“Question Mark”

My new story at Eclectica…

QUESTION MARK

(c) Thomas J. Hubschman

My father died with a big question mark over his head like the one in the bubble over a cartoon character who can’t make up his mind. No one saw it but me. I had been sitting for two days at his bedside watching him slip from semi-consciousness into coma. I had brought The Brothers Karamazov with me to the hospital, which I had started rereading after many years when my sister called to tell me pop had had a second stroke and wasn’t expected to last long.

It seemed odd, spending those hours by his bedside in the company of both the comatose man who had begot me and with Papa Karamazov. One, my father, was about as curious and tentative a human being as I’ve ever known. The other was a self-absorbed narcissist who cared about nothing but his own pleasure. And yet, because they were both fathers, they shared something universal on that account: an unhealthy influence on their sons’ amour propre. I found the two men getting confused in my mind—lecherous, single-minded Karamazov and my own one-woman, ever-questioning parent—as the hours dragged on and I got little sleep except for cat naps on a cushioned chair a nurse kindly provided….

Read on…

About Thomas J. Hubschman

Thomas J. Hubschman is the author of Look at Me Now, My Bess, Song of the Mockingbird, Billy Boy, Father Walther’s Temptation, The Jew’s Wife & Other Stories and three science fiction novels. His work has appeared in New York Press, The Antigonish Review, Eclectica, The Blue Moon Review and many other publications. Two of his short stories were broadcast on the BBC World Service.

Posted on April 24, 2020, in My Writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Tom, I have just spent the last hour engrossed by your story.
    My relationship with my father was more like your sister’s to your dad, and my brother’s more like yours. For me, I have always been grateful that my father taught me how to doubt, how to question, how not to pontificate with the Right Answer but to always try to see the other side before making up my own mind. My older brother, on the other hand, was angry with him non-stop by the time he was 4 years old and it is only now, many years after dad died that my brother is beginning to understand how incomplete his appreciation of a disciplined and principled man his father was.
    Wouldn’t it be a delight to sit down over a bottle of win together and share some of these memories? Though right now I’m concentrating on surviving this Covid lockdown. I hope you and your family are doing well. Terry

  2. Thanks, Terry. Glad you liked it. We’re okay. Locked in, short on supplies sometimes, a bit stir- crazy but that’s all. Hope you both are okay too.

    • I have been thinking about your story as I compare it to my own family which, like yours, was composed of German immigrants on my father’s side. In the process I have found myself looking at my dad’s own father whom we knew well, and have found myself wondering about your father’s father. I don’t know if you ever knew him, but if he was the kind of German thinker so evident today in the running of the EU with all the Right Answers imposed on everyone else as well, perhaps your own father’s constant questioning was a way to break out of that egocentric bigotry.

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