Count 19

He is old now, sitting, weakened eyes gazing out to catch sight of something far off.

Perhaps the memory plagues him still, not letting him forget.

My brother died a year ago April; maybe he seeks forgiveness in a world that will not.

It was not always that way; his hands were strong and hardened with labour; his arms of only bone, sinew and muscle could wield a mighty maul as a child would a rattle.

The weapon bore a shaft that fit perfectly in the hand as did the handle of the hammer; tapered so that the grip could not be lost.

The sweep of the weapon was clear for the full range.

The beam in the cellar held the tally for each that would never be erased.

The weapon was an inch by four; solid oak that could not bend.

One: the silence of death was all that there was.

Two: the heart was in the ears.

Three: never has such a sound ever been heard.

Four: the echo of the strike was in the attic.

Five: satan was silenced.

Six: no word could come to stop the next as the breath had gone;

Seven: blood vessels crushed.

Eight: muscle now congealed blood.

Nine: struck mid back crushing bone.

Ten: ribs broken.

Eleven: hands trying to protect took the full impact.

Twelve: oak broke over muscle and bone that was no longer.

Thirteen: new oak, stronger, harder swings, anger, hatred.

Fourteen: no more please.

Fifteen: a slice through mind never to mend.

Sixteen: legs fail, yet more blows.

Seventeen: yesterday, it was, the ears can hear.

Eighteen: words are gone, fingers silenced.

Nineteen: time is still, mercy a lie.

My brother said nineteen and that was the count.

Coach let him stay in the locker room during the rally for the football game as he could not sit and could not stand.

The sin for the tally was simple: one mark for each letter missed in each word on a spelling quiz so many years before.

He left for the army before the tally was erased.

He went to his grave before the debt was paid.

He is old now and sits there still, trying to remember that it did not happen.

My heart remains in fear.

Nathan A. Busch

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3 Responses to “Count 19”

  1. btusing2011 Says:

    I am grieved beyond measure. I never knew. I know brother is in heaven where pain and bad memories shall never dwell. But we must forge on in this evil,unlovely world. Redemption and forgiveness don’t come easy and only through the power of Jesus can we forgive and seek solace. So may the mighty oak bring peace to his days coming to an end.

    Brother you must do likewise. Love cast out all fear.

    • Becky:

      There is nothing that I do not remember.

      Nathan A. Busch

    • Becky:

      I thought further about your comment.

      It was not the first time that it happened and it certainly was not the last time. All six brothers were subjected to it.

      After my second Ph.D., whilst I was in law school, I was finally diagnosed with a congenital form of severe dyslexia.

      Nathan A. Busch

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