A poem written by Michael J. Rietscha

My Father

On a long flat road in Kansas as far as the eye can see with miles of high grassy fields in the quiet early morning, a stolen car races kicking up dust that looks like a smoke screen trailing behind it. Then all of a sudden up ahead there is a road block made by the Kansas state police and traveling not too far behind the stolen car is three squad cars. Not Kansas state police, but in the unmarked cars are FBI agents.

The stolen car stops suddenly and the driver of the stolen vehicle jumps out with a rifle in his hands. The FBI stops their cars sideways to block him in. One agent tells the driver to put down his rifle, while he draws out his sidearm as The other agents get into their stand off position. The driver of the stolen car thinks briefly, his thoughts are racing through his head. One thing in particular stands out in his mind as he slowly raises the rifle to his shoulder, "They are not going to take me. I am not going to be sent back to the mental institution." In the quiet morning there was a sound of the click of the trigger, the thud of the hammer hit hitting the firing pin, and the ear piercing sound of the two rounds going off. The air is thick of smoke and the strong scent of gunpowder. The agent shot the driver of the stolen vehicle. He scored a headshot and a chest shot that killed the driver. His body laid motionless on the dirt road. Now the violence is done.

This is what happened to my father. My mother told me, that is what is going to happen to me and she has filled my head that I belong in a mental institution, because she fears that I will become a killer just like him. He has after all murdered two people and he broke out of the mental institution. He vowed to kill her and myself. Over the years, I wondered if she was right. After all his blood does flow through my veins. His genes are ingrained in me and flow through my brain.

Truth be told, I am not him in any sense of the word. I know this now. I am my own person, this is my blood and nobody else's.

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© 2016 Mental Health Association of Northwestern PA