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ME, MYSELF AND I
I watched him closely as he approached me. Closer and closer he came toward me. All at once, he came to rest directly in front of me. All I could do at that point was gaze deep into his dark blue eyes.
As I stood there staring at him, I said to myself, "So this is the fellow who has been married six times. This is the guy who spent several years in a federal penitentiary."
I was amazed as my eyes slowly studied his face. He did not look like the criminal type. However, his face was somewhat sad and his eyes drooped a bit. I could not help but notice a deep-seated kindness to his facial features. Yet, the corners of his mouth pointed down as if he were a sad circus clown.
I had seen pictures of him throughout the years. Even as a little boy, he had those same facial expressions. Several years ago, he finally admitted to me that as a little boy he had been molested for almost 11 years. I already knew, but I never said anything to him about it. I had wondered for years when he was going to get around to admitting it to me. I guess that somewhat explains the look of sadness that is always present on his face. Not to mention, the look of distrust I see every time I look at him. I moved my eyes about his face and could tell the sadness I was seeing went much deeper than just the exterior. Slowly, his mouth started to open. I think he wanted to tell me more, but then he closed his mouth and just stood staring at me.
There was a time when that balding head of his was full of rich, dark brown hair. A time when his sagging eyelids were fully erect, soaking up the energy of his youth. A time when he was embarrassed when called "a hero" after pulling five people out of a burning car. Not to mention, the time he saved a cat when four teenagers had ripped off its front leg.
This the fellow, who went on national television in February of 1991 with Tom Brokaw to expose the manufacturing of dangerous ammunition that killed several Americans during the Gulf War? The same guy who remained friendless for years for doing "such an evil thing" to his co-workers at the Riverbank Army Ammunition Plant in Riverbank, California?
In spite of all I knew about this fellow and considering all that happened to him in his past, I did not see any meanness or hatred in his eyes. What I did see was a never-ending sadness and a never-ending blank stare of depression. I guess loneliness became his own personal monster. It was a fight he was never able to conquer. Mix in a whole bunch of loneliness and a few batches of disappointment, and his bad dream would never to have an end.
Still, in spite of it all, he has been a good friend to me throughout the years. He has always helped his friends and his neighbors. Never once did he ever expect anything in return. Not even a "thank you" was expected.
He never actually told me so, but I know he is very proud of the fact that he did not turn out to be a child abuser himself. I know there were many times when he did not know what the term "right" even meant. He was a fellow doing his best to make sure he did not repeat the mistakes of his own caregivers.
There, before me stood a fellow who had no idea how to be a father. There was not one day in his memory when he could relate to what having a mother and a father was supposed to be like. All he could relate to was "the orphanage” and its strict measures.
I smiled at him as my eyes left his for a second. I reached down and picked up the shaving cream from the bathroom counter. Quickly, I looked back up to see if he was still looking at me. He just stood there, staring at me with the can of shaving cream in his hand. I guess he was waiting for me to make the next move.
"Well, old man! How about let's shave ourselves," I said to my reflection in the mirror.