Scylla the Rock

Scylla the Rock
October 28
Rogue Soldier Bad Cop I always believed in redemption through violence until I became crippled and retired. Now I seek redemption through forgiveness. "...fear, that secret fear that follows every professional to the grave. Namely, that one day, out of a past so complex that he himself could not remember all the enemies he might have made, one of them would find him and demand the reckoning."-LeCarre "Men die and they are not happy"- Camus


Scylla the Rock's Links
OCTOBER 31, 2011 5:23AM

The World is Grown so Bad

Rate: 35 Flag



"He saw very clearly how all his life led only to this moment and all after led to no where at all.  He felt something cold and soulless enter him like another being and he imagined that it smiled malignly and he had no reason to believe that it would ever leave."-Cormac McCarthy

6 May 2009

"The world is grown so bad, that wrens make prey where eagles dare not perch."-Shakespeare

Scylla sits and waits.  He hates waiting but years of professional necessity had taught him the lesson of doing nothing while appearing calm, innocent.  He sits in the bar of the New Orleans airport early morning sipping slowly from a scotch, extra ice extra water.  Those great hands on the bar as he watches through the mirror over the bottles waiting for his son to try and sneak up on him as the lad is want to do.  No boy, no ride home yet.

He arrived at 0700hrs; no son.  After some time and no answer from Alec's telephone Scylla decided to sit and wait and have a drink to keep his wild temper in check.  Alec was probably sleeping off a late night, no worries as Scylla had a few of those in his past, not in the recent forever but he had them.

This weekend is a balls up and a bust by any measure.  Scylla's daughter, Patri, is graduating college so the line up of pain goes thusly; his ex-wife who hates him and her snotty, spoiling for a fight boyfriend, his ex-inlaws who think even less of him, his  parents with whom he has not spoken in some years; anyone from an Irish Catholic family would understand these internecine battles of blood that signify nothing.  The saving grace was that Scylla would get to see and love all three of his children and then he would return to Oahu with his son.

Scylla begins calling his son's friends to no answer.  Then his telephone rings, it is 0947hrs, Scylla takes note.  The caller ID reads  MS STATE.  Now what? "Hello, Scylla?, Listen this is Butch and I have some bad news.  You know I wouldn't do this over the telephone but the police are on their way to your Father's house so here it is: your boy was hurt last night, early this morning, hurt bad..."

"Is he dead?"

"Yes."  A moment, a second, no time at all to anyone else. 


Butch is the county coroner.  They have worked together in the recent past.  Scylla can not remember the rest of the conversation, only thinking later how strange it was to thank the man before he rang off.

His exclamation has drawn stares.  Scylla looks around and then finds a booth against the wall to slide into.  Any dark hole for the moment.  He must pull himself together.  At that moment he feels death enter his soul, never to relinquish its grip.  His son...a loud plaintive wail escapes.  His son.  Another wail.  Oh shit the girls...a loud moan.  Oh fuck Sarah...another.  Oh Soibhan (the ex)...another.  As she should the barmaid rings up the airport police for this wailing fool in her bar so early.  Three fine coppers arrive,  Scylla flashes them the tin.  They snap to.  "What do you need sir?"  Scylla explains and tells them a rental car and a quiet place to make some calls.  "No problem Sir just follow us", says the one in charge and he reaches out a hand to Scylla's shoulder.  In that second, that flash of a moment the rage and agony and grief and feeling of violence to come completely fills Scylla and runs electric through his body.  The officer feels it and short jumps back from the shock looking at Scylla askance, then he motions for Scylla to follow keeping his distance.

Scylla makes the calls, a bad day all around. Sarah, Soibhan, the girls his parents, Brother Thomas.  Scylla foreswears superlatives from this day forward.  Who can say what is the worst?  The hardest?  The longest?  His world has failed in its arc through space and time and Scylla's soul is pierced immeasurable.

Alec died.  He was leaving Mississippi and coming to Hawaii.  Some friends wanted to take him for a farewell blowout.  They eat and they drink and they drink.  A child, whom Alec has served with in Iraq is their designated driver, his girlfriend is a server at the bar.  Leaving this child and his girl begin to argue, it turns physical.  Alec intervenes and his comrade is hurt, embarrassed.  He has the keys so he runs to Alec's car and retrieves a pistol, my pistol, that Alec has put under the seat for the comfort of a gun.  He runs back, they struggle for the gun.  He shoots Alec through his hand into his hip, Alec steps back, the next shot rips through Alec's aorta and he falls mortally wounded.  My son dies.

