SUNDAY DRIVE • by Dennis Milam Bensie

My son changed everything in one day. I want to change it back. He told me about something sick that happened to him. His mom and I didn’t know. We are still shocked to know about what happened to our boy fifteen years ago. If he’d told me when all that stuff was going on, I would’ve taken care of it right then.

He told me, “Dad, that was a long time ago. Don’t do anything stupid.”

I’ve got a plan.

I waited patiently all week for today: Sunday. My wife’s at a baby shower all afternoon and my son is with his “goth” friends. I’ve got the house all to myself. I’m not sure I can go through with this, but I’ve got to do what’s best for everybody.

It’s one o’clock: time for me to take some serious action. I gently slide the closet door open in the spare bedroom, and reach up to the top shelf. I stick my shaky hand under the bottom blanket and pull out my dad’s old Smith and Wesson handgun. The gun’s beautiful: a family heirloom that my dad gave to me before he passed away twenty years ago.

I haven’t fired a gun since I was in Iraq. I swore I would never fire one ever again unless I really had to. The taste of killing’s still burned in my memory. Now the image of that sick man touching my son — my little boy — wounds me deeply. It rips me to shreds every day to think about it. I need to rest my mind once and for all.

I pull the gun out of it’s holster and hold it. It’s very elegant; a thing of beauty. I love the power if offers; the ability to change everything for the better. A man’s got to be ready to protect his family, so I always leave it loaded.  There’s plenty of extra bullets in the box nearby. I’m prepared for anything.

I pack the gun and the box of bullets in a paper sack and go to my truck. I pull out of the gravel driveway on to the dirt road and head to town. It’s a big day. This is the most important trip I can ever remember taking.

It really happened to my son.

It was real.

He’s a very emotional person. He takes after his mother that way. I’ve watched him turn into the kind of young man I don’t understand. I still love my boy and I want to understand him. We’re two very different people and it’s destroying our relationship. I try to wrap my head around my son and all of his dark thoughts and ideas. His dyed, black hair and the black clothes are bad enough. It’s the Satanic music and all his angry poetry that scare me the most. He claims he’s just being himself. I understand that teenagers rebel,  but I’m not going to watch this go from bad to worse.

He said to me last week, “Leave me alone, Dad. I just gotta do what I gotta do.”

I know now I was too soft on my boy. He used to have yellow colored hair and the face of an angel. I probably set him up to get touched by that monster. I allowed my son to be a victim and now he’s full of rage. I should’ve kept a better eye on him. I can’t let my son think that I don’t care.

This Sunday drive is what I decided I’ve got to do. I hope he understands some day.

The dusty roads are turning to pavement as I get into town. I keep checking the sack on the seat next to me. There’s a knot in my throat; the same sensation I had when I was a soldier in heavy combat.

My hands are sore. I’ve been gripping the steering wheel of my truck so hard that I feel like I’m about to tear it out of the dashboard. My son’s molester is still living in town in the same house after all these years. It makes me sick to think of all of the other little boys and girls he’s no doubt ruined since he took my son’s innocence. The monster doesn’t deserve to live.

Do the right thing.

Be a man. Do the right thing.

Fix the problem.

I pull my truck up to the building and get out with my sack of bullets and the gun. I slowly walk up the sidewalk to the porch steps of the old house on Cross Street that was converted into the town’s sheriff’s office.

“How can I help you?” the sheriff asks.

“My name is Bob Coates,” I say. “My boy was molested by Dave Drennen fifteen years ago. I want to file a report about it. I also need you to take this sack away from me before my son hurts himself or I go to Drennen’s house and kill that sonofabitch.”

Dennis Milam Bensie’s first book, Shorn: Toys to Men, was a pick in the international gay magazine The Advocate as “One of the Best Overlooked Books of 2011”. The author’s short stories have been published by Bay Laurel, Every Day Fiction, The Ink and Code, and This Zine Will Change Your Life, and his essays have been seen in The Huffington Post and The Good Men Project. One Gay American is his second book with Coffeetown Press, which was chosen as a finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

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