On Father’s Day. The Father He Needed, a short story by Lance Manion.
The father he needed.
“Son, let me tell you a story. You’d better get comfortable as it might take awhile.”
The man settled back into his chair and struggled to find a place to start.
“There was this man, let’s call him Ed. Ed saw these two people having what seemed to him as irreconcilable differences. It pained Ed because he knew both parties were good, decent folks and he wanted nothing more than to bring them together.”
Pretending to think on how to do this the man rubbed his chin and screwed up his face. Then, all of sudden, one finger popped up symbolizing that he had an idea. If light bulbs truly popped up over people’s heads at these particular times there was no doubt that one would have made an entrance.
“Ed decided that nothing brings people together like a common foe. I won’t go into how he managed to piss off both individuals but suffice to say that the mere mention of his name had both of them gnashing their teeth as if their dental plans were ironclad. Soon they saw the folly of their own petty disagreement and became fast friends.”
The man leaned over and picked up his glass of lemonade and took a sip.
“Thinking back on his triumph Ed wondered if this same strategy could be used to solve other disputes. You have to understand, Ed’s motives were always the purest. He always believed that while the road to hell is paved with good intentions, you could always turn around and head back up that particular path. You have to believe me on this point.”
Now the man’s face screwed up a bit for reasons that weren’t quite as clear. Once again it appeared that he did not know where to begin to continue.
“Seeing how professional sports teams in neighboring cities didn’t get along he made sure to become such a pariah to both that they soon joined hands and sang both Kumbaya and songs involving his being drawn and quartered. You probably saw this on the news.”
His son nodded.
“Intoxicated with that success he took aim at a grander targets. Soon he was inserting himself into conflicts as diverse as gay marriage, race relations, political animosities, environmental issues and religious conflicts across the globe. Each of these required greater and greater atrocities to convince the two side to come together in their hatred for Ed. The things he did in the name of bringing people together became almost unthinkable.”
He paused and wiped his brow. He lifted up his beverage again but couldn’t bring himself to take a sip. It was obvious that he was going through a few of these unspeakable acts in his head.
“Ed became the most vilified man to ever exist. There wasn’t a man, woman or child on the planet that didn’t have a very good reason to detest him. Working tirelessly he collected the widespread loathing and revulsion that people had heaped on one another for thousands of years and deposited it firmly on his own shoulders.”
He tried to force a smile but it wouldn’t come. He tried numerous times actually. His son watched as the corners of his mouth pushed up against the combined forces of gravity and circumstance time and again but to no avail. His face remained grim.
His son finally spoke. “Dad, your name is Ed.”
“Yes son, I know … and I know you know that I am the Ed in this story.”
His son stood up and produced a pistol from underneath his jacket.
“Well then Ed, I guess you also know that I’m here to kill you.”
Ed finished his glass of lemonade in one long gulp. He looked up and was finally able to get the corners of his mouth to cooperate.