Cat's In The Cradle by Neil Burns
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Neil Burns

The usual legal stuff with GATCHAMAN/BOTP etc. The song "CAT'S IN THE CRADLE"
is off of Harry Chapin's 1974 record "VERITIES AND BALDERDASH" and is owned
by Elektra Records. This story takes place anywhere between "Enter Red Impulse"
and "Farewell Red Impulse". Enjoy.

It was a cool afternoon and Kentaro Washio sat in the corner of the diner
drinking coffee and smoking one of his Icardian cigarettes. The strain of the war
with Galactor and the stress of living a lie etched themselves on his face.
When will this nightmare end? A nearby patron got up and walked over to him,
asking him for a dime. The older Washio gave it to the patron, who nodded her
thanks and put in the jukebox. Suddenly--

My child arrived just the other day
He came into the world the usual way
But there were planes to catch and bills to pay
He learned to walk when I was away

"God," Washio groaned. "I hate this song."

It was "Cat's In The Cradle", Harry Chapin's 1974 hit song about a father who
suffered from missed opportunities with his son because he was too busy with
his work. By the end, the son had grown up like his father and was too busy
for him. Every time Kentaro heard the song, the lyrics seemed to cut him deep,
as if chastising him for being exactly like the father in the song.

And the cat's in the cradle
and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
When you coming home. dad?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then
We're gonna have a good time then

"When are you coming home, dad?" That question haunted the Red Impulse leader
everywhere he went. He could see a little boy wonder "Where's my father?"
When's my father coming home?" He himself wondered that when his own father was
away all the time with his work. The one time he got time off to see Kentaro,
his father died of a heart attack at dinner. Kentaro vowed he would be a better
father. He would be a stable breadwinner who provided for his family, but
Galactor changed all that. Because of Galactor he could not raise his son in a
safe environment. He could not be the provider like a normal father. Because of
Galactor, he had to entrust Ken's care to his old friend Doctor Kozaburo Nambu
and fake his death, assuming another identity. As he sipped his coffee, the
black liquid burning his throat, he wondered how many other agents had families
they had to lie to for their safety and the protection of the world.

Well he came from college just the other day
So much like a man I just had to say
Son, I'm proud of you. Can you sit for awhile
He shook his head and he said with a smile
What I really like, dad, is to borrow the car keys
See you later. Can I have them please?

And the cat's in the cradle
And the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
When you coming home, son?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then,dad
We're gonna have a good time then

Kentaro smiled grimly as he noticed the role reversal in the latter part of
the song. He could see himself retired in a few years and wanting to see Ken,
but Ken would be too busy with whatever and the older Washio could only kick
himself for not taking time out to see his son. You had no time for me, "Dad".
Why should I have time for you? The song's message cut him worse then a
thousand knives as the song went on and Harry's voice sung each lyric.

"Hi, Ken." the owner greeted.

Ken walked in, waving at the owner behind the counter, and sat in a booth
several tables away from the Red Impulse commander. Kentaro's heart broke as the
song's manifestation sat mere feet away and he could not do or say anything.
Why? What held him back? Was it because he feared Galactor agents were around
and he and Ken would be endangered? He did give the Gatchaman leader to Nambu
to raise while he was off on his mission. Or was it because he was a coward
who thought it was a mistake thinking he could be a father? Kentaro smiled,
remembering Sayuri telling him that he would be a father even though his
colleagues thought it was a poor idea. He was too cold a bastard to think about anyone
but himself, never mind raising a son. Did he not tell Ken he was alive
because he felt it would be easier and safer to pretend to be someone else? Nambu
bugged him constantly to tell Ken. To give him credit for being a mature,
understanding adult.

"God forgive me. I can't tell Ken I'm alive. He would simply hate me."

Kentaro finished his coffee and stubbed out his cigarette while dropping a
couple of bills on the table. He got up and put on his fedora and exited the
booth. As he walked by Ken, the younger Washio nodded politely as he glanced at
his menu. The last notes of "Cat's" were finishing as Kentaro walked out the
door with the song now stuck in his mind.

And the cat's in the cradle
and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
When you coming home, son
I don't know when, but we'll get together then, dad
We're gonna have a good time then.


Comments? Enjoy and all daggers or roses gladly accepted.

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