'Steven's Story' an original story
Melissa J. Vivigatz
~ * ~
Aunt Lillian’s house was quiet now. Early evening, there had been a bit of sleet in the afternoon, but the sky was clearing now, a few stars coming out, seeable through the open curtains of the windows.
I stood there watching as another one winked into existence before turning away, continued my paused walk to the pipe rack and pulled down my favorite. The Ferndown of course, the only one which would do for this. Same as it was the special tin of Christmas Cheer, the one we’d both signed with our names during that perfect, perfect day.
Carefully rubbed my thumb across the signature. Only a couple of days since the funeral, yet already it felt like a lifetime.
I love you. I miss you.
Well, it was time.
Brief task in the kitchen, then with fresh cup of coffee in hand I returned to the living room and sat on the couch, the player set and ready to go.
Stills at first; the old shed, the hanging sled and testing of the saw’s edge before starting the hunt for our tree. Soft smile at the blurry-headed deer and chuckle at a pair of fools doing poses while their asses froze.
The young voice, so full with the expectations of life saying, “This is what the sled looks like before we found our tree.” Shift of the way ahead, “And those are the trees right there. Wow, Steven, they are huge!”
Just a kid. My god, so young...
I paused the old movie and smiled at the young man standing in the doorway, “Hey Pepper.” Short for Peppermint. “Because he’s chocolate on the outside and white on the in!” Typical of his father’s wry humor, though the nickname did help when there were two Steves in the same place. Fitting in more ways then one as well since, same as his younger sister Evie, both had inherited Steven’s green eyes.
Had turned out that Casey wasn’t fully black herself. And I am glad of that, if only because, no matter they do not contain the intensity, the anger and determination, still, I can see some of my Steve within them.
Oh, Steven, you and your damn temper, your needing to protect. Your heart. Your Goddess bless it, too big and giving heart. He’d helped a lot of people these past twenty-five years because of those things though. That heart which was all about giving...until it took him away.
(I’d held his hand when he went. Kissed him. It had been very peaceful, and even if he had not been aware on the outside, I do believe he knew, was happy that we had taken him from the hospital to be here. Passing here in our home, Aunt Lillian’s house, friends and family surrounding, just as it should be.)
Child welfare cases, the abandoned, the physical and the soul abused. Had to smile inside at that, the way every case became his life, damn near adopted his young clients. Kept in touch afterwards, because Steven meant what he said when he told them that he wasn’t going to let anyone hurt them ever again.
Not while he was around. No fucking way ever.
The Doliver case. That poor little girl...
To say the five year old had been traumatized conveyed nothing. My client, yet it was Steven who’d somehow managed to break through, to bring the first ghost of a smile...her first, whispery, word spoken in a year.
Those bastards. The courtroom was supposed to have been sealed, all knowing that there would be no way the little girl could speak if ‘the monster’ was there.
Legal—totally underhanded and unethical— but still ‘legal’ and they’d brought in ‘the accused’. She’d been terrified when they brought ‘the monster’ in, curled up in a fetal ball. The monster, the step-father, had killed her mother to keep her from talking when she’d found out about the abuse. The little girl had no-one, series of court-appointed fosters. No one she could trust...until Steven.
“He can’t hurt you anymore, honey,” Steve had whispered to her, then rising, had walked over to the defense’s table, looking as if he was going to attempt another useless protest...
Only instead of speaking, he’d hauled back his fist and punched the son of a bitch’s face in.
“Well fucking worth it,” he’d grinned at me later once he was out after a single day. Of course they’d let him out. Justice was not blind. No one had been, not when the child saw how ‘the monster’ was made to cry like a baby, hurt very badly, blood and puke everywhere.
The pathetic asshole had even crapped his pants when Steven pretended he was about to give him another.
At least you laughed that you were ‘just pretending’. Good thing no one else knew you as well as I did...
Even the guards had waited till she was done hugging and thanking him before they had to take him away. Promised he’d be back soon, but she’d be safe till then.
And she’d talked. Talked long and told it all. What the ‘bad man’ (no longer an invincible monster) had done. How he’d hurt her, had hurt her mommy.
Further help for the girl and so many like her. A wizard when it came to finances, trust funds for the disadvantaged, annual trips and horse drawn rides for poor inner city kids.
Christmas presents for those who’d never know such before in their lives.
The crowd at the funeral service had been huge. So many lives touched, so many new chances at Life given.
We’d attended the wedding of that little girl, now grown to a dear young woman. She’d brought her daughters with her to the service. Of them all I think that was the best one. She had not left a card for him which said “You will be missed.” No, it had said “Thank you. Thank you for everything.”
Nor did you, Steven, in spite of it all, the late hours and hair-pulling, cursing crusades, did you ever not find time for us. For me. For the children you helped Case and Kim have. An old favor repaid.
Gathered my thoughts back to the present, “You just going to stand there?”
He came in, “I was just waiting to find out if you wanted to be alone or not.”
“I’m not alone, but I would love for you to join us.”
Had to laugh softly at that. We’d all of us helped in their raising, and it was always fun to see the things that had been passed on.
“I warned you about that.”
“Sit down already, you,” I chuckled again and he came over to join me on the couch.
I touched the pad of the remote and started the movie from the beginning.
“I always love watching this.”
“So do I, Pepper.”
Twin smiles at my captured “Groovy”.
“Uncle Davey, was he really okay with my choice to go for an art major?”
