Saturday, 7 January 2017
The Miskin Legacy - Generation Two, Part Seven: A Father-Son Talk
"Father... I have failed you."
Montague Miskin knelt before Myron's grave a desperate and broken man. His eldest son despised him. His wife refused to look at him. And his youngest son, by all accounts, was doing well enough without him.
He was completely and utterly useless. And the only person he could turn to for help was long dead.
As he knelt upon the dewy grass, tears rolling down his cheeks, a familiar voice - one that was surreal, yet clear as a bell - began to enter his mind.
"Oh, my son... you could never fail me."
"Montague. My dear boy. I am the cause of your trouble. I know about your deal with the Reaper, and what you promised him in return for my extra years of life. I am to blame for what has become of your family."
"No, Father - the deal was my choice. I just never thought, in a million years, that something like this could happen..."
His mind drifted back to a scene that had taken place several weeks earlier - the last time he had spoken to Mordecai...
As Moredcai stood before him, his hands resting on his large, rounded stomach, it was taking all of Montague's self-control to not give in to insanity completely.
"Yes, Dad," Mordecai replied, matter-of-factly. "That's what the doctor said. I'm having a baby."
"How the hell is that possible?" Montague shrieked. "You're a man, for God's sake!"
"Remember the day after my birthday? When I woke up outside, and I didn't know what had happened? Well, I think I might have been abducted by aliens, and somehow, they made me pregnant."
"Don't be ridiculous!"
"I'm not! Stories like this have been going around for years! Remember the Pascal Curious case? It was all over the papers!"
"All right, all right," he groaned. "Assuming I believe you... you're telling me you got beamed up into a spaceship somewhere, and then got it on with some green girl from Mars?"
"No, Dad - I told you, I've no idea what happened."
"Oh, so not only are you pregnant, you don't even know who the moth... fath... the other parent is! You're a disgrace, boy!"
"You're acting like I did all this on purpose!" Mordecai screamed. "I didn't mean for any of this to happen!"
"You've brought enough shame on this family," Montague snarled. "I'm not having you walking about this town with a little green brat in your arms!"
He paused for a moment to think.
"My cousin Titus lives up at Miskin Manor," he continued. "He never married, and has no heirs. He's always been into sci-fi... perhaps he'd be willing to adopt your child and raise him as his own. Then you can forget about the sprog, straighten yourself up, get a job and build on the family legacy - like you're supposed to do!"
"I... I'm not going to give up this baby!" he cried. "Not for you! Not for anyone!"
"You are my son, and you'll do as I say! You've screwed your life up enough already!"
"If I have screwed up, then I am not to blame!" Mordecai screamed. "You are!"
Montague was shocked into silence. Heartbroken, Mordecai burst into tears, and fled from the room.
Rebekah, who had overheard the whole conversation from the bedroom, entered the lounge and approached her husband.
"I still don't understand how any of this happened," she said, "but what's done is done. You need to support the boy, Montague. He's scared, and confused, and -"
"I am to blame. This is my fault."
"What do you mean?"
"I have to get some fresh air," he told Rebekah. "Come outside with me. There's something you need to know."
Once they were outside, safely away from the ears of both of their sons, Montague took a deep breath, and finally told Rebekah something he should have done a long time ago. He confessed to making a deal with the Grim Reaper, and explained how he had given away Mordecai's future to save Myron's life.
His wife was utterly destroyed by this news.
"Oh, Monty..." she gasped. "Our son... how could you? HOW COULD YOU?!"
"My love, " he told her, "I thought it was for the best... I never, ever meant for Mordecai to get in trouble -"
"But you knew there was a risk, and you still took it! And for what? To win an old man a few more days of life!"
"He was my father!"
"And you think he'd have wanted this? For Mordecai to be cursed? To find himself a single parent with no job, and a father who hates him?"
"I don't hate him!"
