by James Knox
Reggie gazes in deep thought this morning. Things have not been the same for him since his son Shane returned. But who was he kidd ing? Things have not been the same for much longer than that. Now, in the mid stages of his life, he needs to acknowledge who he is or wear the mask forever.
“Dad, are you taking me and Brice to wrestling practice later?” Marcus states waiting to see which response he will get this day.
“You do know I work right? MaaAN, I can’t wait ‘til you and Brice start working. Hell, Brice should be working now! Living off me is not going to help y’all. I work my tail off for you, for ALL YOU!! Now I got a grown man upstairs! What do I get in return?” Reggie retorts.
The young peculiar maid nervously observes the situation before her conscious forces her into action.
“I can take the boys if you want Mr. Reggie,” the maid states and then pauses, “it wouldn’t be a problem.”
Reggie fixates on the young woman; he is momentarily disoriented before an illusory snap brings him back to the moment.
“Yeah, I appreciate that Toni. I’ll pick them up though. Sound good MJ?”
Marcus smiles as Toni leads him out of the room to recover Brice from his throne room—known as the bathroom—Reggie slowly descended down the narrow spiral kitchen stairs leading to the garage. This journey always made him think twice about not getting an elevator for the home. As he enters the garage, he takes a quick look at a box buried in the corner behind the holiday decorations. He quickly affixed his attention to his 535i BMW, adjusted his suit jacket, and exited the residence. Toni left soon thereafter, leaving only Shane in the house.
Reggie’s forty-five minute drive cleared his head and readied his mind for his investor presentation. When he exited his vehicle at the Las Vegas Convention Center his friend Ben Deters was there.
“Wasup Benji! You look like you never went home last night!”
“I can’t call it Reg, I’m in bad shape but you’re worse off than I am. You usually beat me everywhere by at least 15 minutes.”
“One day does not make a trend my friend. Did I ever tell you I like it when you talk less?” Reggie says with a smile.
“You never told me you liked me! So this is a good day already.” Ben fires back.
As the day progressed he could not shake the feeling he had. It was different than before. The thoughts of Shane showing up unannounced, the box in the corner now becoming more relevant, and the paths his youngest sons were taking were all puppeteering his mind making it hard to focus for long segments. During lunch he found time to contact his most calming influence.
“Hey ma!” Reggie happily states.
“Heey boy. How you doin’?” Reggie’s mother slowly replies.
“I’m doin’ fine ma. Just checking in on you, wanted to see how you were doin’.”
“The usual. Dealing wit folks that have no business driving. If I had it my way they would all have bus passes.”
“You crazy ma, how’s Shammond and Pinto? I haven’t heard from Shammond in a while.”
“Your guess is as good as mine. I haven’t talked to Betty in so long, and Shammond moved further west so we don’t see him around here anymore. You know Pinto is in jail. He got a seven year sentence. I’m just glad you didn’t get caught up in that mess. I pray for him though…every day, I sure do.”
The pleasantries have now dissolved and Reggie’s discomfort rises even engaged with his most trusted companion. He holds on to a belief that there is an answer to his plight. The sage counsel of a believed oracle is the deliverance he seeks.
“I need for you to pray for me ma. Shane just shows up at my door, unannounced, and expects me to take him back in. I’m struggling to find balance, no matter how much money I make.” Reggie reveals.
“All you need to do is trust in the Lord, Reggie. You hear me?”
“If you trust in the Lord and put your faith in Him everything will work out according to God’s plan.”
“Yes ma’am, thanks for the words ma. I gotta get going, but I love you and I’ll talk to you soon.”
“Ok, take care of those boys and have them call me sometime.”
Reggie receives congratulatory praise on his presentation. As he leaves the convention center, the smile disappears from his face as he somberly prepares to pick up his kids. When he arrives he is unable to lift himself out of his seat. The restraints were not tightened; the buckle was not the issue. His mind became an escape room and time was running out. Minutes passed before the kids came out of the building with the coach. The kids saw their dad from a distance and ran over to the car.
“Hey dad, check out what Marcus did!” Brice exclaimed.
“Brice, not now,” Reggie struggles to break his mental straightjacket, “I’m sorry, I just…just talk to me later, it’s been a long day.”
“Ok, sooo, hoow was your day?” Brice sarcastically comments and then sheepishly continues, “I hope it didn’t feel like when I slammed Marcus to the ground today.”
Reggie fumed as he choked Brice with his eyes. Brice sat stiffly back into his seat but not before peering at his little brother as to advise him to don’t speak. The ride home was a quiet one, which was beginning to become the norm whenever dad picked them up from practice.
They arrived home and Reggie’s fiancée Jessica and son Shane were in the kitchen. The kids react like ants at a picnic with Jessica being the spread. She was fun, vibrant, and talkative. A refreshing glass of lemonade next to the heat of their father.
“How are my little guys doing today?” Jessica warmly states.
“Hey Jessica! Oh my God! I have to tell you this…” Brice shrieked before being interrupted by his father.
“GO. TO. YOUR. ROOM BRICE! AND DON’T COME OUT!”
“Whoa, Reggie, baby, what is the matter?” Jessica pleaded.
“These damn kids don’t listen. I tell them not to do something and they do it. And this boy can’t even stay in the service for a year without getting kicked out and expecting me to provide for him.”
“I didn’t get kicked out Dad. I was honorably discha…” Shane began before being interrupted.
“So you are in the military for a few months, got a little hair on your chest, and think you can talk back to me BOY!”
“Shane give your dad and I a minute so we can talk, I’m sorry.” Jessica states.
“Sorry about what Jessica! Don’t you start too!” Reggie yells.
“LOOK! I’m not one of your kids so don’t talk to me like I’m a child. You need to calm the hell down. You are scaring everybody, including me. Toni told me about your actions this morning and how you have been the past few days. What is going on Reggie? You need to talk to me.”
A sudden welcome calm invades the room. Reggie slumps his head like a child ashamed of his actions and it slowly pendulums back and forth. Jessica brings him in close and squeezes him. Two hourly long minutes go by before Reggie responds.
“I have to show you something.”
Reggie and Jessica head down the spiral stairs to the garage. Reggie nervously grabs the box in the corner and opens it.
“This is a picture of my cousins Shammond and Pinto.” Reggie gulps and then continues, “Pinto is currently in jail but I still feel his presence as if he was here. The same goes for Shammond.”
“I don’t understand Reggie, what is wrong with that. They are family. What does this have to do with the boys? They are who I’m concerned about.”
“When I was younger Shammond and Pinto violated me. I have never said anything to anyone. My family would be crushed. The fact that Shane is outwardly homosexual and is now back in my life along with my sons involved in wrestling now, it is really messing with me. I don’t want to hate them because of what happened to me but I can’t control my emotions and it scares me.”
“I’m so sorry Reggie,” Jessica states while Reggie crumbles into her arms, “We’ll get through this together.”
Reggie’s pain shudders uncontrollably throughout his body.
“I know baby, it’s okay, it’s going to be okay. I know someone who can help.”
“I’m so happy you are here Jess.”
Jessica lovingly looks into Reggie’s eyes, “Let’s go talk to the boys.”