Tag Archives: short story

Black Sleep

“The Black Sleep”
by: Thadd Presley

I can only tell this once and would like to keep silent on this account completely; except for the children that might follow my direction and possibly choose a path such as I’ve taken, I would indeed find a way to keep my life’s decisions a secret and work towards erasing all record of myself from the Earth which would turn all the prying eyes from my business forever and a happy man it would make me; to see the end of this thing called fame, I would do all this, you see; except I know it’s impossible to put the smoke back into the pipe, after it’s been enjoyed, and I grow more and more saddened by this knowledge and will forever more be saddened by every young one who looks at my life as something to be desired and at myself as a role model to be followed.

Obviously, not realizing, or perhaps pretending they don’t see, that I rose to these delirious heights and achieved these glamorous proportions by turning against my upbringing and throwing aside the wise words of my faithful fathers and goodly mothers and by disgracing this very special being I was born into; and, believe me, it is with a heavy heart, for I would like to not face this, nor do I want to make mention of it at all, but if I’m ever to have any sense of humanity again, I must admit that by attaining greatness in the sight of others, I forfeited the invisible part of myself, which is the part we all know matters most, and I am afraid of what awaits me on the other side of this life; that is, if there’s anything at all, I wish, with all my being, that I could trade back all that I have for the single thing I once thought didn’t existed.

Death is what I most need it to be; a black sleep, a darker, much deeper sleep than the thin nights I wake from and fall back to each eve. It will be relaxing and filled with sweet dreams if I know the truth and hold it high for all to see. However, the fantasy of life quickly recedes in the light of this truth and the very moment I try to imagine anything more than the blackness my Death needs to be, a cold sweat dowses my brow and the velvet blackness begins to pulsate until a slight crack splits the horizon just enough for my eyes to squint closer and closer until they adjust to the ever so dimness of light that reflect the waves slowly moving below in the inky, limitless sea of pitch.

In the slightly-pulsating lighted horizon line, I see dashes of swooping red devils, all differing sizes, gleefully thrusting pitchforks into men and women. These tortured people cry silently and ball their fists into their eyes and mouths, some pull at their hair and claw the skin from their faces. Each trying someway to ignore the pain brought on by their decisions and actions before falling to the Black Sleep.

I see many small devils attack a thin, pale, naked man and lift him into the air under the power of their muscled wings. A scream fills my head, but his mouth doesn’t move. Alongside a background of sucking and smacking waves, which is how that sea of hot tar sounds to my human ears, I hear a dark chorus of cellos and violins, and a hundred different voices calling out to the souls who still live in the Universe of Free-Will. Joined in a deafening choir, each voice pleads in it’s own words, for those who still have the strength and can, to turn from wickedness and accept the truth by faith alone.

These voices, crying together as a choir pray, and lament, and scream in torment; and for a moment I wonder, perhaps I even ask aloud: Am I the only one who hears them? Am I the only one who knows the truth of this Darkness crawling under a black sky? And, if I am, who will believe me?

Sadness, as I’ve never known it, fills me and I want so much not to be a liar, and a thief, and a braggart, and a lover of Earthly desires; only, so people might believe me when I tell them that the fame and fortune I have attained, nor the great wealth and perfect health I enjoy, compares to the eternal spirit I place in peril with every action and thought, and that beyond the thin veil that separates life from The Black Sleep, Time does not exist.

I know, in that moment; that, everything worth knowing was a single, simple truth, that forgetting everything I’d learned before made me a genius, and a legend, and immortal, and rich, and healthy, and capable of super-human feats yet seen by mankind.

I know when I wake from the sleep, I will give it all away and walk with the lost, be with the homeless, eat with the hungry, drink with the thirsty, and live with the dying. I will do this because the dreams of my Black Sleep depend on it.

A will bring this great message to the world:

Do not feed the hungry, eat with them.
Do not house the homeless, live with them.
Do not give water to the thirsty, drink with them.

I realize everything now.

As soon as the choir stops screaming and lamenting, and praying; when the cellos and violins quiet, and the black, crawling sea of tar stops sucking and churning below; as soon as my eyes adjust to the dim light on the horizon and I wake up from this Black Sleep, I will change my life.

Reverse Image (part 3)

Reverse Image
part 3
by Thadd Presley

What Delilah saw at that moment frightened her. The top half of her mother’s face changed. First, her pupils dilated, but not together. Each one on its own grew to the maximum size and then shrunk back down again. Her nose flared much like a horse’s would in the spring. Delilah stood and stepped away from the table. Her mother had become someone else.

She didn’t know why this was happening, but she thought it might be a stroke. Her mother was still young. Thirty-eight was young for anyone to die.

