Wally Anderson, father of three daughters, was not pleased after reading an email from Shelly, his eldest, a week before Father's Day. He thought she might be coming to visit for the holiday. Instead Shelly told him of her sudden wedding to a man he did not know. A Google search told him that her new husband had two names and that he had married Shelly under the most recent one. However, Google also said his new son-in-law had a good job and apparently leads a respectable life.
The wedding had taken place on an island in the Pacific. The ceremony had been conducted by one of an indigenous chieftain under a gigantic coconut tree. Shelly had studied anthropology in college with an emphasis on indigenous peoples so Wally understood why she might choose to marry in that environment. But the more Wally read about her marriage, the more he felt as if a coconut had fallen on his head.
This was not the first time Shelly had surprised him. She had married her two other husbands on the spur of the moment as well. One was a drunk and the other a gambler. After two marriages of less than a year each, Shelly moved on with life. And now she had a new husband, albeit with two names. The first two husbands, whatever their flaws, had only one name. No confusion in that regard at least.
So after his daughter sent him a photo of the happy couple on their honeymoon, Wally did another Google search and discovered not only did her new husband have two names but photos of him available online revealed that he resembled the late Ted Bundy, a mass murderer and rapist executed some years ago. This prompted Wally to reply to his daughter's email by asking why her new husband had two names, giving full credit to Google for disclosing this information.
"Shelly, as your father, I have a right to know," Wally wrote.
In half an hour, Shelly sent her father a long email with attachments attesting to the character and accomplishments of her husband but without any explanation as to why he had two names. Apparently, he had taken the second name as an adult, tossing out the possibility that he was an orphan adopted by some nice couple in Iowa, the state from which he hailed under the first of his two names. According to Google, he had earned two degrees from Yale under that first name.
In his next email to Shelly, Wally mentioned that he was still confused by the whole situation and needed further clarification.
"Shelly, if your mother was still alive, she would want to know as well," Wally said as imperatively as he could. He didn't want to set Shelly off because she might disappear again as she had when she was fresh out of college. She had spent three years island-hopping in the Pacific, getting to know the terrain and the people. She really enjoyed her time there.
In her reply Shelly said she would "tell Daddy all about it on Father's Day" when she was coming to see him. Her new husband, however, would not be coming with her since he was going to visit his father for the holiday.
"They are very close," Shelly added in a postscript.
Wally replied right away, his fingers flying across the keyboard.
"Which father might that be--and which name does he go by? And does he live in Iowa or is he somewhere else? A concerned father wants to know."
Shelly wrote back and bubbled that she would tell him everything on Father's Day and bring him some fresh coconuts to boot.
Wally realized that all he could do was wait and see. So he wrote back and said that he'd wait for Father's Day so she could tell him everything in person.
Shelly replied right away and said that if it's a boy, they might name him Walter.
It was obvious to Wally now that this would be a Father's Day like no other.
Nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, Donal Mahoney has had poetry and fiction published in various publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Donal Mahoney, a native of Chicago, lives in St. Louis, MO. He has worked as an editor for The Chicago Sun-Times, Loyola University Press and Washington University in St. Louis. He has had poems published in or accepted by The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Commonweal, Public Republic (Bulgaria), Gloom Cupboard (U.K.), Revival (Ireland), The Istanbul Literary Review (Turkey), Black-Listed Magazine, Opium 2.0, Calliope Nerve, Haggard and Halloo, Rusty Truck, Pirene’s Fountain (Australia) and other publications.