Hello and good day!
White light from tall streetlights reflected off the wet black asphalt. The family parked and walked across the parking lot, through the rain, in the dark.
Inside the performance theatre, it was bright, inviting, and warm.
The son's violin teacher greeted the family in the lobby and instructed them to go ahead and find their seats. The show would start soon.
The theatre had stadium seating with each row higher than the row in front of it. There weren't many people in attendance and parents sat mostly in the second and third rows, down below, up near the stage.
Recital players were in the first row.
A technician in the control room brought down the house lights and brought up the stage lights.
The lovely teacher welcomed the gathering and gave an introductory speech, telling everybody how proud she was of their children.
One at a time, the children went up on stage to play. Everybody did their best and it was an uplifting experience.
The son's father was happy to see his oldest son play with verve and style, even though the string work wasn't perfect. He probably should have practiced a little more.
What caught everybody's attention most though, were two children who played in the middle of the group, a brother and a sister.
The brother went first. His face was serious and emotionless. He had thick black hair sticking up and was wearing dress clothes, but his white dress shirt was only halfway tucked in. One side was tucked. The other side was hanging out.
He didn't seem to care that he was unkempt in front of a crowd. The kid played technically perfect, but with no emotion.
His sister went up next and she was also very serious. She had long black hair and was wearing a long dress made of thin, flowing fabric.
Her posture was erect, a straight back, her chin up, her head back, and she had strong arms and shoulders, like a gymnast or a swimmer. She also played error free music, but with no attempted flourishes of the soul.
After all the children had played, those in the theatre packed up and headed out to the bright and friendly lobby.
The teacher had prepared gift bags for her students, which were neatly arranged on a table in the entrance.
All the kids ran towards the table in a mad dash, but the mother and father of the family made their children wait for the line to die down.
While they were waiting, the kids became restless and wanted to explore the theatre.
The father told them to go for it, and followed his children, making sure they didn't mess around with anything too valuable.
As they began to walk away, there was a loud yell. "Get away from us you abuser!" A small, thin, woman had yelled at a big strong man.
She yelled again. "He's an abuser. Get the hell away from us!"
The two serious kids were standing in between their arguing parents, goody bags in hand.
A thought experiment for you.
If you heard a woman yell that at a man in a public place, what would you do?
Several people in the theatre immediately gathered around to keep the peace.
The father of the family was one of them.
As onlookers walked towards the argument, the big, strong, broad-shouldered man, gave an aw-shucks unaffected smile, and walked silently outside.
While the crowd attended to the woman, the father stared at the big man through one of the lobby's tinted glass windows.
The man was outside now, in the dark and the rain.
He looked back in at the father through the window and shrugged his shoulders innocently as if to say, "women, right? what can you do?"
The woman was melting down in the lobby.
"It is my weekend with the kids! It is my weekend! He's not supposed to be here. He is abusive and he is trying to intimidate the kids into going with him. They are scared to say no because they think that if they say no, something bad will happen when they go back with him. But it is my weekend!"
Nobody knew what to say and the kids stood there wearing blank, emotionless stares.
"Should we call the police?" asked a woman who worked in the theatre's concession stand.
"No!" shouted the girl.
The man was outside waving through the window for his children to come to him and the little boy began to walk out.
His sister followed.
The woman moved to block them.
The father of the family spoke up from inside the lobby.
"Hold on kids. Miss, would you like me to walk you all out to your car? I'd be happy to."
"Yes, that would be very nice," said the woman.
The kids tried to skirt around their mother to go outside.
"Hold on kids. Just wait. We're trying to sort this out," said the father.
The daughter snapped.
"With all due respect sir, this is a private family matter that doesn't concern you."
The father snapped back.
"I understand that, but we can't ignore what we heard. We have to look out for your safety."
"No, you don't. It's none of your business!" screamed the girl. Tough girl.
"Listen. You're right. We are in no position to force you to do anything. We just want to help. Answer this. Are you and your brother in harm's way right now? Is there anything you want us to do?" asked the father.
"No, just let us go."
The kids walked out, with the woman following behind them.
The father walked out as well, from the other side of the foyer, out of sight, to keep an eye on things.
When the mother and children walked out, the big man took off across the dark parking lot, through the rain and wind, to his car.
"Mom! How dare you bring other people into our life like that!" yelled the girl.
"It is my weekend with you! He's not supposed to be here!" shouted the mom.
"We asked him to come! We want to be with him! We're going mom. Come on," said the girl. She grabbed her brother by the arm and crossed the dark parking lot.
The woman wiped tears from her face and walked to her car.
The father of the family trailed quietly behind them all.
The two kids climbed into the man's white SUV, still holding their goody bags.
At least they had a little memento of joy to lift their spirits in the middle of whatever was going to happen.
The woman leaned up against her shiny red Tesla in the dark and the rain and the wind and smoked a vape pen that smelled like marijuana.
"Are you going to be, ok?" asked the father, at the back of the dark parking lot.
She had apparently made a quick recovery, because she didn't sound sad anymore.
"I'll be fine. It was my weekend, but whatever."
"We did all we could to help. Should we call the police?"
"No, let it go."
She blew out a big cloud of marijuana vapor. "Thanks anyways," she said.
The father walked back across the shining black pavement with specks of cold rain blowing against his face.
He couldn't figure out who was right and who was wrong in this whole affair.
It was all so ambiguous.
The only thing he knew for certain was that the onlookers who stepped in and tried to help the kids had acted well.
The daughter had been brave.
Life is filled with many moral quandaries in which the correct path is not easy to identify.
In those situations, all you can do is act with good intentions and courage.
The result might not be satisfying, but at least you did what you could.
It's better than doing nothing.
Thank you so much for time today.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!
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