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  • Writer's pictureStefan Neff

From Zero To Hero Chapter 16

A Child Without A Home

The day before they arrived, I had everything planned out with all my Ts crossed and Is dotted. Now it was time for the big show time to begin. I could almost feel the presence of them in my arms. I couldn’t sleep that night. It was like Christmas day coming early. What a feeling, I was a little kid in a candy store. I felt like the world let me into their inner sanctum of light.

I woke up that morning feeling like a million bucks. I’d only had a few hours' sleep, but that didn’t seem to affect my feeling of freedom and drive to become a family again. I got dressed with intention of being there early, to make sure I was waiting for the phone call. My battery was full, my phone turned on. All I had to do is show up and believe that everything was going

to work out this time.

The clock started to move like a turtle. It seemed like the people around were moving slow-mo like they weren’t even awake. I felt a lot of anxiety because they hadn’t shown up yet, and their plane had landed. Time passed way beyond the normal arrival. Everyone from that flight was already out and had their bags already. Then, my phone rang and my body felt like a

limp biscuit.

When I answered the phone, I knew it was them and I could hear a voice saying. “Mr. Neff I have someone here that says that there are here to visit you.”

I said, “Yes they are, and when are they coming out?”

The person said, “I have a lot of questions for you before we release them to you.”

I said, “What do you mean to release them? Why are you holding them hostage?”

“We are holding them in a room for questioning before we let them through the border.” I don’t remember what questions they asked me, but it sounded like they were interrogating me. They said that she has been marked as undesirable in Canada and they wanted to know if she was here to work for me.

I said, “No, they are my family visiting for three months.” After all the questions were answered, they were finally released from their jail cell.

Tomoko came through those doors with excitement in her eyes, walking ever so delightfully, with a spring in her step she bounded into my arms. At that moment, it seemed like once again, my life had been forever changed in an instant.

We started the journey home, to my safe haven. My room had been moved over to a different part of the old family home, so it was new to them. I had painted the room and replaced the carpets. The bed was the same, but new to them, I thought. I could now finally relax, now that they had settled in for the next three months.

Two months passed and things were going fairly well, or so I thought. I was on my best behaviour, I wasn’t drinking so much alcohol and had reduced my pot-smoking habit, which helped. Life seemed to be much better. Then, with a surprise, my son decided that he wanted to go to school in Canada. He wanted to stay much longer than they had originally planned.

I was so happy with the possibility, my life was becoming so much better than I had hoped for

these past few months. I was also starting to have a relationship with her again Well, yes, it was only sex, but at least it was something that we had in common!

We talked about the possibility of getting remarried and if so, she could become a landed immigrant. I knew that this was a dream come true, to have this broken family become happy once again.

I enrolled my son into grade one at the old elementary school where I went. I was so happy to have that dream become a reality. That whole year was full of ups and downs but at least they were here in Canada.

Then one day after work I came home to an empty house.

My deepest fear had just come true. They were GONE!

I couldn’t believe my eyes! They were actually gone. The room look like it had been turned upside down. They had taken only what they could carry. I was devastated. I didn’t want to live anymore, but I had to find out what had happened to them. Things were going well, or so I

thought. This wasn’t at all what I had imagined.

I couldn’t sleep or eat much, all I could do was drink more and more until I cried myself to sleep at night. I believed that life wasn’t worth living but my will to survive overpowered my empty thoughts.

About two weeks went by without any word, until I finally got a phone call from her, wanting to talk with me. I was so mad at her, but still for some reason loved her so much. I agreed to meet at a coffee shop with her and a mutual friend of hers.

On that day we met I surely found out how she felt about me. They had left me and gone to a homeless shelter to get away from me. Apparently, I was a tyrant, who controlled their lives ever since they arrived. I couldn’t believe that she hated me so much she would seek out a life of despair, rather than try to work it out with me.

For her, it was about freedom. I was asked to pay for all of her rent and food forever. I was shocked! I was so angry with her but I had no choice. She said, “These are my terms, otherwise were are going to go back to Japan.” I knew that wasn’t what I wanted, and

this seemed like the only option left in my life.

I had to buy her a car, with insurance, for a year. I had no choice or I would lose everything that I wanted in life. I wanted my son to live with a roof over his head and be in my life forever. The thought of my son living in a homeless shelter was unbearable. She started to look for a place and within a week she found a small one-bedroom coach house above a garage. I was so pleased that they were safely away from the homeless shelter.

I started to visit them after work, having dinner with them and then going back to my family home to sleep. My son stayed at the same school for that year, until it was too hard for her to travel so far out. She planned to change schools the next year.

I found out that he was attending an art school that was closer to their home. This seemed like the best option for his life, to create a change of location. I wanted so desperately to live with them, but I knew that it would take some time. I still had a heavy drinking problem and was smoking drugs every day, not to mention I smoked cigarettes like a chimney. I had

enough drugs to last me for years even though I sold a bunch to pay for their rent every month.

I was a true criminal in the eyes of society. I remember one weekend I was drinking too much and smoked a lot of drugs. I ran through a glass window and had cuts all over my body. I felt no pain but the blood was everywhere, I phoned her that night with a quiver in my voice saying, “I almost died tonight. Please help me!!”

She said, “Why should I help you? What do you want me to do for you? Just stop drinking!” My life was forever changed after that night, well, at least I thought it was.

In the Next Chapter, I share how was able to Escape To Nowhere Land

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