Clare saw a color of red that she never knew existed. It filled her vision and then doubled over on itself. She saw the walls of her world deepen and drown in the color. It was the color of murder, of hatred and sex and violence. God didn’t create this color to be seen and talked about. I was the last color anyone was ever to see. She knew deep in her heart that she was dying and it was a good thing.

“Mom. God.” Delilah screamed and ran to the breakfast counter where her cell phone laid. “911,” she screamed. “911.”
A woman had answered the emergency line before Clare knew what to say. “What’s your emergency?”

“My mom. My..she’s having a heart attack.”

“OK. Calm down. What’s your address.”

Delilah took a deep breath and answered all the questions.

Finally, there were sirens in the air.

The siren grew louder and closer. Too close for them to be for anyone but herself.

Clare opened her eyes. Red still covered everything and she still certain she would die. No one saw that and lived, she kept telling herself. No one could see that and live.

“Mom. Mom.”

The voice of her daughter was there in the red somewhere and that was somehow the worst part of it all. Why did she have to be involved?

The sirens stopped and doors slammed. The red was growing. It was outside now. Even the sky would be covered in red.
“Ma’am? Can you hear me?”

No, Clare thought. If I hear you then the red will get you.

“Look at her eyes, Cap. What do you think happened?”

“Looks to be a serious case of subconjunctival hemorrhage.”

Delilah screamed. The next thing she saw was the kitchen floor.

“She’s coming around, Cap. You alright sweetheart?”

“My mom. She had a hemorrhage. Her brain.”

The paramedic sat down beside her and smiled. “Let’s sit up.” He helped her. “There now. Your mom is fine. It was scary for her and for you, but that’s all. Nothing serious.”

“What happened?”

“Well, we don’t know why but she became extremely stressed and it busted a blood vessel in her eye. Both of them actually. She’s going to the hospital.”

“She’s OK?”

“Yes. Very OK.”

“I want to go with her.”

“That’s fine. You want to go ahead and stand up?”

Together, they managed to walk to the ambulance.

A moment of panic shot through Delilah’s chest when she saw her mother’s eyes. They were both filled with blood. Her mother looked like a zombie. Quickly, she snapped a picture and smiled.

“I got your good side that time.”

“You’re not funny. I don’t know how you can laugh at me. After what you’ve done. Being pregnant is hard enough on a family, but…”

“Pregnant? Mom!” For a moment, Delilah didn’t think she heard her right. “Mom, I’m not pregnant. Who told you that?”
“Don’t lie to me. You already…”

“I’m not pregnant. You must have hit your head or something when you fell.” She looked at the paramedic who wishing he was invisible. “I’m not, I swear.”

Clare was visibly upset.

“We can settle this once we get to the hospital,” he told them. “There is a planned parenthood clinic there that offers free pregnancy tests. You can go from there. How’s that?”

“O.K.” Delilah quickly assented.

Clare didn’t say anything but nodded her head.

“Let’s get this rig on the road, Cap!”

Slowly, the ambulance made it’s way onto the street and ten minutes later they pulled in at Methodist Medical Center.
An hour later, mother and daughter sat together in the E.R. A negative pregnancy test sat in a paper cup, wrapped in a paper towel.

“But, I don’t understand why you thought I was pregnant in the first place?”

“You said you found out something this morning and I thought you meant…”

“Mom, jeez. I learned something from Youtube that’s all. Really, I should have realized it a long time ago.” She smiled. Her mother’s blood red eyes looked back at her. “Oh, I’m sorry. I love you, mom. Thank you for worrying about me.”

“Well, child, that my job. It’s not this hard most of the time. What can I say? You’re a good kid.”

Ryan was escorted into the room by a nurse who was telling him that everything was going to be fine. “Clare is in no danger,” she said. “She just had a scare and fainted.”

“Yeah, I know. It’s been one heck of a morning for all of us.”

Reverse Image (part 2)

Reverse Image

part 2

by Thadd Presley

 

When Lucas entered the room, the quiet atmosphere stopped him in his tracks before he could say anything. There was a furrow on his dad’s brow he’d not seen before and his mother’s face spelled out volumes of unspoken emotion. He hoped they weren’t talking about his spring semester grades. He brought them up at the end.

Dad spoke up first. “Would you mind explaining exactly what you’re talking about? Your mother and I don’t have all morning to play guessing games. This afternoon we can hash out all the details and decide what we will do.”

“Ryan Butress.” Mother sounded extra-weird to Lucas and for the first time that morning he and his sister looked each other in the eyes. “I’ll not hear more of that. I have all the time she needs and so do you. She will tell us what she wants, when she wants. And we will not decide what she does, she decides what she does. Understand?” When her husband didn’t answer right away, Clare started crying.

