Fiction Coming of Age Inspirational

   Much has been written of legacy and inherited heirlooms that thread together, the generations of an honourable line. For Edgar Allan Oaks, this prevailed in the old custodian helmet of his late father, Leopold Oaks, who still held the distinguished record for the most civil arrests in a calendar year. This antique trophy stood as a reminder for each generation of Oaks that 'policing was a notably esteemed and viable profession.'

 This conferment persisted, not least, because old Leopold Oaks had instilled the principle emphatically within the mindset of his two sons and their sons. Leopold was known to be an inexorable man when it came to the opinions of profession and viability and had extolled, with great authority, the virtues of ones clad in uniform.

 Many had noted that this generational leaning towards working in the police service had begun with Edgar's grandfather, Alfred. This choice of vocation had pollinated down to his son, Leopold, and through every family bearing until the last of the line.

 There was, however, a single dissenter from the legend, that being the first-born son of old Leopold, Edgar Allan Oaks. Edgar had, as a small boy, been coached with the understanding that he was to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather Alfred, who had been the first in the family line to wear the royal blue of the ancient peelers. Edgar would even dress in his fathers' uniform and helmet and play out the heroic scenarios that he might one day execute for real. Yet, at some point in his teenage youth, Edgar reimagined his future from the forecast that had been present since his birth.

 There is no suggestion that Leopold Oaks did not love his two sons, Edgar and Drew, yet as history has shown us, there are differences in the times and spaces of an era, which might make standards buffet against each following generation. For Leopold came out of a time when dictators and regimes had threatened the very freedoms of the world, and all those who fought against such terrible things were people instilled with honour and a very particular and straightforward outlook. In some ways, Leopold had seen himself as continuing that global fight, or at least as a champion who carried the same basic principles and intentions to correct those who were errant.

 Leopold was a disciplinarian, as his father Alfred had been, and although he knew that his two boys were compliant by the hand of fear, he was keen to impress that one day they would understand his rather asperous methods. Many attest that he would confidently state that his sons would not fall into a life of crime or become seduced by the insanity of narcotics because he was their father. But for poor Edgar, this strict code and emphatic expectation was not enough to compel him to conform.

 As Edgar shuffled toward his sixteenth year, old Leopold had already spoken in ceremonial tongues of how wondrous it would be to have his first son follow into the craft. The galvanic topic at the table each night was as to how young Edgar would cut his teeth, of which districts he should first pound the beat and of how mother would be glad to have a son tipping up from a proper wage. Drew, the youngest of Leopold's two sons, would watch on with timorous interjections featuring crooked and simpering smiles. For the junior younger of the two siblings knew that he was as fated as his brother was into this legacy and hoped that by being witness to the saintly ascension of Edgar, he might better be prepared for when his time came.

 When the moment came, in the 1980s, for an impressionable young boy to decide his career path, there were only two real choices. To work in service, police, army, fire etc, or to take up a training scheme for youths. It is well known now that at the time, much more was presented than this, which helped to construct an artifice of aspirations, for without aspirations and legacies, then humanity is cast to only a feral existence. However, an abiding tale reverberates, told by an entire generation that their aspirations of choice were almost always deflected or repurposed into some abstracted training scheme for youths.

 The cardinal mistake that Edgar made was to be fuelled by the folly of romanticism, a condition that was certainly not understood by Leopold. Edgar had become impressed by the excitement and liberation of fiction. The study of literature at school had brought him his highest grades, yet, old Leopold had merely flicked through the reports, reading only the traditions of English and Mathematics, as they were the only cornerstones required in Leopold's old-fashioned thinking. It was clear to Edgar that his passion was to write, to be the creator of worlds and characters, to colour them in shades that reflected his will and not to be the janitor of the world, as was expected of him. He had come to realise that the world had degenerated and that the mass of ill and evils that were perpetrated simply hurt his heart and saddened his mind. He had been brought up in a way that was utterly alien to his nature and, as such, had begun to feel resentment for the expectation, for the demand, and for never feeling that somehow, his opinions or aspirations mattered.

 Edgar realised that an impactful day was close at hand, for his old man spoke in fiery passages of how all the boys at the station were keen to meet his son and of how they had already assigned him a locker and planned a few amusing indoctrinations. Young Drew cowered at the table when his father sizzled about the job, for the younger knew that he was unlikely to ever live up to two Oaks' reputations and successes, let alone one.

 Upon that apocalyptic day, when Leopold discovered the treacherous intentions of his eldest son, the swallowtail tunic worn by his own father Alfred, which had hung in the old wardrobe for twenty odd years, fell like a weighted body and caused quite the ghostly commotion upstairs. Leopold was furious, a writer! He bawled in rabid disbelief, for in Leopold's world, the only writers left were generally historians and had been thusly accredited due to their time at Eton, Cambridge, Oxford or such. They say that what truly inflamed Leopold the most was the humiliation he would have to bear when having to amend the manifesto he had publicly written for his son.

 "But I've told all the bobbies now!" he had admonished, "fiction is just shit! made-up! You think that will make you a millionaire?"

 Young Drew had recounted, later, of how he remembered vividly the way his father had frog marched Edgar upstairs, having investigated the fallen tunic. The old copper had thrust a barbed finger at the tunic which lay upon the floor and stated that this was a message from Grandpa, a statement of shame, a sign of dishonour. The irony was not lost on young Drew, who was tempted to suggest to his father than surely what he had just spoken, regarding grandpa moving the tunic, was a trifling fiction? But resisted.

