My father has a million stories. If you knew him well enough, you’d hear Charlie Murphy echo in your head after hearing a story of his saying, “There’s some great story tells in the world today, man. But who the fuck could make up that shit?” Just as who I am doesn’t seem to indicate that I am a product of my father (or a product of my entire family for that matter), my father doesn’t seem to be a product of this planet. He’s something else.
I have never met a man who is harder to characterize. I have never met a man who gives less of a damn what other people think. I have never met a man who has a way with people the way he does, despite butchering names, places… and well, pretty much the entire English language. It’s truly remarkable. Some of his stories might be a slight exaggeration, but you’d be a fool to bet against its validity. Now don’t get me wrong, that isn’t to say he is not an intelligent man. He’s far from unintelligent. He knows what he wants to know, and nothing more. He has better things to do.
He goes by Terry, but I have been fortunate enough to call him Dad my entire life. To this day I am still trying to determine if I feel fortunate because he’s my father, or because if he wasn’t, I may have had to one day cross paths with this man. No matter. What is, is and what could have been isn’t. All that matters now is that I have the urge to try and describe the indescribable because I am feeling saucy. But Terry Vincent (who I also refer to from time to time as Terry the Bounty Hunter or TTBH) isn’t a man who can be simply described; he needs to be told of.
You could meet him once, twice, even a handful of times and still not quite have a gauge on him. The man’s real self requires a large sample size to get the full experience. And, since he moved away from home at 14 or 15, divorced my mother just a few years into marriage, and my sister lived with my mother for a bit and moved out before me, I probably know more of his character than anyone on the planet. So piece-by-piece, I can at least try to enlighten you as to what raised me. Or, at least was supposed to raise me. I begin with my earliest and probably all time favorite TTBH anecdote. Hope you enjoy it.
Lil' Roy Goes to Kindergarten
He would just sit at home all day and wait to start life. His mother would entertain him by feeding him those children’s workbooks from the grocery store for cheap entertainment. He would sometimes rip through two a day. Math was his thing. Workbooks were essentially what Danielle, his older sister, had been bringing home from school every day for the past three years. Something she called “homework.” She hated it. He. Was. Stoked. A newly turned five-year-old, Lil’ Roy (as my whole family calls me because I was named after my Grandpa) was preparing himself for Kindergarten, which was just days away. He was so close he could smell it. It smelled like a child’s urine and erasers (I am glad I didn’t go with “…could taste it” here. I feel like urine and erasers probably taste just like they smell). He was that close. For three years Danielle had come home with marvelous stories of class, friends, teachers, something called recess and, what he was secretly most excited for, homework! Envious, it was now his turn to go to school.
The big day had finally come. He was around three feet tall rocking some new clothes that were reminiscent of the Saved by the Bell intro designs, had his crayons, a pencil box and was running around screaming and throwing a fit when he realized he couldn’t find his backpack. The one on his back. Despite his parent’s laughter, he didn’t find it funny. It wasn’t funny. It was his big day. The day he got to ride the bus. The day he got to find out what the hell recess was. The day he got homework. And, the day he was finally going to make friends.
They lived in a circular development in Lacey, maybe 30 or so houses. 3085 Carpenter Hills Loop. He had his address memorized (probably for in case he got stolen or something). His house was at the bottom of a hill, which was exactly opposite the circle from the entrance to the loop. It was here that the bus would pick up the neighborhood children at the entrance of the loop. It was here and on this day that Lil’ Roy begin his conquest to become Roy.
On foot, there was a path straight through the loop. It was a long narrow gravel trail surrounded by a large park, leading directly from his house, at the bottom of the hill, to the bus stop at the top. He and his sister traversed the hill, turned, and waited with a dozen or so other kids along a tall fence, which was parallel to the main road. These kids ranged from 7 to 11 and were mostly boys. Boys can be mean. Especially to small children with flaming orange hair. If there were a Young Roy hair dye, it would have been called “Freak Show Orange.”
One of the bigger kids, Jay, was more or less the leader of the pack and for some reason, he didn’t like the cut of Roy’s gingery jib. It wasn’t long before 12 young children pointed, laughed, kicked and spit on Lil’ Roy for no reason other than he was dressed different or weird looking. Probably because of both. He didn’t look ridiculous. He looked awesome. Seriously, if I was a five-year-old girl, I’d have been all over that sweet ass rat tail… but I digress.
He ran back home (but a manly, Will Smith-like movie run, not like a tiny wiener kid run), hysterically crying his eyes out. His conquest had been ceased before it had even begun. He had been defeated. Not only did he not go to school on the bus, he definitely hadn’t made any friends. His father helped him rally and insisted he still go to school. Terry the Bounty Hunter drove him there and dropped him off. The rest of the day went on without a hiccup. And since he was on a half-day Kindergarten schedule, he didn’t have to ride home with the same kids from the bus stop since he was the only one in his grade at the stop.
