The son says, “If there were a ball coming at me, at my head, and you had the choice to get in front and block it, even though it would hurt, would you do it?” Jay looked at his father, trying to divine what he was thinking. “Of course,” came the deeper voice.
“What if the ball was a bullet and if you stepped in front you would be killed, but if you didn’t I’d be killed. Would you still step in front?” This was a question spoken as a challenge. This was test of something new for the boy. He was not testing his father so much as his own capacity to believe in whatever answer was given.
"I’d have to think about it,” came back the rumble.
“That’s why I’m asking now. I’m asking so that you can think about it ahead of time and then when the moment comes, you’ll know what you are going to do. Otherwise, there’s no telling what might happen.”
“What kind of a bullet from what kind of gun and exactly how had you behaved on that particular day that we are talking about?” the voice rumbled on.
“Does it really matter? It would be something like a large handgun and I would be the average way I always am. Not a whole lot better or worse than I was today.”
“In that case, I’ve got some bad news for you,” father said.
“What’s that? You’d let it hit me? You’d let it smack me down and that’s it?” Jay said.
“Either that or you wouldn’t have a dad anymore. Which would you prefer?” There was a slower tumble of sounds in the rumble now, like a car slowing down to take a look at someone standing on the corner. The father peered over to the son and cast his gaze up to the right, beyond where his son sat, in a gesture that signified a question mark.
“You can duck it. I’d take it,” the boy declared.
“No need. I already had it.”
“Then why didn’t you say so?” came in higher tones.
“I just did,” said the big man.
“But only after I said so,” said the son.
“That’s because I knew my answer before you spoke. It’s you who spoke after I’d already made up my mind. After I had already decided what I’d do,” said the father.
“So you’d catch it for me?” the son asked.
“Of course. But what makes you so certain I would die if that happened?” father replied.
“That’s the way I set it up. If you catch it, you’re a goner and if you let it go, I’m the one who’s gone.” Jay reiterated.
“In that case, maybe, instead of catching it, I might knock it down, pick it up and throw it back at whoever threw it our way. Whaddya think about that?”
“If you think you could do it, fine. I have no problem with that.” The matter was settled.