Greetings, Reading Friend. This is David Telbat with a short story for you today, but first—our thoughts and prayers are with those on the East Coast in hurricane destruction. Now, to the short story—you might want to have a box of tissues as you read . . .
The Damage he Caused
by D.I. Telbat
Samantha Hatner slipped into the dim hospital room of her sleeping son, Travis. She wanted to wake him since she hadn’t seen him since he’d left home a year earlier, but decided to allow him to rest. After all, judging by all the machines connected to him, his injuries were extensive.
With a wince from pain in her arthritic joints, she seated herself in the single chair. It was after midnight, and the two-hour drive from home had exhausted her. From the darkened corner by the window, she watched her son’s sleeping form. He stirred a little and tossed his head, then was still again. Tears filled Samantha’s weary eyes. Even in his sleep, Travis seemed tormented by his lifestyle.
Closing her eyes, Samantha prayed for her son for the millionth time. He’d been plagued with a strong self-will and rebellious friends. No one could tell him what to do, and ever since his father had died nine years earlier, Samantha hadn’t had anyone to help her care for him. The good men at their local assembly were compassionate toward her situation, but they had admitted they could do very little for Travis until Travis himself wanted to change.
She prayed that when Travis had been thrown from the vehicle in his car accident, that he had finally opened his heart to his need for God. His worldly interests were close to destroying his life for good. Life was so fragile!
This wasn’t the first time she’d prayed that God would do whatever He had to do to get Travis’ attention. Oh, the agony she felt for his inner pain! It didn’t seem possible for a young man to spend so much time pursuing the world, and yet not see that his only way of deliverance was Jesus Christ.
Samantha hadn’t realize she’d fallen asleep while praying for Travis, until she woke to a rowdy crowd of youths pushing their way into the room. The smell of alcohol drifted throughout the room. It was well past visiting hours, and she rose slowly from her chair to hush the young people. What were they even doing in her son’s room?
But as the youths ignored her and moved up to Travis’ bed, Travis opened his eyes and greeted them all as friends. Although Samantha had special permission as his mother to be there, this crowd had obviously snuck up the back stairwell. Travis laughed and joked with them about his car wreck. Samantha remained in the background, hidden behind the group with whom he chose to fill his life.
With a gasp from her breaking heart, Samantha realized that Travis had woken immediately at his friends’ entrance. Perhaps he’d even been awake while she’d been crying and praying for him. But he’d ignored her. He had preferred to let her cry in the dark corner, than to even acknowledge her.
Leaving him to his friends, Samantha slipped out of the hospital room and stood in the hallway. A night nurse was already on her way down the hallway to confront the noisy commotion in the room. Their drunken voices and laughter were sure to wake other patients if they weren’t sent on their way.
It wasn’t time for Travis to change, Samantha realized with some hopelessness. This wasn’t the first time Travis had ignored his mother, but for Samantha, this was the most painful time. He obviously didn’t want her in his life at all.
Out in the parking lot, she wiped her eyes, and started the car, determined to reach home before dawn. It was a long drive back, but she had to be at work by nine in the morning. She prayed there would be another opportunity for Travis, and that he didn’t kill himself by his wild antics before he allowed the gospel of Jesus Christ to change his life.
The next morning, Travis woke late and smiled to himself at the memory of his drunken friends visiting him in the middle of the night. It had taken two nurses and a security guard to get them to leave, and Travis had received a firm reprimand from the nurses. After all, his collar bone and a few ribs had been broken, and he needed to rest if he wanted to heal properly.
Travis knew he could’ve died from the car accident. Though he hadn’t been driving, his friend had been, and they’d all been intoxicated. Uninjured, the driver had been arrested, and Travis had been carried away in the ambulance. What a great story this would be to share in the years to come!
Suddenly, two men in suits entered his room. The sidearms and badges on their belts identified them as detectives. Travis rubbed the sleep from his eyes. Sure, he was committed to living life through the pleasures of the world, but he wasn’t interested in getting caught up in any charges! He hoped any drugs in his system were gone by now, in case they tested him.
