Dan and Mary look at each other through the thick window pane. They talk to each other through an intercom. She wants to scream at him.
“You said that you were out of that for good.”
“Listen,” Dan says. “I just thought we could use a quick fit in our pockets.”
“But, everything was ready, our getting married; You had a good job that could’ve helped us both until I got back to work and then my parents was ready to help with the baby while we worked.”
“I’ll be out in three years, after getting paroled.”
“Then what? That job is not going to hire you back. You promised me that you were straight and out of that shit.”
Dan tries to joke. “Now, I am.”
“It’s not funny. What am I going to tell the baby about you?”
“I’m going upstate in a week and it is a cold stop. So, please, go easy on me until I get settled.”
“I will not visit you; I’ll send you pictures of our child; write you letters but I refuse to take my baby to that place so you can see him through a window.”
“They have contact visit there.”
“I don’t care because we’re supposed to be a family in a home and neither place is not a home for a family.”
For almost two years, Dan watches his son, Mark, grow through photographs but not one encouraging word of affection from Mary. Then, a letter with no pictures arrives and he reads that mary dated and felled in love with another man and they will soon marry and to forget Mark as your son because he never knew you as a father but the man she will marry, he does.
In line with other inmates, Dan marches to the dining had. A Correctional Officer’s smile gets recognized by dan as a masking smirk and he hits the man hard. He is taken to the punishment section and after a later hearing, he
is assigned to the section for ninety days.
“This will jeopardize your parole hearing,” The Deputy Warden says.
Dan decides to take the advise of an inmate, to walk his remaining sentence. So, he can leave the prison without owning the state any back time. He rips the photos of his son and toss the pieces into the trash. So, he can easily forget him; however, he keeps the letter, not to read over at times but so he can be sure that he never had a family.
His sister waits for him in the prison’s parking lot. Dan walks out of the holding area. He hurries to the car and get in. “That’s my last time going through that shit,” he tells his sister, “it’s a cold stop.”
His Sister is a single mother with a daughter. So, she has room for him until he can afford his own apartment.
Dan gets a job as a bartender in a cheap wine and beer dive. After almost a year, he has his own apartment. He seeks no romantic ties. He relieves his sexual buildup with barflies that needs a few dollars. He eats a one day meal at a center city buffet restaurant and goes home to enjoy a sixteen ounce bottle of beer, cigar and television. Sometimes, when Sister is off from her job at the hospital, she cooks a big meal and he joins them. This is his life for five years.
Someone knocks on his door. He thinks it is a woman wanting money. he opens the door. It is Mary and her Mother.
“What do you want?” He asks.
“It’s about mark,” Mary says. “He’s in trouble with his health and we will need your help to get him out of it.”
“Who?” He asks.
“Your son,” Mother says.
He stares into Mary’s eyes. “I have no son,” he says.
“Didn’t you hear my daughter?” Mother asks.
“I hear her,” he says. He goes to a night stand by the roll-up couch and opens a drawer and then takes out the only item in it, the letter. He returns Mary. “Remember this?” He asks. “You wrote me to forget you, and especially, to forget we had a son together because he has a father.”
“Dan, please,” Mary says. “It’s your son that matters now. He’s your blood and that is what matters now.”
“I have no son,” he says. He slams the door close.
At work, a man enters, from his attire, Dan wonders why he is in this place. The man walks to the bar. He introduces himself as Steven, Mary’s husband and Mark’s step-father.
“What’s your drink, man?”
“I’m the step-father, yes, but you’re the father that save Mark’s life.”
“I’m not his father because I lost the privilege a long time ago.”
“I’m giving it back to you to save Mark’s life.”
“You mean your bastard son”
Steven’s roundhouse punch only gets Dan to launch a a right jab hard against his forehead that makes him stagger backwards and drop to the floor. He gets to his feet with the help of a couple of patrons. Leaving the taproom, he shouts, “you’re an asshole.”
“So be it,” Dan says.
Dan opens the door.
Sister says, “Hi.”
“Hi, com on in.”
She sees the bottle of beer on the table.
“Got another beer?” She asks. “I’ll take a rain check on the cigar.”
He points to the refrigerator. She gets a bottle and the sit beside him on the couch. A movie plays on the television.
“What’s the movie?” She asks.
“An old gangster flick.”
“I has to tell them because of Mark,” she says.
“That’s okay Sis.”
They watch the movie together.
Dan receives a Subpoena.
After the community lawyer read the letter she says, “let me put it this way, the court will look at this as if, you are committing murder for revenge.”
Dan only hears murder. He swallows that word. It makes him shiver at the thought of going back to that cold place.
A month passes.
“Mary wrote me and said Mark will be fine,” Sister says.
Dan says, “I don’t give a damn.”