Hello Dad

Mom was the one who taught me unconditional love.
With Dad, I’d always felt there was something
to live up to – expectations.
– Greg Louganis

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Moving Fast by Hussle Crowe

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Kendall F. Person

Robert Channel Foster was dedicated to a fault. He was dedicated to his studies, graduating summa cum laude from the University of California, even though it meant he would make very few friends. He was dedicated to pleasing his wife every time they made love, even though he would often be exhausted the next day, making it impossible to meet his quota. Robert treated every loss as if it were the end of the world. His hair would began to fall out and he would bite his bottom lip till it bled. And now, in front of the entire world he would fail at meeting his mark and the breakdown he would have, would later be described as epic, the only acceptable kind.

He was an underachiever in an overachieving family. He made straight A’s, carrying all honors courses, throughout his life as a student. Captain of the football team, he made all-city as a junior and all-state during his senior year. Crowned prince of the prom and king of the ball, his girlfriend was head cheerleader, and was equal his match from her grades, to her athletic ability to her strikingly good looks. He was accepted to every Ivy League school he applied, full ride scholarships in physics and football, boosters offering monies -under the table – if only he would choose them.

But unlike his parents, who were driven by power, Robert Channel Foster, was motivated by good deeds. He turned down a Wall Street post, that would have made him seven figures in his very first year. Instead, he chose to join a small, nearly unheard of non-profit, one that empowered inner city kids by engaging them in the arts. His parents were furious, all but disowning him, but when only two years later, he would make the cover of Time Magazine, and they, like the rest of the world, saw the changes he made in the faces of all those beautiful kids, who now had a place to turn to, to vent their frustrations, in a positive, productive manner, he would be allowed entrance back into the family. The funding he had raised was out of this world, and he gave it all back to his non-profit, choosing to live in a 2500 square foot flat, in the middle of downtown, equal distance, to north, south, east and westside, wanting all to know, that the neighborhood was for each of them.

The telethon was not his idea, he felt they had enough cash on hand, to expand the Underground Artists Foundation, to distant lands. But the Board of Directors knew that the gold mind they were governing, was a hot commodity at the moment, and tomorrow, donors could be considering something else. But Robert Channel Foster had pent up frustrations, and when his hand was forced by the governing body, he transformed from a man of peace, to a subject of rage. He had a bad feeling about how things would end, and could not live through the public humiliation of failing to reach his mark, which his father had embedded in him was something only mindless, losers did.  Using his PhD in physics, he created his own master plan. When time came and the telethon was short, he would detonate the explosives, before he could hear his father’s condescending voice.

There were two hours left, but panic  had already overtaken him and he felt the need to resort to desperate measures. There were 30 volunteers on the phone lines, pleading with the donors to give one more time. They were so close to their goals, which there was not one, but two at this time. The first was to reach the goal of the organization. To raise enough funds to keep the doors open and to maintain a world of imagination. But the other goal, which was not part of what they had signed on for, when they decided to volunteer, but with the host of the show careening into madness, the second reason to meet their goal was to keep from being blown to smithereens.

He had one hand on the detonator, and the other was holding the microphone, “Give! Give! Give!” he shouted, so afraid to not make his goal. The stations directors did not dare turn off the screen since he had warned them that the explosives were planted throughout the building. So the volunteers manned their stations, the people at home did not know if it were a joke or for real, but they opened up their wallets and began to give out of fear.

The phones continued to ring, and the scoreboard continued to rise. But the clicking clock would not stop and there was no way the foundation would hit its mark. One hour to go, they were almost there. One volunteer lost his nerve, tried to make a break for it, but Robert Channel Foster would see him run and assumed that time had run out, and although the other volunteers would scream for him to stop, Robert Channel Foster had already blown his top.

Hand grasping the remote device, thumb about to press down, one volunteer rose from her seat, phone in ear and screamed, “We made it! We have a donor who is making a donation that will put us over the top!”  Robert collapsed where he stood, law enforcement rushed in and surrounded him. Allowing the remote to fall from his hand, he stared at the ceiling with a genuine smile, eyes completely blank and inside his mind, nothing at all. But the last thing he would remember, before he would at last lose his mind, was seeing the face of his father, and delivering these cryptic words “Hello Dad. Are you proud now?”

the end

Second Feature: Goodbye Momma

20 comments

  1. This is true and tragic. The longing for affirmation can sometimes go overboard especially where you are constantly bombarded by remarks of your incompetence compared to another relative or sibling. Plausible cases in criminal studies. Accept everyone as they are and encourage where they fail especially as parents.

  2. I reserved my comment for this moment, when I would have the time to read and absorb the story. It’s such a beautiful story, vividly written and alive. It creates a sense of apprehension and tension and I bet everyone gives a sigh of relief at the close. It’s beautiful.

  3. So well done. I would add for me it brought to the forefront with events such as gun shootings at schools that those who commit such heinous crimes have a rationale for their behavior even if we might consider it irrational or “evil.”

    • I am having such a good time this morning. Just last week, I made the decision to take the short story section, but I couldn’t resist presenting this one to match the double feature with RG. Viewer reaction is unbelievable. Thank you. I feed off your excitement.

  4. This is the first thing I’m reading at 5:45am with blurry eyes, and now I am wide awake–WOW. What a well-written, powerful piece, entertaining and moving.
    It makes me think of all the pressure I put on my own children for them to get what needs to be done done.
    Thank you for sharing this Kendall. This are inspiring words.

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