Friday, February 05, 2010



Billy continued telling Mindy the story of how he came to be her father:

"They're trying to get the women and children out fast as possible. I walk up, carrying Mindy. Guy stops me. Asks: What the hell? I tell him: I'm not sending her out alone. He looks at me suspiciously. Asks Mindy: He your Dad? She hugs my neck, bats her eyes. Yes, sir! He doesn't look like he's buying it. I'm ready to drop Mindy and run, use her as a battering ram, anything just to get out of there.... Go! He shoves us out the door. Mindy waves bye to him as we leave. I tell myself it's ok; Sue's got to be somewhere. They'll let her go, too. See, I didn't understand then. I didn't understand till I became a parent myself. But there's no way in hell Sue was leaving without Mindy. I thought she'd be like me. I thought she'd do anything to get out. They were letting women go. I didn't think she'd stay and look for you... Mindy and I were maybe a few yards away, we weren't even across the golf course to where the cops were waiting when the whole place blew... I swear, I looked for her. I looked for your mama, I did. I looked among the ones who got out. I asked if anyone had seen her. No one saw her leave. And after, there were no survivors. Everybody still inside... The explosion was huge; bastards weren't joking around. Not even enough left over to identify bodies, they said. I didn't know what to do. Mindy was looking at me... asking where her Mama was. I kept coming back. Day after day, to the site while they were digging, when there was still hope. And then I called and called the police. I kept asking if anyone had come looking for you or Sue. Couldn't believe she didn't have anybody at all... But no one ever came searching. Weeks went by. I didn't know what to do. You used to cry yourself to sleep, asking for your Mama. But then you stopped. You started calling me Daddy. I don't even remember the moment when it happened, it just, all of a sudden, was. You and I, there we were. I'd never had to take care of anyone before you. I'd never been responsible for anything before you. I'd never given a damn before you. I knew I could never, ever really make up for what I'd done to you. I killed your Mama, I took and still take full responsibility for that. But I promised myself I'd give you the very best life I could. You'd never want for a thing. So many times, folks said I was spoiling you. They didn't understand. I could give you everything you asked for, and it still wouldn't come close to being enough. Wouldn't absolve me. One time, I actually got drunk enough to tell a priest the whole story. Had to tell somebody, I thought I would die from keeping it inside. He suggested I think of it as me saving your life. That might make it a little easier for me to live with. Idiot. I didn't save your life. Not on purpose, anyway. If I could've gotten out without you, I would have, no question about it. I used a little girl to save my own skin. I didn't save your life. But, so help me, you saved mine. Years and years, only reason I didn't drink myself to death, was because of you..."

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