The Little Boy Lost
by William Blake
Father, father, where are you going
O do not walk so fast.
Speak father, speak to your little boy
Or else I shall be lost,
The night was dark no father was there
The child was wet with dew.
The mire was deep, & the child did weep
And away the vapour flew.
My mother died when I was ten. I was raised by my father but he was seldom around. He loved Mexico and traveled there often, alone. When he was home, he spent most of his time carousing the bars, womanizing and gambling. I learned how to get by on my own and as soon as I could, I moved out, got a job and didn’t see my father again until the last year of his life.
He contacted me. I was reluctant at first to see him but he persisted. He feigned a deep guilt for the way he’d treated me. I didn’t believe a word he said but he was the only family I had so I reluctantly agreed to spend some time with him.
We didn’t do much together, mostly drank in bars and talked. Or, he talked and I listened. He apologized for leaving me alone at an early age. Said he was so distraught after my mother died that he just went off the deep end. I suppose I wanted to believe that he loved me but there was really nothing between us and it was too late to create something now out of nothing. Never the less, I let him use me as a therapist, and boy did he vent.
“You’re all I’ve got,” he said, and I think he meant it. “I’m dying. I have something for you,” he told me. “You’ll see.” I figured he just wanted some company in his last years, someone to take care of him, and what the hell, I went along with it. It’s not like I had a lot of options. I could have walked away but for some reason I couldn’t explain, I didn’t. And then, one day I found out that he had died.
An attorney called to tell me. “Your fathers dead and he left everything to you.” I felt strangely sad. Then I got to thinking, what did the attorney mean by everything?
Well, there wasn’t much. His house was mortgaged to the hilt. His bank account was one social security check away from zero. The only other thing he had was a shitload of Mexican Art.
I hated Mexico. The one time he took me down there was the last time I went. It was hot and humid. There were bugs that had a feast with my skin. The people were either pitifully poor or obscenely rich. And the food and water made me sick. So sick that I spent most of my time in the poorly air conditioned room sucking on lemon and lime popsicles. Had it not been for the ice cream vendor wandering up and down the beach, I would have died, I’m sure of it.
I looked at the Mexican Art and soon became furious. What utter bullshit. He spent all his money (whatever money he had) on hundreds of stupid wooden carvings of animals painted in psychedelic colors with what I supposed were symbols by the indigenous people, the earliest settlers of Mexico. These fantastic creatures were called Alebrijes and were from Oaxaca where there are more dialects than chili peppers. They didn’t impress me at all but he told me once that “collectors” would pay outrageous prices for them. He had meticulously pasted little price stickers on the bottoms of the animals.
He had hundreds of painted pottery from Tonala – birds, frogs, rabbits, cats, dogs, etc. These were priced with the same little stickers as were the numerous framed paintings that hung on his walls. I had to laugh at the prices. They were preposterously high. But, in his desk he had a list of “collectors”, names, addresses, phone numbers. I figured he knew I’d sell everything without a second thought and he wanted to make sure I got a good price. He had always been like that. “Do not cast your pearls before swine,” he’d say. “Jesus said that son, and if Jesus said it, it’s good enough for me.” That’s one of the few things I remember him telling me.
After I paid to have my father cremated and his ashes ensconced in a painted ceramic urn he bought in Zihuatanejo, I put his house up for sale. I advertised a Mexican Art sale and made sure to contact all the “collectors” on his list. My expectations were low. I hoped to make enough (after paying off the mortgage) to cover the cremation and maybe have a little left over for a trip or something.
The day of the sale I was amazed at the crowd. Not only the numbers of people but the diversity. There were blue collar types and stockbrokers, blacks, Asians, and even a few Hispanics. What was even a bigger surprise was that the buyers bid the prices up beyond what was marked on those little price stickers. I had no idea so many people were interested in Mexican Art.
I would have sold everything in just a couple of hours but I forgot some of the items in the garage. I discovered them when I was locking up before I left. There were two framed watercolors, one of a beach vendor pushing a cart in the sand and another of a boat in Banderas Bay. These were from Puerto Vallarta. There were a few ceramic pieces and alebrijes. I put all these in a box and took them home, the only memories of my father I had along with his ashes.
The house sold the next day. The buyer, an Hispanic man, waived all inspections and asked for the shortest possible escrow period. All cash offer. It was fine with me. I was ready to move on. I heard later that the new owner intended to completely remodel the house but left before the work was done.
That didn’t matter to me. I had already banked the proceeds of sale. I made more money than I ever expected on the Mexican Art and the sale of the house. Suddenly a whole new array of options opened up. I decided to completely change my life.
That’s when I got the knock on the door. Two DEA agents arrested me and searched my house. They confiscated the box of Mexican Art left from the sale. They took the urn with my father’s ashes. They froze my bank account. I was flabbergasted. I found out from the court appointed attorney that all the Mexican artifacts were stuffed with bags of cocaine. There was also cocaine stored in the walls and under the floors the house.
I’m in jail now waiting to see how this turns out. It doesn’t look good. I can’t sleep at night. I’ve lost weight. My hair has turned prematurely gray. I’m sending this to you as a last resort. You were my father’s attorney. It was you who handled my fathers estate. You must know that I’m innocent. I had no knowledge of the drugs. Please help me. I beg you.
I read my letter through again and again. I looked at the envelope. It had been stamped RETURN TO SENDER, NO SUCH PERSON, NO SUCH ADDRESS. I ran my fingers over the cold black block letters. “I have something for you. You’ll see,” my father had told me. I should have disclaimed my inheritance but it was too late now. I was a drug dealer in the eyes of the law and my fate was sealed.
The Little Boy Found
by William Blake
The little boy lost in the lonely fen,
Led by the wandering light,
Began to cry, but God, ever nigh,
Appeared like his father, in white.
He kissed the child, and by the hand led,
And to his mother brought,
Who in sorrow pale, through the lonely dale,
Her little boy weeping sought.