The false dawn of now.

As they say, that was that.  The problem for Scylla is that from the first moment it was all about everyone else.  He had work to do, people to comfort, a wake and requiem Mass, a burial to plan a thousand things to do.  First to get home.  His house in Mississippi is 3 hours away, he wants to get there before his daughters arrive from Oxford, MS.  Scylla beats the rental like a one off, a throw down piece, use it and throw it away.  As he hits 98mph across the long causeway bridge he is working the cellphone.  His Priest is arriving home from Ireland and calls Scylla from Atlanta Airport.  They plan to meet the next day.  His wife calls, his ex-wife calls, the girls call, his parents call.  Everyone calls yet he can only put them off with, "Just get here the rest I do not know."

Home now, alone.  Scylla takes a shotgun, a box of shells, wraps it all in plastic then he paces off a distance in the woods behind his house.  He buries the package.  A soldier is so much the better for a weapon, read the manual, ask anyone.

The next day Scylla meets the Coroner and tells him what he wants.  "Now Scylla yer boy ain't cleaned up...they just finished the autops...the examination...he ain't presentable as yet.  I say wait."

"No", says Scylla, "I want my son and I want him now."  It's a simple statement of fact stated low and quiet.  Butch shrugs and motions Scylla into his abattoir.  Alec is covered in blood yet Scylla grabs his son, knowing in an instant that his son is gone.  This is the husk the hull.  After some tears Scylla thanks Butch and whispers, "You were right, sorry."

The rest of the days pass in a fast shadow.  The Irish wake at his home with the disbelief that this beir holds his son, the Requiem Mass with tears and "Ava Maria", the burial with that dark hole for his boy, the soldiers who fold the flag whilst Taps rings out and then the bagpipes wailing "Amazing Grace."  All the while Scylla holding up wives past and present, daughters, in-laws and assorted girl friends of his son. A soldier presents the folded flag, "Sir, a grateful nation mourns..."

All through these days I am shadowed by my children.  They need me and in fact I need them.  Yet I can not seem to slip off to the cemetary for some time alone with Alec.  This bothers me more then it should as every morning to this day I say a Rosary for Alec and then spend some time talking with him.  It is not enough.  I want to visit my son's grave, alone with no one else, just some time with my son.

"Oh this is the poison of deep grief."-Shakespeare

Suddenly the moment arrives, the window is open.  Sarah, living seperate for the moment is off to the big island for two weeks of training.  Scylla covers Brother Thomas with a few easy lies. Done and done. To fly Scylla uses a tame bank account he opened with an on-line trading company.  It is time.

 Alec rests on the lee side of a hill running down to a swamp, a water oak shades his grave under which sits a bench that Scylla made.  He sits there now.  Alec comes to sit with Scylla.  They speak.  Scylla cries.  The day grows late.  Alec offers his father, "You're tired Dad, why don't you lie your head on my shoulder and rest?"  Scylla does and he sleeps.

Early next morning Scylla tells Alec how sorry he is that he was not there to protect his son.  Alec grins, "Remember climbing Mt. Washington?  While we rested at Lake-in-the-Clouds?  That ranger came in and said that a snow storm had closed the summit.  Then after a while you rose and told me, Juice, Patri, Uncle Thomas and Grandfather to follow you, how the ranger protested, how we walked out into the snow?  I never doubted, I never felt fear.  Remember what you said?, "Did you come here to talk to a park ranger or did you come here to climb a mountain?" None of us ever felt unsafe within the reach of your arm and then later, beyond. We know that you are there for us.  Not then not ever with you as my father in my entire life did I worry.  Remember at the summit how you told me to look around?  How you told the girls and I that from this day forward no matter what ever happened no one could ever take this moment away?  I love you Dad.  You are with me, you are always with the three of us.  We all love you for that." 

