“Adversity toughens manhood, and the characteristic of the good or the great man is not that he has been exempt from the evils of life, but that he has surmounted them.” – Patrick Henry
Home of Hondo Harrelson – Saturday Morning –
As a young boy Hondo had always dreamed of going fishing with his Pops but his father had abandoned them long before that fantasy became a part of his reality. Besides, no one in his circle of friends were going fishing with their fathers either. Like the rest of his crew, fathers were either too busy working to keep the lights on or were in and out of the house or in prison. Daniel, Sr. had left his son and the rest of his family when he was still in grade school. Almost thirty years had passed, yet Hondo still longed to go fishing with his father.
Darryl had never gone fishing with his father either. Leroy had spent more time in prison than he had out and so, Hondo had planned a day for the three generations of men to begin breaking generational curses and start real healing between them all. His friendship with Leroy hadn’t improved since his release from prison. In fact, it had become a ramped-up tug-of-war for Darryl’s allegiance. Hondo was tired of being reminded that he wasn’t the boy’s father. He wasn’t trying to be his father, he just wanted to give him a different choice than the only ones he thought he had.
Hondo had offered an olive branch, inviting Leroy to come along for the day; he declined, informing his former friend that he’d made other plans for the day. The smirk on Leroy’s face should have given Hondo a hint that his plans would be aimed at derailing Hondo’s efforts to do something positive for his son.
Darryl walked into the kitchen eager to get the day started. He was fully dressed and hurried over to help Hondo put the final lunch items into the over-sized cooler.
“I can’t believe we’re doing this.” Darryl began. “Me and my dad have never been fishing.”
“Well we both have that in common.” Hondo chuckled. “But things are about to change, you know?”
“Yeah, I guess.” Darryl responded doubtfully.
Hondo noticed the change in the young man, and he stopped his work momentarily.
“Darryl, you have a chance to do things different, you hear me?”
Darryl nodded as he continued his work.
“You’ve stayed out of trouble and you’re doing great in school. You have visitation rights with your son, so make sure you do better by him than your dad did by you and my dad did by me.”
“I got you Hondo.”
“Good. Now, let me go see what’s taking this old man so long to get ready.”
Darryl chuckled as Hondo left the room. If anyone had told him a year ago, that he’d be heading to the lake to go fishing he would have called them a liar. He was a free man and with the help of Hondo and his family, he had been awarded the right to see his son on a regular basis and in the fall, he was off to college. The thought of taking his son fishing one day made him smile as he closed the cooler.
Leroy had been out for four months and he’d managed to stay out of trouble. He had another six months in the halfway house before he would be allowed to get his own place. In the meantime, he’d managed to spend time with his son, much to his former best friend’s dismay. Leroy knew his coming around worried Hondo no matter how much he pretended it didn’t. He had to admit that the joy he received from bothering Hondo meant more to him than seeing Darryl.
When Leroy was thinking logically, which wasn’t often, he was grateful to Hondo for taking Darryl in. The boy’s own mother had refused him shelter, choosing her latest boyfriend over her own son. Leroy was the last person to judge his ex-wife because he hadn’t been the model father, not by a long shot. Most of his adult life had been spent behind bars and his secret desire for his son to prove his manhood by following his path had nearly cost the young man his life and his future. Hondo had done more than put a roof over his son’s head, the man had convinced Darryl that he could have a future outside of the small confines of the neighborhood.
Hondo owed Leroy his life and everything he’d accomplished as an adult; Leroy knew it and so did Hondo. The fact that his former best friend had forgotten his debt infuriated Leroy and no invitation to holiday dinners or Saturday morning fishing trips would be enough to erase that debt. There should have been nothing Leroy could have asked of him that Hondo would’ve denied him. But he’d grown too big and had gained too much to remember that Leroy had a memory, and he was keeping score.
Darryl had taken the chest to the car and just as he stepped in from the garage, he heard the doorbell ring. It was a little early for visitors or salesmen, he thought as he headed for the front door. He was surprised to see the man standing on the porch. Quickly opening it, he smiled at the familiar face.
“Hey, Dad! What are you doing here?”
“Is that any way to greet your father?” Leroy smiled with an extra emphasis on, father.
“Oh, I’m sorry, come in, come in.”
Darryl stepped aside allowing his father entrance into the house. The older man surveyed the room as if taking inventory.
“We were just about to head out to go fishing.”
“Yeah, yeah, so I heard.” Leroy wrinkled his nose as he moved further into the room.
“What you know about fishing, boy?”
“Nothing, but I guess I’ll learn today.” He chuckled.
“From, who? I’ve never known Hondo or his pops to go fishing!”
“Well, there’s a first time for everything, right Dad?” Darryl looked firmly into his father’s eyes. “You should go, I know Hondo has an extra pole.”
“Yeah Leroy, the invitation is still open if you want to join us.”
Leroy looked passed Darryl to see Hondo enter the room. His father, Daniel Sr., was close behind.
“Hey Leroy, good to see you this morning!” greeted the elder man.
“Hey Mr. Harrelson, I just thought I’d stop by.”
“Well, you know you need to hop on in the car with us.” Daniel Sr., continued.
Hondo began filling the travel mugs with coffee while the others talked. He was surprised to see the man who’d refused his invitation the day before.
“I used to go fishing with my pops when I was a kid…” Leroy started again.
“For real?” Darryl interrupted. “Then you have to go, please Dad!”
3 Hours later…
Leroy had decided to tag along. Leroy and Hondo hadn’t said two words to each other, but Darryl seemed oblivious to the tension between the two. Pops was more of a referee keeping a semblance of civility with lighthearted conversation. It wasn’t the day that Hondo had planned and he longed even more for his childhood fantasy. Even now as he and his father set out their lunch at a nearby table, Leroy and his son were the beneficiaries of Hondo’s dream. He had to wonder if it was all was worth it.
“You okay son?” Pops asked.
“Am I wasting my time, Pops?”
“Are you kidding, Hondo? Look at that boy, he hasn’t been that happy in a long time.”
“I just don’t want him to get hurt. I don’t trust Leroy to do what’s right for Darryl.”
“Leroy is Darryl’s father. That boy has been trying to win his father’s love since he was a baby and now, they have a chance to have a fresh start.”
“I know he’s Leroy’s son, I’m tired of hearing that he’s Leroy’s son!”
The two were silent as they turned and watched Leroy and Darryl laughing as if they were on the lake alone. Daniel Sr. saw the concern on his son’s face and the jealousy.
“Give him a chance, Hondo.”
“Give Leroy a chance to get to know his son; to make amends on his own terms.”
“It’s just a matter of time before Leroy pulls Darryl back into that street life, and undo all the good he’s done…”
“You mean all the good you’ve done?”
“You know what I mean. I don’t want him to have the life I had…”
In an instant, Hondo wished he could take back his words as his father’s face fell.”
“I’m sorry…” Hondo began.
“No, you’re right. I made a lot of mistakes and the biggest was leaving you and your sister and your mother. If I could get that time back, I would have never left; Never!”
“I’m sorry, I can’t say sorry enough because it doesn’t change anything, and it doesn’t take away the pain that I caused.”
“How do I make sure that Leroy doesn’t hurt Darryl again, how? I just want him to have a chance to be a man, his own man and a father to his son.”
“That’s not in your control, Hondo. All you can do is all you know how to do.”
“What if it’s not enough?”
“What if it is?”
“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” 1 Corinthians 13:11.
*We do not own S.W.A.T. or its characters. We are not affiliated with the show or its creators. We have created our original characters that will come out to play from time-to-time*