Father’s Day

Father’s Day
James Heaton

Every five years the father and the son meet at a café, somewhere in the world that they both mutually decided upon. The more eccentric the better, the more unique the location was always preferred, why waste such an important meaning on a subpar establishment who didn’t treat their patrons with respect. This year they chose a quaint Parisienne café with several outside tables, something that they fancied. Each time they met, the son would bring the artfully crafted chess board and the hand carved coral pieces, a set that was hundreds of years old, made in a forgotten city in the Caribbean by an old artist who had long since died.
The father always orders coffee, he prefers the darkest roast available, with heavy cream and four sugars. The son in his elegant fashion enjoys a spot of Earl Grey Tea with a dash of milk and a helping of honey. It’s been the same for as long as they can remember, deviating from their choice of beverage.
And so, the chess game begins, each time they try a distinct strategy that they have learned in distinct parts of the world. So far, they have tied or at least that is the way they remember it, for they have always played a game, even before chess was invented. Some game of skill, which requires both to mentally struggle against the other, in a bid to outdo their opponent. It is a passion for them both, as they love games of skill and intellect, as they are both beyond mere intelligence. But it was never about the game, it was father versus son, a small moment for the son to prove his worth. He thought maybe his father had created chess, after all the father created all existence and he in turn created his son. Both were his creations and both his favorite accomplishments. But the father only sometimes regretted one of the two, the creation of existence. Not so much regret as a reconsidering of things, a pondering of the order of things. There are days he deliberates what it would have been like if he had just remained in the void of non-existence, lost with nothing but his thoughts and the questions of where he came from, who invented him, who were his parents – if they even existed. But those thoughts just tore at his mind and after what could only be fathomed over many millenniums, as there was no sun to count what would become years, no rotations of planets to mark time. In fact, time didn’t even exist. It was nothing but black, but even the colors didn’t exist, there was only darkness because without light there is no color. All that time floating in the void, questioning everything, having his own voice to keep him company, he never imagined his love for his son. But after many thousands of cycles, after conjuring the elements, he decided to spin two particles into each other as hard as he could, causing a chain reaction that over billions of years brought him here to this little café in Paris.
The son, only old enough to remember the creation of Earth and the other planets in the solar system. But the Earth, his home for all eternity, had seen the coming of all creatures. Time passed slowly as he wandered the Earth many times crossing the same path. But now in the modern age he preferred culture, he longed for the finer things, and he could convince anyone to give him what he desired, something his father found to be somewhat annoying. The son loved fine watches and seeing man’s design of a diamond’s facets, the well-built engine of a German car and the massive buildings in all the major cities of the world. Those were the things that amazed him. Mainly because he had lived when there was nothing but massive trees and grass higher than a tall man. He had seen the days when ice covered the Earth and he spent years slumbering in the icy caves that are now warm cities. But his father had long washed his hands of man’s actions. After all, he gave them free will, something that was in fact a well-thought-out plan, but it had its cons as well as its pros. The humans had created some of the most bizarre stories, some were enjoyed, others simply tolerated, but they all had the right to think, and do as they pleased, and the father never interfered but the son enjoyed pushing people into action, mostly he preferred love over hate, romance over violence and always order over chaos.
But those were the years past and now it was the modern day; every day is the modern day if you live in the present. Refusing to venture into the future or rummage around in the past, as the son would often do in his moments of boredom, something his father had strongly disliked. “Live for the now my son.” The words echoed throughout time.
The café, on a slow street off the main roads, had red and white checkerboard tablecloths and a worn red awning that was showing signs of weather damage. But the café had been there since the nineteen twenties and had been the meeting place for some of the greatest artists and writers of that time. They had pictures inside of Hemingway and Picasso enjoying tea together as well as Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald with his wife Zelda. And if you looked closely, you could see the son in one of the photos from long ago, smiling and looking extremely handsome in his wool suit.
