Saturday, November 28, 2015

Guest Fiction Series: Vinnie, Part 2

For a few months, will be taking four guest authors #fromblogtobook. Each week you'll be able to read a new installment from unique aspiring authors. This tale is from R. Preston Clark. Enjoy!

(Read all parts here.)

“You’re late.”

A layered regurgitation of past events continually infiltrating the present. James Baldwin’s sentence structure still resonates in my mind at this time, so do not mind that last sentence. I felt an urge to scream within an intellectual cage. Baldwin always seems to fit in those times.

I did not actually say ‘You’re late’. My mother may have. Either way it would have been a waste of breath anyway.

“I’m here, aren’t I?”

The lack of understanding behind this statement still baffles me. Ever known someone whose presence never necessarily meant they were there? My father has perfected this craft. He has molded his fatherhood into trying to convince my mother and I that what he is able to do is enough.

“Just show me what you need to show me.”

The painting does not even look the same at this point. All its vibrancy evaporated upon the realization that the most critical eyes to be laid upon it were not going to be laid upon it at all. It gave up on attempting to be at its best. It gave up on trying to be loved and adored, showcased for the rest of the world to see. It has given up. It has looked up to me, taken its cue from me, so none of this comes as a shock, now does it?

“Oh, that’s nice. You like this painting stuff, huh?”

The belittling of all that I am. If there was ever anything this man was successful at, it was this.

My mother is the one who put the paintbrush in my hand. A black woman whose essence is everything our ancestors would have wanted her to be. Something like a goddess on earth, mocking us with her constant ability to be more than human within the restraints of that humanity. I, her son, simply want to provide her with the warmth and love necessary for a being such as her to continue to function.

So I paint. She smiles. I paint some more. Her joy is evident. She takes my hand in hers, guides my paintbrush in regal strokes, the paint listening to her every direction at a level I have not reached yet. This is our time together. The time in which my life is the most colorful, most full of life.

Yet, the darkness his shadow is able to provide can swallow even her sunshine, even within a flashback to a beautifully designed memory such as this one. But we must leave this place now, and return to my father’s shadow. It is not done covering the present with its unwavering swirl of parental ineptitude.

“So, when is this thing over?”

My mother looks in my direction. She wonders the same thing I wonder. Will I respond?


“It was over before you arrived. It’s been over for some time now. But I guess a thank you is required in this situation since you wasted gas to get here.”

“I did. And you’re welcome.”

I imagined another conversation taking place in this moment. I really did. But my imagination is responsible for the vast majority of fond memories that include my father. I have to create a position for him within my memories in order for him to have any substantial impact. His gravestone will read ‘In Loving Memory?’

I am sure he held me in his arms at times when I was a baby. I am certain he tossed a ball around with me when I could barely run. I am sure he did – something. But the more I independently operated, the more he felt the need to not be a parent anymore. I will never understand the trigger in fathers to back off.

Do not ever stop loving me!

Excuse me. My throat hurts. That scream clawed at my vocal chords. Whenever I see him, I scream this. I scream this over and over again. He does not hear me. He does not listen to words. But I have not found the proper actions necessary to get him to recognize his glaring flaws. He cannot see my necessities. He cannot see my needs. But what is most painful is differentiating between cannot and will not. Maybe cannot can be forgiven. Maybe. But will not? Will not? Naw, I ain’t having that.

Do not ever stop loving me!

I can get so consumed by this, all of it. To the point that I no longer notice the words being stated around me.

By classmates.

“I have only ever seen his dad on, like, maybe, three occasions. He don’t be around like I would want my daddy to be.”

By Ms. Washington.

“There is so much potential here for something beautiful. Vinnie is calling for him, but Thomas refuses to listen to his cries.”

I should not have similarities to the character in the first verse of J Cole’s Breakdown.

So many things you could have told me/to save me the trouble of letting my mistakes show me/I feel like you barely know me…

I cried when I first heard it. I cried like a baby. I broke down. I had no choice in the matter. My father is right here, in the flesh, and I have an emotional reaction to a young man’s story about not knowing his father at all. I know his name. I know his occupation. I know his bank account number. I know what he feels is necessary. But I know nothing of his wiring. I know nothing of why he is the way he is. I know nothing of why he cannot love me the way I want to love him. For love is a two-way street, and despite how much love I have to give, I cannot give it all unless he returns the favor. And it should not be a favor at all due to the father-and-son correlation.

I just want to go home and dream. Dream of that day when I leave this earth, knuckles stained in red from battling a violent swarm of insecurities. He will be there then. He is always there when I die. He is always there to see me through my final breath. I want him to savor the opportunity to share oxygen with me. Only to never grasp it in time.

I truly hope that comes to fruition. My scars would be so worthwhile then.


R. Preston Clark is an educator, screenwriter, poet and open mic host with too much to say in too many ways.

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