27: Prodigal Father Comes Home
by Douglas Martin
I’ve never really seen an angel with my eyes.
But in three very special moments I have experienced their love with my
heart. All three of those moments came during that
amazing year. The first was the day Angel
came into my life -- she filled an emptiness that I had tried to deny all my life.
The second was seeing my dream of the world joining together for peace
coming true, even if it would just be for a day.
One glorious day. And the third was finding my daughter. How could I ever dream that life would be more
beautiful than this.
A whole lifetime of suppressed memories came flooding back, the instant
that reporter stopped our Thanksgiving celebration and called Jesse “Jessica Martin.”
Suddenly it all made such perfect sense -- no wonder she reminded me so much of
Suddenly I wasn’t Peace Dude anymore. I
wasn’t Merle the Magician. I was Doug Martin,
Sir Reginald’s little brother.
and I had both been in love with Deborah. He
said he met her first, and that might be so, but he didn’t really love her the
way that I did. And he was way too old
for her -- she was my age -- only 18, and he was 30. He was just being competitive the way he always
was. But I guess I was pretty competitive
with him, too.
It must have been hard for him -- we were the only kids and so far apart
in age. He had to work twice as hard at everything;
I only put in half as much effort and always seemed to come out ahead. I guess that’s what happened with Deb. But she and I really were in love. I guess he loved her, too.
Deb and I were really happy together after we got married. She was everything to me -- my entire world.
Then we had a beautiful daughter, but Reg wouldn’t talk to us, and wouldn’t
even look at his niece. He turned really cold and single-minded to win
over whatever he could in life. The business world was easier than matters of
the heart for him to conquer and he went at it with a vengeance.
Then, with no warning, Deb died and my world came apart.
I couldn’t bear to be alive without her.
I was hopeless and depressed.
Jessica was only three, and I knew that I’d never be
able to nurture her the way Deb and I had together.
I could barely get through the day.
I lost my job and my will to live.
Then we lost our apartment, and the two of us were living
in a shelter. Those weren’t the conditions to raise a child
I saw an article about Reg in the paper. He
had really made a name for himself and had lots of money. I was desperate. I was crazy.
I went to see him and he agreed to raise Jess and give her the finest things
in life, but only if I were to never see her again while he was alive. I knew
he was just being vindictive, but I had no other options. It broke my heart, but I let her go. And I let my life go. From that day forth, Douglas Martin was dead.
I became “Peace Dude,” searching for peace, and somehow my brain allowed
me to erase the past and start anew.
But in one instant, the past and the future and the present had converged. And there was my daughter being harassed by
reporters. She stood there in tears and
in shock. I rushed forward and helped her
off the stage.
To be honest, I had no idea how to tell her.
I felt embarrassed and ashamed for ever leaving her.
Now here she was a grown woman, and my friend.
How could I tell her that she’s my daughter?
I was sure that she would hate me for leaving her.
Maybe I could just keep it a secret. We
had a deep friendship; I didn’t have to spoil that by telling her this secret,
It was a horrible agonizing torture I put myself through that day. But somehow it worked itself out. We were trying to get away from the reporters
and Jimmy had me sneak Jess off to the airport while they distracted them. Somehow,
I just made myself do it while we sat on the plane, looking out at the clouds
“Jesse, I, I
have to tell you something important that I found out today.”
She turned to me with a tear-stained face.
She looked into my eyes and she was smiling.
“What is it, Merle?”
“Please don’t hate me for what I’m going to say, Jess.”
She looked at me quizzically. “It’s
me that everyone hates, Merle. I couldn’t
hate you -- we’re friends. What could you
think you could possibly have to say that would bring me to hate you?”
There was such love in her eyes. She
gave me strength. I took a deep breath
and told her our story.
As I spoke I could see all kinds of emotions in her face.
But she didn’t say a word. “I’m
so sorry, Jess. But I love you, and I’m
glad that we’re together now.”
She looked at me another moment with eyes full of tears.
Did she detest me? If we weren’t
on an airplane, would she have turned and run away? Would she hate me forever now? She leaned over and hugged me. “Welcome home, Dad. I love you, too.”
So, I got over my moment of fear and panic.
I’m trying my best now to make up for all the lost time. We’re trying together, and it’s working out
world got over the Jessica Martin story, too.
Sure it was difficult. She had to lay low for weeks, and we were still
hounded wherever we went, but the “peace fad” didn’t fade. It kept on spreading.
That Christmas season was amazing. Christmas
has always been a time of hope. It’s always
been the one time when it’s okay to wish for peace on earth and goodwill to man.
Usually, though, that feeling is balanced with negative feelings for the
commercialization of the holiday season, and the panic and hectic mission to find
the right presents for loved ones and acquaintances.
This year it was much different. As
my daughter, Jess, would say, the tally in the goodwill column was much higher
than the holiday madness -- maybe 80 -20.
That holiday magic continued on down the home stretch
between Christmas and New Year’s, until finally, the day we’d
been waiting for arrived.
Chapter | Next Chapter Table
of Contents | Preface | Ch 1
| Ch 2 | Ch 3 | Ch
Ch 5 | Ch 6 | Ch
7 | Ch 8 | Ch 9 |Ch
10 | Ch 11 |
Ch 12 | Ch
13 | Ch 14 | Ch 15 | Ch
16 | Ch 17 |
Ch 18 | Ch
19 | Ch 20 | Ch 21 | Ch
22 | Ch 23 |
Ch 24 | Ch
25 | Ch 26 | Ch 27 | Ch
28 | Ch 29