They say a dad is a son’s first hero. But my father, Daniel, was different. At first, I didn’t know why he didn’t like me.
I thought he was being strict like all dads. But then, I realized he was treating me like a stranger. He didn’t even want me around, and every time I approached him about something, he ignored me and pushed me away.
Once, I remember I was on a school leave and I took my dad’s game console to play games when he wasn’t home. I thought he wouldn’t mind.
But when he saw me playing with his console, he grabbed it and scolded me. That day I saw an ugly side of my dad that made me hate him.
“Don’t touch my things without asking me. You have no right to do that,” he yelled.
I was shocked and didn’t immediately understand what he had meant by not having the right.
I sought support from my mom, Samantha. But instead of backing me up, she sided with my dad, as usual.
I know she loves Dad very much, but what about me, doesn’t Mom love me?
“Why don’t you back me up, Mom?”, I thought.
Then my dad hid the console somewhere, and when I looked for it later, I discovered a horrible secret that the guy I thought was my “dad” and my mom had been keeping from me.
A week after my tenth birthday, my parents decided to have a party at home. I didn’t like crowded places, so I locked myself in their room.
I was bored and decided to get my dad’s console and play games until the party was over. I knew he would be mad at me, but I planned to return it without a trace.
I searched everywhere for the console and finally found it in my mom’s closet. When I pulled it out, an old photo album fell out of a pile of clothes. I hadn’t seen it before, so I was automatically drawn to it.
I flipped through the photos and found one with my mother in a wedding dress posing next to a stranger. There was an address written on the back of the photo, and it appeared to be in a different city, far from where we currently lived.
“Who is this man and why is mom standing next to him,” I wondered as curiosity got the better of me.
When the party was over, I showed the photo to my parents and asked them who the man standing next to my mother was. I watched as the smile on their faces disappeared and they cringed from nerves and shock.
I thought my parents would yell at me for trespassing in their room. But what happened that night was completely different.
My dad asked me to sit down, patted my shoulders and said:
“Alan, that’s your father. He died when you were two years old.”
“My dad? What do you mean he’s my dad?”, I asked in shock because I thought Daniel was my dad.
“Alan, I’m your mother’s second husband. We got married after your father died. It was a long time ago…now go to your bed and get some sleep.”
The man I thought was my dad turned out to be a stranger to me in an instant. I now found it hard to call Daniel “dad” again.
I assimilated the bitter truth and discarded my resentment for him. I assumed he ignored me and hated me because I wasn’t his real son. Reality hit me hard and I began to distance myself from Daniel.
Six years passed too quickly and, day by day, I had begun to notice my parents behaving strangely when I was around. At that moment, I realized they were hiding something else from me.
Sometimes they were chatting and would stop or change the subject when they saw me. I was suspicious of them, but pretended not to care. They had assumed I had stopped doubting them, but I kept looking for clues without them knowing.
One day, I came home from school earlier than usual and overheard my parents’ conversation. They didn’t realize I was home and were busy talking about the man in the picture next to my mother.
I heard Daniel’s voice say:
“Alan must never find out that his father is still alive.”
I was startled when I learned that my biological father was not dead. I was confused about why my stepfather and mother were keeping me away from him.
“What are they hiding from me? If my dad is alive, why didn’t he come for me? Where is he?”, I began to wonder.
Two years later, I had turned 18 and had just graduated from high school. Now my parents understood that I was adult enough to make my own decisions.
So, the first decision I made as an adult was to hang out with my friends at a music festival to celebrate our graduation.
“I’ll be back in a week!”, I said to my parents.
They trusted me and let me go without knowing that I was actually going to visit the city where my mother had lived a long time ago with my biological father.
I looked for his pictures in the album that was in the closet, photographed them with my phone and went looking for my dad. I visited the address on the back of the photo and knocked on the door. Moments later, an older woman came out.
“Hi. Excuse me, do you know this man?”, I asked. But she told me she was new to the neighborhood.
I then visited all the neighbors, who told me they hadn’t seen my father. I asked every random stranger I came across, but no one knew my dad.
I was exhausted and walking down the street looking for a hotel when I ran into an elderly homeless man. Having given up all hope of finding my father, I showed him the photo and asked him if he had seen this man anywhere.