Put my arm around him, “You know as well as I do that he was. How many times did he and your moms tell you that your life was your own to do with and be as you see fit? Come on now, no more worries.”
“All right. I just want him to be proud of me.”
“Pepper. Steve. Nothing makes your father prouder then you and your sister. Not a single thing on this earth did. You know that as well.”
Gave him a squeeze and knowing chuckle, “Your Hanscom is showing.” Meaning he was trying to pull a fast one, bring on a good memory, as if I did not have plenty. No, he knew fully well that Steven had liked his girl, quite possibly fiancé, a lot.
Still, it worked. Both of us sitting there replaying the scene in our minds of the introduction.
He’d already brought her home to his mothers’ to meet, now it was our turn.
Steven had been sitting in his recliner, pipe going and paper before him. Had lowered it and took out his Ferndown to give things a look over.
“Well,” he’d said, being typical Steven, “I can see the attraction because she’s a real looker. Just be sure you’re using your heart and not you dick, kid.”
But the girl had just raised her chin in challenge, “Why can’t he use both, Mr. Hanscom?”
Snort before pipe stem was replaced, “Well she passed my test. How about yours, hun?”
Pepper, still dark-faced, had spoken up, “She can cook as well, Uncle Davey.”
“Knowing you and what you’re used to, that works for me as well. Only I must warn you, young lady, that there are rules when it comes to the order of my spice rack.”
“Bitch-y,” Steven had snorted before reopening his paper.
“Shut up or I will spit in your tea.”
“As if that’s a threat. Hell, it’d probably improve it. Crap tastes like seaweed.”
“It is seaweed and you know it.”
“Ha. I rest my case.”
“Steven, you promised,” I started and he looked over at me, gave me a smile with green eyes twinkling, silent words conveyed in that look.
“You promised too, Davey. Don’t make a scene. Not in front of the boy. Not now.”
Yes, I had. Same as we both knew that nothing was going to help at this point, not really. Still, hate it and the rest, he agreed to ‘put up’ with things for my sake.
He was not afraid. Not the least little bit of it. Not once.
“How can I be?” he’d said with arms wrapped around me. “David, I’ve had the best life that any man could wish to live. I’m happy, love. Still, don’t count the old man out just yet. Screw that quack, because I plan to be around for a long time yet.”
Liar. He’d known. Known the truth before I’d made him go to the doctors. He’d been in a lot of pain by then, thing he had striven so hard to hide from me.
Some things would never change.
Still, he’d wanted it kept quiet, did not want anyone ‘fussing needlessly’ over him. I had tried my best there, keeping up the facade...because he had not wanted to see me hurting.
“You’re still not old though.” Not for some things, though I had not wanted him to stress his heart anymore than possible.
Oh Goddess, not old at all!
“Thank God for small favors, eh, kid?”
“Yes, Steve,” I’d whispered afterwards, our arms about the other. Held each other for so long, me holding onto him as long as I could, as long as I had him to do so; his wonderful, strong and protective arms holding me tightly as I cried.
“It’ll be all right, love. I’ve got you, David. Everything will be fine. I am not going anywhere, and that is a promise.”
“I miss him.”
I nodded, though my eyes did not tear up. Not this time. “He’s not gone, Pepper. Another thing you know about your father, when he gave his word he kept it. You ever need him, he’ll be right there for you. Even now.”
Just as he was here for me today.
I’d been a fool to go out for a walk like that. In a real state, crying, not watching where I was going. It hadn’t been the ice, but the snow. Had not been paying attention, had wandered too close to the old, crumbled riverbank, place that no matter how many times you cleared it, trees always came again when it flooded.
I’d taken a step, realized my mistake too late when round things underfoot shifted and I was going down. Broken leg at best, impaled on sharp limbs at worse.
I was ready for it, ready to join my Steven when the hand grabbed my collar and pulled me with a yank back up onto the ledge to safety, hard enough to make me stumble before I caught my footing.
“Watch it, kid. That last step’s a fucking bitch.”
“Steven?” I had whipped around so fast...no one. Reached back and felt a thin branch of the nearby pine tree, caught snagged on my jacket collar. Thin, half an inch if even that and no way possible such should have saved me, only it had.
Same as soon as it had snapped off on its own, barely touching, I caught the strong smell of pipe smoke—the smell of his blend and the smell of Him—far more then that which was coming from his coat that I was wearing. Did see a circling swirl of it coming from the shape leaning with arms smugly crossed against another tree. Steven, captured there just for a second, looking young as he had when we’d first met, grinning and winking, whisper of his voice in my head.
“I got you, kid. David, I’m here. Nothing bad will ever happen to you again. I love you.”
I love you too, Steven.
So no, I was not alone, never would be. Understood what it had been like though for him in our lives before. That life which had occurred so very, very long ago.
Still, even if it was your turn to go first this time, and that it will be many years till we are truly together again, me joining you where you are now, still, even after that, we will be together again. There and in lives to come.
I have no good byes for you, Steve. Yes, I will continue to live my life, keep up the work and the fight. Myself and the others. So no, no farewells, only I will still miss you. Miss you always...until we are together again.
I love you, Steven.
Ducked my head a moment, smiling softly as eyes did tear. Memory or something more as I felt the light touch brush across my forehead up into my hair.
Again, memory or not, it did not matter. The words were there all the same in my head.
“I love you too, David. I love you, too.”
Steven Joseph Hanscom
Beloved Husband of David
Christian and Universal Pagan
Your Touch Continues
Your Laughter Remains
Rest In Well Deserved Peace