The Walking Wounded
Copyright© 2012 by Robert McKay
Back at Kevin's place Karin shut the door behind her and leaped at her fiancé. "A boy!" she shouted. "We're going to have a boy!"
Kevin was big – huge, even, nearly a giant. But Karin's exuberant weight staggered him, and he held on tight as much to keep from falling as out of love and joy. "Yeah, babe, we're gonna have a boy. So what're we gonna name 'im?"
Karin's face sobered. "Hmmm ... I had names picked, depending on whether the baby was a boy or a girl. What I had planned for a boy was Jacob Benjamin Seguín. But now his last name will be Farley, and I want to name him after you."
"Karin, you gotta be kidding!"
"No. I love you, you're going to be my husband, and you're going to be my baby's father. What better way to honor your love, and your faith, and your goodness, than to name our baby after you?"
Kevin shook his head. "Kar, you don't wanna name no baby after me. I've been a real slime, babe. I've been a drug dealer, an' I've fought people with fists and knives and guns, an' I've been with any woman who was handy, an' it's only God's hand that kept me alive through all these years. I should be dead, the way I lived. I should have VD or worse. I'm exactly what that 'Amazing Grace' song is talkin' about, Karin. Don't name the kid after me."
She seemed set to argue further, and then looked at his face. Her own face showed the realization that he wasn't angry or just being stubborn, but was speaking with sadness. "You really mean it, don't you, sweetheart?"
"Yeah. Look, maybe if we have another boy later on we can name him after me, okay? But right now, I just don't want to lay that kind o' thing on my son ... my first son, Kar."
"You don't have any other children?" Karin's voice had a tinge of sadness in it as well.
"Not that I know of. You gotta understand, Kar, I was never with one woman long enough to know. I never was with one steady for so much as six months, an' most of 'em it was more like two or three months, or maybe even a couple of weeks. An' that's not countin' the broads I took in the bedroom at a party an' never thought of again. Maybe I do got some kids somewhere, but if I do I never heard about it."
"How sad for you." She leaned her head against his shoulder. "I've been frightened of your past, Kevin – not of your past, exactly, but frightened for the danger you were in. But it never occurred to me until now just how tragic your life has been. My poor Kevin..."
"I hadn't thought of it that way either..."
"It seems like every time we talk we learn something new about you."
"You said at the doc's office that we're the walkin' wounded. I guess this is another wound, ain't it?"
"'Isn't it, ' Kevin. And yes, you're right. And as hurt as we found out Dr. Sanders is, and as much hurt as Jerry caused me, I think maybe you've suffered more than either of us."
"How?" His hands were stroking her hair, gently pressing her head against his shoulder.
"Well, Kevin, you had a horrible childhood. You had no mother, and from what you've said your father didn't care for you any more than he might have cared for a dog – less, maybe. You left school in your teens, missing out on an education. You left home in your teens, and never had another home until now ... I suppose you didn't really have a home even before you left. You've never known love, or compassion, or gentleness. If I understand what you've said, your 'friends' cared about you more for what you could do for them than for you yourself." She lifted her head, and stroked a hand over his bearded cheek. "You've had nothing, Kevin."
"Yeah, that's true, I guess. But now I got you, an' I got a son." He pushed her away just a little, and reached down – again amazed at his daring – to place his palm on her stomach. "Never mind what's back there. It's what's right here that counts."
"Which brings us back to the question – what will we name our son?"
"Well," he said, and grinned at what he was doing, "how 'bout we name him after you?"
"A boy named Karin? Come on, Kev!"
"No, we won't name him Karin. But ... what's your middle name, anyway?"
"Well, we can't do that either. Hmmm ... how 'bout Seguín?"
"For his first name?"
"Sure. An' you had a good name for him before we met, good Bible names. How 'bout Seguín Jacob?"
"Seguín Jacob Farley ... I like it. I wouldn't expect to like that for a first name, but I do."
"Names are what you make 'em ... or somethin' like that. I'm not real sure what I mean. But there's some people with odd names out there an' it don't seem to bother 'em none. I knew a chick one time – not many black biker chicks, but she was one – name o' Shakishia. If I'd o' been her I'd 'o strangled my parents." He chuckled at the idea. "An' I knew one dude named Beverley. He had to fight a lot. Never could figure out why he didn't just change his name..."
"You do have a point. John Wayne's real name was Marion Michael Morrison."
"Huh – I didn't know that."
"That's all right – most people don't." She giggled. "So it's Seguín Jacob. Hello, Seguín ... although I suppose we'll probably call him Jake."
"Yeah, prob'ly. But he'll still have the name."
Karin smiled. "And even if we haven't named him after you, he's still a Farley."
