Orphan Survival Stories Index |
I was finally being discharged from the United States Army. I was leaving Alaska to return to Jacksonville, Florida, where I had originally enlisted in the military service, at 17 years of age by a juvenile court order. However, this was not a happy day for me. I was leaving behind a sweet, kind, wonderful woman whom I had impregnated and she was with child. This disturbed me greatly as I was an orphan, brought up in an abusive orphanage and always known as “a bastard."
I suppose it was not a pretty sight for all those Americans sitting on that airplane with me; they were watching one of the protectors of their great country, sitting in full dress uniform with tears streaming down his face like a baby. If I had ever done any one thing in my life to destroy what little heart I had, leaving this woman with child had to be that act.
I returned to Jacksonville, Florida and because I was an orphan, I had nowhere to go and no one to turn to. I did manage to find a job scraping shingles off rooftops. As I was being paid $2 per hour, I knew I would never raise enough money to get back to Alaska and marry Maggie before the baby was born. This wore very heavy on my heart, mainly because I was about to be the fault of another child being born into this world that would be called a "bastard.”
I had already decided I would do almost anything to stop this from happening to another human being.
One afternoon, I was in a local coffee shop and happened to meet and talk with several young men from Windsor, Ontario, Canada. They agreed that I could ride with them as far as Canada and I should be able to make my way back to Alaska from there. This really lifted my spirits; I was ready to head back out into the world and try to "right" the "wrong" I had committed.
Come to find out, these two people did not have any money to make the trip and asked if I knew where we could raise some fast cash. As I only had about $20, it was decided we would make it as far as we could and then figure out what to do from that point. As we entered the red and white Ford Fairlane convertible, I noticed two handguns lying on the front seat. Bill picked up the two guns and put them into the glove box, telling me they weren’t real, but starter pistols (blank guns).
We left Jacksonville and headed toward a little town known as Dinsmore. I began to tell them I once had a girl friend in that area, as well as a friend who owned a small country market. I said I would like to stop and tell him bye as we went through. When we reached the store, I saw Bill reach into the glove box, take out the two guns and hand one to his friend.
"What are you going to do?” I asked.
"Get some damn money! What do you think?"
"I really don't want any part of this!"
"Then get your bastard ass down the road," said his friend that was sitting in the back seat.
Why I did not leave right then, I do not know and maybe I will never know. Maybe it was because he called me a "bastard.” That one word always did hurt me to the core. Maybe I felt I had no other choice. We walked into that old man's life and I will never forget him looking at me with his sad old eyes, shaking his head back and forth as he saw the guns.
"Roger, what are you doing, young man? He asked. You are a good boy. Why are you doing this?"
"I'm sorry, Mr. Pfister," I said looking down at the floor.
Bill walked up to him, put his gun right in Mr. Pfister's face and ordered him to put all his money into a paper bag. The old man filled the bag and handed it to Bill's friend. Then Bill pushed Mr. Pfister against the wall as hard as he could; the poor old man fell down hitting his head. I ran as fast as I could toward Bill and shoved him through the screen door, knocking him onto the porch outside.
"YOU DAMN SON-OF-A-BITCH!" I yelled.
Mr. Pfister got to his feet and said, "Roger, all you had to do was ask me son. I would have helped you.”
"SHUT UP. JUST SHUT UP, "I yelled at all three of them.
"How am I going to run my store without any money?" asked Mr. Pfister.
I was scared and felt so ashamed at that moment, but it was too late to back out now; I was just in too deep. I marched over to Bill's friend stomping my feet as I walked, snatched the paper sack from his hand and dumped all the money onto the counter. I divided it into two equal piles. With one penny left, I turned quickly toward Bill. He was standing at the door, not believing how furious I had become. I threw the penny as hard as I could at his head, but it hit against the wall and bounced away. I turned back around, picked up half of the money and walked out the door shoving the $31.50 into Bill’s chest. I never looked back at Mr. Pfister.
Not a word was spoken by anyone in the car for more than 100 miles and the incident was never mentioned by any of us, ever again. Within three months, I made it back to Fairbanks, Alaska. In January I married Maggie, just a matter of days before my wonderful son James Brian Kiser was born. However, about two hours after the wedding ceremony and before James was born, the F.B.I. knocked on my front door. They handcuffed me and took me to jail, where I received five years in prison, suspended and five years probation. I guess it was because I gave Mr. Pfister half his money back.
After several years, I did get over what I had done that day. However, even to this day, 30 something years later; I still haven’t gotten over the look of disappointment that I saw in Mr. Pfister's eyes.
I AM SO SORRY, Mr. Pfister.