I Can’t Remember

I Can’t Remember

by Thadd Presley

Frantic urgency pushed his failing memory into action. Who was the young woman in the faded photograph? The pictures were placed strategically to help him remember things and people from his past. Why couldn’t he remember this woman? She was in many of the pictures.
For a long moment, he stared at the small, pale face inside the brunette bob. She wore a cloche hat and a fluffy shawl. “Who are you?” he wondered aloud. Then louder: “Am I supposed to know you?”
“Dad?”
“Albert! Be a good boy. Tell me who she is and I promise not to forget this time.”
“That’s your wife, dad. My mom.” He waited and watched, hoping to see a glimmer of recognition in his father’s face. “You remembered her yesterday. You told me she used to…”
The old man raised his hand and waved his son quiet. “I can’t remember.”
Albert took his dad’s hand. “I know.”

Jack’s Apartment (part 3)

They talked while they signed the last documents, which explained that the rent would be deferred for the months he worked, but there would be rules he had to abide by while in the apartment. No drinking or parties and no one could live with him. No one can be on the fourth floor, except Adam of course. And, by signing and shaking her thin hand, he became the sole tenant of the fourth floor. He felt like a prince that day. He had an entire floor to himself. Sure the place was a mess, but so were most the castles in Europe.

He thought of all this while he ate in silence. With no television or radio, the feeling of loneliness had a tendency grew out of hand, and he found himself thinking of Caroline. He’d never felt so alone in his life, not even when his mother died. Since after high school, he always lived on his own and loved the solitude he had when he wanted or needed it. But since Caroline’s overdose, he’d found a real need for companionship and love. He hated himself for getting her hooked on pain killers and showing her how to shoot up. Her death was his fault; there was no doubt of that. It was as if he killed her the day he met her.

An hour later, having eaten what he could of the cold pasta, he was laying on the old couch, which looked as if it had been here through the thirty years of abandonment, half asleep thinking of Caroline and what his life would be like if she hadn’t died, whether or not he would have gone to rehab. It was her death that brought the police and the reality of drug use to his life. The more he thought about Caroline and what he did to her, the more he thought about whether death did for him. She never got a second chance like he did; she never got to learn a lesson. All she got was death, and he gave it to her in a needle.

He dozed and dozed…then he dreamed.

Jack.

A high pitched, hollow voice filled the room. It seemed to shake his entire being. He opened his eyes, completely sitting up, and felt for his phone. He’d set it on vibrate days ago and hadn’t changed it. He looked around the room, knowing he’d heard something.

No… someone, he told himself. It was a voice. He listened harder, trying to hear his neighbors below. He listened for footsteps in the hallway. Maybe it was someone in the stairwell and their voice had traveled. His eyes stopped on the locked door. He looked away, but somehow he could keep them from going back. The door was actually pulling his eyes to it. He felt panic beginning to set up in his muscles and chest. It would become hard to breathe, but he had to stay calm.

“Dude, calm down,” he said aloud. “It was only a dream.”

Corporate Friends

Corporate Friends is the newest novella by Thadd Presley. Available for Kindle.

This is not a story for the young readers. It details the great evil people will commit for their love of money.This is a tale of a friend stab another in the back.  Rampant Sexual perversion, pure evil, gruesome death, bald hatred, treachery, and greed is what “Corporate Friends” explores.

https://www.amazon.com/Corporate-Friends-Thadd-Presley-ebook/dp/B07FXSXR88
Sexual perversion, torture, death, kidnapping, and the abuse of friendship is explored in this short novella. It is not intended for children.

When you purchase a copy of “Corporate Friends” you are supporting my dreams and the continuation of free short stories on Fiction Weekly. Thank you for your visit and for reading. Even if you don’t buy the book, I truly appreciate you for being here.

You’d Better Learn

You’d Better Learn

Thadd Presley

“This isn’t how it has to be,” John told the big man holding the bolt cutters.

“I’m tryin’ my best t’ hold everythin’ together, but…” He looked toward his wife. “Just look!!” Sobbing, he slowly lifted his free, undamaged hand and pointed. “Look what I come home to.”

Blood was dripping from his hand and running in streams down his forearm. When he focused on the blood drizzling from his elbow, he felt waves of dizziness flow from his head to his mid-section. “She’s here sucking up the profits while I’m out working.”

“So, that’s where your money’s goin’. Big Daddy wanted me to find out what’s going on with you.”

