They say the past gives you strength and wisdom for the future. For him, the past only broke him.
The passage below is my interpretation of Wuther Crue’s “Ordeal by Cheque”. The story begins with a man lamenting his son’s death the previous day. He then looks back at his son’s life, remembering all the adventures and milestones his son experienced. Looking back at his son being born, then growing up, and his son’s successes and failures. The story reaches its climax when the son starts his own life and gets married, but later on, gets hit by a car. The resolution to the story is that after the son passes away in the hospital, the man is overcome by grief as he writes his final check to the mortuary.
Yesterday. Yesterday was the day his life changed forever. Yesterday was the day his heart was broken. Yesterday was the day one of the brightest things in his life left. Yesterday was the day his son died.
Before, the man couldn’t really recall much about his son’s life, only remembering the big and important events. But now, he could picture every single moment of his son’s life with unbelievable clarity. He remembered the day his beloved son was born in detail. The sky was a brilliant blue, without a cloud in sight. The sun was shining outside as his son was brought into this world in Hollywood Hospital. The smiling faces of family as they congratulated the man. That was the day he had truly felt complete. His son had a striking resemblance to the man, so he and his wife decided to name the baby after the man. Lawrence Jr. Lawrence grew a little older, started to go to school, “learned” how to ride a bicycle. The fifty-dollar bicycle that he managed to crash at least once every time he rode it. At the time, the man joked that his son would be horrible at driving when he got older. Little did he know how much grief his son’s driving would cause him.
Lawrence went on to military school, and the father saw less of him over those years. Every day he would miss him, while only seeing him for a few days during the holidays. Finally, his son had graduated and the man could see his son again before university. To celebrate, the man bought him a Cadillac. He hit a tree the first time he drove it. They had to go repair it for another 300 dollars. Then the letter came. Lawrence was accepted into Stanford University. He was so happy, dancing about, laughing, beaming every minute of the day. His happiness made the man happy. Now he would never feel that happiness again.
During the summer of 1923, he remembered that Lawrence went on a trip to France. The trip cost 25 thousand dollars, but the man wanted his son to have the experience, even though he wouldn’t get to see him over the summer. But whilst in France, something the man didn’t expect occurred. His son met someone. The man remembered specifically that he laughed out loud after hearing the news, elated that his son finally found someone. Lawrence spent a lot of time going to the university florist to buy flowers for his “special girl”. Now that girl is alone.
The day his son decided to move out and live with his girlfriend was met with mixed feelings. The father was happy that his son became more independent, but was sad that his son was leaving him. The man had given his son 200 thousand dollars to start up his own life. His son later told him he spent some of it on things for his girlfriend moving in such as clothes and flowers but saved some of it for a ring. His son was going to propose. Propose to a woman that was going to be one of the happiest women alive, but is now a sad and lonely widow.
At last, it was the wedding day. His son had paid for everything: the ring, the municipal court, the attorneys, and the church. He paid back the people he owed for their services. The man was very proud of him for becoming a fine and independent young man. A fine young man who didn’t deserve to get hit by that drunk driver.
His son was driving, and the light was yellow, about to turn red. He thought he could make it and decided to go for it. In normal circumstances, he would have made it, but the intoxicated driver sped forward and rammed into Lawrence’s car. His precious son rushed to the hospital, being treated by Dr. McCoy, the same doctor that delivered him at birth. Despite everyone’s efforts, it was to no avail. Lawrence Exeter Jr.’s life was taken away, merely 28 years after he was born. The man had wept as he wrote the check to the doctor, crossing out the “Sr.” in his name as he remembered what had happened just a few moments ago.
All this ran through the man’s head as sat at his desk, writing his last check to the mortuary, weeping once more. He wept because of the car crash that broke him inside. Because of the utter desolation he had experienced. Because of what happened to his son. Yesterday.