“Are you Travis Hatner?” the shorter detective asked.
“Yes, sir.” Travis sat up straighter in his hospital bed, flinching as his IV tugged at his elbow. “Something wrong?”
“I understand you had a car accident two nights ago.”
“Yes, sir. I was the only one hurt, but I’ll be okay in a few weeks. They’re even talking about discharging me tomorrow. I’ll just have a sling for a while.”
“Sure.” The detective glanced at his partner, who turned to gaze out the window. “We’re not here about your car accident. There was another car accident last night.”
“Another car accident?” Travis frowned. What kind of detectives were these? They didn’t even have their phones out to take notes or record his statement. “Well, I was in here. What’s another accident have to do with me? I don’t even really remember my own accident.”
“Because you were high?”
Travis clenched his teeth. He was only nineteen, but he’d already had a dozen brushes with the law. This was his closest yet. He couldn’t remember if he’d had any drugs on his person during his accident, or if he’d used everything up. They might not even have anything on him, and were just fishing for him to incriminate himself!
“If you’re going to charge me, just charge me! Enough with the mind games.”
“Do you recognize this car?” The detective showed his phone to Travis. The photo on the screen portrayed a crumpled, blue vehicle. “Have you seen it before?”
“How am I supposed to tell? It’s all smashed up. Why? Did someone die? It has nothing to do with me.”
“Nothing to do with you?” The detective scoffed and slid his phone into his pocket. “The nurses said that your mother visited you last night. Was she here?”
“Yeah, she was here.” Travis looked away. “She and I don’t see things the same way. So what?”
“That was her blue Nissan. She didn’t make it, Travis. She died on impact, we think. Head-on with a drunk driver. It was about three this morning. It took us all morning to track down why she was a couple hours’ drive from her home. We think she must’ve just left you here.”
“My . . . mother?” Travis felt his heart beating fast. “No, she . . .”
He tried to catch his breath, but the air seemed so thin! She’d been there in the room that night. Although he’d seen her—even seen her enter the room and sit in the corner chair—he’d pretended to be asleep. When she’d fallen asleep, he’d watched her, wondering why she was there, even hating her for still trying to direct his life.
“I didn’t ask for her to come here!” Travis swiped violently at his welling tears. “She didn’t have to come! I didn’t even . . . talk to her. She left while I was . . .”
Travis tightened his fist at the memory of his mother leaving his room in the night, when he’d given his friends his full attention instead. They’d laughed at him, but his mother had wept for him. They had invited him to party with them when he left the hospital, but he knew already what his mother was there for. She cared for him, and he had ignored her. When he had needed her the most, he had shunned her and pushed her away. Now, she was gone.
“I’ve looked at your rap sheet,” the detective said. “You’ve been on a roll for a few years. Maybe you thought your rebellious life didn’t impact anyone else. Well, I’ll tell you what: I’ve got kids of my own, and I’m going to tell them all about you to scare them straight. You may have the power to live your own life, young man, but you can’t control who you damage along the way. Your mother’s death may not be on you legally, but she died because of you. You need to think hard about that.” He turned to his partner. “Come on. Let’s go.”
The two detectives left the room. Travis closed his eyes, the agony in his heart too much to bear. He’d wanted to live his own life, to live wild and free. She’d always told him about God’s corrective hand, but he hadn’t cared. Pleasure and parties had filled his teenage years. But now, so suddenly, he saw it all differently. He no longer had a mother. The mother he’d had, he’d pushed her away. Now what?
“God, I . . . need . . . to . . . change!” he prayed, and wept alone.
You can find other D.I. Telbat short stories here.
NOTE: Many thanks to David’s Beta Readers, for your input and reviews on his new novellas, STEADFAST Books Five & Six! The two books made it into the top slots in three Amazon Bestseller lists, which helped get more eyes on them, so thank you, all of D.I. Telbat readers! It’s never too late, Reading Friends, to add your reviews to Amazon, if you’ve not had a chance to do that yet! 😉
COMING UP: Join us next time for an Author Reflection, “Chaos and Crisis, or Peace and Safety?”