Delilah stood in the gaze of three stone serious faces and she didn’t know what to say. Lucas broke the silence before it became hysteria.

“What is going on?”

“I don’t know. I think it’s because I’m not wearing makeup.”

Dad looked up from his bowl of cereal. “Sweetie, I’m not mad and neither is your mother. We just want you to be alright.”

“Well, I’m fine,” Delilah answered. “I just want to think about how I’m going to tell you what I found out. It’s been staring me in the face for so long and for me to just realize it. I mean, it’s stupid that I didn’t see it before. Why didn’t one of you tell me? Did you not know?”

“How could we know?” Her mother asked. “I don’t sleep in your bed, I don’t go out with you when you stay over at Angela’s house.”

“Is that what happened?” Her dad asked.

“That’s not important.” Her mother answered. “What’s important is what happens now.”

“O.K. Fine.” He stood from the table. His left hand shook and that was a bad sign. It meant he was really pissed. Delilah didn’t understand why her mom was so angry. “I’m going to work before I get in over my head and say something I’ll regret. I love you all and I’ll be home by four if anyone wants to fill me in then.”

As soon as the Mercedes backed out of the driveway, Lucas took this chance to jump ship. “I’m going to the gym and then job hunting. Bye.”

His mother crossed the kitchen and hugged him. Then, she turned and took an apple from the basket. “Eat this on your way. You’ll need energy to workout.”

“Thanks, mom.”

After the kitchen cleared of the menfolk, the women of the house stood quietly. They stood at the sink and watched Lucas jog down the sidewalk until he was out of view, then they looked at each other.

“Why are you looking at me that way, mom? God, why is everyone is so weird this morning.”

“I’m just worried about you. We are worried. Your dad and I.”

“Mom. It’s not a big deal. Here, listen. I’ll try to explain.”

“No. I want you to listen. That’s all I want you to do right now.” She pointed to the kitchen table. “Sit down so we can talk.”

“Mom!!”

“Don’t you yell at me.” She said it quietly, but it was a command that Delilah knew to obey. She sat and waited for her mother to speak. “Now I only have one question and I want the truth. Who’s the father?”

“What?”

“Just answer the question. Who’s the…”

“I don’t know. Dad, I guess. Who else?”

The words her daughter spoke didn’t make sense to her. They had meant something, but they quickly turned into something else before they reached her ears. Something like red worms burrowing through the dirt. Worms that ate the all the bad words once they left the mouth and spoiled in the open air.

Reverse Image

Delilah looked at her face reflecting in the bathroom mirror. She had just learned on Youtube that the image she saw reflecting back at her was not the same as it appeared to people on the street. The reflection was a mirror image. Exactly opposite of what everyone else saw.

She wished she could see what other saw, how she looked from the vantage point of others. How had she gone so long applying make-up backward to her face, primping and teasing her hair backward, smiling approvingly at a look that was completely opposite of what she had always thought it was?

There’s no wonder why she never turned any heads throughout middle school and during freshman year. But, now things were going to be different. Delilah was certain to see what everyone else was seeing.

“Dee, hurry.”

It was her older brother, Lucas, standing outside the bathroom door, probably doing the pee dance.

“Dee, please.”

“Go downstairs. Use dad’s.”

“He’s asleep. He’ll go ballistic if …”

The bathroom door flew open. “Fine. Whatever. Just stop talking to me.”

Lucas stared in disbelief. “What have you been doing all this time? I’ve been waiting patiently, gritting my teeth, because I know …”

“You don’t know anything, Luke. Just like always.”

He pushed past her and closed the door, not sure what he said wrong; without time to think, he could figure it out later if she was in a better mood.

Downstairs, Delilah’s mother, who everyone in the world called Clare, greeted her daughter with all smiles. “You’re gorgeous, do you know that?”

“Mom.” She glanced at Ryan, her dad. “Morning, dad.”

“You’re mom’s right, you know?”

“Yeah. Yeah. I’m not wearing makeup.”

“And I think that’s a good thing because makeup should be saved for special occasions.” Clare continued while buttering toast. “It shouldn’t be for everyday use. It’s really not good for your face over years and years of use.”

“Yep. Clogs your pores.”

“Well, that’s not why I’m not wearing it. It’s more complicated than that. I just found out something huge. It changes everything. Last night actually.”

“Like what?” Mom questioned.

“I don‘t know. Well, I don‘t know. I’m not really sure how to tell you. It’s hard to explain.”

“Whatever it is we we’ll understand.”

“Well, I should have realized it before because we were talking about it before school was out. At least last month ago or two at the most. I should have known.”

This brought the attention of both parents.

