This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
This story is copyright by Owen Hudson, all rights reserved. Distribution, including but not limited to: posting on internet sites, newsgroups, or message boards, or in book form (either as a whole or part of a compilation), or on CD, DVD or any other electronic media, is expressly prohibited without the author's written consent.
Todd Hawkins seemed to be a very calm, peaceful person who always saw both sides of an argument and generally liked everyone. He was often seen as complacent; even lazy to some. This was the image that Todd presented to the world, but under the surface there was a constant, mild agitation.
The majority of his care giving had been left to his grandmother. Todd's grandmother Alice Bushyhead is full-blooded Cherokee. She's somewhat of an offbeat genius, having the potential for great thought. If any fact or piece of information is missing, she adds the missing information herself through vision. She's very interactive with the environment, interested in how things work, and willing to take things apart to find out. Although she's involved in a very real way with the world, she's not completely in touch with it - given to creating what appears to be wacky theories about how things work, but not likely to share these theories with others. She has a lot of fear about the white man's world which borders on paranoia. She often challenges accepted ways of doing things and often takes an aggressive stance against anything that interferes with her inner world.
Todd loves his grandmother and easily communicates with her, despite the fact that she speaks broken English, and often mixes English with Cherokee when talking. However, Todd has absolutely no trouble understanding her, as he can understand and speak both languages with ease as well.
"Wah-yaw," Alice called, using Todd's Cherokee name for Wolf. When he didn't answer, she called again, but with more authority, "Wah-yaw, didn't you hear me? What are you daydreaming about?"
"I'm sorry, Ah-lee-see," he answered, using the Cherokee word for grandmother. "I was thinking about the story you told me of the Trail of Tears. It's so sad that our people were forced to move from our homeland to Oklahoma. There was so much sadness and misery, and so many died."
'What a wise and sensitive a-chu-ja (boy) he is,' Alice thought. 'I hope he can cope with all that is before him.'
Todd was contemplating if his mother would be working late or not when he saw her pull into the driveway that led to their house next to his grandparents. Todd's mom, Karen, is a registered nurse and often works different shifts and long hours. Todd really doesn't mind, since that gives him more time to spend with his grandmother.
As a child, Karen never really connected with her father though she thought that by spending time with him might be a way to earn his love. Apparently this didn't work; and she's been trying to establish a connection with him ever since. She was frustrated and kept wondering why she couldn't make it work. She was 15 and in high school when she met Steve Hawkins, his family having just moved back to Colcord, Oklahoma from California.
Trying to find the love in Steve that she felt missing from her father; Karen gave her all to him, including sex, becoming pregnant when she was 17. Todd was born before she graduated high school.
Karen feared being unloved and saw being attractive and very giving as the best way to make herself lovable. She wanted to portray an image of being a wonderful, desirous person. She was people-oriented and, as such, needed a personal connection. Being a nurse satisfied this need quite well. However, she didn't have the appreciation for her Cherokee heritage that her mother had, or even that her son had. It was easier for her to function in the white man's world than the Cherokee one. She was easily swayed by compliments, however insincere, which opened her to those people who used her and then discarded her. Self-esteem was a real issue for Karen, who was willing to compromise herself in order to get people to like her. However, a sense of entitlement caused her to become manipulative at times to get the sympathy she desired.
Although Todd loved his mother, he sensed a greater connection to his grandmother. She was a free spirit who often was more like Todd's friend than his grandmother. Todd looked toward his home contemplating on going home to be with his mother or staying with his grandmother. The decision soon was no longer his. His grandmother came out of the house saying, "Wah-yaw, your Ay chee (mother) said for you to come home."
"Go shower and get dressed," Karen ordered, when Todd entered the house. "We're going to your grandmothers for dinner as soon as your dad gets home."
"Ah-lee-see didn't say anything about it," Todd said with puzzlement.
"No, we're going to your u-ne-ga ah-lee-see," she explained. Then quickly corrected herself to say in English, "We're going to your white grandmother's." Although Karen was fluent in both English and Cherokee she seldom spoke Cherokee. She was annoyed with her parents who spoke little or no English. She could easily communicate with them in Cherokee, but often just said, "They need to learn English."
"Shit!" Todd said, upon learning of the imminent visit to his other grandmother.
"Watch your mouth, Todd, if you know what's good for you," Karen sternly warned. "And wear the new shirt your grandma gave you for your birthday."
'What's good for me would be my not having to go to grandma's house,' Todd thought. Margaret Hawkins was a very hypercritical woman who never seemed happy. He couldn't remember the last time he saw her smile. He could never please her. If he left the door open, he should have closed it, if he closed it, he should have left it open. The closest thing to affection she had ever shown him was a pat on the head.
Todd put on the shirt as ordered, despite the fact that it was a size too large. That was just like her to buy a shirt too large, so he could 'grow into it.' He furthermore thought that the shirt was the ugliest thing he'd ever seen.
Steve Hawkins arrived home from work and Todd wondered what mood his father was in today, and if he would even notice that he'd mowed. His answer came when he said, "You cut the grass too short" - not one word of praise or thanks.
Steve is a strong-willed, chip-on-the-shoulder, straight-talking type. He likes to throw power around, real or imagined. He often exaggerates his experiences just to get attention. Others often see this as funny - it's anything but to him. Steve demonstrated a strong business sense and a lot of the attributes of a leader at one time - unfortunately, something got in the way. He has a strong ego, thinking he should be in control and that others should instinctively know this. Steve's basic fear is that he doesn't have enough power to do what he wants to do, so he throws around what power he has, even if it means simply creating an image of power. He becomes combative to get his way, creating adversarial relationships.
Steve's ambition is to own his own construction company. His strong-willed nature often causes him to throw money around to impress others. The more he failed to achieve his goal, the more he drank. His frustrations led to more and more verbal abuse to both Karen and Todd. He blamed Todd's birth for the reason he couldn't achieve his goals. After all, if he didn't have an Indian wife and kid he'd be accepted more by his peers.
Karen unrealistically believed that she could earn Steve's love by making more money. This only made him think his control was slipping away. He became even more dominating and abusive to those at hand. He saw them as weak. In the process, he became more isolated, which raised his anxiety level, creating reckless behavior and a lack of control. This became his Achilles heel. In a way, his fear of failure caused his failure.
The dinner at his grandmother's had been all Todd expected and then some. She criticized him for wearing a shirt that didn't fit properly, apparently forgetting that it was a gift from her. He was too picky about his food; he should only cut one piece of meat as he ate, and on and on and on. To make matters worse, his parents argued all the way home.
Once they arrived home, Todd went straight to his room, stripped off the ugly shirt along with the rest of his clothes and went to bed. Before he could fall asleep, he could hear that the arguing between his parents hadn't stopped. He was sure his father was hitting his mother, but felt helpless to do anything. "One day my father will push this too far," he said out loud, knowing nobody could hear. Or did someone hear?
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