A Visitor to the Service - By Brian Law

The funeral goers filed out of the small chapel into the late afternoon sun. Some milled about and chatted while others went right to their cars. One man stood alone.


The son of the deceased approached the man and said, “I thought I knew all my Dad’s friends, but I can’t remember ever meeting you. I’m Roy, by the way. I’m Jim’s oldest boy.”


The two shook hands and the man began to relate who he was and why he was at Jim Robinson’s funeral. “You wouldn’t know me, Roy. I’m Doctor Paul West. I met your Dad before you were born. We were close for several years and then lost touch. When I heard he’d died, I felt I should come to the service.”


“Well, thanks for coming. You didn’t speak at the funeral, but I have to ask this. Is there anything you want to tell me about my Dad from the few years you knew him?” Roy wondered. His Dad had always been somewhat tight-lipped with his family about his younger days and Roy now had this one and only chance to find out some of his Dad’s missing history. He wasn’t going to let it slip by.


Paul thought for a moment, and then replied, “I was your father’s psychiatrist, Roy.”


“Really! So you really got to know him pretty well, then, right?”


“Yes. He came to me at a dark period in his life and I helped him work through the rough patches. He was one of my first patients, so I have a very vivid memory of our sessions together.”


Roy moved a bit closer and said, “Dad never said much about his life before he met my Mom. But he’s dead now, so you can tell me about what he was like and what trouble he was having when you knew him.”


Paul smiled and replied politely, “Let me think about that, Roy. Why don’t you give me your phone number and I’ll call you if I decide to share anything with you about your Dad.”


Roy’s head turned slightly as he looked at Paul and asked, “Wait! I’ve heard your name. Dr. Paul West. You’re the writer guy. Am I right?”


Paul nodded and replied, “Yes. I’ve written a few books. I doubt if you would have any reason to read any of them. They’re all very clinical in nature. Now, about your phone number?”


Roy was getting excited now. “Paul West! Yeah, now I remember. I heard you interviewed on radio a few years back. You were talking about your latest book. I don’t remember much of the interview but your book was one of a series of your books on the criminal mind. Yeah, Paul West, here at my Dad’s funeral! Wow!” Roy looked around to see if his brothers were nearby, but he didn’t spot them. He’d tell them later. 


Paul checked his watch and asked Roy once again for his phone number. Roy was now really insistent, however, in his pursuit of more information about his Dad’s murky past. “Look, Paul, just give me something, a little tidbit about what my Dad was like back when you knew him.”


Paul held up his hands and shook his head. “Roy, just give me your phone number. I don’t think this is the right time and place to do this, okay?”


They were alone as Roy grabbed Paul by the lapels of his coat and roughly drew him close. “Listen, head shrinker, you’re going to tell me about my Dad, you hear.” He shook Paul several times, almost lifting him off his feet. “Start talking, pal. What was my Dad really like back then?”


Their faces were nose to nose and the veins in Roy’s neck were throbbing as he waited for Paul’s answer. Roy was used to violence as a way of getting what he wanted, and no four-eyed shrink was going to hold out on him. 


“Your father was a murdering son-of-a-bitch, Roy,” Paul answered, his voice calm and clear. “I just came here today to make sure he was really dead and couldn't hurt anyone else.”


Roy let go of Paul and pushed him back a foot or so. The two stared at each other intently for a moment and then Roy laughed dismissively, turned and walked off in a huff.


Paul adjusted his coat a bit, took off his glasses, cleaned them, and started walking towards his car. As he did so, the outline of his new book began to form in his head. . . “The Children of Serial Killers.”



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