Redemption of a legacy

by Max Saucedo

The time was 4 p.m., but for those gathered at Los Angeles Memorial Cemetery, it was time to bury Kevin Murdoch. A folded American flag rested on a portrait stand. The coffin was slowly lowered to the bottom of the pit and a young woman stepped forward, bent down and picked up a handful of dirt.

As she looked at the coffin, Cassidy Linette thought to herself:

“Dad, I know you and I never really talked that much after you and Mom had that rough patch. I blamed you for our family breaking up. I decided I needed to get away from you and the family. And even though I found success by writing about a wrongly convicted man, finding the truth wasn’t my original plan. It wasn’t until you died that I realized you were the one who inspired me to always seek the truth. My only regret is that it took me this long and your death to realize it. I forgive you now, Daddy.”

Her hand stretched out and released the dirt over the hole and she departed. Clouds gathered and the air became colder. A young man stepped forward.

“Well you hard-nosed ornery old man, you’re finally in the ground,” Adam Hudson thought. “Took you long enough, what, with driving Mom and us away, all for some woman. Truth is, even though you always prayed in Vietnam and before all those stupid boxing matches, I always thought you never had any real faith,” he thought bitterly. “And yet it was this same blind devotion which led me to Canada, that cabin, to Marie … all the questions of faith brought on by you. I nearly died out there, but I seemed to think of you and how far I had gone before I realized my family was the most important thing in my life. I don’t know if I believe in God, but I definitely do believe in something.”

Adam shuddered as a tear rolled down his cheek.

“I’m going to miss you, Pop.” His hand opened and the handful of dirt fell to the bottom, as Adam walked away.

An older gentleman accompanied by his grandson approached. At 60, Benjamin “Crow” Brown should have been in a wheelchair back home. He relied on his grandson to drive from their Indian reservation after seeing an obituary posted about Kevin. But he wasn’t Kevin Murdoch back in those days. He was Corporal Murdoch, a fresh- faced soldier. Murdoch spotted and rescued him when Crow was stranded behind enemy lines.

“Just doing my job,” Murdoch said when Crow thanked him.

“The world needed a few good men doing their jobs,” Crow thought, as he leaned over and dropped his handful of dirt.

A lean man took a few steps forward, unsure of his purpose. Before his mother had passed away she begged him to go, saying, “All would be answered.” The old Ray would have avoided it. But ever since a little girl asked him to entertain her friends when he had been on the verge of suicide, Ray Gunderson did not believe in coincidence anymore. He was here for a reason. As he gazed at Kevin’s photo, Ray acutely realized he was trembling. His hands were sweaty and a lump had formed in his mouth. He took a step back, as he realized Kevin was no stranger. He was his father. Ray glanced up at the sky. The light gray clouds were changing to dark as Ray stared at the face of the man who had left him and his mother, who had caused so much trouble in his life, and yet he had given him life.

“Hope lives on,” Ray thought, as he lowered and dropped his dirt back to the earth.

The priest uttered the final prayer and Kevin’s funeral ended. Men waited for the remainder of the guests to leave before taking shovels and finishing their work hurriedly as raindrops began to fall.

Not long after they left, a lone figure, clad in a trench coat and a dark Greek sailor’s hat remained. He was clutching a pipe between his lips and a graying beard. Burdened by his task, the man simply known as “Q” spoke.

“It’s finished, Kevin. I’m sorry you weren’t alive to see it, but I finished the race for you. You didn’t care about your legacy as a boxer, but you did care about your children and your legacy as a man. When I came to you, broke and desperate, you agreed to throw the biggest fight of your life. And even though it broke your mind and body, I honored my promise to restore your legacy. I asked a young girl to ask Ray to entertain her friends so he would not lose hope in life. I visited his mother and told her that you had died and that coming here would help him understand who he is and the man he became today. I posted an obituary on a reservation paper, knowing Crow would come pay his respects to the man who saved his life in the jungle. I guided Cassidy to her job in Chicago, and gave her the journal of a wrongly convicted man, persecuted by the country. Why? To remind her of her own wrongful conviction of your character. You weren’t perfect Kevin, but you weren’t a monster. She came.”

He paused as he felt a tear running down his cheek, its warmth contrasting against the cold rain.

“Your legacy is the people you leave behind.”

He laid a flower down and took one look at the grave before walking away, away into the night.