Creative Nonfiction Fiction Sad

Few months after filing for Chapter 13 at the bankruptcy court, Josh found himself stuck in a place that was hard to escape from. After making several failed attempts to regain his footing in the trading business, he had come to a realization that his world was shrinking. The colleagues he once knew, the friends he once trusted with his life, had begun to disappear. The people who worked for him had left him long before the wrath of fate came crashing down. He was subject to a class action lawsuit and an SEC investigation that forced him to file for bankruptcy. By the end of 2010, he was barred from making any trading until the dust settled. To pay the legal fees and to retain his attorneys, Josh sold his house and moved into a condominium. His days consisted of visiting courts, responding to the depositions and defending his actions in civil litigation. After a number of exhausting days, Josh found himself having little to no time for himself or his newborn son Lucas.

Sitting on the dining room chair on a Sunday morning, Josh watched Lucas sleep in his crib. The crib was no more than five feet long and three feet wide. The little man was tossing and turning as if he was making every attempt to escape from a nightmare. Then all of a sudden, the nightmare disappeared and he gasped. Sucking on the tiny pacifier he fell deep into asleep once again and stopped moving. He was only a few months old, Josh thought to himself, what kind of nightmarish dream could he possibly have? How could a little tiny thing like him possibly know to defeat the monsters in his dream? Maybe he stood up against them like a champion he was, and told them “no, not today!” Maybe an angel came to his rescue, caressed his tiny body and assured him that it was only a dream. Or maybe it was Meghan who came and whispered in his ears, told him that it was alright and that mommy was with him.

Thought of Meghan not being there brought tears to his eyes instantly. Oh Meghan! My beautiful Meghan! If only you were still here! The nightmare of a reality that Josh was in today, could only be defeated peacefully with her by his side. When he was overwhelmed at work, Josh had always leaned towards a bottle of scotch or a line of cocaine that calmed him down. But when he was at home, Meghan was always there. A simple kiss from her lips made him forget everything that was wrong in his world, and made him see the brighter side of life. Now without Meghan, he was at a loss. Only meaningful thing in his life was a foot tall human being that has not yet said a first word.

The Millers had blamed Josh for Meghan’s death from day one. Josh knew that it was a coping mechanism for someone who was mourning the death of their loved one. He knew that they couldn’t possibly believe Josh was to blame. Maybe if he wasn’t in her life, she would still be here. Maybe if he would have paid a little more attention to her, she wouldn’t have stressed as much. Could that be the reason why she was sick, that she was stressed out all the time thinking about Josh?

He did not know that she was sick. He was preoccupied with his business; preoccupied making money and maintaining the social status he had built for himself. Josh began to believe that if he only paid a little more attention to her, perhaps he could have made a difference. The thought of the “ifs” and “whens” and “hows” began to reflect on his daily routine.

Disgusted by his own negligence towards his wife, Josh began to doubt the type of man he had become over time. Thoughts in his head were never steady. One minute he found himself talking to a picture of Meghan on the bedside stand, the next minute he was staring in the distance searching for an answer. Six months after her death, Josh had found himself to be in a position where raising a kid on his own had become an impossible task to achieve. At times Josh found himself wondering what to feed a six month old infant, and then the next minute, he was boiling the water for a bottle of Enfamil to the point that was clearly untouchable, even for a grown man.

When the Millers stopped by on a Friday afternoon to check-up on their one-and-only grandchild, the look on their faces was more devastating than the look they had given when Meghan died. The apartment Josh was hiding out was covered in filth. The unclean dishes on the kitchen sink were spraying aroma that could only resemble the smells of the sewer line beneath the ground. The unwashed clothes on the dirty floor were piled up to the point where taking one more step was impossible without stepping onto the pile. Lucas was playing in the corner of the living room wearing nothing but a dirty diaper.

Josh made every effort to clean up the mess in the room, but failed to be unnoticed by the judging eyes of the in-laws. Millers had immediately decided that Lucas needed to come live with them until Josh had shown signs of becoming a responsible parent. As much as he hated the thought of having his child living with the grandparents, the idea of him growing up somewhat saintly seemed more appealing. Josh knew that the Millers did not care too much about the son they had gained from marrying their only daughter; but deep down inside, he always wanted them to like him for who he was. Josh wanted them to accept him as the son who loved their daughter and wanted to be a part of their lives even after her death.

