The Bond

Benji was only eight when the first book in the Robbie Canvendish – Boy Wonder series came out. Edwin reviewed it for the local newspaper and, being a firm believer in introducing the younger generation to literature, got his son a copy of the book. Edwin read it to Benji every night and, to his delight, Benji loved it and wanted to know more and more about Robbie and his amazing telepathic gift and about his friends Simon and Marvin who also possessed the unique gift. When the end of the book came Benji cried for hours demanding to know what happened next. Edwin and his wife, Maria, did their best to calm Benji down to no avail. The child eventually just cried himself to sleep. The next night when Edwin sat down with the intention of reading a new bedtime book, Benji cried and wailed until he couldn’t wait anymore.
    The day after that, on his way home from work, Edwin stopped by the mall and picked up a Robbie Cavendish action figure for Benji. He thought it might quench the tantrums for the night and he was right. Benji was delighted to have a Robbie Cavendish he could take with him everywhere. He didn’t wail and cry but he insisted that Edwin read him the Robbie Cavendish book again. After that Benji refused to read or have read to him anything that did not pertain to Robbie Cavendish.
    The following year Edwin’s marriage fell apart and he and his wife filed for a divorce. While that was pending, Edwin moved out to a small bachelor apartment in downtown. He came back to the house every weekend to see Benji but noticed that Benji was more and more hostile towards him and every visit would be shorter than the last. Edwin Noticed the increasing number of toys and games Benji sudden had and concluded that Maria was buying Benji’s love and thus turning him against his own father. Edwind refused to let her get in the way of his relationship with his son. He continued to come over every weekend but failed to win Benji over.
    Edwin was about to give up when one day he saw an intern at the newspaper wearing a Robbie Cavendish tie.
    “Hey, where’d you get that?” Edwin asked him.
    The intern stopped and looked at the tie Edwin was pointing to. “Oh, he said, “my step-mother sent it to me. She knows I love Robbie Cavendish and not her. She’s trying to buy my love or something.”
    “Is it working?”
    “I’m wearing the tie, aren’t I?”
    That day Edwin left work early so he could go stop at Toys 'R' Us. The intern’s step-mother had given him a way back into Benji’s good books. He didn’t consider it buying Benji’s love, but thought of himself more as a caring father who takes an interest in his son’s interests. He picked out actions figures of Simon and Marvin to go with the one Benji already had of Robbie. He presented them to Benji that weekend and had the longest visit with his son, much to Maria’s dismay.
    The following weekend he bought over a model of the yellow jalopy that Robbie and his friends cruised around in. He continued on like this for weeks and every visit now was longer than the previous one.
    One night Benji asked if Edwin could stay over and finish reading him the second Robbie Cavendish book.
    “Do you mind?” Edwin asked Maria in private later.
    “Yes, I do.”
    Edwin’s face fell. He’d been looking forward to reading the new book to Benji.
    “But stay here and read him that damn book. I can’t stand another page of it.”
    And so every night after that Edwin would come over at Benji’s bedtime to read to him until he fell asleep. This was always the highlight of Edwin’s day because, though he didn’t realise it, he was just as curious as to what would happen to Robbie and his friends. Over the weekends Edwin continued to bring Benji more toys inspired by the popular series. It was no surprise that Benji’s love and appreciation for his father quickly returned and the two bonded over their mutual knowledge and excitement over the adventures of Robbie Cavendish.
    It wasn’t long until someone decided to turn Robbie Cavendish – Boy Wonder into a feature film. Benji and Edwin would watch trailers for it with giddy excitement and were first in live, with their pre-ordered tickets, when the big day finally came.
    With the big release like that there was obviously a number of people wanting to cash in on its success. Everywhere Edwin looked there were t-shirts, mugs, stickers, stickers, colouring books, playing cards, stationary – you name it! – all featuring Robbie Cavndish and his famous friends. Of course Edwin bought them all. In the third instalment of the series it turns out that Robbie is forced to choose between using his powers for good with Simon or for evil with Marvin. He chooses, at the start of the fourth book, to side with Simon and the two take on the task of stopping their former friends from destroying the world.
    After the fourth book Edwin stopped buying merchandise with Marvin’s face on it. Though many fans believed that mysterious Marvin was still a good guy but knew something the other two didn’t and was trying to save the world, but Edwin didn’t believe that. He automatically assumed that no son of his would ever side with an evil doer like Marvin.
