Ken Duquette: Humble Caretaker

In my short story “When Blood Meets Rain,” Ken Duquette faces a tough decision. He either honors the contract that he signed with the Seattle Seahawks to play as a linebacker in the NFL, his father’s dream; or, he locks himself in the bathroom with a pair of scissors. He is talented, knowledgeable, and physically mature enough to compete with the professional ranks.

But he’s only 17. He became eligible for the Draft after obtaining his GED at 14, homeschooled by his father. He doesn’t know how to drive. He hasn’t been weaned from his father’s allowance. The hype from the community and nation, the pressures of his father, gives him the feeling that his life is bleeding out like a raindrop streaking down a window.

During a flood that is sweeping away the valley of Tolomeo, while the community is consumed with sandbagging the high school football field to protect the shrine where Duquette set numerous records, Duquette has locked himself in the bathroom and is filling the tub with ice water, in which he is about to sit, with the scissors. He feels he has no hope. Whether he survives is the crisis of the story.

I wrote it because I wanted to create a character who feels tremendous pressure about the person whom everyone thinks he ought to be, the person they’ve already decided he should be. Duquette is angry at himself, at people. He feels that hands heavy with iron are squeezing his body. I wanted him to struggle with his identity, so he would be forced to decide where his values lie: inside his poltroon brawn (his cowardly heart); or, his heart for life.

How many of us athletes have given up on our coaches? The game? The sport itself?

How many of us have abandoned our families? Or God?

I believe that if he makes it through this savage ordeal with the scissors, he’ll have deepened in faith his love for Jesus. And in his deepened character, he will be filled with a hunger for the challenges that God will present before him. He won’t want to miss any of them. His responsibilities will be assets, not burdens. His new job as a professional football player will be one that he will never walk away from. And if he continues to grow and change and improve and learn, he will become a humble caretaker of life, a solid employee, a strong leader in his family, a blessing to the people around him. That is the choice that will either bury him, or give him life.

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