Are You Afraid?

There was an incident related to this story, which involved Papa Blowhard. This happened before Narciss arrived in Delian. My Nephew, Turbo, and brother, from Georgia came to Delian for a visit. Turbo was 14 or 15 at the time. Shortly after his arrival, it was amazing the numbers of teenage girls knocking on the door, all hours of the day and night, wanting to know if Turbo could come out and play. It just so happened that Papa Blowhard’s granddaughter was spending some time with Turbo, much to Papa’s chagrin. This is the same Papa of Blowhard Outfitters. He is the original (living) Blowhard of the bunch. The girl’s father spoke to me about it, nicely, and I said that I would do what I could, but I couldn’t watch the boy all the time. I had given Turbo a bicycle so the lad could be anywhere in town. I told him who to avoid, and where to avoid going, and I think the boy listened and complied pretty well. We had to bring the bicycle in at night to keep it from being stolen; lesson learned because we actually had to go looking for it a time or two. Turbo and I did talk about the girl and her father’s wishes, and I told him to behave himself, and satisfied myself that nothing inappropriate was happening. I know the lad liked girls, but hadn’t quite matured enough to know what to do with them. It was that awkward age. Anyway, old Papa said some nasty stuff to me one day, about Turbo seeing his granddaughter. I basically told him to bug-off.

A day or two later, Turbo informed me that he had an encounter with Papa Blowhard. The essence was that the lad was walking near the harbormaster building when Papa drove up beside Turbo in his truck. Papa said that he didn’t want Turbo to be seeing his granddaughter, and if he heard about it again, Turbo would be going back to Georgia without his family jewels. I figured that Turbo was a little nervous about that, even though he acted like it was nothing. We talked a while, and both agreed that regardless of what we thought about Papa, there were plenty of other teenage girls around who didn’t seem to have such grumpy parents and grandfather. I told Turbo to watch out for Papa, stay away from him more than ten feet, keep an eye on him, and not get cornered by him, especially if alone.

Meanwhile, I made a point of telling the new Delian Chief of Police, Catchcya Ubetcya, about the incident. I told Chief Ubetcya that I wanted to consider filing a complaint and perhaps a restraining order against Papa. I figured that Papa had threatened the lad with castration, and probably meant it. So, because of my persistence, the Chief came over to the house on Front Street and interviewed Turbo, in my presence. After Turbo had told the same story which he recounted to me, the final question from the Chief was “are you afraid”? I remember the question well, because I thought it was odd, and it was the first time I had heard such a question from a police officer. Turbo’s instant response, without reflection or coaching, was “heck no – I can out-run the old fart.” The chief and I chuckled a bit, but there was something off-center about that last conversation exchange. What if Turbo had said he was afraid? It’s a loaded question and rather open ended; afraid of what or whom? Plus, the question is asked in the present tense, not was the lad afraid at the time the threat was made. It was a question with intent.

Considering the bigger picture, it’s a silly question. First of all, Turbo wouldn’t have admitted he was afraid, even if he was. It’s the kind of thing little girls would do, a wussy cry-baby thing, and it’s not in Turbo’s nature to admit being afraid. He got that from his daddy, who got it from our daddy, who got it from his daddy, and so forth. Admitting being afraid, it ain’t a manly thing, but I understood that, and I understood why Turbo had come to me to discuss it. Men just deal with it.

That conversation and incident would have remained subterranean memory for the rest of my life, except for subsequent events, when I would hear Chief Catchcya Ubetcya ask the question “are you afraid” again, different scenario.

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