Continue on Part 2

Our Walk (fragment 3)

Our Walk:
Fragment 3

by Thadd Presley

I can’t help having this confidence, for it is my belief, although I have walked exactly the path that the Devil drew out for sinners and fell for his traps at every turn, my life is in the hands of God now; and, if it is His decision to feed me to the fires of this place and allow my body to lie here dead, along with my brothers, I still could not back down; for Jesus had to walk this same path, alone and tempted of the same and more, yet He did not back down; for my sake, He gave His life and all of His blood, so that I might make my own decisions and decide to do right or wrong, while knowing that Christ’s blood covers my sins and makes my evilest acts unknown to all, even God; so I am empowered to uphold good, to stand in the face of evil no matter, the form or fierceness of my enemy: the height or the breadth of sin, nor the strength of the temptation that shall come, neither even the pleasures that most sins are promised to bring, I will not back down from this fight or turn back into that blackness that I once called my life.

Our Walk “fragment one”

Our Walk

Fragment One:
The Deepest Stairway

by Thadd Presley

And into hell we went, as close together as our bodies could afford; halfway falling, halfway crawling, barely clinging to the edges, struggling to keep our footing on the narrow edge jutting from the wall, moving slowly and mindfully; for the steps, which led down steeply, would eventually come to a pit; and, if I might add right here, for it must be pointed out in the beginning, the steps were growing steeper as we got deeper and farther from the surface and, being steps like which I had never seen, I must say they were becoming like glass in both color and texture possibly caused by the heat rising from the pit we knew laid below us somewhere in the darkness. The wall itself was of a crumbly nature, a brimstone. I feared that we might, at any minute, find ourselves in the presence of the Devil himself…

 

Did You Lock The Door?

 

Where does writing come from?

by Thadd Presley

(there’s a story below, but first)

Where do stories come from? Where does the voice of each character come from? Where do they intend to lead us? Is this gift/curse of writing a manifestation of split personalities or just an over active imagination? Could it be a deeper understanding of humanity trying to make it’s way to the surface and into the world.

It could be all of these things and none of them. I know that I hear a dialog and see these people living their lives so clearly I must write it down. It’s not always something I want others to read. For many reasons, it’s just not for anyone who doesn’t know me. They would think I was unstable.

Writing is a way I can release this mounting dialog constantly welling up in my head. There is a torrent of constant voices, people and places making connections in my head. Murder is not the point, even in a murder mystery, and neither is the mystery. It all begins with a voice, a person asking a question. Something as simple as this:

“Did You Lock The Door”

1200 words

“Steve, did you lock the door before you came to bed?” She asked him every night if he locked it.  “Did you double check it?” And she would remind him, “someone could just walk in off the street and do anything they want to us.”

The memory of her warnings rang in his head. Steve had heard Rebeca go through her script nearly fifty times since they moved from Avalon Avenue to Mill Street. He’d heard it so many times that he automatically locked the front door even when just coming in from checking the mail.  And, by God, he knew he locked it after coming home last night. There was no mistake. He knew he’d locked it.

He remembered distinctly locking the door because even before removing his boots, he reached back and did it. It was only a flick of the wrist. He had ample reason to know the door was locked because he rechecked it after his shower before going to the bedroom where Rebeca was already asleep. Then, while getting comfortable next to Rebeca and soaking in her warmth, she stirred a little and asked him. “Did you lock the door?”

“Yes, Becca, the door is locked. Twice checked.”

“OK. I love you.” She pulled his arm around her and they settled into their new comfortable bed.

Everything was new. At most a month old. They’d bought all new furniture for the move.

Suddenly, right before drifting off, the door came to his mind again and he laughed to himself. More and more, his wife’s OCD had began to affect him. He tried to push it out of his mind, but he needed a drink of water.  So, forced to leave the warmth of the bed anyway, h could check anyway.

On his walk through the living room, he saw the door was locked. But, to be sure, he physically rechecked the door.

On the way back down the hallway with a glass of water, he looked in on his son. Even at five years old he knew the boy was going to have a snoring problem. It wasn’t loud, but he made a mental not to make an appointment with the doctor.

It was all so clear. There was no mistake. The door was locked. But, none of that mattered now. It was only memories. From the warmth of his wife to the sound of young Max snoring. It was all just memories.

It was six in the morning and there was absolutely nothing he could do that would change the terrible facts. It was too late. Replaying his every move in his mind  would not help him understand what happened while he slept. Nothing would bring his wife and son back. Rebecca’s worst fears had come true. Someone had walked in off the street and done something.

He knew nothing was going to change. Nothing would change anything now.  This was a concrete and unforgiving world. If life had suddenly become a game, he wouldn’t restart.  He wouldn’t want infinite lives. He would just turn the game off. He was tired of playing it.

When he woke, Rebeca was dead in his bed, stabbed just inches from where he slept, and his son had bruises around his neck. Someone had strangled his weak little body until it moved no more.