The next morning he felt much better. Far less confident than just 24 hours prior, but a lot more confident than 23 hours, 45 minutes prior. So he gathered his things and got ready to roll. He waved goodbye to Danielle as she was on her way to the bus. Riding the bus?! She was a sucker. HA! Confused, TTBH asked why Lil’ Roy didn’t seem to be planning on going to the bus stop with her. Uhhh… did he not remember the day before? Wow. What an idiot. Surely he’d just forgotten momentarily and would come to remember and then take him to school again… Wrong. Lil’ Roy was to march back up there and face these ginger-hating-douche bags again. He was absolutely in need of some encouragement. His father kneeled down, put a hand on his shoulder, looked him dead in the eye and said, “Look, I will watch from the window and if there is any trouble, wave. I will come take care of it.” Terry Vincent was a problem solver.
Roy swallowed the lump in his throat and tentatively walked to the bus stop with his sister. Never had he walked slower. He could have crab walked faster than this. A gold fish could have flopped on land faster than this. Hell, a pet rock could have out paced him. He finally arrived to the fence, which was hiding the enemy and as he approached it, he went numb. He flashed back to a day before and came to a complete halt before taking the final few steps. He came to the corner, the first spot he would be in sight of the group since, and the last spot his father would still be able to see him… If he was still even watching.
Despite the fact that the other kids were probably 30 feet down the fence line, the corner of the fence was his station of choice. He wasn’t afraid… I swear. It was because the real estate at this spot on the fence was so spacious and he had elbowroom and well, he pretty much just liked that he wasn’t within 30 feet of Jay and friends. As his sister walked toward the group, she drew their attention. This quickly alerted the crew to the freckly ginger by the edge of the fence. Immediately a few of them broke off, walked over and apologized for the previous day and said they would like to be friends because Lil’ Roy was so good looking and well dressed. They said, “Damn it you are awesome. We didn’t see that when you were covered in saliva, but now we do. We should hang out sometime.” To this day, they are still close friends. It was a day that Lil’ Roy will never forget. How could he?
Re-read that last bit. Only one part after “…broke off…” is true, and it isn’t the happy fun time part. The only true part is that he would never forget this day. The real reason he will never forget that day was what really happened. The group that broke off included Jay, immediately he rallied the remainder of the gang and began poking fun of Roy’s awesome nylon pants, his charming cowlick, his bountiful freckles and soon enough, his tears. Manly tears though. None of that little girl tear stuff. They began to spit on him yet again and he wandered closer and closer to the edge of the fence, wanting absolutely nothing more than for his dad to be down at the house, staring out the window, ready to pounce.
The house was a good 150 yards down the hill and Lil’ Roy couldn’t quite make out what was in the windows. For all he knew, he was waving in vane. He waved to request backup. No sign of life from the bottom of the hill. The ridicule continued as manly “sweat” flowed from his tear ducts and he waved again. Soon the group laughed at the fact that he was waving to no one. He remained silent and waved one last wave and gave up. There was no one.
As he turned back to face the harassment, he felt cold and alone. In the words of Andre 3000, “New direction was apparent. He was a child, looking at the floor staring.” Then, when all was lost. When he had nothing to hope for, as the one thing he wanted so badly wasn’t there, he saw from the corner of his eye a very tan man, 6’2” tall, balding but yet also with a rat tail, wearing absolutely nothing other than short bright neon yellow Bad Boy shorts, not even shoes, moving full throttle up the gravel path. His athletic frame moved quickly and smoothly up the hill as he took long strides. These children would soon learn why Roy would one day write that he feels fortunate to have Terry the Bounty Hunter as a father.
At this point Lil’ Roy now wanted these kids, who were just far enough tucked behind the fence that they couldn’t see their fate sprinting at them with ass-kicking rage in his eye, to get caught in the act. He knew it would diminish his credibility and make it seem as if he exaggerated the story if these bullies were behaving like perfect angels as Terry the Bounty Hunter and his wrath arrived. Unfortunately for them, that wasn’t the case. As one of them spit at him, Lil’ Roy could see the saliva leave his lips, and as if it were all now in slow motion the same boy’s eyes grow to the size of Rocky Mountain Oysters and the saliva hit his jacket and the boy made eye contact with TTBH.
What happened next was like Ezekiel 25:17. This righteous man definitely found his gravel path and shepherded this weak boy through the valley of saliva and laughter. He was truly the finder of lost children. Only he didn’t need the Lord to help. It was he himself that struck down upon these children with great vengeance and furious anger in an exchange that went like this,
“Who is picking on you?!” Terry inquired.
Roy pointed to the general crowd. Terry could tell by the children’s faces that they were indeed all very guilty. He had the same look that Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta have on their face in Pulp Fiction when that guy jumps out of the bathroom and misses them with all six shots from that revolver.
“The next person to make fun of, laugh at, point at, spit on, kick, punch, pinch or talk bad about my son is going to get the fucking shit kicked out of them! I don’t care how old you are! Leave him alone or I am gonna kick your fucking ass!”
“I am going to tell my mom!” Their fearless leader exclaimed.
“Everyone listen up closely! Go get your moms! Go get your dads! All of them! And tell them I am gonna kick their fucking asses too! “ TTBH retorted.
Needless to say, Lil’ Roy was never picked on by these kids again. I also think that it goes without saying that Roy and his sister were the only people to get on the bus at that stop that morning. The bus driver looked alarmed, wondering where the other dozen kids went, but saw TTBH standing to see his children off and she figured everything was okay. And it was. For Lil’ Roy, everything was finally okay