A Few Things Ill Considered

The Bottleneck Years

by H.E. Taylor

Chapter 9 Table of Contents Chapter 11

Chapter 10

Robert Fontaine, July 18, 2055

I was heading for the library when I got a phone call from Bessie Waters, a neighbour who visited with dad occasionally. She was worried. “I knocked on the door and there was no answer,” she said. “I think you should check on him.”

I was supposed to give a lecture late that afternoon. I called my old faculty advisor, Dr. Yablonski, to arrange a substitute and headed home.

Bessie was not around. The kitchen was as I had left it. The house was dark and quiet. For a second before speaking I stood at the door to the bedroom and watched this frail white haired man with the deeply lined face. Dad had spent most of his life outside and he had the weathered wrinkles to prove it.

“Dad?”

“Luc. I’m glad to see you. I have been thinking about you.”

“Why’s that?”

“It is a father’s indulgence to dwell on his children.”

“What’ve you been thinking?”

“About change.”

“Change?”

“The relevant indicator is the individual’s acceptance of the status quo. Some people are aghast at the thought that anything might upset their world. They reject the possibility of change and wind up driven by circumstance.”

He took a deep breath. “Your mother was like that. She would not have been able to bear the thought of New York under water. It wouldn’t have fit in her world.”

“On the other end of the scale you have wild-eyed revolutionaries, who reject everything, their back pocket full of bold new half-baked ideas. History is rarely kind to either sort.”

He stared into the distance and I shifted uncomfortably. “She wanted the best for you, your mother. But it had to be natural. She was very big on natural. Just the way things used to be. She would not have liked this uncomfortable time.”

He shifted and looked at me intently. “It is up to you now, Luc. I do not know what I did wrong with Matt. The prodigy became prodigal. I tried to treat you three equally, but he always took advantage. And Jon has stars in his eyes. The siren of political power has whispered his name and he knows no other mistress. You, on the other hand, might do something that matters. Your paper is a good beginning. Yablonski is a good man. The photosynthesis problem…”

He stopped talking. At first, I thought he had fallen asleep. He looked so peaceful. Then I noticed he wasn’t breathing. I took his hand and there was no pulse.

I put my head down and I wept.

 


Excerpted from _The Bottleneck Years_ by H.E. Taylor

For further information see:
A Gentle Introduction.

Last modified October 16, 2012

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