“Legacy. What is a legacy? It was planting seeds in a garden he would never get to see.”
In my reinterpretation of Wuther Crue’s “Ordeal by Cheque”, I focus on a path that doesn’t always tell you what happens. Just like how the cheques are given, the reader must infer about what occurs in this story. The story follows Lawrence Exeter Senior and his son, Lawrence Exeter Junior as their lives begin to spiral out of control. Lawrence Senior experiences the hardships of raising a child and the fears and joys that come along with it. the story progresses, the story is presented a somewhat foggy by the cheques so I narrate the story through Lawrence Jr’s point of view instead.
Lawrence Jr. soon has an accident that no one is sure of, which leads to the death of Lawrence Jr., unable to tell his parents what had happened during his travels.
A state of anxiousness fell upon the Exeter household as the days his wife sat in the hospital passed by. Lawrence’s fears about his unborn child haunted him, forcing him to constantly call Dr. McCoy to see how his wife was coping. Once the darkness of night crept into the house, not a sound was heard. Silence. Dead silence overtook the once peaceful atmosphere of their home. As the world slept, he lay awake as unease crawled through his skin. He swallowed, his throat so dry he could barely do so. A muscle feathered in his jaw as he gazed blankly into the swirling gloom of his room. At ages 40 and 36, this was a late stage in their lives to try and start a family.
He reached for the familiar comforting feel of his wife. The cold was what hit him first, embracing his fingers in a hushed chill. Without his best friend, he was utterly helpless; she was a crutch he’d become too reliant on. He didn’t dare sleep – not when his wife could conceive at any moment. Yet just lying in bed, not moving… some of the tightness that held him eased.
* * *
Exhaustion was a blanket over his senses as a faint screech cleaved the air. Facing the direction where the sound had erupted, he glimpsed his son streaking towards him, his teacher trailing behind. Despite himself, a low groan escaped from his throat. The Palisades School for Boys couldn’t handle his son, no school could. Transferring him was the best option but fear of what could happen to Lawrence Jr. in a military school had always blurred the lines for him.
“Your son needs to leave,” a steely voice brought him back to the scene that was unfolding before him. Focusing his mind, he let his gaze slowly trail its way upwards to meet the angry eyes of his son’s teacher.
“What?” he whispered, feeling the delicate tug from his son on his pants leg.
“He’s not welcome here, not anymore.”
The words hit something low in his gut, and he was grateful for his son tugging him away from the furious lady, if only to hide the burning in his eyes.
* * *
He could have sworn phantom talons bit into his palms. His chest collapsed in longing as his son held his gaze with such fire, such fierce love that Lawrence Jr. had concealed all these years. Lawrence Sr. slid his gaze to the weeping female beside him, wrapping his weak arms around her. The bittersweet memories consumed his mind, allowing him to relive the frustrations of when Lawrence Jr. wrecked his first car, and pride when his son ventured off to Stanford College.
He felt it then – stirring awake as if some stick had poked it. As if this moment, amongst his family, had somehow sparked it to life. He felt love. He hadn’t felt it this deeply since the day Lawrence Jr. was born. A fragile whimper sounded from beside him, and he wondered if all sound had indeed left him.
There was only the roaring void inside him as Lawrence Jr. hugged his parents goodbye and stepped back, painfully turning to climb into the taxi behind him.
* * *
*Lawrence Jr.* He only continued on. Conversations just wasted energy – and time – especially the ones with parents. He didn’t have time to speak with his folks he decided, shutting off his phone and tucking it into his pocket. He couldn’t bring himself to tell his parents he was busy pursuing his hidden dream of becoming a florist in the city of love – Paris.
Lawrence Jr. stopped and steadied himself as he took in his surroundings. Bright yellow and red lights illuminated the streets as vendors and boutiques littered the sidewalks. He had no inkling of the path he planned for himself, but he didn’t care.
A faint scent of candies and pastries swarmed his nostrils, luring him to let his gaze fall upon a delicate sweet shop tucked in the corner on the other side of the crowded plaza. A fountain was parked in the center, but he could clearly see the twinkling orange sign of the shop through the spurts of waves: Cocoanut Grove Sweet Shoppe.
Inside, the barrage of scents and smells overwhelmed him; almost drooling, he took a gaze at the small cafe. It was beautiful – the outer shelves contained the most vivid of colors of pink, red, purple, and yellow. Sweets of all shapes and sizes, colors and textures, their sugary scent making his eyelids flutter with hunger. On the inner aisles of the bakery, pastries sat pleasantly inside glass displays, their soft dough-like features making his mouth melt.
“Excuse me?” a soft voice sounded from behind him. “Would you like anything?”
That’s when he saw the most stunning woman he had ever laid eyes on. Her pale brown hair cascaded over her slightly freckled reddened cheeks, her dark green eyes reflecting off the city lights. The fluorescent lighting inside the shop highlighted her beauty, allowing her honey skin to set aglow.
He knew she would belong to him. Even if he had to spend all of his life chasing after her.
* * *
*Lawrence Sr.* The dull wall phone’s ringing echoed throughout the house, jerking him awake from his relaxing slumber. He considered going back to sleep – for just a hesitant moment. On the third loud, blaring ring, he uncoiled himself from the mattress with a groan, trudging his way through the house to the phone.
Tony was on the other end, a family friend in France that had been Lawrence Jr.’s guardian while he was traveling. Tony, the everlasting optimistic friend of his childhood group. Strangely enough, Tony didn’t seem too excited now…
* * *
He couldn’t imagine it – the loss, the rage, and grief. The feeling of love and hope being ripped from his chest. It was like a punch to the gut that ripped the air from his lungs, The grip of despair was so brutal tears stung his eyes. He shot into the room where his son lay, permanent pain etched onto his handsome young face. His wife was left to scream beside him, her hands running themselves all over his son’s face. She cursed the world, cursed Fate, and cursed life.
“Junior,” he whispered. “Tell me what happened.”
Grabbing his son’s limp hand, he slowly lifted it to his face, jerking slightly from the unusually cold chill coming from the brush of his fingers, a single tear flowing from his reddened eyes.
His legacy lay on the bleak hospital bed, his breathing shallow as he stared at his father, a harsh whimper escaping his lips before his eyes gradually clouded over, his pale brown eyes darkening with a foggy gaze that shattered their hearts.