It was too much to take, too much to describe, and no way anyone would understand if he tried. Christmas mornings just weren’t supposed to start this way.  This entire week was meant to bring a new year where a brighter vision of the future filled everyone with excitement. But, instead he was faced with this nightmare. Alone in a world where he no longer wanted to live. Steve knew he couldn’t go on. It was the end for him.

He didn’t own a gun. He didn’t have enough of the right pills to kill himself. There was no poisons he could drink that would definitely do the job quick and right.

There was a forgotten box of razors in the medicine cabinet, left by the family who lived here before them. He had seen them probably a hundred times over the last month and never threw them out. Neither had Rebeca.

That family had troubles as well. He’d heard that the family was bullied into moving away. He didn’t know all the particulars, but nasty rumors about the family were all over the neighborhood and Rebeca had heard more than was good for her.

Yes, the razors were still there. He took one out and removed it from it’s brown paper sheaf. It was shiny and sharp.  He pushed it into his skin right above his wrist and in one quick motion jerked it toward his elbow. The pain was non-existent. He wouldn’t have cared anyway.

The second wrist was harder to cut because seeing his blood made his fingers unsteady, but he managed to put a deep gash halfway from his wrist halfway to his elbow. Pain had began to pulse in his right hand. Then he felt the first wave of panic hit him. The blood flowed faster as his heart sped up.

He felt dizzy immediately, but it was just the thought of dying that scared him. It was only a mild fear compared to living without his wife and child.

He looked at the bathroom floor and was surprised at how much red had pooled under his feet. Dark red footprints tracked his tiny movements back and forth in front of the sink. The mess would be terrible he thought and laughed a little. The sound spooked him and the world seemed brighter than it should, as if a spotlight was directly behind him.

He walked to the tub and almost slipped getting in. He turned the hot tap on full blast.  Then, reached out to turn the cold tap, but the phone rang.

He had no need to answer it and he didn’t care who it was. Slowly, he placed his wrist under the  faucet and watched the bath water turn from pink to red.

On the third ring the automated message answered in Rebeca’s voice. “You’ve reached the Mallory family. We’re not home at the moment. Leave a message and we’ll get back to you ASAP. Have a blessed day.”

“Steve, Rebeca,” an excited voice all but yelled. “Pick up will ya?” It was the landlady. “OK, look, I just remembered something. I forgot to change the locks before you moved in.”  “I’m coming over directly and do it. I’m sorry, but I can’t put it off. It’s very important we do it today.” There was a pause. “I’ve received word that Harold was seen in your neighborhood. He’s the son of the family who used lived in your home. He could be dangerous, so call my cell. I’m leaving now to meet the locksmith and change your locks.”

Steve did not hear the entire message. He had passed out while crying. As the warm darkness came over him, he wondered if he locked the door. Rebeca would surely ask him first thing.

The End

So where do stories come from? It is our own fears trying to warn us or is it just random thoughts and we string them into stories assigning voices and sentences and places in an attempt to make sense of them?

I don’t know.

Train Ride

Train Ride

by Thadd Presley

 

I met her on a train between Sussex and Hamby Abbey and
immediately had a connection with her. Even before she sat down, I was hoping she would speak to me. I was surprised that she chose my cabin to enter to begin with and it seemed my day was looking up already.

Train rides were always awkward for me. Meeting people and
having them ask you questions was the thing I hated worst than anything. I am shy and it’s always been hard for me to talk to girls. Especially, girls for whom I feel a connection. But, somehow, I knew she was different. I felt I could talk to her and I wanted her to talk to me.

“Hey, pretend you’re my boyfriend.” She said.

“Huh?”

“Pretend you are my boyfriend,” she said. Then, without a second
passing, she leaned over and kissed my mouth. It was a hot kiss that
made my blood boil. There was a bit of spit involved and it made me
tingle fro head to toe. My body was vibrating from the touch of her lips.

I was glad I didn’t have to answer her request, because I would have
messed it up. I couldn’t believe I had said , “Huh.”

While she kissed me someone opened the door and seen us.
While the kiss lasted, the door stayed open, then she broke the kiss with a pop and a small string of saliva bridged our lips. Faintly from
somewhere, somewhere far away, I heard the door close. “That was a close one,” she said. “Man, that guy has followed me four mornings in a row.”

To my disbelief, I almost asked “huh” again, barely
managing to stop myself. My face was still vibrating from the touch of her lip. I could actually feel her kiss on my lips.

“You saved me.” She said and smiled. “That guy was stalking
me.”

“No problem.” I said, trying to sound cool. “Do you want if I tell
him to leave you alone?”

“No,” she waved him off, “he got the message. He was only bothering
me because he thought I was an easy target. If He’ll leave me alone now. And if he doesn’t I have you.”

