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Richard Brown: Promises

104_ym_promises_cartwright.jpg
Art by Steve Cartwright 2024

Promises

 

by Richard Brown

 

          “You ready to tell me more about where you disposed of all these bodies, Mr. Stephens?”

          “I told you, Detective . . . THE body . . . singular. Just one.”

          “Right. Well, tell me again.”

          “It’s my dad. I killed him two years ago.”

          “Tell me about that. How and why. All the wh-” He made a wha sound, “questions.”

          “We were arguing for the first time I can remember. He was the most distant dad ever. Never came to a game or debate. Never even asked about school or work. Never asked about my life at all. One day, I feel like acting like a good son, and I go visit him. He complains that I don’t call him, or care about what he’s doing with his life. I couldn’t take it, so I yelled at him about the hypocrisy, about how he never cared about my life, either; about how he wasn’t there at my wedding, or the birth of his grandson; about how I never heard from him once while I was going through my divorce. I went on for a good while. He had the nerve to just sit there and let it roll off of him, like water off a duck’s back. Near the end, he bows his head and mutters something and nods his head, like he’s agreeing with himself. He might’ve been praying.

“With his eyes closed and head bowed, I grabbed the rock with all the barnacles on it that he called his “fishing trophy” and smashed it against his head. He called it that because he brought it back with him one of the countless times he went fishing with his buddies. Said he struggled with it for twenty minutes before he finally brought it up, thinking it was a monster the whole time. I cut my hand on the barnacles when I hit him. Then I filled the bath halfway, dragged him over to it, rolled him into it, and held his head under. I expected his eyes to open, but they never did. He didn’t even care about what I was doing when I was murdering him.”

          “Two years ago, you say. So, who was it that you dropped into the lake yesterday, Mr. Stephens?”

          “That was him. Never wanted to go ice fishing with me.”

          “So, you thought you’d force him to have a full immersion experience with it, huh? So, to speak.”

          “Something like that.”

          “Why’d you keep him around for two years?”

          “I didn’t want to. I buried him in the garden right after I drowned him. I’ve buried him thirteen times, both near and far. This is the ninth time . . . no, tenth . . .  that I’ve tried a watery resting place. But he won’t rest. Tried burning him once, but he won’t burn. Wood chipper broke as soon as I got him close to it. He keeps coming back. He won’t leave me alone, now.”

          “Well, we have to wait for Spring to dredge the lake, but we’ll verify at least part of your story, then.”

          “It never thaws up there, but don’t worry. He’ll be back.”

##

Two mornings later, Andre Stephens woke in the lower bunk of his jail cell. He started to roll out of bed, but froze when he saw the pale, hairy, limp hand hanging from the upper bunk, dripping water on the floor. His gaze drifted down and he saw the pale, hairless ankle and foot mimicking the hand’s inaction near the foot of the bed.

          “Hi again, Dad. Thanks for being with me through this. I think I’m finally figuring out what you were muttering, there, at the end. I appreciate it. It really means a lot.”

 

 

Richard Brown has published more than seven (7) short stories. They can be found at Black Petals, and now, at Yellow Mama. He resides in the Pacific Northwest with his Guide dog, Edison. Upon his demise, the author asks that food be sent in lieu of flowers, in hopes that he can still find a way to eat.

It's well known that an artist becomes more popular by dying, so our pal Steve Cartwright is typing his bio with one hand while pummeling his head with a frozen mackerel with the other. Stop, Steve! Death by mackerel is no way to go! He (Steve, not the mackerel) has a collection of spooky toons, Suddenly Halloween!, available at Amazon.com.    He's done art for several magazines, newspapers, websites, commercial and governmental clients, books, and scribbling - but mostly drooling - on tavern napkins. He also creates art pro bono for several animal rescue groups. He was awarded the 2004 James Award for his cover art for Champagne Shivers. He recently illustrated the Cimarron Review, Stories for Children, and Still Crazy magazine covers. Take a gander ( or a goose ) at his online gallery: www.angelfire.com/sc2/cartoonsbycartwright . And please hurry with your response - that mackerel's killin' your pal, Steve Cartwright.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2024