“The Widow’s Son” | Novella | Written by Graves Asher | 5 - Mishmashers Mishmashers

“The Widow’s Son” | Novella | Written by Graves Asher | 5

XXI.

On a cold winter night, I drove to Mom’s place.

To capture my Dad.

And imprison him inside his old home.

I drove.

Faster.

Faster.

To feel the rush of speed.

The rush of risk.

Anything.

Anything.

I needed it.

I thought about things.

A lot of things.

Heaven.

Hell.

Literal.

Figurative.

Morality.

Mortality.

I thought about the Bible.

The Koran.

The Torah.

Religion.

God.

Would His Majesty approve? Would God think we were messing with His plan? Or, did he purposely leave behind these ancient instructions?

Did he provide us with the source code?

For the smart ones?

The hurt?

The lonely?

The broken?

Were these things left for us?

To help?

To cope?

To survive?

Are these things part of His great plan?

His grand scheme?

If not, then whose?

Satan?

Silliness.

Pure silliness.

I held the wheel steady, my mind full of stereotypical religious imagery. Satan making evil plans. God looking the other way.

Plain silliness.

But my mind often goes there.

Against my wishes.

Lingers.

Dwells.

Obsesses.

What am I doing?

Going to Mom’s place.

Dabbling in metaphysical nonsense.

What am I doing?

Playing God’s game.

Deciphering the code.

Unraveling the mystery.

Trapping spirits.

Preventing them from moving on.

What am I doing?

What am I doing?

That thought never left my mind. It stayed there, sat on the steering wheel. It became my sidekick. My godly co-pilot.

Jesus, let go of the goddamn wheel, please.

But my car never wavered.

It sliced through the night.

Onward.

To its inevitable destination.

XXII.

I pulled into the driveway.

Took a breath.

Stepped out of the car.

Driveway.

Another breath.

Porch.

Breathe, I thought.

Breathe.

Breathe.

Doorbell.

Doorbell.

Deep breath.

Doorbell.

After what seemed like forever, Mom finally answered. She was wearing her ratty pajamas and an unflattering bathrobe.

She looked awful.

Pitiful.

Broken.

Sad.

Lonely.

Very lonely.

Was this the point?

Was this a ploy?

A plot?

Did she want me to take pity on her? Did she want me to see this miserable visage and rush to her side? Wrap my arms around her?

To help?

To help trap Dad?

To help trap Dad in this house?

Forever?

It’s possible.

I didn’t rule it out.

But there I was.

On the porch.

At the front door.

Finger on the doorbell.

Willing.

Able.

To help.

“It’s cold,” she said through the front door. “I’m going to the living room. It’s unlocked. Let yourself in. Close and lock it behind you.”

I waited.

She stepped back.

I opened the door.

And headed into prison.

XXIII.

We sat in the living room.

Silent.

Tense.

She smoked.

I didn’t.

She offered me a cigarette.

I declined.

Conversation:

“What do you want?” I asked.

“I want you to help me,” she replied.

“Help with what?”

“Your father.”

“What about him?”

“I want him back. I miss him.”

“I do, too.”

“But not like I do.”

I said nothing.

What could I say?

“Not like I do,” she repeated.

It was a prompt.

A nudge forward.

I thought about what to say next. Did I lash out? Did I strike like a viper? Eviscerate her soul? Tear her world apart?

Like a wounded dog?

Like a wounded son?

I bit my tongue.

Again.

Again.

I cleared my throat.

“Then I will help you,” I told her.

“Thank you,” she said.

Flat.

Hollow.

Did she mean it?

Or did she expect it?

I don’t know.

I don’t know.

Breathe.

She pointed to the table.

“The instructions Dr. Winchester gave me are over there,” she explained. “I tried to follow them. I guess I screwed things up. You know me.”

I stood up.

Walked to the table.

Awkward.

Unrehearsed.

I gasped.

His instructions.

Looked like torture.

Torment.

At luxury prices.

XXIV.

I saw the box.

And a scalpel.

Ancient documents.

Texts.

An ornate bowl.

Writings.

Scribblings.

Horror movie props?

Surely.

Maybe.

They looked so real.

And then I looked again.

Gasped.

Unrehearsed.

“Are you kidding me right now? This is the stuff Dr. Winchester gave you? It looks like a goddamn suicide kit,” I shouted.

“Language!” Mom scolded.

“It looks like you’re a budding lunatic.”

“These are tools.”

“Of madness.”

“What?”

“Madness, Mom. Tools of madness.”

“They are not.”

“Then what are they?”

“Tools.”

“Tools of what?”

“Communication!” she screamed.

And then I saw it.

That look of desperation.

The veneer cracked.

Shattered.

Scattered across the floor.

Pathetic.

Pathetic.

Pathetic.

And sad.

So very sad.

“You think you’re going to get dad back with this stuff? And you honestly believe these stupid toys will help you?”

“Yes.”

“You’re mad.”

“No.”

“Yes.”

“No, I’m not.”

“Yes, you are.”

“Don’t say that.”

“It’s true. You know, Dad was crazy…”

“No…”

“I’m obviously crazy…”

“No…”

“And you’re crazy.”

“No!”

She shouted the word over and over and over and over again as she charged me. Knocked me against the table.

Spilled those sad tools.

Pathetic tools.

Pathetic.

Sad.

Pathetic.

Those pathetic instruments.

All across the floor.

“Don’t say that. We’re not crazy.”

Winded, I said, “Yes, we are.”

She cried.

I hated that sound.

Hated it.

With a passion.

Always have.

Always will.

I sighed.

Stood up.

Hugged her.

“What do you need me to do?” I asked.

Pathetic.

Me.

Pathetic.

“Help me.”

“Do what?”

“Reconnect.”

“With me?”

“No.”

Pause.

“Your father.”

Of course.

XXV.

Of course.

I felt like a fool.

Not us.

Not her living son.

No.

Her husband.

Her dead husband.

She sat at the table.

I gathered the tools.

Set them before her.

“What did you do? Or, I should ask, what didn’t you do? We will follow these instructions to the letter. If that’s what you want,” I said.

Mom smiled.

A genuine smile.

Dad was on the horizon.

Reconnection.

Reunion.

But at what price?

Did she think I would come back here?

For dinner?

For holidays?

Family vacations?

No.

I wanted no part of her growing madness. Even if it worked, I had no intention of returning to my childhood home after that night.

Ever.

Until she died.

And it was my turn.

To throw things out.

Sell possessions.

Make hard decisions.

Part ways.

Say goodbye.

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