The words made me feel more alive than I knew possible. I was ultra-alive and we were connected. We were truly one with each her. Who have I ever kissed or felt this way with?

No one. I had never been so comfortable with anyone this
fast.

Who had ever made me feel this way?

No one, that’s who.

“I hope I didn’t scare you off with that kiss,” she said. “It was
all wrong. That wasn’t a good first kiss. I didn’t get to prepare.”

I smiled. “Are you prepared now?”
“Yeah,” I said. “This time, I think I am.” She leaned in and I got ready
for the greatest kiss of my life. A kiss with my soul-mate. This was really it, I thought. The special someone who I have a real connection.

I couldn’t believe my luck. She leaned in and my lips began to go numb….
BEEP — BEEP — BEEP — BEEP — BEEP — BEEP

I was suddenly awake, sweating, and lying in a steaming mess of
blankets and sheet. I suddenly knew where I was and I knew what had happened, but I tried to push it away. I tried to tell myself that she was real. But, there was no use, deep inside I knew that it was only a dream.
There was no girl, there was no kiss, nothing. And now, I
couldn’t even see her face.

Damn dreams!! Damn my dreams…

Damn!!

I rolled to the side of the bed and mentally prepared myself to
go to work. One thing was certain. I would definitely take the train into work today.

Rubbish Day (part 2)

Rubbish Day

(Part 2)

by Thadd Presley

The last text he received from his daughter was already three days old. The phone sat in the passenger seat and he looked down at it hoping it would ring. If only he’d have left the minute he received her text. What could have been so wrong with checking in on her? Why hadn’t he done it already? He should have at least called her and spoke with her, shown some proof that he was there for her if she really needed him. He could have even asked her to come home. He could have demanded it.

Demanded it?

Get you’re ass in the car and home this instant!! I don’t care what mom said. I said Now!!

Can a person demand their children these days?

Could he have demanded her?

Or commanded?

Daphne! Home right this instant? No you can not, missy! Home Now!

He didn’t know if it would have worked, but he highly doubted it.

He could have tried anyway. While he was trying, he would have had an opportunity to tell her that he loved her.

“It would have been a good start to a decent conversation wouldn’t it,” he asked himself out loud and hit the steering wheel with his hand, hard. He hit it twice and closed his eyes.

He kept them closed a few second and allowed his voice to sink into his head. His ears still rang from the gunshot.

It was at this moment, with his eyes closed and his ears ringing, that he realized that he had truly become a different person. The Old Jerold was a weak, pitiful person. He would have never drove to his daughters house for a surprise inspection.

Worse than that, was the truth. The Old Jerold could have been three days ago, but he chose not to go. New Jerold was already on his way and he wasn’t leaving Crossville until she was safe once and for all.

Somewhere inside, trying to push his lukewarm ideas into New Jerold’s mind, was still the Old Jerold. Just as the high pitch ringing was left from the gunshot, so was Old Jerold’s ideas echoing against New Jerold. Nothing but an old vibration from the past drowning out the present and making it hard to focus on what had to be done. The two were far apart in frequency, creating a disharmony of thoughts as they clashed and bounced off one another.

The fears of the Old Jerold and the solutions of the New Jerold beat at one another.

They beat dangerously.

The Old Jerold couldn’t have approached this situation head on because he was afraid of losing everyone around him. Remaining quiet was his way of hanging on to this place in the background.

It was strange to realize just how different life could be.

How could he have ever thought that was the way to live? When now the thought of his lovely, gifted daughter living with a violent drug addict was unacceptable, three days ago he didn’t call her back.

That was Old Jerold.

New Jerold saw the situation clearer. This was his chance to leave the background. A visit was just the thing to set a new future into motion, not just for his daughter, but for everyone in his life. He had no choice but to do this, if he ever wanted to be able look at himself in the mirror again.

He’d been meaning to visit Daphne for over a month. Almost every weekend, he wondered how she spent her free time, but something always come up. It was never the right time.

He knew now that there was no such thing as the right time. Time was what you made it. If it’s not the right time, you make it the right time.

It was so easy to see all the mistakes he’d made throughout his life. Not just with his daughter, but also in his marriage. Dealing with problems when they arose was never his style. He’d quietly let them dissipate, as if he was trying to be an invisible force, in case someone noticed he was there and pointed out the fact that they didn’t want him around anymore.

He saw how those mistakes lead to this point. He was as much to blame as anyone.

For a moment, he thought about calling her. She wasn’t to blame for all of this. Why should she be interrogated and spied on by her father?

Of all the people to hit her with a “gothcha moment” and call her bluff, it shouldn’t be him.

It’s just Daphne. Go see her if you want to see her.