Scylla spends the day again with his son.  Then it is time to leave, to fly before anyone discovers he's gone.  So Scylla stands as does Alec.  At six five Alec taller then his father, leans in for the kiss.  Cheek, forehead, cheek.  "I love you dad."  Scylla falters, "I love you, oh God do I love you son. I want to stay..." 

Such ghosts as these.

A pain without end. 



"Anyone who is anyone has the same dream,

were you falling, were you flying

were you calling out, or were you dying?"-E.P.


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Beautiful children and the bottom; a pain without end. I a bit comforted that Alec came to you and told you of his love and your care as a father.
As you have before, you draw us in and makes us feel part of the day, the time. The weight and the weariness.
Thank you for reading Rita. Were that I were a better father.
I would have better luck saving the polar icecap than saving my relationship with my family. Our family is flesh and blood, not something one need to defeat

You are writing more about John Alexander, and for that I am happy. But are you truly "ok"? You write of him, yes, but these are such intimate situations. I feel so special to be a part of this as I hope everyone who visits, feels the same.

It seems we on salon have one common denominator. Family issues, deep family issues. We are an introspective lot, so we can read more into things than most. And I am not saying things that don't exist, I am explaining, things people do not usually see

And because we are who we are, people confide in us and the minute they have a misadventure with us, they feel the need to invalidate (should we divulge their secrets) causing an even deeper rift in the family.

I love the Salon family. And I have always judged people not by how they treat me, but how they treat others. And you are so loved here, that is what I love about everyone here.
Scylla ... dear Scylla ... I have not a word that seems worthy ... only love and prayers, my dear friend. Much, much love.
Shakespeare had a way with words, did he not? So do you.
I cannot or should not presume to know or to feel the depths of your Pain Without End as you do.
But your words here, your indelible words, carry with them such remarkable sadness, that I cannot help but feel something overpowering, something otherworldly....
I think very often about you and your family, and I send my prayers your way just as often.
("Anyone from an Irish Catholic family would understand these internecine battles of blood that signify nothing." I have never read it described more aptly than this. )
Scylla, I know your every word, I know being the one with the strength that everyone comes to. But as I sit with my oldest son and we wait to see if he lives, in my long drives back and forth I talk with God and I am starting to see where I ask why me it is not about me it is about my son's journey. If it is your fault your son died then it is every parent who ever lost a child's fault and I can't live with that. I don't know if I lose this son if I will go on or not at this point but inside I know I must for everyone else who draws their strength from me. That is why we are here.
I hope you find peace in writing you and your sons story...
Wow. I read the first version and even returned, and it was gone. This was so raw and so beautiful. Turning such deep greif poison to literature has to be medal worthy. I'm crying and I'm speechless but still had to reach out to you in love and admiration.
Please understand beyond these sentences and any semblance of comfort sent your way, I have no words for this, Scylla but that the writing and the McCarthy and Shakespeare quotes used bring the point, the pain, home. Blessings to you and yours.
Hello, Scylla.
I just wanted to sit here with you for a bit ~
How incredibly sad and painful. I grieve with you.
Sometimes I wonder how we all get up in the morning. You suffered the worst I know. Powerful writing.
Sometimes I wonder how we all get up in the morning. You suffered the worst I know. Powerful writing. My blog is about the opposite end of life, making a pie with a 5 year old grandson, both deep and important.
Scylla, your writing is absolutely searing . . . you bring it across, man. I wish our reading helped more . . . I wish it would distribute the grief across us all, to make it lighter for you. However, I suppose that's not possible, nor would you want it to be lighter right now. For now, it sounds like that heaviness is what keeps your feet on the ground, keeps you in the game. For what it's worth, the moment you describe at Mt. Washington? It is priceless . . . .
"No", says Scylla, "I want my son and I want him now."

