name lilted through his mind like music as he said it in his own way, ShamyNeek. No more, Nick. His friend’s name echoed like another note of music, Neek. No more Professor Isaac Sands or Mr. Gene Bradley. My son, my brother, my friends, all left behind because I have to go into Witness Protection.
Jamy sketched from memory the last time he saw them all months earlier. He drew his little son, JamyNick, squealing with joy as Isaac, with his salt and pepper hair, played on the floor with a small truck. He colored the truck red with a pastel stick. Red Truck, translated to French, was their secret password, Camion Rouge. It had been hard to phone them with all the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD) agents around, but a few days ago, he managed. All he could say was, ‘Camion Rouge, Witness Protection’. In his heart, he knew they understood he was safe and headed away from them. Overhead in a cartoon bubble he wrote words to exemplify the sputtering noises of a worn out engine. He added small marks to make JamyNick’s curls appear to bounce about his cherubic face. Taking two colors of pastel, he colored the curls auburn. He gently touched the sketched face he dreamt of every night, the son he loved more than life.
Another sketch brought Gene Bradley into the scene. Gene’s right hand fingered the lapel of his vest. Jamy thought of Gene’s old habit, which was all the man could do with his hands when not busy writing out sales slips at his art supplies business.
The sketch continued with Nick, his ‘adopted’ brother from the street, standing by the entry door of Isaac’s house. The worried look he drew on Nick’s face portrayed a boy who didn’t know what to do next. Stringy black hair filled in the area about the face. A pursed mouth hid his usual crooked smile illustrating his dread at living in hiding with the kindly old gentlemen. Nick, who had saved Jamy more than once from dying on the street now needed saving, saving from the life he had dragged them into by becoming the favorite dealer for the most powerful drug lord in the Midwest. That same drug lord would kill them all, including his toddler son, without a thought.
He swiped at a rogue drop of moisture edging from the corner of his eye. These last memories made his heart ache. His little son, JamyNick, had to be left behind. It had been over two months since he’d seen him and had missed his second birthday, May 17, on top of it all. He had been left behind with Nick in their hiding place with the Professor and Mr. Bradley when he went to save Syl from that same drug lord who was intent on killing him. Another problem existed. They weren’t only hiding from the drug lords but also from the BNDD agents who sat in the front seat of the Charger heading south.
How many times had Syl asked where they were? A million? Two? He didn’t answer and wouldn’t even though Syl promised not to tell his dad, Paul, or his biological father, James, to whom they were heading. A father he had never seen, always wanted, and who didn’t know anything about him.
No. It was all a secret. Witness Protection. The BNDD would hide him with his Uncle Sam MacGregor, the sheriff of Juxton Township, who didn’t know he existed until a few days ago. No one knew he existed, he guessed. His dad told him that no one in Juxton knew he was James MacGregor’s son, not even the MacGregor family, and everyone in St. Louis thought he was dead. The BNDD had seen to that. A fake funeral. Obituary. Headlines in all the St. Louis papers. Syl had shown him. “Street Lord of Forty-second Neighborhood Dies in Gun Battle.”
Well, Nick, Professor Sands, Mr. Bradley and JamyNick knew he still lived, but no one else. It was too risky. If the drug lords, Granges or Robles, knew he breathed air…
JOIN JAMY ON HIS CONTINUED
Copyright © 2005 Choices Made. All rights reserved. Revised: August 18, 2012 .