“Is this a suitable location, father?” the son asked. He opened the chess board, beautifully crafted with abalone and pearl. Such an amazing piece that was rubbed smooth from all the years of use. One of a kind, and lovely to behold.
“Of course, it is where we decided upon the last time we met.” answered the father.
“Do you regret the length of time we chose? Would you prefer sooner or later?”
“No this is fine. I think five years gives us time to find things to discuss. Although you always choose to discuss the same things.” There was the father’s charm, to always be the snide one in the conversation. It was his way; he had lived so long that he had every right to be snide if he chose.
“Well, what would you choose, I’ll allow you to choose the topics today since I chose them last time.”
“You chose them the last five times. But who is counting?”
“Obviously, you.” The son retorted. Never fearful of being snide back to his father, he knew his father took it with a grain of salt, after all Lucifer was his most beloved son.
“You still have your mother’s arrogance. You remind me so much of her.” He said as if she was dead.
“How is mother these days? It’s been too long since she and I spent time together.” the son asked.
“She is good, I believe she is vacationing in Greece, reminiscing about the old days, she loved that period, the freedom to lounge around in loose clothing adorned in gold and discuss ideas without fear of violence over one’s perspective. Philosophy is her drug of choice, addicted to it she is. Plato was her favorite, he always intrigued her.”
“I missed most of that period, I was busy in Egypt. I had such pleasure putting the ideas in their heads about the different gods. The stories I would weave. And they were remarkable craftsmen. I love how people today with all their technology still can’t decide how they built the pyramids.”
“Well, you did help, so you can’t expect them to come to a conclusion without all the variables. But I do love the way they assume visitors from the sky had a hand in the construction. Out of all the worlds I have created, my one rule has been that they do not interfere with this world, for this is the most entertaining of all my creations. These humans are such amazing creatures, such intriguing beings.” The father boasted. “But still they come to see the wonders of my creation. They believe they are helping, keeping humans on track, testing the Earth and its creatures to see if they are sustainable. Maybe they fear I will relocate to their home worlds and enjoy myself there as I do here.”
“And why do you say that? What intrigues you here on this planet, surely it isn’t the same thing that fascinates me?”
“Just look at them, they get a tiny idea in their head and some of them create such magnificent machines and technology and others go completely insane with their thoughts. Although their genes have altered so much over time. They have evolved into such interesting beings. I really can’t wait for the next thousand years to see what they become, to see if they find peace or to see if they destroy this planet and each other.”
“And what will you do then? If they destroy this world?”
“Well, that’s the beauty of it all, this world doesn’t need them, it is a life force on its own. It can exist with or without them. And if they kill each other off, the plants and animals will thrive and I would be okay with that, as I get as much enjoyment from watching the mighty creatures as I do the intricate lives of the humans. Just last year I spent the entire summer watching the gorillas in the Congo. Those beautiful silver back beast and their communication skills. Without words they speak complexities that you and I would speak if you didn’t always revert to the same conversation every year. They are fascinating and they aren’t the least bit affected by my presence. I lived amongst them Lucifer, I ate with them and slept beside them. They are far more civilized than some of these people, why just this morning, I was yelled at by a lady on the train for sitting in her spot. The humans are so entitled, but I assure you I had no hand in that.”
“Yes, old man, I know your rule. Do not involve yourself in their lives or their destruction of this world. No matter how much they beg or plead. But I have seen you give money to the poor, and how is that not involving yourself?”
“Well, I can still feel pity on them, I can still offer a homeless man enough money to buy food. That is just curtesy, simple kindness.” God said as he pointed to a poor man playing a broken violin on the street corner for change. “See that? He has a gift, the gift of music and yet these people treat him as a disease. The very least I can do is put money in his bucket, after all I don’t have to earn it, it simply appears when I need it, one of the benefits of being the creator.”
“Oh, but how they blame you for genocide and these atrocities. Doesn’t that bother you in the least?”