When Millers came and took Lucas from him, Josh did not resist. Maybe being with the grandparents could be a good thing for an infant like Lucas. Maybe he was better off being with them than with someone who has tendencies to wander away from realities. Josh was on the verge of losing his mind. Maybe he did not deserve to be a father. Sitting in the empty room Josh contemplated on finding a way to come out of a slump that he was in. The only possibilities he was willing to accept was to bury his grief and disappear into the world where Meghan was still there. Josh desperately searched for the bottle of Mcallen he was saving. When he found the bottle in the trash can under the kitchen sink, he could not recollect the time when he might have opened it and emptied out. Was I desperate like I am today when I came to you for help? Did you help me forget the pain I was in and lead me to find peace even for a little bit? Josh looked around the apartment for something other than a bottle of scotch, something strong. Then, suddenly his eyes brightened. On the floor under the pile of dirty clothes he found the eight ball-- a small plastic bag with white substance that once was his friend. The bag must have fallen out of his pants pocket. Josh opened up the bag, dumped the contents onto the kitchen table and drew some lines. He pulled out a dollar bill from his pocket and rolled it like a straw. After taking a hit, he tilted his head, and let the magic eight ball go deep into his brain through the nostrils. For a brief moment Josh disappeared into a colorful world where pain and sorrows were invisible. Josh lay in bed, fell deep into a sleep and dream of nothingness.


Loud knock on the door made him jump out of his bed and stare at the bright windows. After letting his eyes adjust to the bright light, Josh got up. The knocking on the door was getting a little too obnoxious every ten seconds. “I am coming!” Josh unlocked the bolt and opened the door.

Rob, my old friend! The only man who never judged and was always there for him. The man who cared and didn’t disappear like the rest. The man who was good to him and stayed through the darkest days.

“What took you so long?” Rob was getting antsy from the other side of the door. One look at his face, Rob immediately saw the bigger picture. Josh wasn’t doing so well. Rob continued, “You look like shit.”

“I feel like that too.” Josh responded.

“Go wash your nose. You have a smudge of blood...” Rob pointed to his nose. “You need to get cleaned up, eat something, and get out of the house. We have an appointment with the attorney at 10am.”

Josh remembered. He was dreading the day. The verdict on the Security fraud was today. He was subject to so many different lawsuits and criminal charges that he couldn’t remember the important days anymore. “If I end up in a prison, take care of my kid.” Josh continued with the conversation.

“Nah, guys like you don’t end up in prisons.” Rob is certain. ‘How much can you pay back if you get fined?”

Josh laughed, “Do I look like I have anything left?”

“I guess you are going to prison.” Rob smiled.

When Josh was getting ready and was making himself look somewhat presentable for the judge, Rob couldn’t help but think about the cruel fate of this young man. He has suffered a devastating loss that mentally left him paralyzed. He lost the company he had built all because of some technicalities that he overlooked. The people he endorsed were no longer his allies and the money he had made over time were gone in days. All of these happened in less than a year. Now if he were to be given a prison sentence for any number of years, he wouldn’t be able to see his kid for a very long time. Rob knew that the idea of his son disappearing from his life would devastate Josh even more. It was unfortunate, Rob thought to himself, that the fate of this young man was in the hands of some strangers.

After giving several testimonies and conducting in depth analysis on Patterson's investment strategies, the attorney who had represented Josh was able to cut a deal where he did not wind up in a prison. It was proven to the court that when ‘the decision of risking the investor’s future growth in the market’ was made, the plaintiff Joshua Patterson was under the influence. The case should be nullified and the defendant should be given an opportunity to seek help. His attorney made a deal where Josh would be required to enroll in a rehabilitation program where he would receive treatment for the next six months.

As the days progressed, Josh found himself wandering through the streets of downtown after a long day of job hunting. While he showed an interest in getting past the peaks-and-valleys of his life, he had found himself detached from realities more often than none. On his aimless walk, he was reading the street signs from corner-to-corner that were unnecessary, the writings on the buses that were meaningless to him, and the billboards with flashy lights that were irrelevant to his search. He found himself counting the white lines on the zebra crossings, and at times, found himself skipping a line or two to avoid the paints that were clearly dry. He found himself wondering if he would come across some familiar faces on the street and if they would recognize him. He wondered if the Millers would drive by one day and would stop to have a conversation. He wondered about Lucas-- beautiful precious Lucas!

