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Jim Bob

by Sharman Ramsey 

Happy birthday, the card read.  The smiling faces of two little girls looked up at him from the photograph.  His girls.  A tear slid from his reddened eyes down his whisker stubbled face.  She never forgot.

The walls of the motel cottage tainted with stale tobacco smoke and old sweat pressed in on Jim Bob.  From the lone fake naugahyde chair in the tiny cubicle he now called home, he tossed the empty Chesterfield package across the rumpled bed to the waste can filled to overflowing with Jim Beam bottles.  His back stuck to the plastic in the stifling heat. 

Through the venetian blinds, the day lay heavy and overcast with threatened rain.  At least the rain might cool things off.  The damned window unit in the godforsaken place sure wouldn't.  It rumbled like an asthmatic old man and exhaled about as much air.  Jim Bob traced the chubby cheeks of his little girls through the cold flat glass that covered the pictures.

He didn't blame his ex-wife.  He couldn't have stayed with him either if he had been her.  She'd tried.  Sixteen when their first baby was born, she'd struggled to get her high school diploma while pregnant with their second child. 

God, the passion.  If the fire of that young love hadn't smoldered down, they'd have burned themselves out.  Life was a party then.  The drinking had been wild and carefree.  Always health conscious, though, his beautiful young wife made sure she didn't drink when she was pregnant and wouldn't let him smoke around their girls. She'd struggled to keep her family together working as an exercise instructor.  He closed his eyes and saw her, gorgeous figure, startling blue eyes.  Weekends she left the girls with her mom and traveled the two hundred miles to stay in a cheap motel like this one to be close enough to visit with him in the hospital where he went to dry out.  Over and over again. 

Of course he couldn't hold a job.  What kind of life was that?  The lump in his throat expanded.

Depressed by the gloom and sordidness of the room, he grabbed up a shirt and ran out into the parking lot.  Too many memories. 

His father had such dreams for him.  He could have been a doctor like his dad.  They'd have sent him to any school if only he'd gotten serious and applied himself.  They all loved him.  His sisters adored him.  He could have done it.  Everything came easy for him.  Grades.  Sports.  Girls.  The parties.  There were always people around him.  Then.

He buttoned two of the buttons of his stained button-down and started to walk.  The rain came in a light mist that fell on the hot asphalt causing steam to rise.  The cars sped past on the highway, parking lights on, lookin like demons floating on the steam of hell.

I just couldn't handle the babies and the responsibility.  No use lying to himself.  He remembered waking mornings with no memory of the night before.  His dad was broken-hearted when he took Jim Bob to the hospital the first time.  Not long after, his father died of a heart attack.  They'd worried about his mother's health.  She didn't last long after that.

Then it all fell to Sheila.  She was so young.  But she never stopped loving him.  He knew it.

He broke into a jog, trying to outrun the memories.  When Jim Bob finally looked up from watching his feet pound senselessly against the pavement, he realized he was heading toward their home.  He came here nights sometime just to glimpse them in the flow from their window.  Her new husband had bought her a home.  His little girls had a new name.  Why not?  They were oo little to know any other father.  What right did he have to get in the way of their having a real family?

But sometimes he came and stood outside just to make sure they were all right.  In his fitful sleep he often dreamt he heard them cry out for him.  A fanciful dream.  He wanted them to need him.

The rain drizzled heavily and chilled him in spite of the heat.  His shirt clung to him and his thick sandy hair fell into his eyes.  Twilight approached and he allowed himself to stand in the woods opposite their house.  The light from the window glowed in the falling darkness.  Her new husband's car was there so Jim Bob figured they were having supper.  All of them warm and safe.

The party's over, Jim Bob, old boy, he said to himself.  Things would be different.  Tomorrow he'd find a job. 

"Good old boy" his resume would read.  He balled his shaking hands, thought of the bottle of Jim Beam back at the room.  He jogged down the street and onto the highway because the soil on the side of the road had gotten slippery and the incline steeper.. 

The sky opened up and the rain came in torrents.  His eyes were wet, but not from rain and it was harder and harder to see the lines as the dark settled in.  The light from the window remained in his thoughts.  He was so alone.  The rain chilled him and he ran faster..  Oh, how he longed to be a part of that warmth he glimpsed behind that window.  And when he looked up and saw the light approaching he ran forward to embrace it.

The flashing lights of the emergency vehicles and the sound of the sirens brought the family to the window. 
Must have been an accident out on the highway," the beautiful blue-eyed woman commented to her husband.  "Get back and finish your supper, girls," she said. 

"He stepped out of the dark," the man told the officer.  "I never saw him until the car hit him.  What in the world was a jogger doing out on a night like this?"


Copyright 1996  These are my own working genealogy files that I share with you.  The errors are my own.  But, perhaps they will give you a starting point.  All original writing is copyrighted.  Webmaster

Copyright 1996  These are my own working genealogy files that I share with you.  The errors are my own.  But, perhaps they will give you a starting point.  All original writing is copyrighted.  Webmaster