 The fallout from this episode continued for three weeks, during which time Leopold would not speak to Edgar even in any form of acknowledgement. There was no greeting each day nor simple acknowledgement at the turn of an evening. Leopold had, however, unloaded his deep disapproval upon one of his workmates, who recalled the somewhat bitter and severe way the old man had spoken of his son and in particular of the very concept of the vocation of writing fiction. There was no doubting the fact that Leopold saw this practice as one without any merit, and one that even strayed into the realms of errant. The reporting constable also stated that Leopold did not even pause to consider if Edgar might be good or have any meritable qualities in such a field. There was to be no redemption, for that would fly against the very nature of the man, and of the eras which had seeded and grown him.

 A fractious relationship endured, and for the two parties, a suspicion persisted, for both were now it seemed, on divided lines of social, political and philosophical views. Edgar struggled to reconcile the knowledge that he was always to be seen as some errant dissenter and ideological failure by his own family. This complexion of mood darkened as a series of restive encounters pursued through the years with employers and people. The growing alienation seemed to have all the bearing of a curse, perhaps one laid down by his grandfather, as a damning judgment upon the stupidity of his wild aspiration.

 Young Drew came to the age, and he knew that having suffered the ignominy of his first son's departure from expectation, Leopold would not be allowing it to happen again. Leopold focused his ire upon Drew, driving him to get the grades, albeit in only Maths and English it seemed, and that he became almost like a puppeteer with the youngster, in a manner to ensure that he would not repeat the moronic gaffes of his elder brother.

 When his time duly came, Drew found no advantage gained by the education gleaned by watching his brother, nor by the academic grades bestowed upon himself, for his math report read as an abject failure. Leopold was incensed, his screams emaciating his usually deep and gruff voice. The outrage was not for Drew alone, but rather an amalgam, for if it were not insulting enough for one son to choose to walk the path to oblivion, now Leopold Oaks had a second son baptised in the errant art of 'stupid'.

 After being terrorised with the verdict that he was already 'finished' at the tender age of sixteen, Drew managed to redeem himself in his father's eyes by successfully gaining a position in the army. Leopold was suitably impressed, for he had honestly believed that the pathetic math grade would signify nothing but a bleak and hostile future for his second son. Now, he could finally apprise people, with all the flavour of legacy at least, that his son had earned himself a damn uniform to be proud of.

 As it was implied at the outset of this account, in future days the sons of both Edgar and Drew would become employed in positions that were approved of by old Leopold, for nothing was satisfying to him as to finally have that legacy of the Oaks' in the police force. By this time, Leopold Oaks had retired from service, having had his fill of the daily horrors and mental corruption, as he called it. Things in the force had changed, he had said. Just as the world had, and all that had once seemed obvious and familiar, was now diminished behind technology and bureaucracy. It was something of a puzzlement that Leopold had frequently stated that he could not do the job in the modern climate, yet it seems he had never had that consideration when he so vociferously expected his two sons to do so. However, despite this damning verdict, he was fiercely proud of his grandsons, who had redeemed the legacy and the upstanding pride of the Oaks clan.

 Yet, what of Edgar? The first-born, the one who carried the weight of an era, the struggle of a time, the trenchant expectations of a dictatorial father. What of the Oaks who had been  abstracted by romance and ghosted by the desire to re-write an unfavourable reality?

 Edgar Allan Oaks persisted as the enigma on the periphery. For whilst all talk was of Policing and of the nobility of profession, none it seemed could understand something which was not in their own heart. There are perhaps, creators and enforcers, Edgar once mused, for in his accruing years, he had often tried to revisit that mysterious labyrinth where he was sure the secret to understanding these considered yet, oddly disassociated relatives might lurk. Yet as time flushed by, he could barely catch a glimpse of genuine regard or any bold effort to break through their blatant disinterest.

 It was only when he had discovered the means to control his sadness, that Edgar was able to channel it constructively into his writing. It had taken many years longer than he had hoped, and for such a long time, had held out the expressive hope that one day he might be validated by his father and by the family entire. Though the cruel truth was that he had always known, no validation would come for him, as long as there was no payday foundation to construct the glorious tower of legacy and the heirloom of a uniformed inheritance.

 It is, however, via the writings of Edgar Allan Oaks, which remain today as the only heirloom left of the Oaks clan, that we can retrieve the narrative of his life and of the generational story of his name. Ironically, it is only through the longevity of words and the persistence of story that Alfred, Leopold and their line might even now be known to have existed at all.

 Edgar wrote succinctly about how in ancient times, village elders would consider the practice of storytelling and passing down lore to the next generations as a noble and vital tradition that ensured the growth of a true legacy for their existence. This tradition of teaching was of equal importance as those of imparting the methods of hunting, harvesting the land, or kinship that was as true as a blood oath, rather than just a pre-requisite for a singular expectation. He referenced this in his journal 'A Time Grown Tick.' In which he explores the erosion of these very antiquated practices and laments those halcyon days when poets and painters were considered the very bedrock of culture, and as those, which would educate and inspire the next generations.

 In 'The Forgotten Line', one of Edgar's rare works of non-fiction, He has made us aware of those who gave service to the police force during the 20th and 21st century.

We find in his reflection and in his narrative, a warmth and a considered work which aims to simply remind us, that the job of a policeman came with some honour, many scars and in time, a withering regard for those not within that cloistered circle.

 It is, however, for his works of high fiction that we remember Edgar Allan Oaks and this conclusive legacy that has borne the heirlooms which have been passed down, not merely to those who should have cared, but for all those who might ever come across a world that he had created, or a character birthed from his mind.

For this be the legacy of a very withering profession.

June 13, 2021 09:57

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.