    Edwin was half right. Benji didn’t side with Marvin, but he also didn’t side with Robbie and Simon. In fact Benji didn’t even know that the trio had split up. He had long outgrown his infatuation with the series. But Edwin failed to notice that all the new toys he got Benji were received with a stifled yawn or polite smile and never mentioned or touched again. He failed to notice that every night when he read the latest Robbie Cavendish book to Benji, Benji was actually falling asleep with his iPod cranked way up. It seemed that Edwin was becoming more and more obsessed with the children’s series the more Benji grew out of it. Weather Edwin truly failed to see Benji’s declining interest or weather he lied to himself about it is a mystery.
    Edwin, therefore, went right on buying any merchandise he could get his hands on that pertained to Robbie Cavendish. The were all left in Benji’s room and eventually moved out to the garage which was their pit stop before their final resting place in the garbage. Edwin knew all this and yet he continued to buy them all. To an outsider it would seem like he had a sickness; he was addicted to buying. Any commercial he saw on television catapulted him into a shopping spree which he couldn’t really afford what with having to pay rent, child support and alimony. He had a steady job, but he was definitely not as well off as his spending habits would lead anyone to believe. And yet Edwin just kept on doing it, even after Maria tried talking to him. He saw this as Maria’s jealousy coming thorough and trying to break the rock-hard bond between father and son.
    However, it should be noted that Edwin’s erratic consumption was more or less harmless. He was never late on any of his payments and was still able to live comfortably. The only tragedy was all the money he wasted. That is, until a few months after the end of the series when the author announced that she was finishing up a manuscript for the novel that told the saga of Robbie Cavendish from Marvin’s point of view. Fans who had stayed dedicated throughout the length of the series were overjoyed because finally they would know the truth about Marvin. The bad news was that there were only going to be five thousand copies published worldwide and there would be no pre-orders. So, the only way to get a copy was to line up outside the local bookstore in the hopes of being one of the lucky few to nab a copy.
    Of course Benji had only a very vague idea of all this and didn’t care anyway. And of course Edwin was ecstatic and fully planned to camp out outside the bookstore four blocks from his apartment.
    Edwin took days off from his job so he could set up camp four days before the book’s release. Even that early he was only the seventh or eighth person in line. Edwin didn’t mind because his plan was to push ahead of the line once the doors opened. The ethics behind a move like that completely escaped him as he sat for four days and four nights giddy with excitement, not for the big surprise he believed he’d be giving his son he thought the child was dying to have. No, instead Edwin’d excitement stemmed from trying to figure out what Marvin’s story could be because it must be a good one for the author to pen a spin-off of the series.
    The day finally arrived and the entire line was jittering. As soon as the doors opened Edwin found that the rest of the line also had come up with the same “Screw the line!” plan as Edwin. So he pushed forward, pulling and pushing people out of the way. The whole line crammed into the doorway where the store’s employees tried unsuccessfully to control the mob. Eventually they just gave up and the crowd crashed through the doors and stormed at the shelves, grabbing and clawing at the very limited copies of the hot new book. Edwin, too, clawed and pushed his way to the shelves, his fingers grabbing out at anything and everything in the hopes that it was the book. Finally his felt his hand clamp around the spine of the book as if it had been floating in mid-air for him. His heart leapt into his throat with repressed sobs of glee and his yanked his arm back to his body only to find a small child attached to the other side of the book.
    Both Edwin and the child stared at each other for a split second before both began pulling at the book with all his strength. The child’s strength surprised Edwin and for a minute he believed he was going to lose the book. The panic that came mixed with the thought to create a sudden anger that said “I will not be defeated!” and before he knew what he was doing Edwin used his free hand to give the child a shove which sent the kid sprawling backwards onto the floor, and into the middle of the mob. Edwin clutched the book to his chest and ran towards the cashiers before another rabid fan could take the book from him.
    He glanced back briefly only to see that the commotion had calmed a bit as the once raging crowd now crowded curiously and protectively around the fallen child. The child was crying and point at Edwin who paid for his book and quickly excited the store.
    He held the book to his chest again and ignored the store’s patrons poking their heads out of the front doors. He tapped the book twice and said to himself, “Benji will love this!”