Blogger Creative Challenge 258: Memory

Sissinghurst cemetary

“There must be a mistake, I don’t know this person.”

Looking at the corpse on the table after the post mortem, with the neat seams across the chest, it was just flesh, white lifeless flesh. The face resembled a marble carving: it could have been a Michelangelo copy for all I knew. I had absolute no recognition of the features.

I was not on my own. There was a lawyer and a doctor, both looking at me in disbelief.

“Your name has been given as the next of kin, this man is your father.”

“My father? I did not think I had a father. My mother knew so many men, I could have taken my pick, but they never stayed. Why is this person my father?”

The lawyer spoke.

“This person is J. Marvin Porter, owner of the Porter Beer Brewery. He deposited a document in my chancellery, informing that in the case of his death, his son James Porter is to be informed.”

“That is correct, my name is James Porter, but Porter was my mother’s name, I never realised she was married. I have no memory of having a father.”

The lawyer almost smiled. I did not know whether he was laughing at me or at the fact that there was a corpse on the table that apparently was my conceiver but unrecognizable to me. A shape of which I had no memory. I realised that I was not born of Immaculate Conception, but never spent a lot of time thinking about a father.

“There is just one thing Mr. Porter” continue the lawyer “to be legally sure we will have to take a DNA sample.”

“No problem” I answered.

“Please open your mouth” said the doctor. Now I knew why he was there. He took a large swab in his hand and wiped over my mouth.

“That will suffice” he said and put the swab into a plastic tube. “The results will be ready tomorrow. Your lawyer will be informed.”

“Just a moment, I do not have a lawyer.”

“You do now” answered the lawyer and he gave me his visiting card.

“Just give me a call tomorrow morning to arrange further details.”

I must admit I was a little overwhelmed, but perhaps not completely. My life had been full of bad memories, an alcoholic mother, a sort of stepfather that was no real father, that just threw me out on the street to fend for myself when my mother died and a school class where I was the victim of their laughs, jokes and beatings. Life had never been good to me.

By the end of the week I was a new man. I had inherited the brewery, I had inherited a mansion, an island somewhere in the Pacific, and a fortune, making me a millionaire. Above all I was now MR. James Porter. The DNA samples proved that I really was the son of a wealthy brewer.

Of course it was not an easy job. When mother died I had to deal with a few legal items to get her buried in a pauper’s grave. Prove who she was and that I was her son. I found a few letters and documents and followed them up, which lead me to the Porter Brewery. I kept track of Mr. Porter quite closely. I soon had his routine, knew where and when he went and at what time.

I forgot to add that I am diabetic, since I was a kid. I grew up with insulin injections. Probably mum’s addiction to alcohol did not help during the pregnancy. I found out that it ran in the family. My father was also more or less born diabetic. Funny for a brewer I suppose, but it might have been his revenge on the alcoholic world. I am sure he loved my mother, after all he is my father. One day he just left when I was a baby.

I managed to substitute his insulin injection with a common salt solution: just a matter of dating his private nurse. She really needed a boyfriend. Was not the best looking, but who cares, she served her purpose.

It seems the lawyer and the doctor were pleased to have their problem solved. There were no other heirs to the brewery and the fools really believed that I had no memory of having a father or found out who he was.

And now it is mine, all mine.

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Daily Prompt: The Road Less Traveled

Pinpoint a moment in your past where you had to make a big decision. Write about that other alternate life that could have unfolded.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us OTHER.

View from dad's window towards Oxlow Lane

This could have been the road I travelled: a small side street in Dagenham, on the eastern periphery of London, where my mum and dad settled after the houses were demolished in the middle of London.

I was sure my mum (and perhaps dad) had visions that their little girl would grow up, do everything expected from her, meet a nice guy (emphasis on nice) from London and have a family. Just like everyone else did at that time. I moved out. I have often searched for a reason to tell everyone why, but have not found it, or perhaps did not want to admit why I did it.

I had a good education in a London grammar school, passed my exams and worked in various office jobs in the City of London. I had some friends, spent my spare time hunting for a partner in various dance halls. I was lucky enough to be in London, an interesting world, the days of Carnaby Street, Mary Quant, Vidal Sassoon, Beatles and Rolling stones. What went wrong? As far as I am concerned nothing went wrong. Perhaps it was boredom; perhaps it was a vision of a future life with the right bloke in the right place and of course a family to complete the idyll of life, just everything perfect that put me off, eventually saving enough money to buy your own house.

I had my thoughts in another direction. I wanted out, see what the world had to offer. Ok, I loved my mum and dad, they were responsible parents, but was this what I wanted? Sitting in front of a TV every evening, cooking the same food every week, doing the same things, the things that were expected and fit in the picture.

I made my decision in my teenage years. Find a job in another country, learn to speak their language and live their way. Make life an adventure and not a boring day to day routine, stretching out for the next twenty years.

I did it. Of course mum was not very happy, dad seemed to understanding probably thinking on the lines “I wish I had had the chance to do the same” although after being a soldier for five years and returning to a post war London, Europe was in a state of destruction and rebuilding. He had no chance, but I did and I seized the chance.

It was not easy. Finding work advertised in a newspaper for another country was few and far between. After scanning the newspaper day for day my search came to and end. Secretary needed for Switzerland, import/export, please call. I did, met my new boss in a hotel in the West End of London where he was staying at the time, and two days later I had a job in Switzerland. Had to visit the Swiss Embassy to get particulars done for a work permit etc. etc. This all happened sometime in August, and in December I was on my way to Switzerland by boat and train with a case packed filled with hopes and excitement.

I am now married to a Swiss since 44 years; speak a few languages, Swiss German and German fluently with a couple more for good measure. I can read German as well as English books with no problem. We have our own apartment out in the country and the main thing is I am happy with this situation. I had many ups and downs, but reflecting on it all, more ups.

I could have stayed in London, could have got married and had a family, could have been happy owning a house somewhere in the suburbs of London with a little garden, could have worked in an office in a small town in England, but I did not and have never regretted this.

The only fly in the ointment is perhaps that I only saw my parents once a year through visits: that my children grew up rarely seeing their grandparents and that my dad, now 97 years old, still lives in London and only sees his daughter once a year, although we phone every week.

That’s the way the cookie crumbled, you just cannot have everything I suppose.

This is the street where I now live, on the right hand side, somewhere in a small Swiss village out in the wilds.


Daily Prompt: The Road Less Traveled