“Chance for what, FATHER!” Joshua emphasized the last word sarcastically as he walked away from his papa.
“...a chance for me to explain. Please...!”
Joshua turned around to face his papa, all the years of suppressed anger, disappointment and hurt came together like a force of nature manifesting on his face, with clenched teeth and finger pointing at his papa's face, he said, “Don't! Don't! Don't even dare think that you can explain or justify what you put me through. You're a liar! You were a liar then, you are still a big liar now. You used subterfuge to lure me back to Sabah. I don't know how you talked mama into colluding with you but I won't be as gullible as her!”
“Joshua, papa was in prison for five years! That's why I couldn't see you and your mama refused to bring you along each time she visited me because she wanted you to have only good memories of me..”
“That's bullshit! Just shut up! Shup up!” Joshua shoved his papa to the ground.
In that instant, Kenny who had been a silent observer all the while rushed forward, he grabbed Joshua by his shirt and about to strike Joshua for hurting his stepfather when James called out and asked him to stop.
“Kenny, don't! Let him go.. Let him go..” pleaded James who was still on the ground, his right elbow bleedin.
Kenny released Joshua with a push on Joshua's chest.
“If you could just give him a chance to tell his side of the story! We, no, he, spent years looking for you and he even got conned off a large sum of money by some conman in the States, all for you!”. Kenny said impassionately.
Joshua ignored Kenny and got into his vehicle and sped off as Kenny went to James' side and helped him stood up.
“You're okay Dad?”
“Kenny, you must promised me that you never ever raise your hand against your elder brother again..” James told his stepson as he hang on to Kenny's shoulders for support.
“I'm sorry Dad but I couldn't just stand there and watch him do that to you...”
“Promise me Kenny...” James abruptly interrupted Kenny with a forceful voice.
“Yes..Dad. Okay.. Okay...”
“He's just confused and angry. I wronged him and his mother first. He was an innocent child that had to pay for my stupidity..”
“Dad! Stop it! Damn it! Will you just stop carrying that guilt around? For years we watch you trying to redeem yourself. He has obviously moved on! Why don't you move on!”
“Son, a father never stop being a father. When you are a father next time, you will understand...”
“Like you have been an absent father to me and Lisa Dad?”
“What do you mean? I've always been there for the both of you.....”
“No Dad! Only your body was there but your mind was not with us. Remember when I was ten, learning to ride my bicycle? I fell down and scrapped my knee, you ran to me and you called me Joshua! That's when I knew that we were just Joshua's substitutes...”
“Oh son! If I ever made both of you feel any less important to me, I didn't mean it... but I love you and Lisa like my own... I've always tried to do the right thing...I thought I was...I guess....both of you were my second chance..I didn't know I was messing my second chance also...maybe they were right..maybe I am bad...” James cried.
Kenny was taken aback, he had never seen his stepfather displayed his emotion before, at least not to him or his younger sister. To him, his stepfather was a tower of strength and what a man ought to be; Always calm and collected albeit somewhat aloof.
“Daddy..I'm sorry.. I didn't mean it..you didn't deserve that..I was just being selfish..Lisa and I couldn't have asked for a better stepfather. Let's get you home dad.”
Joshua was speeding along the Tuaran highways, heading towards Kundasang. His choice of destination was a random one but on the first week of his arrival in Sabah, he joined a tour group to Kundasang and he liked it. He thought it was a peaceful and tranquil place. That was what he wanted now, peace of mind and the first place that came in mind was Kundasang.
Joshua pushed the Toyota Vigo four wheel drive that he was driving to its limit. The engine roared as though in protest. Perhaps he was subconsciously punishing the vehicle which was registered under the company that three days ago, he thought was his mother's enterprise. An employee's loose tongue had let loose the secret that the real owner of the company was his biological father.
He felt so much anger in him and he felt frustrated because his mind was in disarray. He tried to string together a strong argument to rebuke everyone involved in this subterfuge but to no avail. He's frustrated at the fact that he couldn't even articulate how betrayed and why he felt betrayed even in his mind. Joshua had always hated being manipulated, being a free spirited person who guard jealously his freedom to determine his own destiny, he would rebel if he sensed any presence of what he deemed as manipulation by anyone. His stepfather, John, understood his character and nurtured it instead of trying to change him. Joshua wished that his stepfather was still alive, he really needed someone to talk to, someone who understood him. His mother Anne, he felt, had always tried to stifle him, whereas his stepfather, John, had always supported and encouraged him in whatever he did.
Suddenly a dog sprang infront of him, instinctively or rather, involuntarily, Joshua swerved the vehicle to avoid hitting the animal. The last thing that Joshua saw was a lamp post and then darkness.