I cannot add a thing; it all boils down to those words.
Scylla, wow. I am stunned by the eloquence and elegance with which you told this story of deep raw pain. You put us there, you make us feel. I understand more why you are Scylla "the rock."
My heart hurts reading this, hurts for you and yours mostly, yet feel echoes of hurts for the resonating pain of my own losses, my own nightly worries for my young adult sons.
Yet, somehow, reading and feeling the love pouring through your words, makes this a beautiful love story.
DSL-Thank you for reading. OS is a fine place and I'm grateful for everyone here.
Little Kate-Your love and prayers are both deeply appreciated.
Linnnn-You are too kind. Thank you.
Michelle-Thank you so much. Nothing like the Irish to wage war amongst family.
Seer-I carry the living in my heart and my dead in my soul.
toritto-Another father of a lost son once told me that he cried every day for ten years. Seems about right. My daughters are a bright light in each day. I am sorry for your hard losses.
LL2-I do pray that your son recovers. Peace seems like a long gone dream. Strength and Godspeed.
Fernsy-Thank you for reading and your words of love. Such fine thoughts do stand me in good stead.
Scarlett-Thank you very much. Strong words from a fine author.
catch-22-Thank you so much for the company. I could not ask for more.
MHyR-Thank you for reading and passing some time here.
Janic Wood-It is a wonder I also ponder. Hug that Grandson tight.
Owl-Your reading and these comments help more then I can say. Thank you.
Margaret-Thank you for reading and your kind comment..
Kimberly-Yeah it's that kind of pain, you are kind to read.
keri-Thank you for reading. I wish I was more often a rock.
Just Thinking-We parents do worry about our kids, it is a very hard world and often love is all that we can give them.
Words are like blood dripping on the pages of sorrow. I cannot but tell you how much I think of you, your love as a father, your tenacity to wrench through every moment of your intense pain, both that of a lost son and a broken body, that survives to witness to a son so loved. You are loved.
Painful, yet so endearing, which makes it profound. Very well said, Scylla. This is a must read. Best wishes, my friend. R
Cathy GF-Thank you, your comments and love are indeed apreciated.
Thoth-Thank you for reading and grand comments.
Some pains have no end, only the sharpest blade to deepen our wounds day by day. May you find peace in using your pen as a sword.
Beautifully done. I too am so glad Alec came to you. What a gift, after such a horrible, incomprehensible loss.
Scylla the rock. Now I see where your name comes from. I am (I wish I knew some word besides 'glad') that you have OS to talk to.

Rated with a hug for strength.
Thank you for writing this. Or should I say: writing it again. I remember well an aborted version awhile back which was a rifle shot to the heart. This is far more…satisfying. Sounds obscene, the use of that word in this context . But you have become important to me, old boy, and I simply needed to know some of this.

It made me feel small, which is good. That is how we get bigger as men. For many years my fondest ambition in life was to commit a painless suicide. Due to mental torment. Now I see what a selfish despicable act it would have been. The pain inflicted on Mom or Dad or Sisters would have destroyed the rest of their lives. I stuck it out and got better and did some comfort and aid to my parents before delivering them to painless deaths, and am now earning all kinds of karma with my sisters. Reversing this family’s misery.
I have earned in my opinion a seat at God's right hand
this weekend, with this charming loveable canine whom I now
believe to be sent straight from hell to test my mettle. He is currently ingratiating himself with wide labrador eyes and seeming inability to be able to sleep after his dinner (inhaled in 4 seconds)
without head in my lap. After a day of let us say extreme emotional destruction of my already questionable mental stability.
Such a solemn yet beautiful song for your son. I have experienced the depths of grief myself but thankfully not for one of my children. I cannot imagine the pain. Thank you for posting. It must have been hard and not necessarily cathartic. I hope your son rests in peace.
"Remember at the summit how you told me to look around? How you told the girls and I that from this day forward no matter what ever happened no one could ever take this moment away? I love you Dad. You are with me, you are always with the three of us. We all love you for that."

Your son was right. The love is what stays.
May the sun always shine down on your sin.
Scylla--I just found this today. Your writing is amazing, searing, blinding. I am so sorry for your pain. I can't begin to say I imagine it, but you've given me a glimpse that makes me want to turn away, it is so hard and sharp.

I am so sorry for your loss.
You are such an amazing writer. It is so good it is a miracle!!!
I don't know how I missed all of these recent entries. I had a busy semester and did not see them. I am reading them in reverse and see how heavy the weight of this loss as I read. But never, in any of these posts do I ever see someone who is a bad father. I see a father who loved and children who knew they were loved. I see a man who is getting ready to shed the shackles of pain and return to those who are waiting to have him back and love him with all their hearts.
rated with love