“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” – Oscar Wilde
Hondo didn’t want to be that guy; the one who’d conquer and then run never staying long enough to assess the damage and never taking responsibility that what he had done over and over had left a remnant that would one day come back and make him pay. His reputation was well deserved, and he ignored the fact that by now no one was fooled. He was that guy; he was that man who felt entitled to do whatever he wanted in the name of being a grown ass man. He knew better, his mother had taught him better by the way she had lived her life and how it was not okay for his father to walk out and leave her and to pretend it didn’t devastate her and leave scars impossible to hide or heal. He’d sworn and promised himself that he’d never be that guy; his father…but here he was, another failed relationship because he ran when things got too serious.
Nichelle was supposed to be the proof that he’d become a better man; that he’d learned his lessons and that he’d been forgiven for his past sins. She’d warned him and she wasn’t an easy win like so many others before her. Boldly, he’d accepted the challenge which fed his desire to be better. He failed.
So now here he was starting another day ready to fight the demons that threatened his city while ignoring the demons within that threatened to destroy him. He didn’t have the right or the time to be happy; at least that’s what he told himself whenever he began drowning and running, running and tired of running. Life went on; was going on and it seemed as if Nichelle had gotten the memo even if he had not that it was time to move on for survival sake.
He’d arrived early to continue where he’d left off the night before pounding the large bag into submission. The large bag had allowed him to swing and make contact without judgement. It felt like therapy without having to sit before a doctor who’d watch and assess and then finally give an opinion. That was not what he needed or wanted and so again, he swung hitting the bag over and over. The pain in his hand was encouraging; it reminded him that he was alive and that he could still feel even if it also meant that his heart was breaking empty and full at the same time.
He’d promised himself and her even if he hadn’t spoken the words out loud and even if he hadn’t convinced himself fully, that he was serious this time; he wasn’t the same Hondo, the man who the other women spoke about in not so flattering terms. Nechelle was his attempt at being a better man…for real this time.
Hondo had showered and dressed just before the rest of his team had arrived. One by one Deacon, Luca, Chris, Tan and Street filed into the locker room. Hondo tried to quickly pull himself together, ever the pillar of strength. None of them were fooled; Chris remembering the night before, watching her boss pounding the large bag as if his life depended on it. He never shared and last night was no exception. He greeted them and made a hasty retreat.
“Is he okay?” Luca asked.
“I think so, why?” Deacon responded.
“I don’t know he seems off.”
“Just give him some space, he’ll let us know if he wants to talk.” Deacon assured.
Space, maybe that was what Hondo needed; space to think to make some decisions about his life, but space also meant silence and the silence was what he feared the most. His demons who whispered his truth and haunted him lived freely in silence; no, now was not the time for silence.
His phone rang; he was disappointed that it wasn’t Nechelle but surprised at the name flashing on screen.
Jeannie was Buck’s wife and she had left him shortly before the Raymont Harris shooting. Hondo always wondered if their separation had also driven him to take his life. Hondo had tried to stay in touch with her for the first year after Buck’s death but over the last several months he’d allowed his job to keep him from checking in on her.
“Hello Hondo. I’m sorry am I disturbing you?”
“No, no of course not. Uh, how are you?”
“Listen Jeannie I’m sorry for not keeping in touch…I should have called, and I know there’s no…”
“Hondo, you don’t owe me any apologies. I know if I needed you, I could count on you.”
“Of course, you can always.”
“Look, I know you must be busy.”
“I’m never too busy for you, you know that.”
“Thank you. I…”
Hondo heard her voice crack and he knew something was wrong. Jeannie had made it her mission to include Hondo in their family gatherings; most of which he declined always having some sort of excuse, but the times when she would not let him say no, were some of his happiest moments. He appreciated her friendship.
“I was clearing out the garage yesterday and I came across a box that had some of Buck’s things in it. I thought I had gotten rid of everything. Hondo, there was a large envelope addressed to you.”
“Me, what’s in it?”
“It’s sealed and I didn’t open it. I was wondering if we could meet so I can give it to you?”
“Of course, how about if I come by after work?”
“That would be perfect, thanks Hondo.”
Home of Jeannie Spivey – Evening –
Hondo slowly climbed the steps to the front door. He hadn’t been here in almost three years; it felt like yesterday. Hondo was surprised that Jeannie had kept the house that she had abandoned when she’d left Buck. Looking around he noticed the weeds and general disrepair and he made a mental note to come by soon to clean things up. Maybe a day of hard labor would ease the guilt of not keeping yet another promise.
“Hondo, thanks for coming.”
Jeannie stepped aside to let him in. The inside of the house was the complete opposite of the exterior. It was spotless and everything was in its place even more so than before she had left.
“How about a beer?”
Hondo casually walked around the room; very little was left that would give a hint that Buck and Jeannie had spent nearly twenty years there. He noticed boxes full and taped in several places around the room, some labeled to give a hint to what was inside.
Jeannie returned from the kitchen handing Hondo a bottle.
“Are you moving?”
“I never really moved back. I just come by a couple times a week to check on things. I can’t bring myself to live her not since…”
Then Jeannie abruptly left the room and returned with a large brown envelope and without saying a word, handed it to Hondo. Taking the seat across from him she watched as he turned it over looking at his name scribbled in Buck’s handwriting.
Hondo looked at Jeannie then slowly opened the envelope. Piece by piece he removed and examined the contents. There were pictures and notes and ledgers and lastly, a flash drive. After a few more minutes of reading and examining, Hondo dropped everything on the table in front of them.
She saw the horror and disbelief on his face, and it frightened her. She watched him stand and begin to pace the room running his hand over his head and face.
“Hondo, what’s wrong?”
He didn’t answer, he didn’t know how to answer her.
“Hondo, you’re scaring me, what’s wrong?”
“Jeannie, Buck didn’t kill himself.”
“What? Of course, he did; the police, the coroner all said…”
Hondo came and sat on the couch across from her taking her hands in his.
“Jeannie, Buck found something; something that he wasn’t supposed to find. He left this for me in case something happened to him, I’d know the truth.”
“The truth about what?”
(photo credit: tvguide.com)