He went back to his room and leafed through volume ‘S’ of the World Book Encyclopedia. He was nearing the end of his goal to read the entire set of encyclopedias.
He read about Spain. There was an aerial photo of a bullfighting arena in Cadiz. He imagined walking the streets of Cadiz. He heard Spanish guitar music and polite people greeting him. “That is where my royal Spanish parents lived who lost me at birth and I was taken to the United States by anti-Franco sympathizers for safety sake. I am not Rich Larsen, but Juan Gomez.” The room began to warm from the sun and no breeze stirred the curtains on the window. Rich decided to go to a place that was always cool and refreshing, a place to relax and dream—the meadow.
The meadow was a mile from the farm. About a hundred sheep grazed there in serenity. It was bordered on the west by Interstate 75, on the south by old State Route 25, to the north by State Road, and to the south by a farm. The meadow was sixty acres of low lying pasture, good only for grazing. A stream split the meadow in half. Two creeks converged just before old State Route 25 to form one and passed under a bridge and into the meadow. The water moves fast until mid-summer, then it slows to a trickle. The stream pours over rocks and lazily winds through the meadow. Two willows about a third of the way into the meadow form an arch over the steam. It was cool there. It was a place where troubles are discharged and diluted into the waters and carried into a river and far away. Beneath the willows was shade.
Rich once stayed there to shelter himself from the rain. One time he laid there and went to sleep.
The willow branches hung so low, they were like a drape that hid anyone from the rest of the world. On the hottest day, it was cool beneath its shade. The sheep kept the grass trim like a manicured lawn of a royal estate.
Rich thought of it as a kingdom and he the sovereign. He was a good king and it was a model land.
There was not one inch of that meadow that needed change or improvement. It was perfect.
Sheep have a way of gracing the landscape, they give it balance, completeness, and an acuity of security. Sheep can’t dwell in danger.
Beneath the willow Rich laid with his head resting against the trunk musing the activities of the previous evening.
A cool breeze excited the small willow leaves and they shimmered and tinkled like tiny wind chimes. Flowing water from the stream splattered and trickled over smooth speckled rocks near his feet. A twig navigated the small rapids and floated hurriedly away until it lodged against a small patch of grass that stood alone like an island in the middle stream. In the distance, Rich heard the occasional soothing bleat of gentle restful sheep.
A tear slowly rolled from Rich’s eye. “How will Dad redeem himself? Will it be kind words? Will it be a gift? Will it be a promise? Never with an apology—never. Two men in my life, one with the inability to say, thank you, and the other with the inability to say, I’m sorry. If I come to be known for any extraordinary measure in my life it will be for nothing if I am not known for saying, thank you, and, I’m sorry. But what about now? A cord has been severed—a sacred trust broken. How can I make sense of the dichotomy of thought in my mind? I know the man really loves me, but how can he act in such a shameful and repulsive manner? Is it evil? Even evil men have a huge capacity for compassion and love. Is it insanity? If so it can’t be helped; it is a disease of the mind. One thing is for certain, it is not normal. It is destructive. Why can’t he see what he is doing to Mom and me and change or just go away?”
Rich looked up through the maze of branches and caught an occasional peek of the sky as the breezes parted the tiny slivers of willow leaves. Clouds hypnotically floated by, to places beyond the horizon. “Can God see me? Is he looking down as I am looking up? Does he see my pain and sorrow.”
“Dear God please help me,” Rich muttered and fell asleep.