"You could have fooled me! All you do is yell at the boy, criticising every move he makes! You don't give a damn about his happiness, or what he wants from life - all you care about is preserving some stupid legacy! Hell, you've practically admitted that you want Matthias to be your heir instead of him, and why? Just because he's more acceptable?"
"Darling, please - "
"Don't you "darling" me! And why is Mordecai the way he is? It's all because of you! You're punishing him for a mistake you made! You have broken his heart... and you have broken mine!"
She turned sharply on her heel and stormed away, leaving Montague standing alone in the cold.
"I just wanted to do what I thought was right, Father," Montague whispered as he knelt beside the grave. "But everything has turned out wrong. My first-born son is not the child I once knew. He's not what I thought he would be."
"No child ever is," Myron's voice answered. "I, for one, always hoped you would be a great scientist, not a celebrity comedian... and yet, there you are, top of the billboards. And I am happy for you, Montague."
"Yes, son. Because you are happy. I could ask for nothing more."
"In my heart of hearts..." he said, "... that is all I want for Mordecai, and Matthias. But when I think about everything you did, and the legacy you built up -"
"You mean our name? Our reputation?" Myron replied. "No, son. Those are not the things that mattered to me. True, having wealth and influence can help you a lot in life, but I wanted my legacy to be built on something more than that."
Montague shivered. He wasn't sure if it was from the cold air, or the overwhelming emotions he was feeling.
"I want to accept this child," he admitted. "Really. I do. But I'm just so afraid that, when I see it, I'll take one look at it, and - "
"That it won't look like you. That its skin will be a different colour," came Myron's response. "May I remind you that your own children are mixed-race? It never bothered me or your mother, and it certainly didn't bother you."
"This isn't the same!" Montague wailed. "A different race is nothing like a different species!"
"It is still your son's child. Your grandchild. My great-grandchild. It doesn't matter if it came from another country, or another galaxy - it is still a Miskin. Part of our bloodline... and a potential heir to our name and honour."
"You're right," he said. "Oh, Father, of course you're right. I'm a complete fool. Dear God, what have I done?"
"All is not lost, my son. Make amends with Mordecai. Forget your pride - and focus on love."
Nodding, Montague kissed his father's gravestone, and rushed into the house.
"Mordecai! Get down here!"
Mordecai made no answer. He was alone in his room: curled up on his bed, all the lights turned off, and his hands resting on his baby bump. The child was due to come any day now - about to be born into a family full of anger and hate.
"Mordecai!" called Montague once more. "Come down, please! I must speak with you!"
Groaning, Mordecai got up - with no small amount of difficulty - and headed downstairs. He found his father sat in the living room, waiting for him.
"I think you'll find we have nothing more to say to one another," Mordecai said.
"Oh, but we do," Montague answered. "There is so much I need to tell you."
And he did. To begin with, he explained to his son, as he had to his wife, about his dealings with the Grim Reaper. Mordecai was shocked, but suddenly, everything made sense. That was why he was so different.
"Son," Montague added. "I've been an absolute horror to you, and you were never to blame for anything I accused you of. As long as you are happy, then I know I've no reason to fear for your future. I come before you now to ask your forgiveness."
Mordecai considered this.
"I'm willing to forgive you," he replied, "on one condition."
"And what is that?"
"My baby," he said. "You will not make me give it away... not even to Cousin Titus. It is my child, and I love it... and I want you to love it, too. You must agree to accept it as a member of this family. If you do not - then I won't be a member of it, either."
"I was an idiot before," he confessed. "I was an angry man blinded by foolish pride. If you want and love this baby, then I will love it too - no matter where it came from. My dear grandchild."
Smiling, he reached out, and placed his hands on Mordecai's bump for the very first time. As Mordecai placed his hand over his, both men felt a little kick from within, and were filled with joy.
And when, a few days later, Mordecai found himself going into labour, he knew exactly who he wanted with him at the birth. Thankfully, nothing was going to keep the grandfather-to-be away.