--from the archives of The Broadkill Review
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Ted Hendricks divides his time between teaching college English, contributing to academic journals, and writing poems and plays. He says that all three are interesting and satisfying, but unfortunately only the first comes near to paying the bills. When he's not teaching and writing, Ted is slowly rehabbing a rowhouse in Baltimore.
"I'm sorry it was you they had to call . . . At least
your dad won't know . . . I'll meet the kids at school. Can I
do anything? I wish . . . Oh, never mind. We'll be there
Saturday . . . You too . . . Thanks . . . Good-bye." Four years ago
I would have been the one the sheriff's office phoned.
Poor thing, I wonder what they showed her at . . . that place.
I'll have to run upstairs, explain, and hope she lets me leave
right now so I don't miss them at dismissal in the crowd.
They'll ask where and when, who found him? The Park Police.
Two nights ago. Inside his car. (They loved that car.
Who gets it? Some scrap dealer for the towing charge?)
The police called Aunt Nancy. The funeral's Saturday.
As for why, I wish I knew myself. His health was fine;
and he was working, so he wasn't broke. He must
have friends and colleagues—I don't know them. A girlfriend?
He got around, but no one special—I'd have heard.
The kids at least adored him; he always had time
and money for them, even when the child support was late.
It's an aggressive act, we learned in Psych, to push
your hatred for yourself on someone else, to hurt
the one who made you hate yourself. Did I do that
to him? He made me hate me—before and after.
Did he mean to? I don't know; I didn't leave him
many options when I changed the locks and phone.
Will he go to heaven? Be with Gram and Granddad?
They say that those who die like that have thrown away
the chance to reconcile with God. If we had saints
the kids and I would pray for Dad to them. But why?
We never reconciled ourselves and we weren't short
of chances. God tried harder than we did.
I'd like to see him one last time, to tell him
why I did those things that hurt him and leave him sure
he'd heard me out and understood. And he'd forgive
me and I him, so we'd be reconciled. And God
would take him back again. But there's no chance of that.
He used a gun; the casket will be closed.