The Womanless Man, continued, 1

30 Jan


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There were two things Stewart Walker had never before done. Deer hunting was one, and living without a female companion was the other. The abhorrence for the first and the need for the other were both part of his childhood, and ran deep in his veins.

As to deer hunting, or any kind of hunting at all, his anti mindset was the result of an accident that happened on purpose. One Christmas his younger brother (whose name was not Ralphie) got a Daisy air rifle as a present. Stew’s parents knew better than to ever give him one, as he was definitely the most reckless and careless of the two brothers. A few days after Christmas, the first snow of the year fell, blanketing everything in white. Early in the morning, Stew dressed quickly, and while his brother and the rest of the household slept, “borrowed” the Daisy, and stepped out into his backyard. The hunter eyed about for something to shoot, but there was nothing of any challenged. Until the robin. Several dozens of yards away, just over the crest of a hill that sloped to the street, a lone robin pecked at the snow, desperately trying to find something to eat. Stew crouched, then lay prone in the snow, the cold numbing his legs and chest. He aimed the Daisy, peering down its shiny barrel, and positioned the pecking robin at the top of the site. Just before he squeezed, he thought better, and decided to aim higher and miss the bird rather than risk actually hitting it. Up went the barrel to the point Stew was sure of the miss, and then he squeezed the trigger, poof! To his horror he was able to see the BB leave the barrel of the Daisy and arch up and then back down to hit the bird! 

“My God!”

He struggled up from his sniper position and clumsily ran through the snow to where the bird had been. It was gone. Then he spotted movement down by the street, and saw the wounded robin struggling in the snow, trying to fly off, but to no avail. He slid down the hill to the street, thinking to somehow catch the robin and find a way to undo what he had done, but the bird was hysterical with fear, and kept a distance from Stew. He followed the bird until it slipped through a metal grate into the sewer and was gone.

“Hey!” complained his brother when Stew came back into the house with the Daisy. “Who said you could use my rifle?”

Stew shoved the cold weapon into his brothers hands.

“You can take your stupid gun!”

* * *

The need for female companionship was, in his way of thinking, a genetic trait generously passed down by his father, who had always been greatly appreciative of the opposite sex. His father loved his mother deeply, and their’s was a love story for the ages. But it was not without its dips. A photographer by hobby, his father was what the family called a “fanny man,” focusing on the derrieres of any comely women at any time — but mostly at the beach. Stew’s mother and sisters were objets d’arte for his camera lenses, which Stew never dwelt upon. Dad was Dad. Perhaps his father’s great love for women had to do with how he was raised by his mother and great-aunt. His father had died in the Great Swine Flu epidemic when his mother was pregnant with him. Stew’s father grew up without male influences, and was also an only child.

Stew gravitated toward females at an early age, which his father encouraged. He had an old black and white photo his father took of him hugging and kissing one of the girls who lived in the neighborhood, and throughout the years other photos mapped his maturation as well as his long line of girlfriends.

There was a time when Stew was just entering puberty (which he did at a very early age) his father returned home from a business trip to New York with a “house girl.” She was Chinese and beautiful, and Stew was instantly smitten. Mom was not.

While he explained through hems and haws how he came to agree to bring Kim Lee back  home, the tension in the house grew at an exponential rate. Stew’s own tension was of a different nature. Kim Lee quickly ended up being moved to live as a companion to his father’s mother, who was somewhat infirm. Stew found a thousand reasons to go over to “Bapa’s” during the stint of Kim Lee’s stay. It was not long before Kim Lee packed her bags and returned to New York, driven to the train station by Stew’s mother. He always wondered what the conversation was about on that drive to the station. The next weekend his mother and father flew to St. Thomas for a week. Kim Lee’s name never again came up in conversation. 

Nearly every relationship he fell into was fatal, in that he was more than willing to deepen each, while his girlfriends tended to be more laissez-faire. Rarely did the return match his emotional investment. He could not help investing hours on the phone, or money on plush gifts or silver charms, or even dinners at the best steakhouses followed by a movie. 

His first wife suggested perhaps he was denied breast-feeding too soon. Instead of the life-long commitment his mother and father had, it turned out she was far more generous and nonexclusive with her affections. Though Stew tried to make a go of it, he finally accepted the inevitable.

“I never liked that girl,” his mother later confessed to him. 

His second wife, whom he referred to as his “Ender Wife,” was a decade younger than he. She was careful and very circumspect about marrying anyone who had been previously married.

“The odds are against you,” said she.

Pre-existing children (of which he had sired two) were also a no-no. 

“You end up loving children who aren’t your own, and hating their biological mother,” she said, which turned out to be prophetic.

But she was in her early thirties, and her biological clock was ticking, and Stew came across as supportive and loving.

“You’ll be wonderful during my labors and deliveries!” She anticipated giving birth to at least two children. “And you will be a wonderful father.”

What seemed idyllic was to a point, then, as reality sets in over the years, and each realized the distance in age was problematic, among other things, the two parted.

At that point in his life, Stew had been married most of his adult life. And what he initially viewed as a new freedom, gradually became old and tired. There were no breakfast table conversations now. No haggling over a new lamp or piece of furniture. No shared concerns over the children, of which he was now father of four.

He tried the online dating and match-making services, which all turned out disastrous. So, licking his wounds, he moved to the mountains, and resolved never again to inflict himself upon another woman. 

Which is how he had come to be in the middle of nowhere, hiking in the bitter cold with a heavy backpack and another geezer like himself, prepared to blow the hell out of Bambi.

* * *

Continued . . .

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