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Holes in the floor of Heaven

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Holes in the floor of Heaven
© Starbuck November 19 2000

'Cause there's holes in the floor of heaven, And their tears are pouring down That's how you know they're watching, wishing they could be here now And sometimes if you're lonely, Just remember they can see There's holes in the floor of heaven, and they're watching over you and me (from the song by Steve Wariner. with the exception of a few changed words)

"There you are," Murdoch Lancer said when he heard his youngest son, Johnny, enter the room. "We were expecting you back sometime ago."

Johnny removed his dust covered Stetson and wiped his shirtsleeve across his brow. "Sorry, I hadn't planned on being gone for so long. I had some things to think over."

Murdoch nodded mutely and gestured for Johnny to join him at his desk. "You look like a man who's done a lot of thinking. Did you come to any decisions?" he asked tentatively. Murdoch waited for Johnny to be seated and looked at the letter that his son still held in his hand. The piece of paper had been folded and unfolded so many times that permanent crease lines were now visible.

"I have," Johnny replied solemnly and unconsciously read the words again for what felt like the hundredth time. He knew the wording by heart. Written in Pony Alice's hand the simply written letter read:

Dear Johnny
I know I told you that I would write you sooner, but with school and all there hasn't been much time for a lot else. Florida is teaching me how to be a lady and that means I have to wear a dress sometimes.

Johnny, one of Florida's sisters died last week and it got me thinking about what if something was to happen to Miss Florida. Who would look after me then? I don't want to go back to the orphanage. You know what it's like being an orphan and what those places are like. What I want to ask you is will you be my legal guardian if anything were to happen.

Please let me know what you decide.

Pony Alice ?

The letter had touched a part of him he didn't know existed. His hands caressed the page and he sighed deeply as he looked out at the picturesque landscape of Lancer, a home that he'd come to know and love.

Murdoch patiently waited for his youngest son to tell him what decision he had reached. "Son, only you can decide what is best for you and Pony. Just remember whatever you do decide to do, I will support you fully and unconditionally."

"I have reached a decision", he said, repeating his earlier answer and produced a small envelope. "I'm not too good at saying out loud what I feel, each time I try it comes out all jumbled and wrong." He looked at the crisp white envelope that he'd carried in his breast pocket for most of the afternoon. "I wrote Pony a letter." He added, his words so soft that Murdoch had to strain to hear them. He held the envelope out to his father, unsure of whether or not he really wanted Murdoch to know his true feelings.

Murdoch saw the way Johnny fingered the envelope in his hand and listened as Johnny's breathing deepened as if he were trying to calm himself before asking his father for help. Sensing Johnny's uneasiness Murdoch extended his own hand, his fingers brushed the top of the envelope. "Would you like me to read what you've written?" he asked and voiced his son's unasked request.

"Would you mind?" Johnny asked, his limpid blue eyes filled with a silent plea for help.

"Johnny, I would be happy to. As your father and as a friend," replied Murdoch, cautious not to sound condescending. He felt the envelope pushed into his hand and nodded silently to Johnny before he opened it. He watched as Johnny stood and walked out the doors that led to the courtyard; he knew that this was his son's way of asking him to read the letter- alone. As he watched he felt past regrets surface, regrets of not being there for his sons when they were growing up and protecting them from all that they had undeservedly endured. He removed Johnny's letter from the envelope and read.

Dear Pony
I am honoured that you asked me to be your legal guardian, for surely you would have had more worthy people to choose from.

Pony, there is a lot about me you don't know. There is a lot that my father doesn't know. So many times when I think I've found happiness and thought about getting married and raising a family I'm reminded of my past. A past that I am not proud of, but back then it was all the life I knew.

On the blackest of days when I felt that nothing else mattered and it wouldn 't make any difference to this world if I lived or died, someone would remind me that there were plenty of people who did care. I've been given a second chance at life, with a home and a family, but still I'm scared of it all being taken away. There hasn't been a day that has passed where I constantly look over my shoulder waiting for someone to take from me all that I have and love.

Pony, I know that this isn't the answer that you had hoped for but in all honesty, to myself and to you, I'm not ready for the responsibility of raising a child. I thought I was, but I'm not. I won't risk losing you to someone who chooses to use you to get to me for something I've done in my past. I've asked Florida to explain to you why turning down your request has been so hard for me, but Pony, please remember that I love you and will
always love you.

Please remember that your parents and Wilf are watching over you, as my mother is over me. Next time it rains you'll know, 'cause there's holes in the floor of heaven and their tears are pouring down, that's how you know they're watching, wishing they could be here now. And sometimes if you're lonely just remember the can see. There's holes in the floor of heaven and they're watching over you and me

With all my love, Johnny.

Murdoch folded the letter and replaced it in its envelope. He looked out in the courtyard and fought back the tears that threatened to spill unchecked and unbidden as he watched his son. "How much you have changed from the first day you cam back into my life." He quietly said and swallowed the lump that refused to stay down.

Johnny hard the sound of approaching footsteps but kept his gaze focused on a spider as it spun its gossamer web on the far wall. "You read the letter," he said without looking at Murdoch.

"I did."

Johnny turned and saw the remnants of tears in his father's eyes. "I'll post the letters tomorrow," he said and accepted his father's embrace.