“Of course, it does,” the father moves his rook blocking the son’s bishop. “It pains me to see them killing each other, especially the children. I hate seeing that. But if I interfere once I must do it always. Can you simply imagine answering every prayer from every human? For one, I don’t have that amount of concentration and for second, I can’t weed out the request for a fancy new car to a child cowering in fear of an abusive parent. I contemplated it long ago, but I decided that I would not fill every hour of everyday with simply listening to their whispers into the ether. They beg to come to an imaginary kingdom in the sky when they pass, but remember what you drunkenly said, what was his name? Moses! Yes, you told him of the Sheol and how all souls come from and return to that mystical place. I might be arrogant, but that was one of my greatest creations. The first recycling center! But they choose their own paths. I have never interfered at all. I gave this world the elements it needed to concoct life and it went from a single cell organism to these amazing humans. And the funny thing to me is, even though I used only small bits of myself, they eventually evolved to look exactly like us.”
“Be honest father, you had some hand in that. Somewhere in time you coaxed the genetic signature to adapt enough to be like us. When you created me and my brothers you knew that we would ultimately grow to be exactly like you.”
“Yes, I pushed. I pushed the genes to form creatures that ultimately resembled us.” Rook takes pawn and then the son moves the next pawn forward. So far, the father is ahead.
“But you know what truly bothers me, no it infuriates me. This concept of religion. How they created all these characters and stories that tell such nonsense in comparison to the truth.” The son said as he moved his king forward behind the bishop.
The street is busy as it is now lunchtime but the two enjoy only their beverages. It isn’t the father’s way to dine with anyone, instead he prefers to eat alone and watch the people as they all amaze him in some way. The son prefers to dine on only the finest of foods, to enjoy the highest caliber of dinners or as he calls it, palatable art.
An American couple hurries down the street looking for all the tourist attractions, never stopping to see Paris in all its beauty. It truly is the most beautiful of cities, but even more beautiful when it rains.
A mother with a small girl walks by and the little girl looks at the wise old father with his nicely trimmed white beard in his white linen suit with his grey hair pushed back and the sides shaved closely as the top of his hair lays to the side. He has beautiful blue eyes that when looked at up closely are really the entire galaxy twinkling. The little girl waves at the father and he waves back. They exchange smiles as the father blows a mysterious wave of happiness over the little girl and she giggles.
“The children can still sense us.” The father adds. “But please tell me, what bothers you about their religion? After all you created it.”
“I got drunk one time and told an obscure story to an insane Hebrew and he created an entire world around my drunken rant. I regret that but even though I could go back and undo that moment I choose not too for it has made the world interesting, infuriating, but interesting none the less. And then the entire story of the blessed messiah, that one just exasperates me. I love the insane part of the story of how you supposedly, impregnated a young girl, and she birthed the savior of the world. What I love about that story is that they have created the largest religion of all time supposedly based on righteousness and love, and with that tale, they built an entire book on that idea and don’t even see the evil in you impregnating a teenage girl, without her consent!” The son laughed.
“Enough with the religion. What are you working on right now? What are your plans for the future? When we meet again, I would at least like to hear something different than the same nonsense.”
“I am focused on the arts. Mainly the movies in Hollywood and the inspiration for movies about heroes and the battle against evil. They see me as evil, and I figure why not concoct more ideas for evil characters. But instead, create them so that the viewer must question if the villain is really the hero or the villain or maybe just sane enough to truly know the difference.”
“Be careful with that, they mimic what they see in movies. They see a man fall in love with a woman and they recreate that, they see a maniac with a gun ravish a crowd of people and they mimic that. Why don’t you focus on the hero being the hero, make them mimic honorable deeds that can help them see the corrupt nature of this world. There are too many greedy people who are holding back technology and art. It’s like the dark ages are happening again.”
“Then end all of that religious nonsense. It’s all a domino effect, you can start the ball rolling.” The son said as he moved his last pawn to block the King and bishop.
