September 15, 2021
A policeman decides to teach his arrogant son a valuable life lesson about life and crime.
David Michaels decided to surprise his son Kyle and pick him up after school, but the surprise turned out to be his. David parked his car across from the school and crossed the road just as children started to pour out of the gate.
There he was! David's heart swelled with pride as he caught sight of his tall, handsome 13-year-old walking with a group of other boys. Just then the wind brought him Kyle's excited words, and his heart sank.
"Your father is a filthy criminal," Kyle said to another boy, "and I bet your mom is too." The other boy flushed, turned his back, and walked away.
But Kyle wasn't finished yet. "You've got the same bad blood. You're going to end up rotting in jail!" David was horrified.
The other boys took up a chant "Jailbird! Jailbird!" and Kyle joined them with gusto.
At that moment, David realized it was time he opened his son's eyes to some of life's realities. "Kyle!" he called, and his son's head snapped around at the sound of his voice. A huge grin lit Kyle's face as he ran towards his father.
"Dad!" Kyle cried. "Hey! WOW! You're here!"
"Yeah," David said, "I had the afternoon off and decided to surprise you. So who's that boy?" David indicated the boy Kyle had been abusing who was now getting into a car with a tired-looking woman.
"Oh, that's Yale Carter," Kyle said casually, "His father is a thief. We have to keep an eye on him..."
"Why?" asked David carefully. "Has he done anything? Stolen from you guys?"
"No, but I'm sure he will, sooner or later," Kyle said. "Son of a thief..."
Good or bad behavior is a choice, it's not something that we are programmed with by our genes.
"I see." David looked at his son sadly. "So being the son of a policeman makes you automatically law-abiding?"
"I guess," Kyle said with a grin. "Look, dad, that guy is a loser!"
"Well Kyle, I don't agree with you," David said. "I happen to know Cabot Carter, and I know a little about his story, and yes he is a criminal. He made a mistake and he's paying for it -- but his son shouldn't pay for it."
"Carter turned to crime as a last resort, Kyle. He held up a service station because he lost his job and his insurance. His son was sick and he didn't have money for his medication."
"There's always another solution!" cried Kyle virtuously.
"I guess there is, but sometimes people get desperate," David said. "But Carter pleaded guilty, and he's doing his time. He was a decent man, and I'm sure he will be again."
"Grandmother says a leopard never changes his spots," Kyle said. "And Yale is bound to follow in his footsteps. It's in his DNA!"
David didn't say anymore, but that Sunday, he took his son on an unusual outing. He drove Kyle to Lancaster, a prison an hour's drive from their home in Los Angeles.
"There's something I want you to know," David told Kyle as they walked into the visitor's area, "No one decides to become a criminal. Most crimes are committed by normal people who make a bad decision."
"Come on!" cried Kyle. "What about the mob, and gangs, and serial killers..."
"Yes, those exist too," David said. "But a lot of people I arrest are just like you and me."
"NOTHING like you and me!" Kyle cried.
Just then, a corrections officer ushered in a tall man who looked exactly like David except that he was wearing a prisoner's overalls. Kyle stared. "Kyle," David said softly, "this is your uncle Donald."
The man grinned. "Hey David, I thought you were coming next week!" he said.
"Hey, Donny, I just thought it was time you met your nephew!" David said. "Kyle this is your uncle Donny." Kyle's face was bright red and his mouth hung open.
"Uncle Donny?" he asked. "But grandma told us you live in Australia!"
Uncle Donny shook his head. "She's ashamed, Kyle, and I can't blame her, so she tells that story about Australia."
"But...But I thought you were a policeman" Kyle gasped, "like my dad and grandpa!"
"I was," Donny said quietly. "I made a mistake, kid, and I guess I'm going to be paying for it for the rest of my life."
On their drive home, Kyle was very quiet, then he asked, "Dad, what did he do?"
David glanced over at his son. "That's something we'll talk about when you're older, OK, Kyle?"
"Ok dad," Kyle said.
"What I wanted you to realize is that a criminal's punishment and his shame does not extend to his family," David said. "Do YOU think crime is in YOUR blood?"
"No!" cried Kyle horrified. "Of course not!"
"In that case," David said, "I think you owe Yale Carter an apology."
"It can't be easy having your dad in prison," Kyle said softly.
"No, it certainly can't," David agreed.
"I wasn't very nice, was I?" Kyle asked his father. "I wasn't fair."
"Well, Kyle, what matters is that you know it and make up for it," his father replied.
The next day, Kyle walked up to Yale during lunch and apologized to him in front of all the kids in the cafeteria. They became friends, and from then on, any kid who messed with Yale or teased him about his father had to deal with Kyle too.
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