Two opposing thoughts crashed together and the ringing in his ears had become unbearable. He couldn’t hear anything else. Calling and announcing his visit was what Old Jerold would have done. It’s what she would have liked him to do. But he wasn’t Old Jerold and New Jerold wasn’t taking any chances.

He wanted to see her.

He wasn’t interested in seeing the person who she became when she knew her dad was on his way over. He wanted to see Daphne’s house before she got a chance to hide the bong and light incense, before she cleaned the kitchen and vacuumed the carpets. He wanted to see his daughter, God forbid, before she put on concealer and painted on a fake smile for the world to see.

HE WANTED HIS DAUGHTER, GOD DAMN IT.

And it would not to be long now.

The ringing in his ears swelled and Jerold had to stop thinking and focus on driving. The two lane road was winding before him and soon he would turn of Highway 27 and onto Old Nashville Highway. From there, except for a turn onto Genesis Road, it was only an hour to Crossville.

Yes, he wanted to see his wonderful daughter, his magnificent creation, in her natural setting. It was more important than anything.

He also needed to see Erik in the raw. He wanted to hear him speak in his real voice. It had suddenly become important to know the truth, to know why this relationship continued through all of the pain and misery.

Daphne could have ended this more than a year ago. She could have removed all of these problems herself. She didn’t have to put up with someone like him. She was beautiful like her mother, with dark skin and dark eyes, almost a pixie of a thing, she was very enchanting and mystical in her movements. She spoke with a graceful, flowing voice and walked in a fluid motion that Jerold hated to see men notice.

Yes, Daphne could do better. She would do better, because her dad said so.

Could he demand her to leave him? Would she listen to his advice?

Jerold didn’t know, neither Old or New had a clue.

He could try to explain, but those were just words and she would not comprehend the urgency he needed to communicate.

He couldn’t just tell her what to do and expect her to do it?

Someone was supposed to teach her all of these things years ago while she was a child, but her father had no clue of what a real life was until now and her mother was too busy climbing the corporate ladder at Citizen’s Community Banking and Trust.

Was it too late to try and change any of this?

He realized sadly that it might be far too late for all three of them.

Just go and do it.

Make the world a better place.

Show Daphne that her dad has become a strong man who is no longer afraid to protect her. Show her how easy it is to clean up her life.

He’d been told many times by his father to do things right the first time so you don’t have to do it again. But, did he ever listen?

The truth rang through clearly. He should have taken care of this problem the first time it reared it’s head. This was the third time and he would make sure there was never a fourth.

Rubbish Day (part 1)

Rubbish Day

(part 1)

by Thadd Presley

He watched the Honda in his rear view mirror as it pushed it’s way through traffic and cut it way in front of cars. Every time another car was forced t brake or had to weave into another lane, the two young men inside the offending car laughed. Once, he thought they’d taken it too far when they dove right in front of an old woman and caused her to put her brakes on too hard. The car behind her was too late on the brakes and had to swerve onto the shoulder trying not to hit her. It was all to close for comfort.

When the two men got behind Jerold he was ready for them. He wasn’t a Sunday driver. He loved to drive and he knew how to do it. Cars were one of his life’s passions. Along with his daughter, numbers and maths, cars made his world complete. He especially loved the car he was driving. It wasn’t his only car. It wasn’t even close to his most expensive car, but it was his the one he always dreamed of owning.

Presently, Jerold’s car collection stood at eighteen. Most of them were custom built just for him. But this car was in it’s original condition. It was his cherry and he meant for it to stay that way.

He could have driven any of his cars, but he chose the Porsche because he was on an important mission and the Porsche made him feel like he was in charge.

When the Honda suddenly made it’s move to pass Jerold cut it off. “You shall not pass,” he said to no one and laughed.

The Honda sped up and tried to stay right on his bumper, but it was easy for Jerold to pull away from them.

The games were played back and forth. The Honda would try to pass and Jerold would not let it. They would sped up as if he ram him and then either slow at the last minute or Jerold would leave them in a cloud of black smoke.

Then came a move too close to call and the Honda spun out.

That was enough for Jerold. He slowed to normal speed and put his mind back on the task at hand. He was going to visit his daughter in Crossville and it was going to require a bit of decisive action.

Tears blurred his vision as the anger welled up in him.

Suddenly, the Honda shot around him and it sounded terrible. Jerold looked over to see the passenger holding up both middle fingers. Anger flooded his veins and fire filled his head.

“Fucking punks,” he yelled. “God damn fucking punks.”

The Honda’s driver saw his reaction and laughed.

There was not many cars on highway 27, as Jerold reached over and opened the console between the seats. The cold metal cooled him down a bit. He wasn’t going to let a pair of punks cut him off and get away with it. Not today he wasn’t.

