Kindness. The killing kind.
Times were tough since we lost Tom. If he could have chosen, he would still be here.
He would have waited until we were financially secure. Until the kids had left home.
Instead, he succumbed to the flattery and praise of another. His ego was stroked. With the disclaimer, ‘but it is all for us’ he was led astray. He disappeared, lost to us.
In the name of kindness, a long sickly sweet trail of it.
“Tom,” the malingerer said. “I have the perfect plan. I will set you up. You will live like a king and bask in the gratitude of your family.”
And Tom, the ever faithful, ever gullible said, “Yes, I will follow.”
He didn’t ask where will you take me. He adhered to the adage act first, think later. And, never look a gift horse in the mouth.
Of course he did. He was the epitome of the anti-procrastinator. Never put off … you know the deal.
But he was blind, or blinded, caught up in the mirage of an easier life. A blessed life.
As though his life wasn’t already blessed.
Co-founder of a non-profit to help disenfranchised children, at risk teenagers, drug-addled young men, ex-cons. A vision to eradicate the terrible scourge of poverty-related criminal activity. A vision that brought in heavy hitting donors, with a little cream off the top for the visionary.
“It hurts no one,” said Tom, late at night into his wife’s ear. “We wield a sword of righteousness and rightly reap some reward for our efforts. We won’t be greedy, just enough to free ourselves and set the kids up for life.”
“Tom,” I would say. “Please, we have enough. We have you. “
“Oh, piffle,” he would answer, rolling away from me. “You have no imagination, Maree. Charity begins at home. I will make us safe, while helping those kids.”
But the beast in the machine of corporate charity was addictive. The cream too rich, the fawning sycophancy too compelling.
Then questions, consequences. The fall from great heights, headline news blazoning notoriety. And my Tom left holding the can. Deer in the headlight, Tom. How they have fallen, Tom.
And the only way out, at the end of a long tail of white.
Alone in a room, Tom.
Wrapped in a white jacket. Entombed in padded room.
My hair stood on end. A shiver raced down my spine. A lump came to my throat … when I first saw him trapped in that place. I couldn’t face him. Just watched from behind the two-way glass.
We had enough, I thought. Before walking away. [439 words]
Thanks to Fandango’s Story Starter for the prompt.