A man carries out a promise he'd made
|A Call for Reflection
The birds had gone silent and the moon was low enough now for the shadows of the many elm trees to begin crawling like giant unhurried lizards across the dark grass of the graveyard.
It was four in the morning, a Tuesday, the last week in September; a day that meant nothing to Jason George Crawly except that yesterday he’d had a small accident. An accident that led directly to tonight with him sitting with his back against an elm tree and a .38 Smith and Wesson nestled in his lap.
He was in the process of keeping a promise he’d made to himself many years ago and as a result his plan was set and the die was cast, and here he sat waiting for his nerves to settle and “his gonads to arrive” as they used to say.
If you happened upon Jason right now, if you were out walking your dog or something, or you were a cop here to run the tweekers off, you would see Jason as a bony-shouldered, eighty-three-year-old man in fogged-up wire-rimmed glasses sitting under a gnarled old elm, but you wouldn’t see the real man. The one that used to be young and fit and married, who had owned a business and home and a sailboat and had carried a three handicap into his early sixties.
The Jason George Crawly who sits here now stone-cold sober is reminding himself he’d lived a good long life full of friends and laughter. Reminding himself why he was here, that he was never going to reach the stage where diapers were in order. Not him. He was old and he knew it, but he was not old enough for diapers, and he never would be. Not ever.
He leaned back now against the tree, trying to get comfortable, and thought over his life as most people probably do in their last minutes. He thought about all the hunting dogs he’d once owned. How many? A lot! Jason took them everywhere, even sailing. Stanly…Was one called Stanley? Oh, yeah. Absolutely! He’d once had a dog named Stanley, no doubt about it…A black lab, if he remembered right. Great dog for sure.
“Where were we then?” He asked the headstone he sat beside. “On Brighten?” When Jason said the word Brighten he went silent and tried to remember if they’d ever lived in a house on a street named Brighten with a dog named Stanley. He thought maybe he had. Wasn’t that the house we had before you got sick?"
“Brighten,” he whispered. Suddenly the name didn’t mean anything to him. He knew he once lived on a street called Lisbon. He grew up there. 331 Lisbon. But what was Brighten? Where did that name come from? “Wait! Yeah, sure… 331 Brighten! That’s where I taught Katie to ride a bike. You remember that, Janet? Yes, ‘course you do!”
He laughed out loud at the memory of his daughter riding her bike straight and true down the sidewalk. The crooked grin she’d had, the darling gap-toothed grin, and her huge eyes like two baby-blue fishbowls. The Tanners next door came out in matching red reindeer sweaters to wave and watch the fun. “I remember that! You remember that? Was there anything we couldn’t do back then? The fun we had! By God, the songs we sang around the Walrus Club piano bar!”
Jason felt the tears coming now. He had long ago stopped being embarrassed about his weeping spells. He knew the sudden emotional reactions were part of his life now. Weeping was something you saw old people do when you were young, never expecting it to become part of your life and now here they were in his life. Weeping spells! They were as much a part of him now as his wrinkles and the hair growing inside his ears.
The tears rolled down his cheeks. He said, “Here we go! Heeeer they come!” and he lowered his head letting them flow. They were usually good tears. Not sad so much as wistful. Like these were.
He felt something fall without sound from his lap to between his legs onto the wet grass.
By God! He’d almost forgotten.
He stood with the gun held at his waist. “No diapers for you, Mr. Crawley…” he said, putting the gun against his temple. You either do it now, or you know you won’t do it!
“Hold it right there! Put the gun down.”
“Drop it, partner…”
Both cops held their own gun in one hand and a flashlight in the other. They had their legs spread shoulder-wide for balance. They both looked to Jason like two fourteen year old boys dressed for a school play, but then the flashlights were shown directly into his eyes and he couldn’t see much of anything anymore.
“Ain’t you boys up a little past your bedtime?” Jason asked.
“The gun sir, let it fall from your hand. Nice and slow.” The voice was low, forceful, in control.
“No, son, I don’t think I will. You’ll take my gun from me and I wont be able to do what I come her to do.” Jason squeezed the gun harder into his temple.
“Sir! Put the gun down!” The voice had changed, an octave higher now, more of a plea.
“Not going to do it,” Jason said. And he didn’t.
Another thing Jason George Crawly was good at was keeping his promises.