The giant man, held the mouth of the bolt cutters out waiting for another finger — John’s ring finger was next in line — and focused his attention on the woman huddled in the corner of a dirty sofa crying. “That true? You stealin’ Big Daddy’s dope?” He waited for a response; patience wasn’t his way. “Hey, you hear me? Look at me! You smokin’ up your man’s money and making him late on his payments?” His voice demanded an answer.

She started to say something, but her voice failed.

“Tell me somethin’, John, seriously?” the the big man asked, “what should I do? You want me to take another of your fingers or do I take one of hers? Big Daddy wants two fingers. Today!”

“Just tell him…” Large tears fell from John’s eyes. “I man, ask him to give me more time. I’ll have his money. Just…”

“I’m telling you, your time’s up. He’s using you to send a message to everyone else. After this he’s finished with you.”

These words meant more to John than losing his fingers. He couldn’t survive if he didn’t work for Big Daddy. “Come on, man. Just take the other finger, but don’t cut me off.”

When the executioner cut the ring finger from the hand, the bone popped loudly as it broke. The little finger didn’t do that. It just kind of crushed up and squished off. It hurt, but not like the ring finger. When John screamed, his wife joined him with a short yelp.

Lying in a pool of blood were John’s two fingers. As blood dripped on them, adding to the already significant pool, the ring finger twitched and almost rolled over. John thought it was trying to crawl away, then he realized his wedding ring was still on the finger.

Why hadn’t he thought of that?

“O.K. My job’s done here, John. I didn’t enjoy it, you know that.” He let out a long breath. “I’ve always liked you, we go back, so be sure to have the money by Friday. I don’t want to have to…” He looked around the room, which silently assured him he would be back on Friday. There was no way would he have the money.

“What? What’s on Friday?”

“I got to get that money, brother. Seriously.”

John looked up from his dismembered fingers and spoke, his voice barely a squeak. “You mean, I still have to pay? Even after…”

The big man shook his head. “Don’t tell me you don’t know why I came here today. After all this, you going to sit there bleeding and tell me you don’t owe Big Daddy? Look here, this is just a warning for what’s coming next. Don’t you think it might be in your best interest to pay him?”

“But my fingers? God!”

“I asked you. I gave you a choice. You’ve always had a choice.”

“But, I really have to pay Big Daddy all the money?”

“If you don’t, I’ll have to shoot you. Or maybe you’d rather it be your wife?” He looked over at her. “She’s the problem anyway, right?”

John stared at the floor, not wanting to look at his fingers, but he couldn’t take his eyes off of them. Is this really happening? He wondered if there was a chance of him waking up and everything being alright..

“Am I? Is… this really happening?”

The big man slapped John in the face, not hard, but hard enough to lay him back in the recliner. “Yes, you are and yes this is. Now, stay with me.”

John didn’t know what the man had said, but he answered, “Yeah, right.” A shutter went through his body. “You’re right. Yeah…”

“You’ve got to get him to a hospital.” He told the wife. He eyes were half closed, but she seemed concerned.

“What do I say to them?” She whispered.

“Tell them you got your husband’s fingers got cut off by a big man with bolt cutters because he owed for drugs.”

“Really,” John asked. The world was growing black around the edges. “You think they can help?”

“Woman!” The the executioner said. “You got to get your man to the hospital, now.”

She looked up at him, eyes yellow and dull. “But really? What do I really tell them?”

“Tell them you had to bring him to the hospital because if you didn’t a really big, black man said he was going to kill you.”

Her eyes blinked slowly, showing a want to live. She didn’t have a good life, but it was life. “Really?” She asked.

“Yeah, really.” He pulled his pistol from under his arm. “I’ll kill you if you don’t.”

Slowly, she stood up and started toward her husband. He wasn’t looking around anymore. His head was leaned back, eyes glaring at the ceiling. “I think he died.” A high pitched squeal escaped her throat and then she started crying. “Do…do you think he’s dead?”

“He will be very soon.”

Grief seized her for a moment, but then the big man saw relief flood her face. “I’m going to miss him so much,” she said beginning to cry louder. “He was my high school crush. We got married right after graduation.”

The moment was lost when the executioner spoke. “Big Daddy wants his money, don’t forget why this happened. He doesn’t care who pays it, as long as it’s paid. Don’t let this man’s life be a sacrifice for nothing. I’m coming back on Friday.” He started to get up, but he pulled back when she started to reach out to him. “Don’t touch me. Get back.”

“What! Wait! I can’t get that much —”

“You’ve almost a week.” He stood up. “You can get some of it. Just show some effort.”

“I’ll don’t know how to get twenty thousand—”

“You’d better learn.”

She sat back on the couch after the big man walked out of the small apartmen and silence filled the room.

The End

 

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 exist.

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…