While the fact that he killed his father cast a shade over his life, what Dashiell Roman failed to comprehend was that his father, given a list of choices, died exactly as he might have hoped.
If at some juncture in Dash’s youth some kindly soul had casually intimated the notion that “Joe wouldn’t’ve had it any other way” the boy might have –- might have, mind you, there’s no certainty of this — lived as many of his peers lived. Not free from worry. Not easier, even. But the trials, traumas, tribulations and terrors might have been closer to the norm of the human condition, if norms there be… Not underlined by the erroneous understanding that Josiah Roman died wishing the child might not have been born, or that his son might not have accompanied him and his wife on holiday (that his mother had died at roughly the same moment was not his doing, at least he didn’t haul that burden).
But the benevolent community that formed around him in the aftermath of “all that unpleasantness” set the mold early on by simply avoiding the subject, as they believed this action the only christian thing to do. He was raised in the church and he retained some belief in the grand institution, but not one question ever arose that he didn’t ask the Almighty why things must come to pass as they did. So for Dash Roman, God was more reminder than comfort.
And then there was analysis. Perhaps if the psychologist assigned to him by his community (again, out of compassion) possessed some sliver of competence, Dash might have accepted or even owned the event. A relative recollected that Pastor Bart, in one of his winding sermons, waxed nostalgic about a seminary chum who had “drifted from the divine call” to pursue the mysteries of the mind. This wannabe but not-to-be man of the cloth maintained a practice not ten miles from the church. Dash’s guardians were easily impressed… In their minds, every doctor was akin to Freud, every detective akin to Sherlock, every chef akin to Julia.
Alas, the aggregate of skilled and successful doctors share closer ties with the aggregate of skilled and successful educators, librarians or janitors. That is to say a small fraction can be referred to truthfully as “geniuses” and a somewhat larger fraction “good”. The great majority fall into the “reliable enough” or the “adequate”. Somewhere between the overall count of the “genius” and the “good” number the QUACKS. It cannot be fairly ascertained that Dr. Roose was a QUACK — the term shifts from instance to instance — but neither could he place himself in the category of the “good” or even the “reliable” or “adequate”. In any case, the “inadequate” therapist had never known Joe and possibly opined that Dash’s life was the bane of his father’s.
The measure of damage inflicted to young Dash’s psyche cannot be told, but damage there was, and that damage carried through to maturity. Finally, the suggestion that his father might have wanted to end in such a manner, given any method available, constituted offense in the elder Dash’s mind. Thus that damaged mind would have discarded the suggestion along with any association to the “suggestor”.
This, then, is not a story about what might have been, though it wishes it were. No, this is the story of what happened. As with all stories, moments of sadness are punctuated by joy and moments of joy by sadness, but one theme underscores every line that follows… This is the story of a boy who, much as he might have tried, could not bring back his father.