The End of the Search (A Short Story)

He sat in the coffee shop waiting for the mother he hadn't seen since he was three and a half years old. The only memory he had was watching out the living room window as a lady was walking back to a grey car waiting at the street curb. She got in the car but he could not remember her ever looking back or seeing her face. He cried out to her, ‘mama", but she just kept going. He never saw her again.

Now he was surrounded by people he didn’t know. He was frightened and he retreated to the corner of the room. His life was changing and; he was alone. These strangers tried to coax into their group but he stayed in the corner until he fell asleep.

Shortly after life had just started to settle down into a comfortable routine when a new arrival was added to his family. His parents had taken in a one year old girl. She was a new born and quickly took up a large amount of time and care. It did not take long to feel a definite lessening of attention to him.

I tell you these things as a foundation for his story, his reasoning. They became the events that drove him on his quest.

At age five he startled his younger sister as she came around a corner. His mother quickly told him to get his jacket and boots on and leave the house. When he went outside he found his dad shoveling snow off of their driveway. When he saw his son he asked why he was outside in the cold? " Mom kicked me out of the house and told me never to come back. His dad responded when I finish up out here we’ll go back inside and see if she’ll let you come back in. After some discussion she agreed to allow me back in the house.

Between his mother and father he heard a lot about Father Flannigan’s "Boys Town" and about how easy it would be to be sent there. Being asked to leave the house became a matter of routine in his youth. When he was seven years old he was told to leave so he did. For several hours he lived in a tree house at a local park. When he didn’t show up for dinner his father showed up and finally coaxed him into returning to his house. It continued that way until he was eighteen when he was told to find somewhere else to live for the last time. (But he was not being kicked out again.) He lived on the streets for a while. Then Uncle Sam took him in.

When he was eight years old he went on the first outing with his dad. During the outing his dad told him that he was adopted and that his mom and dad were not his real parents. Needless to say the little boy was confused and the only question he had was; "Was she pretty?" He wondered about her from that day forward.

He found his paternal side of the family by accident through DNA testing but no sign of his mother. Finally there was one possible candidate located.

   He was waiting after searching for a lifetime. Would she be old and ugly, or had she retained the beauty of her youth. It didn't matter; he had never had a visual memory of her. In his mind he saw a crippled old woman weathered and beaten by the years. She was only fifteen years older than he, but he knew from his condition how cruel the years could be. Did she hold a memory of him, or did his memory become just one more faded image.. Did she even want to remember him. Would it even be his mother or another opportunist seeking sustenance in her old age? He had fought this battle with doubt before. By chance DNA testing had located his paternal relatives. To say they were shocked at discovering a new sibling was an understatement. But he had been looking for his mother He was told he was of Celtic blood his whole life; Irish by birth and almost immediately thrown into the turmoil called life. In reality he was more Polish in decent than Irish but it didn’t really matter. His ability to dream had always been strong in him, but his life had never been free of nightmares. All life is inevitably lost to time, but one last dream remained and he reached out to see it through. Reunification with his roots was paramount to his existence. One last chance to say goodbye and thanks for his source of perseverance. There was a time when like the cliché, it was simpler to understand. Right and wrong were always central themes in his moral upbringing. As a Catholic it was simple to remember the difference, if it felt good, it was sinful. If it was untainted by human qualities it was acceptable, as long as you did penance. No one truly had any hope of making it to Heaven without stopping first in Purgatory to be purged by the equivalent of the fires of Hell. Only purified souls entered the Kingdom, and only saints qualified. It appeared on the surface that his search was an act of disrespect toward his adoptive family. It was not intended as such. No one really understands the longing that develops. Maybe it's like the carrot on the stick in front of the horse driving him on, but once the flame has been ignited, only the tempest of despair can extinguish it. The Irish pipes softly sang a mournful tune of the mysteries of life over the coffee shop ceiling speakers. The wail mixed with the violins sowing threads of sympathetic tears into the matrix and harp tones flowed like water over a rain gutter. It was almost time for her to arrive. He noticed several candidates shuffling by the window. One dressed in a business suit, another in a plain dress with a shawl draped over her head and shoulders. Another with.... The EKG machine blared its monotone note. His unblinking blue eyes stared up at the ceiling. His children rushed to his side, but the war was over. The wail of the pipes had ended. The fair hills were silent and another street warrior went to rest.

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The End of the Search (A Short Story)

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