“Hi Papa. I'm so happy Mama brought me to see you. I haven't seen you in so long.”
“I know Tommy, so how have you been?”
When my Papa was away in jail, my Mama didn't date anyone, well until now. His name was Jack. I hate stupid Jack!
“I have been pretty crappy. Mom got engaged. His name is Jack Winthrop. What a boring last name! It fits because he's a really boring guy. The main reason I couldn't see you was because he didn't think a little kid should be in a prison so often.”
I could see the sadness in his face
“Tommy, give your Mama a break. She's a tough one. She hasn't dated since me and her split and that was when you were 3. For about seven years she has been single, so now she really deserves to be happy. Just between me and you, I will never forgive myself for leaving you and your mom alone, but I hope this Jack guy is good for her. And for you, too.”
I wanted to scream. How could he just let her go? I knew he loved her still. Why does he have to let her go? It's not fair.
“Why did you have to leave? What did you do that was so bad? I’m ten. Im more mature than I was when I first met you! I can take it now, I promise Please tell me!”
I was pleading with him while fighting back all my tears.
“Tommy, I have to save that for a conversation with your mother. I have to get back now, but I love you, Tom. Tell your mom I said hello and congrats.”
“Fine, just go. I love you too.”
When my mom and I got in the car I told her what happened.
“Tommy, when we get home Jack will be back. Were going to tell him we went shopping. Don't tell him anything about us visiting your Papa Ok young man?”
With tears in my eyes and anger in my heart I answered,
For the next few months my mama only took my me to the prison when Jack was out. I didn't understand why we had to lie. We didn't do anything wrong. I just wanted to know my Papa. Something changed in my home. The one woman more feirece than anything seemed to be scared of a man, a stupid man. I hated it.
One day after school I heard my Mama and Jack fighting. I wasn't able to make out a lot out but it sounded like he was screaming at her for visiting my Papa. I guess Papa sent a letter to me about when I would visit next. My Mama normally got the mail, but today Jack got home early. I heard yelling from upstairs and, then a loud bang. No one came down for hours and when they did mama had a scarf on her on her neck and a bandage on her arm, Jack had bruises on his knuckles. The next time we went to the jail to visit my Papa, my Mama came in with me.
“I have rules for these visits. Rule one: NO letters. Rule 2: No phone calls. And Rule 3: Do Not let Jack find out we visited.”
I could hear the fear and fierceness in her voice.
“I promise, Cassy I won't contact you. Is your arm ok? Did he hit you?”
I could see my Papa was upset with that.
“.... No, I uh.. Fell into my dresser.”
I’m ten and even I didn't believe that.
“ Cas… that dresser must have had a good punch.”
She looked at him with the biggest smile and blushed. We talked for a while before the nice police officer, the same lady that was there since we started visits five years ago, came over.
“Alright Mrs.Castro and little Castro, Jonathan has to get back to his cell now. Say your goodbyes.”
“Goodbye, John, we will see you next week.”
“Bye Tommy. Cas, I’m looking forward to that visit. Put some ice on that dresser bruise Oh and also tell that dresser if it hurts you again, he will have me to deal with.”
My mama laughed at that comment and we left.
One day right after school Mama took me to the prison so we could see my Papa. My Mama's face was so pure when she saw him, and so was his. It was like a scene in one of those flicks when time stops and it was only them two in the room.
“Hey Cas, you look so beautiful today. Your all dressed up- what's the occasion?”
“Nothing…..I just love this dress and necklace.”
My papa looked down and when he saw her necklace, he grinned ear to ear.
“Is that the necklace I got you on our first date fifteen years ago?”
Mama blushed and started playing with the necklace.
“Yea I always love the way it looked on me, it's so beautiful it's my favorite.”
They were about to hold hands, I could tell but then her phone rang.
“Hey jack what's up?….No, I’m not at the jail, I’m at Tommy’s school...You know your mom's eyes aren't the best… No I have to go tommy’s teacher is waiting for me. I… love you! I’ll see you at home!”
I could tell my Mama was sad because she had a tear go down her cheek.
“What's wrong Cas?”
When he said that, he wiped the tear off her cheek.
“I guess Jack's mother saw my car here. I told him I was at Tommy’s school. We probably have another hour before we have to go.”
We all sat there laughing, crying, and telling stories. About an hour had gone by when a man walked in at first, we didn't pay attention to him. We were having a really fun time.
“Are you serious? You really didn't think I was going to check here you ungrateful little whore… and you get the hell away from my fiance.” Jack raged
We stayed too long. We should have lefted sooner. Mama’s eyes said the same thing.
“If you love her, you wouldn't speak to her like that!”
My Papa and stupid Jack started getting in a yelling argument. My Mama hugged me tight before joining in.
“Jack...You know, your name fits you cause you’re a real Jack…”
My mama covered my ears like I wouldn’t know what she was going to say.
“All I wanted was my son to know his father!”
I was cheering for my mama. I haven't seen cassy the tiger since I was five.
“You little ungrateful bitch. You're really going to hate on me, instead of this a murderer, Tommy, you want to know so bad what your dad? Did he shot a...”
Even though I hated Jack a little part of me did want to know.
“JACK I SWEAR IF YOU TELL HIM, THAT WILL BE THE LAST THING YOU DO.”
“Oh, and thats where you’re wrong, Cas. This is the last thing you'll ever do. Too bad you chose the guy who never did anything right in his little life when you could have had me.”
Jack grabbed a gun out his back pocket. He must of got it past the gards. He probably just put it in his pants. Well, thats what I would have done. He pointed it toward my Mama and me, but my Papa jumped in front of us. My mama dropped to her knees, screaming “why” as tears ran down her face,
“I had to make sure I did something right. I couldn't leave Tommy or you lonely… I love you, Cas.”
As my Papa closed his eyes and drifted out of consciousness, I squeezed his hand. All my memories of him came rolling through my head from when I first met him, to him and my Mama laughing at my stories, and now his death. “I love you papa.”