He was only six pounds when he was taken out of the incubator and could breathe on his own. Josh didn’t know how to take care of this tiny motherless infant but he tried his best. When he was hungry he made some noise; when he had a messy diaper, he whimpered. He didn’t wake up in the middle of the night demanding for some attention; he didn’t throw a fit when Josh wasn’t holding him every minute of the day. When a baby was supposed to cry and raise hell, Lucas stayed quiet. He was there for Josh even when Josh wasn’t there for himself.


One afternoon, Josh took a bus to the town of Avon where the Millers lived. Even though the buses typically do not travel to the suburban neighborhood, the driver made an exception for him. He dropped him off to the corner of Main Street and Arch Road. The Millers lived fifteen minutes of walking distance from the intersection. As he was walking the quiet neighborhood of this sleepy little town, the beautiful landscapes on each of these houses reminded him of his own little palace that he owned.

When arrived at the doorsteps of the Millers, Josh could hear the baby from outside. Millers were expecting him; he called ahead. They were kind enough to have Josh come and spend time with him; let him stay as long as he needed to bond with their precious little bundle of joy. He was a year and half old already. At his age, he preferred running over walking. His curiosity was endless. Josh held Lucas in his arms. They played on the green grass in the backyard of the Miller residence for the rest of the afternoon. Josh let him pull his messy hair in small grips and let him play with his sunglasses while kissing him endlessly. It was a pivotal moment for him to realize that the most important thing in life was staring right at him. He knew that he needed to stand on his own soon, dust off the adversities and move forward. He knew that he needed to clean up his act, get sober and pick up where he left off. Josh cried. For the first time in a year holding baby Lucas in his arms, Josh cried once again.

The halfway house Josh moved into was somewhat decent. At first it was a little intimidating and frightening to be in an environment where everyone was recovering from something, but Josh had managed to blend in. The facility was run by a group of people who clearly had seen it all. His days consisted of attending small meetings, listening to others speak and sharing his own thoughts. He had completely devoted himself to being sober and being released. He obeyed the rules regularly and completed the chores that were given to him. He had connected with others on a deeper level and had let them into his own little world. At times he found himself worrying less of what he had been through and looked forward to more of what was yet to come. Little did he know, fate had its own little scheme plotted that was far from what he had imagined.

He received a note from the Millers on a gloomy afternoon that turned his world upside down. The note was dropped off at the front desk in an unmarked envelope with his name on it. On the note the Millers stated that they had sold the house and moved to South Carolina. They mentioned that living here in the north was becoming unbearable without Meghan and that they had taken Lucas with them. The envelope did not have a returned address; the note did not mention where in South Carolina they had moved. Josh was in disbelief. He read the note a few more times and tore it into pieces. For the remainder of the day, he isolated himself from everyone. He stayed in his room, stared in the dark and wondered. He wondered why his life had no meaning to some who could simply walk away to punish him for something he had no control over. He wondered why he was denied of having the only thing that tied him back to his loving wife, and denied of letting him live in peace. He wondered. He wondered if all of these were meant to be and wondered if he was in fact, cursed.

Tossing and turning all night long Josh finally got up and accepted the fact that he was not going to fall asleep. It was three in the morning. The dark shades under his eyes were only getting darker by the day. He packed his clothes into a backpack and made his bed. He tiptoed into the kitchen and searched for the coffee pot. While waiting for the fresh coffee to brew he noticed the date on the calendar that was hanging on the wall. It was Sunday, June 12th, 2011. Next Sunday is Father's Day. Josh released a heavy sigh that was loud enough to echo on the four walls of the kitchen and revert back to him. He made himself a cup of coffee and grabbed a notepad from a nearest stationary table. Sitting at the kitchen table, he wrote his first letter addressed to his son. After finishing his coffee Josh re-read the letter. He ripped the page from the notepad and folded into the white envelope that Millers had dropped off with their notes. He went into his room, grabbed the backpack and shut the door behind him. He walked out of the halfway house and stepped onto the main road.

A blanket of white fog covered the earth. Shadows of trees, light-posts and houses stood silently peeking through the blanket. Birds chirped in a rhythm to let their presence known. Josh walked silently in the dark. His destination was unknown.

October 08, 2021 12:55

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