“He was… a good man.”
But he wasn’t.
“A caring father,”
“and all around kind spirt.”
I looked to the faces ‘round me, many of which held eyes shimmering with tears. A scoff began to escape from my throat but I covered it with a cough. The young lady next to me patted my knee, thinking it was some sort of sob.
But I would not sob for this man.
This priest hadn’t known Patty. This was just the first guy in a collar they could find. And I don’t know why we had to find one at all. The whole affair was ridiculous. But they wouldn’t know that, ‘cause they didn’t know Patty.
His momma was wailing right next to the useless priest, drowning his words out with her misplaced sorrow. I wish I could tell her we were all better off, but the grieving never liked hearing words like that. She was sitting with his three little sisters, all much further from little since the last time I saw them. They were like a matching tea set, all pretty and round- two with age and one with babe. Yet they each still had those innocent eyes, clear as sunrise. Probably cause they’d never seen what their brother did.
‘Cause what their brother did is why his daddy isn’t here with ‘em. Patty put that man in the ground, swore to make sure the bastard went to God first. Not sure if that was to save Patty a seat in hell or so he’d know even the worst got forgiveness.
I wasn’t there when he did it, but I was there when we buried the old prick down in the creek bed. I helped lift the big mossy stones to encourage the earth to slowly redirect herself, so our sins would never be found. Still a good stream for fishing, if you ask me.
Clara sniffled. Her face was pink as the day she married Patty, and wet from tears too. And sure she gave him those two cute kiddos. But it wasn’t like he was around to raise them. Especially now. Which is a shame, ‘cause seeing the boy stare solemnly under some long auburn bangs, looks like he’s coming dangerously close to being a twin to his old man.
Clara hadn’t ever gotten past that damn brick wall of Patty’s mind. I watched her try and try again over the years, but nobody was getting in that Patty wasn’t inviting. And he always said she was better off. I always agreed.
Because unlike all them, I’d seen the other side.
I’d been next to Patty through first steps and first shots, war and triumph. We lost the same comrades, tasted the same foreign soiled mixed with blood. I watched him let the madness overcome when we were captured. He made the choices we couldn’t. He bit and he burned, and I’ll never forget the taste of flesh not my own he shoved down our throats. He said we were gonna survive whether we liked it or not, and he was right.
Then when we were missing enough parts to not be useful anymore, we came home. Asshole said he knew he couldn’t love anyone like he loved the fight, so he found a poor pregnant girl, took her home to his momma as a bride. I wonder if Clara knew where he went when he stayed out at night. Sometimes he tried to tell me, but I never wanted to know. One time I started to ask her, but she just gazed around at their big home, all the fine things he made sure she had, the comforts the kids had been given, and said he loved her enough.
Few years later’s when he decided to barge in on his sisters’ affairs. The little doves were covered with bruises when he left. That’s the night his daddy mysteriously disappeared, and we watched those bruises heal away.
He kept saying I could turn him in, but I knew that was the beer talking. And he knew I never would.
Patty wasn’t some sort of “kind spirit” like this idiot was preaching. He didn’t lend to his neighbor or ever pick up a round at the bar. He liked the smell of gun smoke more than the garden his little wife grew, talked to her daughter and his son just enough that they called him poppa. He never told his momma he’s why she’s a widow. That man had more scars on his body then a tiger has stripes, and an icy stare that could kill a man. Sometimes did.
But he was my best friend. A damn demon with angel wings, saving all our souls in ways we couldn’t. And I was thankful to the depths of my heart he was finally getting some rest.
No, Patty wasn’t a good man. But he was the best man I ever knew.
Misconception (noun): A view or opinion that is incorrect because based on faulty thinking or understanding.
Oh, good ol’ Patty. He did his best with the tools he had, didn’t he? And what a good man to know his tools weren’t the usual, the expected, but they’re what he had so he did as best he could.
Life has been shifting around a lot. I’ve had the complete blessing of getting to know people better recently, some I’ve known a while and some a short time, but we can always get to know someone more when they’re in a different environment, or tried by a new opportunity or tragedy.
Everyone saw a different side of Patty, but they all loved him. It didn’t matter how much of him they knew or how much truth was shown, they knew their love was justified and honored, even by a scarred man.
I PROMISE that the season of writer’s-block inducing colds is over and there will be no further random-hiatuses. Which is part of the reason I’m writing on a Wednesday. You’ll hear from me tomorrow too, so just prepare yourselves. Like that feeling of your nose finally being clear so you can breathe right? That’s me with the freaking winter finally ending. YAY!