Roy Vaughn: One More Story

   Two of my boys were in the backyard playing catch with a baseball. I heard it hit the house.

   "Stay away from the house," I told them from the backdoor. "You will break a window if you are not careful."

   "Yes, sir," they answered.

   I closed the door.

   "Thunk," went the ball against the wall.

   "I said," I repeated to them, in the vain parental belief that hope trumps history, "move out in the yard. Do not hit the house. You will break a window."

   "Yes, sir," the boys replied cheerfully.

   I closed the door.

   "Crash" went the window, "tinkle" went the glass, "zoom" went the blood pressure.

   I opened the door.

   The boys had vanished.

   Roy had a glass and mirror place down on the highway he ran with his son. I called him to replace my window.

   He showed up in full police uniform, on his way in from the office, over six and a half feet tall, toting an iron on his hip. One of the boys happened to be in the backyard when Roy came around the corner. Roy froze him with a look.

   "Boy," he asked, "what do you know about this window breaking?"

   "My brother did it," Jonathan managed to squeak. "He wanted to see how close he could get to the window without hitting it."

   "Are you sure it was him and not you?" Roy insisted.

   "I think so," Jonathan squeaked again.

   "I'm pretty sure," he added, helpfully.

   Roy had the window measurements by then. Cigarette in his mouth, he started to leave.

   "We are still investigating this incident," he told my seven year old. "You don't leave town."

   "Yessir," my boy replied.

   Two weeks later it was Thanksgiving. We were all getting ready to go to Carrolton to Joan's mothers house for dinner. Jonathan was slower getting ready than usual. I kept urging him along, finally resorting to threats.

   "I can't go," he told me, at last, tearfully.

   "What? Why can't you go?"

   "Mr. Vaughn told me not to leave town," he said. "I have to stay here."

   Thursday, when I broke the news of Roy's passing to Jonathan, now 20 years older, he said, "I just lost my grandfather."

2 thoughts on “Roy Vaughn: One More Story”

  1. I have heard it said by people who study human behavior that young boys and men in our culture are SCREAMING for strong father figures. They may not scream with their voices, but they are screaming with their acts of violence, their self-destructive behavior, the lack of responsibility and lethargy, and the increasing suicides among young males. Thank God for the living witness of a strong parental figure who wasn’t afraid to set a boundary, speak directly to a young boy and let him know that somebody cared enough about him to be strong. Tough love, when its needed, is grace and mercy in action. I wish I had known your friend.

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