Fathom Mag
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Published on:
June 9, 2020
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2 min.
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Jacob (Part V)

Jacob is a series of flash fiction that takes place in 2005, when we were still trying to figure out if Jack and Meg White were siblings or exes.

Dennis Parker had always struggled to connect with his son. They were so different. While John loved to play guitar and read, Dennis could happily get lost in numbers and spreadsheets, and had no idea who Death Cab for Cutie was. On a good day, Dennis would get a one word answer from John about school or life. He wondered if maybe they would have more in common as John grew older. But time only seemed to increase their distance. 

John’s plan had worked.
Rachel Joy Welcher

Jacob remembered the day when John’s dad visited their eighth grade classroom. The dads were supposed to share about their careers, and there was a fireman, a grocery store owner, and a lawyer presenting that day. When John’s dad got up in front of the classroom, Jacob remembers watching John sink lower and lower into his chair. You see, Dennis Parker sold megaphones. This in and of itself could have been impressive to a group of eighth graders, but Dennis Parker didn’t have the most social grace. He told corny jokes, and that day, he told them into a megaphone. 

Jacob didn’t mind being at John’s house. He kind of enjoyed the corny jokes, plus John’s house was quieter than his, with no little sister to deal with. He often went there after school to do his homework. John would empty a box of sour patch kids onto the kitchen table and they would chew and solve equations in silence. Friends you can be quiet with are a rare treasure. 

But two years earlier, while munching on malt balls and finishing their English assignment, there was a knock at the door. A heavy knock. A repeated knock. John finally got up to answer it. When Jacob walked over to see what was happening, he saw two police officers. They were asking about Dennis. Jacob saw John throw up his hands and point to the driveway.

“He’s not here. He’s still at work,” John said.

“Thank you, young man,” one cop said.

“I don’t understand, what’s wrong?” John asked, but they had already started to walk back to their cars.

“Hey...it’ll be okay,” Jacob said, trying to provide some comfort to John as they walked back to the kitchen table. “I’m sure it’s nothing.” But John seemed to know that it wasn’t.

Oddly enough, it wasn’t until Dennis Parker was sentenced to four years in jail for embezzlement that he found out how much his son actually cared about him. John’s visits were consistent, and he talked more than he ever had before - about school, the band, and what he was reading. 

“Chris McCandless completely misunderstood the writings of Jack London,” he explained to his dad, with passion, after being assigned Into the Wild for English class. “Nature always wins.” Dennis smiled, and nodded. 

When John started visiting the other prisoners, Dennis watched in awe. They liked John. He made them feel connected to their families. He took notes. He was faithful. And over time, they began treating Dennis with dignity and respect. John’s plan had worked. 

The day Dennis was handed a copy of the newsletter John and Jacob had created, he made a decision. He would be at John’s graduation. Even if it meant more jail time. Public humiliation. Crawling through a man-made tunnel. He would be there. 

But he would not be there long. 

Listen to this sketch

 

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Rachel Joy Welcher
Rachel Joy Welcher is an editor-at-large at Fathom Magazine. She earned her Master of Letters in Bible and the Contemporary World from The University of St. Andrews. She is the author of two collections of poetry: Two Funerals, Then Easter and Blue Tarp, and has written for The Gospel Coalition, Mere Orthodoxy, RELEVANT, and The Englewood Review of Books. Her book, Talking Back to Purity Culture: Rediscovering Faithful Christian Sexuality, is coming out from InterVarsity Press in 2020. Rachel lives in Glenwood, Iowa, with her husband, Evan, and their dog, Frank. You can follow her on Twitter @racheljwelcher.

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