To my surprise, the guy, who introduced himself as Franco, told me he knew him.
“What, you know my dad, where is he, please take me to him!”.
Franco and I crossed the street and came to a parking lot where I first saw my dad, whose name I didn’t yet know.
“Your dad is sitting over there. I met him several years ago on the streets and we’ve been friends ever since.”
I had never felt so weak and shaky before. I trembled as I walked toward my dad and tears flooded my eyes.
“Dad!!!”, I said.
But he didn’t react. I thought he could not recognize me. I showed him the photo where I appeared with my mother, but he didn’t remember anything.
“Dad, it’s me, Alan, remember me?” I said. But my dad was still unresponsive.
Although several questions kept bombarding my head, I first took my dad to the barbershop. Then I bought him new clothes and food, got him ready and took him home because I knew only my mother and stepfather could answer all my questions.
Two days later I returned home.
“Alan, I thought you were coming back next week,” Mother said stunned when she saw me home earlier than expected.
“Mom, just a second, I have a surprise for you!”, I said, and came back seconds later with my father.
My mother was stunned when she saw him. Her face flushed as anxiety set in.
“Do you recognize him, Mom, he’s my real father who is ALIVE and not DEAD!!!”.
“‘ARNALDO?” she cried out. “Honey, I can explain,” he said to me.
It was then that I learned that my father’s name was Arnaldo.
“You have to explain to me, Mom, because you have no choice.”
Daniel burst in and tried to stop my mother from confessing the truth.
“No, no, Samantha, don’t tell him.”
“Mom, if you don’t tell me, I’ll call the police.”
At that point, my mother had no choice and began to reveal something terrifying that she and Daniel had done to my father sixteen years earlier.
“Alan, honey, your dad used to travel alone a lot because he loved solo adventures,” she began.
“One day, he came home earlier than usual from his trip to Egypt and found me and your stepfather having…intimacy in the bedroom. He became furious and started insulting me.”
“He threatened to divorce me and throw me out of the house. That’s when Daniel knocked him over with a vase of flowers. Your father fell unconscious. We were afraid he was dead.”
“We waited a couple of hours to figure out how to get rid of Arnaldo’s body when suddenly he woke up and couldn’t remember anything. We realized he had lost his memory.”
“We called the emergency services and told them it was a stranger who had asked us for some water and hurt his head after falling over the threshold.”
“Since we were new to the neighborhood, no one knew Arnaldo. They thought Daniel was my husband, which made it easier for us to fake things to save ourselves.”
“Arnaldo had transferred the right to his property to me a long time ago, so I used that to my advantage. Daniel and I sold the house and moved here. We never went back to that town and had no idea what had happened to Arnaldo after that.”
I was shocked at the bad things Daniel and my mother had done to my father. I explained everything to my dad, and he was furious, even though he couldn’t remember what they had done to him.
He threatened to sue my stepfather and my mom, but they laughed and said he had no proof. But they didn’t know that I had secretly recorded my mom’s confession on my mini spy camera clipped to my shirt button.
I left my dad in a safe place and went home to check on Daniel and my mom. I made myself dinner and went upstairs to my room while my stepdad and mom thought things were getting back to normal.
That night, while they slept soundly, I snuck out to meet my friend, Jaime, whose father was a lawyer. According to our plan, my parents were sent a court notice two days later while my dad stayed at my friend’s house.
I stayed with Daniel and my mom to make sure they didn’t flee town. The court notice arrived, and that didn’t seem to bother them.
“You have no evidence to prove in court that we’re lying,” Daniel challenged me.
Poor stepfather! He didn’t know what awaited him in court.
At the hearing…
“Your Honor, Daniel is my husband. I don’t know who this man is. The photo is morphed and he is not my husband,” my mother defended herself on the witness stand.
Then my lawyer provided video evidence of my mother’s confession of the crime. The entire court, including my mother and Daniel, were shocked when the recording was played.
My dad won the case and we were awarded legal rights to all the money and property that Daniel and my mom owned. They were sentenced to prison with a heavy penalty. I was delighted that justice was done and told my dad:
“The truth always comes out no matter how hard you try to bury it in the dark.”
My dad and I walked out of the courtroom to our new destination as Daniel and my mom were transferred to prison.