The Essence Of Time
Buck never felt more tired and defeated as he did at this moment. It was still hard for him to believe all that had occurred in the last few hours. He shook his head sadly at his best friend’s prone body lying dead to the world. Chris had a devastating blow and Buck couldn’t blame the man for getting as drunk as possible. He wished he was able to lose himself in an alcoholic daze as well, but he knew it was up to him to keep his friend safe from himself during his grief. Even worse was when he finally came to realize how big a mistake he had made with his son. Sighing he leaned back in his seat as he remembered those awful moments that would forever change a father and son’s relationship.
“Damn it Chris it’s not that boy’s fault.”
“The hell it ain’t! He’s alive and they’re dead!”
“It was an accident Chris; you can’t blame him for something he had no control over.”
“My wife, my son and my unborn child are dead because of him! It’s all his fault he should be the one dead not them!”
Buck sighed as he watched his friend tear down the hallway. He knew Chris was only lashing out in pain and would think clearer when the wounds weren’t so raw. It wasn’t the boy’s fault; he was as much a victim as everyone else in this tragedy. The feeling of being watched had him looking down the hall and a pair of familiar green eyes caught his gaze before slipping back into his room. In that one moment he had never seen so much devastation and self-loathing in one so young.
Buck ran his hand through his hair as he remembered the last emotion he had seen in those green eyes. How could everything go so wrong so quickly? Not only had Chris lost Sarah, Adam and the unknown child she had been carrying, but now Ezra was gone as well.
Buck hurried into Ezra’s room after he pulled himself out of his stupor. He was too late though, by the time he got to the room Ezra was fast asleep, tear tracks still moist ran down his face.
“Aw Ez, your Dad wasn’t talking about you son. Damn” Buck sighed at the mess that had been created by careless words. He needed to find Chris and quickly before the damage got any worse.
Buck leaned forward in the chair his hands gripping a chunk of hair in each. But I was too late. Too late to save the only good thing left in Chris’ life. All that was left was a letter, a letter that was currently gripped tightly in Chris’ hand. As he looked back at his friend’s figure he could no longer contain his grief and allowed the tears to flow.
It had taken awhile for Buck to find Chris and fill him in on Ezra overhearing their conversation in the hallway. Chris had looked stricken at the thought that Ezra had thought he was the boy they were talking about. Nothing however prepared him for the moment they entered Ezra’s room to find the bed striped clear, the bedside tables cleared and the fresh scent of antiseptic that permeated the room.
Terrified eyes turned to him. “Buck?”
“I don’t know pard, let’s go find the nurse and find out.”
The two men quickly made their way to the nurse’s station raging emotions barely kept in check.
“My son, where’s my son?”
“I’m sorry Mister Larabee but he’s gone.”
“Oh God no.”
Buck felt his stomach drop with the nurse’s words, but he watched her eyes widen in alarm and felt his heart thrum when she next spoke.
“Oh dear, not that gone. I’m sorry his mother checked him out. The boy left a letter for you though. I’m so sorry I never intended for…”
“That’s alright, thank you ma’am.” Buck headed off anymore apologies, he could see Chris was at the end of his rope and needed to get him home so they could figure out what to do about Ezra and Maude.
Chris had gripped the letter tightly until they were in his truck on the way back to the ranch. Buck glanced over from the driver’s seat as Chris finally ripped the envelope open and read its contents.
When they finally reached the house Chris left the truck without a word and headed directly for the liquor cabinet. Chris could be a surly son of a bitch sometimes, but nothing compared to the torment he was going through at this moment. Buck sat silently, waiting patiently for Chris to finish his current self-destruction. The pain was too fresh and the wounds too raw for any pathetic words of wisdom to counter. So he kept silent vigil over his friend until he finally passed out. Chris had uttered only six words before he slipped into oblivion. Six words that carried all the pain and emptiness he felt inside.
“Happy Birthday Son, I love you.”
Buck quickly stood up to shake off the emotions. He couldn’t let himself be buried under their weight. He had to be strong for Chris. He looked again at his friend and felt his eyes drawn again to the tightly clutched letter. Chris hadn’t revealed what was in the letter nor had he released it from his possession. Buck was disquieted by his need to know what Ezra had been thinking. He needed to know how to help his friend through this. With this in mind Buck carefully pulled the letter free of Chris’ hand and began to read.
Words cannot express the sorrow I feel for being the reason that Mom, Adam, and the baby died. I’m not sure what I did that caused their deaths but if I could do everything all over again I would gladly take their place in heaven. Do you think I would go there, probably not since I caused the accident in the first place? I’m sorry father that I have caused you so much pain. I called Maude to take me away with her so I would no longer cause you any pain. Maude said she would leave our address with you so that maybe incase, you might ever possibly find your way to forgive me for all the pain I have caused. Maude says we have to go. I’m so sorry. Please tell Uncle Buck I’m sorry as well.
I Love you always, Ezra
Buck sniffed as more tears fell from his eyes. He quickly replaced the letter in the envelope before placing it back into Chris’ grasp.
“A hell of a mess”