Kevin touched her dimples, first one and then the other. "You're mighty cute when you smile, girlie. Yeah, he's a Farley. An' I guess when he starts growin' up he'll have to know 'bout how we got together."
"He will. We won't lie to him, Kevin. And besides, it's great story of grace and romance. But the time will come on its own, and God will guide us in recognizing it."
"Yep." He was still getting used to God's guidance, but he'd learned that it was real – for hadn't God led him to Karin? All the turns in the road, when he'd thought he was deciding on his own which direction to take – they'd all been under God's control. God had wanted him to marry Karin, and had worked it out so that the turns he naturally made were exactly the turns God wanted him to make to meet her. "Meanwhile, we gotta get the weddin' goin'."
Karin clapped a hand to her mouth. "Oh, Kevin, I forgot!"
"Figured you might've," Kevin said with a smile. "You was all excited 'bout the kid."
"'Were' excited, Kevin. And I was. Do you have a calendar around here?"
"Yeah, in the kitchen." And they walked that way.
They stood shoulder to shoulder, looking at the calendar. "Kevin," Karin said, "those pictures..."
"Those women are barely dressed."
"Yeah, I know."
"I'd really like it if you'd get another calendar."
He looked at her for a moment. "You know, I been thinkin' o' that myself, but I never got around to it, you know? But yeah, I'll change it out tomorrow."
"Thank you, Kevin. It's not just that I don't like it. And I don't. Pictures like that are what we've talked about – treating women as pieces of meat. But beyond that, those pictures aren't godly."
"Yeah. I knew there was something about it that wasn't really right..."
"It's all right, Kev – you're still learning." She smiled. "I just wish that on this one occasion you'd learned without my help, before I came along and saw the pictures."
"Shoot, Kar, you're my best teacher."
"Well, I'm a teacher, anyway."
"Okay," Kevin said, returning to the subject, "a month from today is on a Wednesday. I guess we could get married then..."
"We could, but I'd hoped to have the wedding on a weekend."
"You don't want one o' them fancy jobs with lace an' a fancy dress an' suits an' all that, do you?"
Karin looked at him. "Kevin, I would swear that frightens you."
"It does, Kar. I don't know nothin' 'bout any o' that stuff, an' I'm too old to learn an' I don't want to learn."
"Surely you weren't planning to get married in your usual clothes."
"What's wrong with my clothes?"
She examined him – jeans, engineer boots, a white t-shirt today with oil stains on it, and his leather vest with the Skulls logo on the back. "Kevin, a wedding isn't the same thing as church. It's a very special occasion. You only get married once – at least to the same man. You don't want to treat it like something ordinary."
"Kar, I'm 45 years old. Yeah, I love you an' I can't wait to be married to you, an' I can't wait to be with you forever. But I can't see makin' a humongous fuss over it. Yeah, it's special, I don't say it's not, okay? But I am what I am, Karin. An' I can't change now, not even for a wedding."
"Not even for me?"
He scratched at his beard. "Karin ... darlin' ... I been changin', ever since August, all right? You've had a lot to do with that. But..."
She knew what he meant, even though he found it impossible to say. "Kevin, I don't want you to dress up in a tux, and I'm not planning to wear a wedding dress – and certainly if I did it wouldn't be white. But I want us to do more than we do every Sunday."
Kevin took in a breath, and let it out again. And then a mischievous look came over his face. "Tell you what, Kar – I'll get as dressed up as I can stand, an' you do what you can stand, an' we'll make it work somehow."
One thing at a time, Karin said to herself. "Okay, Kevin, I'll settle for that. I guess I really don't want to change you – not too much, anyway. I do love you as you are, after all." And she gave him a kiss.
"Meanwhile, when's the weddin'?"
"Oh my, we didn't pick a date, did we?"
"Well," she said, "we'd decided on a month, more or less, after today. And since I want to get married just as soon as I can, let's say Sunday the 12th."
"That's good, Kar." He picked up a pen from the counter and circled the date on the calendar. "Weddin' bells, Karin ... although MJT ain't got ... doesn't have ... any bells."
"Wedding bells, indeed – and I'll be there with bells on."
"An' I'll be there to carry you away, bells an' all."
"Before you do that, big boy," she said, thumping him in the chest with a knuckle, "we've got to do a few things. We have to arrange for it, and we have to get the license, and we have to announce it..."
"If we're not havin' a big fancy weddin', we don't gotta have all them fancy invitations, do we?"
"No – we can do it by phone. Or, if you're in the mood for surprises, one of us can just stand up during the service and shout it out."
"I guess I did spring it on you the hard way, didn't I?"