Later that same day my dad also received a call from Mort. He was calling from the hospital and asked my dad to pick him up and give him a ride back to where he was staying all the while making demands and threats about money. Dad obliged, took him to the seedy hotel (long drop from when he was staying in 5 star hotels!) and gave him some cash and also made a deposit to his account. He was by this stage missing a front tooth, no doubt left behind during his ‘holiday time’ in Portland.
It is at this point that most would think (and I certainly wanted to) completely ignore him and not respond to any communication what-so-ever. A little context should be shared. Around this same time, there was an article in the newspaper about a lovely, seemingly happy and well-to-do family that lived in a suburb not far from mine. The husband, around the same age as Mort, somehow got into some serious drugs. Parallel to my scenario as soon as the wife realised she threw him out of the family home to protect her children. Only he didn’t just stop with harassing phone calls. He turned up to the family home and stabbed her to death.
There is a cricketing term called ‘dead bat’. This is a strategic manoeuvre whereby the bat is held with a light grip such that it gives when the ball strikes it, and the ball loses momentum and falls to the ground.
To this point Mort had not turned up at the house or at the girls school and we desperately wanted it to stay that way.
Nonetheless, Mort wanted to be heard, he wanted to rant. And so my dad would listen with a ‘dead bat’. Never provoking, neutral not defending or attacking, just listening and responding with non-committal words and sounds. This would take the momentum out of Mort’s strike.
My dad put himself in this position to ensure that the girls and I didn’t end up as a front page news story.