“What makes you think I haven’t. Have you noticed how the younger generation has strayed from their parents’ old ways? It’s the very first stage of failure of religion. Another hundred years and they will have moved on, they will live by science and truth, as I meant it to be. The written word has been cherished for centuries and they have made sure that the true old writings have lasted. Remember that fellow, Mark Twain? They still read his works. And the classics are still taught in school, Homer’s tale of adventure is given as homework. These are the words they know. The old stories of creation from the earliest days are proving to be inaccurate and science is proving them wrong every day. For heaven’s sake they are exploring Mars now.” The father said as he ignored the opportunity to take the queen. For once he was going to allow his son to win.
“Yes, I remember Mars. It was a brilliant civilization, such a perfect creation. I think that bypassing the entire Jurassic period of evolution was brilliant on your part. You went straight to humanoids.” the son said. “The dinosaurs served their purpose, even if it were to provide fuel for vehicles. But their evolution was intriguing until you picked the primates as the basis for the evolution of man. The reptiles were really a unique adaptation until you ended that evolution. But the Martians were pure humanoids, more so than these creatures. They still have the tinge of violence floating around in their brains, unlike the Martians.”
“But they didn’t last, they couldn’t adapt to the cold. The farther the planet moved away from the sun the colder the planet grew until their own ice age. I was sad to see them all perish. But Earthlings are far superior, and they can create machines to change the planets environment, they can even change the weather now. They can make it work. Like I said, the next hundred years is going to be a golden time. Remember sitting with me amongst the onlookers, when the first rocket launched to the moon? Remember how excited we both were that they left this planet? It’s coming again.”
“I like to see you happy, father. I would like to see you excited again. It’s been far too long. Oh, and checkmate.” The son said as if he once again won, not noticing that his father gave him the victory, or did he?
“I am proud of you too. You have always been my bright and morning star. My favorite child. I am terribly sorry that humans paint you as an evil creature. If they only knew the truth, if they only knew that you were doing my work. How you inspire greatness. But we gave them free will and we have to live with that decision.” The father said as he gathered his chess pieces.
“I am the one who wanted to make them follow our will, you were the one who demanded free will and independent thought. You’re getting old, you forget things. And I know you let me win.”
The old man stood, smiling a handsome grin as he grabbed his linen coat and pulled it on.
The son packed up his abalone and pearl chess board with his beautiful coral pieces. Standing in his black suit with his long dark hair pulled back to reveal his neatly trimmed beard. He mimicked his father, choosing to look just like the man he had always loved deeply. The man he idolized and longed to be like. He was almost saddened that their little game was over and that he wouldn’t see his father again for another five years.
“What do you say we get the family together next summer in Bimini, your mother and I love it there. We have a modest house on the beach, and we can all gather and have a feast. Your brothers would love to see you and some of them have human wives now and little children. We could make a week of it. It would be nice.” The father said with just a little sign of his age in his smooth face, nothing really, just a set of tiny wrinkles at the corners of his eyes, but enough for the son to notice and think how he had never seen it before.
“I would love that. I’ve been seeing a young lady in California. Maybe if things work out, I can bring her along. It was good to see you, old man. I do miss you. And Happy Father’s Day.” The son said as he embraced his father, truly hugging him tightly and his father so missed the power of his son’s grip, he appreciated that his son genuinely loved him. For he knew that his time would one day come to an end and his son would take his place. He only wished that he had been the best example of a father to his first-born son. It was hard to be a shining example of the ultimate being when every moment is a new experience, one is bound to make mistakes. Mistakes to one but lessons to others, which is what he hoped his son took with him. For one day the old man would float away to give birth to a new universe and start the process all over again.
Until next summer in Bimini. They offered their goodbyes as they walked in separate directions leaving the tiny Parisienne café in their history as they had so many times in the past. It truly was a happy Father’s Day for the old man.

The End


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