The Gifts of Faith - Answers (Ch. 15)

Nathaniel followed his father down the hall
Nathaniel followed his father down the hall | Source

If you need to catch up, here's the link to chapter 14

“Who the hell do you think you are barging in here like this?”

“I’m your son who’s lived in the dark for 28 years and I need some answers. You can begin by telling me about my mother. Who was she? Why have you never felt the need to tell me about the woman who gave birth to me? Why have you ignored my questions all these years?” Nathaniel stood face-to-face with his father and wasn’t about to back down.

It was time to man up.

Haywood Baxter was a formidable man and not used to being confronted. He’d always been a man of means – bad means, that is. He was respected by some and feared by most. He turned his back on Nathaniel as he walked towards the kitchen and ordered Nathaniel out of his home.

Nathaniel had had enough of his old man’s aloofness and bully attitude. He wasn’t getting away with it this time. Nathaniel followed his father down the hall, grabbed him by the shoulder and forced him to turn around. You’re going to face me you son of a bitch. I’m not afraid of you anymore.

“Tell me about my mother! You owe me that much. I’ve waited long enough – too long. Who am I, Dad?”

“Go get us a beer out of the fridge, Nate and meet me on the front porch.” Haywood knew Nathanial hated being called Nate and that’s precisely why he did so.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Nathaniel joined his father on the porch, handed him a beer, and sat in one of the two rocking chairs on the wrap-around porch. As he waited for his father to speak, he recalled how cold this house felt when he was growing up. Aside from its welcoming Victorian structure, there was nothing warm about the place.

“Tell me about my mother, Dad.” Nathaniel took a long swig from the frosty bottle, growing more impatient – and angrier.

Haywood let out a sigh and rolled his eyes as he often did when talking with his son. His contempt didn’t escape Nathaniel.

“Your mother’s name was Julie.”

Nathaniel got up from the rocking chair and sat on the railing so he could see his father’s face. “Julie what, Dad? Who was she before you married her?” Let’s see if the SOB tells me the truth.

“Her name was Julie White. She was from Flowery Branch and worked for me part-time while she was in high school. She answered the phone mostly. When she was a junior she lost both her parents – killed instantly in a bad car wreck - and came to work for me full time. Dropped out of school.” Haywood was clearly uncomfortable with the conversation but Nathaniel had no intention of leaving until he got what he came for.

“Why’d she drop out of school, Dad?”

Haywood lit a cigarette and took a long drag before answering. “Her folks didn’t have much money. Left her just enough to pay off the house and not much else. She needed to work to keep the lights on, food on the table, that sort of thing.”

Nathaniel interjected, “And you fell in love with her?”

“Hell, no I didn’t fall in love with that puny, sickly little bump of a girl!” The veins in his neck popped up like snakes on fire as he shouted his disgust.

“Then what?” Nathaniel was hoping the memory of his mother was too painful for the ornery old coot and that’s why he never spoke of his mom, but obviously that wasn't it.

“Just hold on. Let me tell it my way in my own time or you can just hop in that fancy car of yours – that I paid for – and git the hell outta here!” Haywood lit another cigarette and went into the house. After a few minutes he came out with a couple more beers, a bottle of Southern Comfort, and a shot glass.

Nathaniel waited while his old man poured himself a shot and finished his cigarette. It was quite a few minutes before Haywood continued. “Julie wasn’t much to look at but she was real smart. Soon she took over the bookkeepin’, orderin’ supplies, schedulin’ appointments, and pretty much ran the office. By that time my business was doin’ real good, so I was grateful to have her around.”

Haywood seemed to drift off in memories he wasn’t willing to voice. Once again, Nathaniel waited patiently. Come old man, spit it out. Get to the point!

“One Fridey night I got a phone call from Julie. I could barely understand what she was saying, she was cryin’ suh hard. I tole her ta calm down or I was gonna hang up the durn phone. Turns out she was workin’ in her garden afta work at just about dusk. Someone -they nevuh did fine out who – attacked her and had his way with her.”

