Written for Magpie Tales
There were not many people at Gerald’s funeral. A couple of neighbours, three or four folk from his church and his health visitor . He had lived alone for years and although everyone around him did what they could for him, he never really seemed grateful .
There was however one person at the chapel whom nobody had seen before. Tall , expensively suited and with a skin the colour of polished mahogany . His gentle smile lit up the miserable grey walls and the leaden sky which peered through the chapel windows .
Thirty or so years ago , Gerald had been a manager at a gold mine in Africa . There, the local men toiled and laboured taking home a meagre wage , day in day out , year after miserable year . One evening after Gerald had finished his shift he was wandering back to his hut when he witnessed the appalling sight of a man raping a local girl . Had she not been wearing a bright yellow coloured garment he might never have noticed her . He was however too late to prevent the ghastly crime , and the guilt he felt for not being there minutes earlier haunted him for many a long month .
As a result the girl had conceived and in the following spring gave birth to a healthy baby boy . So moved was Gerald that he made a promise to see that the mother and child were supported both physically and financially for as long as he lived . Months later he returned to England and never saw them again. His attempts to contact the girl and her baby were unfruitful , but still he ensured that the financial help he had promised continued even though he realised that the aid he was sending could well be falling into the wrong hands .
A couple of weeks ago Gerald was lying in a hospital bed . He had few visitors and those did sit at his bedside never felt that he was in any way grateful for their visits . Then one afternoon a handsome young man strode up to his bedside. He was tall, expensively suited and had skin the colour of polished mahogany . His smile lit up the gloomy hospital ward and softened the leaden sky which peered through the windows . Gerald knew at once who the young man was, but was too weak to utter a single word .
‘My name is Gerald too’ said the visitor . ‘My Mother and I owe you a debt we can never repay . You have given us everything , for which we will be forever grateful . Yet I ask for one thing more . I simply ask that I be permitted to call you Father . Gerald’s feeble smile was all the confirmation the young man required .
At the graveside the gathered few scattered soil on Gerald’s coffin as it was lowered into the ground. The young man cast in a piece of bright yellow fabric . ‘Rest in peace Father’ he said .