He gunned the Porsche and passed the Honda, flipping them the bird just as they’d done to him. Perhaps they would get cocky and follow him. Fuckers didn’t know what they were in for, though, not today they didn’t. Today they were going to get their fucking reward.

They did exactly as he’d hoped. The Honda quickly caught up and began to follow along, hoping to intimidate him.

After all, why wouldn’t it be intimidating. They were young and he was a middle aged, balding man who probably couldn’t fight worth a piss because his belly was beginning to stand out a bit too far. Also, they out numbered him. But, Jerold McCleary wasn’t afraid. He was not going to be scared of anything anymore. He’d been Mr. Nice Guy for far too long.

Assholes, especially assholes like these two punks were used to pushing people around and expected everyone to cower in fear because that’s what people usually did, had to be taken out. The world had forgotten how to be strong and now it needed someone to step into place and do what everyone else was afraid to do.

Jerold had been thinking of the world and the state it was in for a few days and he was prepared to do what was needed. It was obvious to him that the world needed someone with guts. The world was in desperate need of a pair of balls. There was just no other choice, he had to do what was required and he was more than happy to do it.

It was the only way to make the world a better place. Currently, the world was over run with assholes who were used to getting their own way, creating a life of hell for the average person. Jerold was going to fix his part of the world and kill the stupid bastards that he found. He looked into his rear view mirror.

He didn’t want to become a murderer, but what choice did he have?

By standing up and carrying out this one simple act of charity, the world would quickly become a nice place to live. Just by eliminating the two assholes behind him, everyone would be better off and there would be less trash on the corner of people’s lives.

Jerold was sure the Honda was going following him, so he slowed to a crawling thirty-five miles an hour. Then he put his blinker on and slowly turned into the Outback Steakhouse parking lot.

At 9:00 AM he knew the restaurant parking lot would be deserted.

He slowly pulled around the building, as if he were lost. He didn’t want the punks to think he was leading them to a trap or to tip them to the fact that he was going to stand up for himself.

He pulled to the back of the lot where a big blue garbage dumpster sat next to a smaller black container used for old cooking oil. He began to back up, but the Honda pulled close behind the Porsche, so to block him in, but Jerold knew there would be room to pull out when he finished cleaning up the world.

The two punks didn’t lose any time getting out of there car and Jerold realized they were both men and not teenagers like he’d first thought. The driver stepped out of the car and started toward him.

Jerold also got out of his car and stood to face the man coming toward him. “What’s your fucking problem fat boy,” the driver yelled and looked back to check on his passenger. Sure enough, his buddy was just getting out of the car.

“Two on one?” Jerold asked and pulled the 38 Special out before he could respond. “Alright, we can do that.”

The first bullet entered the driver’s chest, and the passenger ducked.

Jerold watched as he turned to run. Jerold smiled and shot him in the back. He approached the driver to see if he was dead. When the man looked up at Jerold, another round turned his brains into jelly. Jerold finished the whimpering passenger the same way.

He figured there would be cameras trained on the parking lot, but who cared? More important was the fact that two assholes were killed and their earthly stupidity was brought to an end. Why wouldn’t he be thank him and the surveillance footage be used as a training video for people who were tired of living in a world of assholes.

Both the world and everyone in it owed him big time.

Back in his car, he calmed himself by breathing in the smell of leather.

After a moment, he started the car. The perfect purr of the engine reminded him of the reason he left the house. The car reminded him of much more once he thought about it. It reminded him of home, of being safety planted and free of worry, of the power every man should have over his own life. It reminded him of security and freedom all at the same time and it was a great reminder. It brought everything into focus. Where his energy and thought had been diverted onto the two assholes, it was now back on the reason he woke up and got out of bed.

He wasn’t just going for a morning drive. No. Jerold was on a mission. He had left his house nearly two hours earlier and began his journey to Crossville where to he would find his daughter and once and for all make sure she was safe. He’d made this trip before with the same intentions, but that was all in the past when he was trying to be Mr. Nice Guy. Well, this time he was not going to saving her for a day, he was not going to threaten to call the cops. He had only one option now, which would remove the threat from her life permanently.

He gunned the engine and smiled. Then he wiped a tear from his eye and popping the clutch, causing the wheels to squeal and then screech. Black smoke poured from the whirring tires, lifting the car. As if riding on air, it moved around the parked Honda in a perfect, sweeping arc.

The Porsche’s tires then grabbed onto the tarmac, straightening the car so fast it rocked sided to side as it moved forward.

Jerold smiled.

It was a relief to be out of Wartzburg, it was a relief to be rid of two assholes, it was a relief to be on his way to see his daughter.

Daphne.

My Daughter Dearest.

I’m on my way.