Nathaniel’s heart broke at that moment hearing what the woman who would become his mother had to endure with no one to turn to but his crotchety old man. “So, why’d she call you?”

“Julie had no family. No friends. I was pretty much the only one she could turn to. She was too ashamed to call the law. Besides, she nevuh saw the guy’s face – least that’s what she tole me.”

Another shot. Another cigarette.

“Anyways, I tole her to pack a bag, that she could stay here for a few days ‘til she felt safe enough to go home.”

Well that was mighty white of you! Nathaniel thought, but held his tongue.

“Turns out she nevuh did go back home. She’d work for me and be fine, but when the day was done she’d go to her room and wouldn’t come out, ‘cept for to eat once in a while. She was real depressed and seemed to get even sicklier than she already was.

“It wasn’t too long ‘fore she discovered she was pregnant.”

This revelation really ruffled Nathaniel’s feathers. “You mean to tell me you took advantage of her you son of a bitch?!”

Haywood jumped up from the rocker and got right up into Nathaniel’s face. “I nevuh touched the waif, Nate! Don’t you fuckin’ git it? She was fuckin’ raped! I married her sorry ass to save her name you ungrateful son of a bitch!”

Nathaniel couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Now it all made sense. Why his father never connected with him and why he seemed to resent him all of his life.

Haywood was on a rampage now. The anger he’d been holding in for 28 years came forth in a vomit of anger. “We had a nice wedding. Made a public announcement and everything just to keep the demon that was growin’ inside her a secret. And on the night she gave birth to you she died right after she named you. And I was stuck with a kid that wasn’t mine. What the hell was I supposed to do? I buried her and raised you. That’s all there is to the story.”

Haywood grabbed the bottle of Southern Comfort and headed off the porch into the abyss of his mind. Nathaniel thought about following his father but thought twice about it. He needed time to absorb all he’d just heard.

Holy shit. I’m not his son. No wonder he’s been so cold all these years! He resents me and probably even hates me. What happens now?

Julie's Message to Her Son

Nathaniel took the long way home
Nathaniel took the long way home | Source

Nathaniel descended the porch steps and hopped in his MG. He took the long way home oblivious to all sound but that of the thoughts that were hammering his mind.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When he got home, his first inclination was to pick up the phone. “Hello, Faith? Hey, it’s Nathaniel. Do you mind if I come by this weekend? I’m sure you and Sarah could use some help in the garden.”



Shauna L Bowling

Refining, Defining or Rhyming

All Rights Reserved

© 2014 Shauna L Bowling

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Comments 44 comments

Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

This was great Shauna and so unexpected. I loved the confrontation between Nathan and his father...and wow, seems he isn't such a bad guy after all. Well done.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

John, Nathaniel was brought in as having a wicked soul. It's now becoming clear he was some kind of a conduit. He's not the bad guy.

We need to know who Nathaniel is and we're going to learn as he does.

Thank you for being the first to check this chapter out mu friend!


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Sha.....What a shocker. Nathaniel wanted the answer to one burning question. The truth his father blurted out must have slammed him into a complete whirlwind of even more unanswered questions......Impossible for me to even imagine the severe impact of such an explosion......You've left this reader stunned and aching for more!..Up++


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

If you hook me in the first paragraph then I'll stay hooked throughout the chapter. I read the entire chapter. Looks to me like you did your job well.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Paula, kabaaam! Ha ha. I'm thrilled that this chapter has made this impact on you. That means you feel Nathaniel's pain. Up until now we didn't know much about him or his upbringing. The finding of the ring in Faith's gardens and Sarah's curiosity have led to truths and lies.

Muhwaaaaah!


