The Last Paper Boys, Part II

Draft

As Stephen watched his hero, Jim Jackson, skip down the street to his home he was scared, scared shitless. When Jim looked back again at Stephen, he gave a confident thumbs up. Stephen started crying and sobbing with fear and trepidation.

Then, Jim, looked back again with a serious, but confident smile, and said, “meet me here tomorrow after school. Let’s do this together. ” Stephen, smiled and said to himself, “I can do this!” We can do this together.”

I can feel Stephen’s heart beat faster and faster. I’m hugging my bro right now when he needs it the most.

Stephen needs to be loved and encouraged. I hold Stephen in my heart and tell him now, “you can do this. We’ll do this together, bro. I love you!”

I know what it feels not to be loved. I know how it feels to be scared. I know how it feels to not feel safe. So, I keep saying softy with love and empathy, “Stephen, we’ll do this tougher.”

I put my arm around Stephen’s shoulder, giving him a reassuring squeeze, and whispered, “you can do this.. “Always have hope, never ever give up, no matter what happens, never ever give up.

Stephen always has hope.. He will never ever give up no matter what happens.

Stephen sucked it up, took a deep breathe, and walked back into the ‘fox hole’ called home. The young man didn’t know what home was back then. He was always scared.

As Stephen walked through the door, his bro, Danny, was heading into our shared bedroom. He looked back, rolling eyes, a pissed off look, and said, “don’t go into the kitchen, Dad’s home!”

We felt a little bit safer in our bedroom, Stephen thought. We had to be prepared for anything. The bedroom was a ‘fox hole.’ You know, a ‘bunker’ to stay clear of the cross fire. Or worse, a beating.

Danny and I learned how to survive. We got good, very good at dodging bullets and long arms. Danny loved it. Stephen was a lover not a hater.

Dad was always pissed off about shit. He took his anger out on us. We were always afraid of being beaten. We walked around the house ready for the other shoe to drop. We couldn’t escape Dad’s long arms.

Dad was a ‘sailor’s sailor.’ I do remember him as a scary dude. I probably wouldn’t have appreciated his leadership style, though.

I called up his ol’ shipmate Charles Minter who served with him during the Pacific War in 1943. Charles served with Dad back in 1943. Let’s go back in time to hear what coxswain Charles Minter said about his boss…

“I served with Bos’n Sparks on board the USS Bellegrove in October 1943. I was assigned to 3rd division after. “

“The first chewing out I got was Bos’n Sparks. He had the longest arm of anyone I ever saw. You didn’t fool with him. He was as fair as anyone this little 17 year old ever knew. He could get loud too.”

“I thought a lot of him on the ship. He was good me as he got me a pie job on the ship, but with the understanding I would keep his uniforms pressed all time, which I did. Hope this helps.” Charles R Minter USN WWII USS Bellegrove LSD2. “

I know Dad loved us. I believe now he was always a good person, even though he made mistakes. Dad wanted Danny and me to be strong like a sailorman. “Popye the Sailor Man” comes to mind. We wanted to be like dad too. But not the angry scary part.

Stephen went to sleep easily that night. Sleep was hard to find. Nightmares came most every night back then, but not that night. He fell asleep and dreamed about being with his hero, Jim Jackson.

I kissed Stephen on the cheek after he went to sleep, and whispered, “you can do this bro. I’ll walk with you.”

Next Part III… Jim’s paper route at Harbor General Hospital.

Writing is very healing for me. Hope this story touches hearts…

Steve Sparks

Danny and Stephen Sparks, Redondo Beach c1962