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Very awesome, Bill. I'm tickled that you're following the story, which is hard to do given the fact that I take so long to post subsequent chapters. If this one grabbed you, than I consider it a job well done.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 2 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Hello bravewarrior, sometimes the young do not like the answers they pry to get. You built up tension very nicely between the old man and Nate.


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 2 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Dear Sha,

I want to hug Nathaniel...he found out so much difficult information in such a brusque manner.

Although I scored a 100% on your quiz...the chance to call Haywood a SOB was tempting...!!

Your character development is most convincing, which makes your story compelling despite the amount of time between chapters...that being said, it makes my heart sing whenever I see you writing creatively!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

Once again I have come in in the middle of a story, but this totally hooked me! lol! I could have carried on reading! great chapter, and he wasn't his father? wow!


Ghost32 2 years ago

Your best yet, Sha--at least, according to my tastes. Reminded me of a friend of mine, a young bull rider and truck driver I met on my last job. Adam started out rough, just like Nathaniel. His Mom gave birth to him in the back of a moving pickup truck full of druggies, following which he was deposited in the nearest dumpster. The trash dudes heard him crying in the Colorado winter weather when they came with the truck to empty the dumpster in the early morning. Kid saved his own life, you might say. Adam also had a confrontation with is father eventually, except that it devolved rapidly into a fight. Adam kicked his old man's rear and got tossed in jail for it--Dear Old Dad was a heroin addict and also a local cop who called in a favor from his buddies. He was there overnight (in jail) but got bailed out by his half brother when the sibling heard about it...and the two had never met before that.

So keep on writing about Nathaniel; I'll see Adam in every word from here on out!


Barbara Cook 2 years ago

What a sad revelation for Nathaniel and a burden for Haywood to have honored a deed he did not commit. Curious how this well written piece of intrigue will continue to evolve.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Mike, Nathaniel never felt much love from his father. Now he knows why.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Thank you, Maria. One day these chapters will be brought together in novel form. Hopefully, they'll all fit together nicely.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Nell, we'll never know who Nathaniel's father is. I'm sure his heart is broken, but the information he received answers more questions than he had about his mother.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Ghost, I'm glad you can relate, but I feel so bad for Adam. Hopefully he's not too scarred from the ordeal.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Mom, I have mixed feelings about Haywood. I just wonder how he would have treated Nathaniel had his mother lived. However, Haywood didn't love her either, so he'd probably become ornery and resentful no matter how the situation went.


btrbell profile image

btrbell 2 years ago from Mesa, AZ

Wow, Shauna! This was powerful! Sure from the revelations, your writing has definitely become more impactful and intriguing! Great job! Great story!


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Thank you, Randi. I don't have a lot of time to devote to my creative writing these days. It's nice to hear my writing is improving nevertheless.


DJ Anderson 2 years ago

Sounds like Nate is digging for the truth and is not going to stop until he gets all the answers.

This write draws the reader in. I felt like a fly on the porch watching and

listening to their every word.

Great job!

DJ.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

DJ, I think Nathaniel got more than he bargained for. His old man could have been a bit more compassionate about revealing the truth, but he's a bitter man and told it the way he felt it.

Glad you liked this chapter. Thanx!


always exploring profile image

always exploring 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

Oh Shauna, I'm tearing up here. The song is so fitting and beautiful. Haywood is a real bastard. Poor Nathanial, at least he now knows why he never felt any love. I love this story!


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Ruby, I'm so glad you get it. Haywood is a real bastard. Up until now we never knew much about him. I decided to make him an SOB when I came up with Julie's story.


Chris Rose 2 years ago

Brilliant, Shauna!

There's something about this story, atmospherically, that has me think you've really enjoyed writing it: a kind of therapeutic exercise in which you create characters, in this ongoing drama, whereby you're able to stick a boot into the trash whenever you get the urge. Like one of those phone-in soaps but more sophisticated.

Could you please have Hayward get my boot?

I want the book and I want it yesterday.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Chris, I'm always so pleased to see you here, my friend. I will gladly give Haywood your boot! I'm afraid you'll have to wait for the book. As you've discovered, it's been slow going on my part.

You're right about one thing, tho: I'm making it up as I go. Rather, the characters are.

Thanx for taking time out of your busy schedule to stop in, Chris!


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 2 years ago from Wales

First of all Sha how great to be back and what a treat this chapter was !!Wow!! I never expected that outcome and poor Nathaniel. You are one amazing story teller my friend and this story proves this!!! Cannot wait for the next chapter.

Sharing all the chapters onto my FB page A Brand New Dawn.

Lots of love from my little corner of Wales.

Eddy.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Eddy, it's so good to see you back. Haywood really laid some heavy news on Nathaniel, didn't he?

I'm glad you like this story and thanx loads for sharing!


Chris Rose 2 years ago

Shauna, it's true, one of the things it seems I can't do here is be notified of replies to my comments.

Anyhow, I'll tweet the chapters over the weekends xx


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Hmmm. That's odd. Do you not get the "follow comments" box at the end of the comments section for you to check? I was under the impression the box appeared to everyone and needed to be unchecked it you don't want to follow.

Thanx for tweeting. You're my biggest fan!


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

Wow, Sha,

You have been busy here of late writing up a storm. What a superb chapter this one is, and such a shocker! You have turned up the heat on this one and at the same time, made our hearts ache too.

Looking forward to the next chapter!

I must tell you that I have that same exact couch you show in your first photo LOL ...

Superb once again.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Faith, too cool that we have the same couch. You've got good taste! :-)

It pleases me that the shock factor and 'heat' of this chapter came through. That was the intent.

Thanx for stopping by and hanging in with this story. It's greatly appreciated.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa

Sha, your dialogue is brilliant! I could see this chapter like a movie. Now who is Nataniel's father, I wonder.?


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Martie, I don't think we'll ever know who Nathaniel's father is. Charges were never brought up - in fact the assault was never reported - because Julie never saw the guy's face. Then again, you never know.... something may come to light somewhere down the road.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 2 years ago

Shauna, how heartbreaking for Nathaniel to find out about his mother and how she had never known love and the man who married her didn’t even like her. I will be breathlessly waiting for the next chapter.

Blessings to you, dear, beautiful friend.

Voted up across the board except funny and shared.

Shyron


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Shyron, the next chapter has already been published. The plot is thickening, as they say! Check it out and give me your thoughts.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

A sad twist. The confrontation is very vivid and impactful, Sha. Keep writing!


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Thank you for the kind words, Flourish. I'm kinda winging it as I go with this story. Each character whispers something in my mind and I run with it.


Anna Haven profile image

Anna Haven 2 years ago from Scotland

This is my favourite chapter of them all. I really felt for Nathaniel and you have created a whole new layer of emotions and ties. Great job.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Thank you, Anna. This is the first time Nathaniel's personality and conflict has really been presented. As a master story teller, your opinion means the world to me.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 2 years ago from New York

Oh Sha! Poor Nathaniel and yet I have a feeling this might turn out well in the end. You certainly know how to hold a reader's interest! I am almost speechless but loving this. I will be back to read the next chapter as soon as my family lets me ;)

Voted up, awesome, beautiful and interesting.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Mary, Nathaniel is becoming a key character. He didn't start out that way. He didn't make his appearance until chapter six or so.

Thanx for reading!


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

This took off like a bat from the cave. I just came here, and I really LIKE it.


Snakesmum profile image

Snakesmum 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

Haven't read any of this before, but I somehow think I'll be back! :-)


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Deb, you're far behind in the story. There's another chapter after this one and I'm working on the next. I hope you catch up to really appreciate the story and the connections between the characters.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

I hope you're intrigued enough to come back, Snakesmum. There's much more to this story, but you won't know how we got to where we are without starting from the beginning. I hope you take the time to do so.

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