Facing a capital murder charge, John's only hope is tell his new public defender exactly what happened that night all those years ago. Regardless of whether or not the other man would even believe him, John needs someone else to know the truth, to know that on that night as a boy he had come face to
I grew up the only child of a single mother and I was always proud of that fact. I loved my mother when I was a child, the fact that my father wasn’t in the picture never bothered me. You have to understand she was everything to me my mother, when she was around it was like the whole house felt lighter. It was like nothing dark or bad could ever touch you. I never needed a night light or a teddy bear, because I knew she was right down the hall.You have to understand she was everything to me my mother, when she was around it was like the whole house felt lighter. It was like nothing dark or bad could ever touch you. I never needed a night light or a teddy bear, because I knew she was right down the hall.
“Then why’d you kill her John.” The pug-faced public defender on the other side of the table asked.
I groaned. “I’m telling you what happened just let me work my way to it.”
“This is your last hearing your 18 now.” The public defender said. I could tell from the look in his eye that he had never won a thing in his life and this case wouldn’t be any different but dammit I wanted my story to be told. Exactly how it happened.
“Like I was saying….”
We lived at the edge of town in this old two story. A rickety old farm house with no land left to its name. It stood like a proud old man with a hunch back to stubborn to give into gravity. When she wasn’t working my mom was cleaning or painting or decorating. Anything she could to make that house a little nicer. That was her.
She always had a plan. This year a fence, white picket. Next, year we will redo the whole kitchen. She was a real go-getter making 7.50 an hour and raising me by herself daring the whole damn world to open its judgemental mouth. Other poor kids went to school with ripped clothes, but not me no sir never. She always made sure I looked like a prince even if she was draped in rags. My mother was a queen among peasants.
You need to know this so you can understand exactly what happened that night on my twelfth birthday December 22nd, 2004. The day everything changed.
It had been raining for three straight days that I remember because I was miserable and wet from the walk from the bus stop when I got in the house. The other that stood out was my mother was home because she was sick. I know what you’re thinking everyone gets sick, but let me tell you in the eleven years leading up to my twelfth birthday I never saw that women sneeze once. In eleven years she never took a sick day and she was damned proud of it. But, this rain cast a dark cloud over the whole town and her too.
The rain was terrible three straight days. It was a deluge. Mother was up in her room with the door closed. Shut tight. She never did that ever it’s how I knew something was wrong. The house that she loved like a cantankerous old man had suddenly seemed so cold. I mean it was like every dark spot in the house grew more prominent. And it was growing more so. I could see the shadows moving across the wall.
That’s when she started coughing. Loud, hacking coughs that echoed through the whole house. She sounded like a twelve pack a day smoker on her last leg. I remember going into the kitchen to get her a glass of water.
Something else. Something strange.
The water came out rust brown first then it tapered off. The water in that old house was well water don’t get me wrong, but it had never done that before. Anyway, I got her a glass of water and went to go up the stairs. Every step I took up those stairs seemed to echo through the whole house. Like the house was telling me be careful now. The light in the hallway wouldn’t turn on. I’m not sure why. Her coughs rattled the entire house.
I knocked on her door.
“Go away.” She hollered from inside the room.
Twelve years and that was the first time she ever hollered at me. I pulled my courage around me like winter jacket and opened her door. My mother was lying on her side away from me. Wheezing and hacking.
“Didn’t I tell you to scram brat?” She huffed out.
“I brought you a glass of water.” I said my courage evaporated leaving me as vulnerable as a newborn lamb.
She hacked and rolled over. I almost screamed. She had black gunk coming out her eyes, mouth, and nose.
“Do I look like I need water boy?” She said her voice sounding like a dog choking on a chicken bone. Primal and dying. Glass shattered on the floor as I dropped the glass, back peddling out as quickly as I could feeling the burn as my awkward motions put glass shards into my feet.
She launched herself off the bed and fell to the floor on all fours. Lapping at my bloody footprints like a cat to cream. I couldn't even remember to scream but my prick remembered to piss itself. That was the moment that I realized in some small way that nothing would ever be right again.
I ran taking the stairs with leaping bounds, she was fast on my tail running on all fours and her teeth clacking as she continually ground and snapped her jaws. Her body bent at unnatural angles. She moved like an insect side to side. Running with the crackling sound of popping joints and snapping bones. Like sweet Orpheus at the mouth of hell, I turned towards my mother, my Eurydice. I was a Fool.
On all fours she couldn’t take the stairs so she slithered down the wall. Her mouth elongated at an unnatural angle and blew forth what I have only been able to describe as a trumpet blast. Every window shattered in the house, every glass blew. The old wood floors of my home sweet home were covered with broken glass and shattered dreams.
The house where I had felt most safe, whose walls were once my shield now became my prison. In that moment, I was more akin to a rat trapped with a snake in a cage than another human being.
Crack went my mother’s back as she stood erect. A spider leering at its fly. Her mouth grew wider trumpeting again as she wobbled unsteadily on two legs. Awkward and slow making me think of the scene from Bambi where his mother teaches him to walk. All out of piss I remembered to scream. Loud and childish, I knew no matter what happened I would never sleep right again. There came a sound of cold cuts being pulled apart as my mother shed the skin off of her torso, her rib bones clacking and wriggling, gnashing together like the jaws of some primordial beast.
She shambled towards me sure and slow. She was awkward on two legs yet seemed sure of the kill to come. The lion to the gazelle. I dragged myself backwards into the kitchen, my ass dragging across the cruel yellow linoleum that sat quiet as the horror progressed. Her tongue crept out slow and pulled itself across her top row of teeth. Black gook still leaked out of her dripping itself down her bones and puddling around her feet as she walked. Hissing as it the linoleum. Not so high and mighty now. Every small detail screamed for attention, perhaps because of the unreality of the situation.
My body came to a sudden halt as my back hit the unmoving mass that was the kitchen cabinet. She licked her teeth and gnashed her ribs. Her tongue seemed to dance wildly as it darted to and fro. A snake begging for release, in terror, I pulled my body up on shaking legs knowing with that animal part of my mind that if I stayed on my back I was going to die. The thing that now wore my mother’s bones trumpeted again. This time, it was so loud all the porcelain dishes shattered, exploding out of cabinets like a bottle rocket. I think one of my eardrums shattered because I could feel something hot and wet trickling down my neck. And I could barely hear. But, the adrenaline was soaring through my veins and I had no time to check anyway.
I turned and grab a knife from the sink trying not to slip in the blood from my feet. I slashed wildly. The knife got stuck in the neck of the damn thing. My Mother. The thought brought tears to my eyes. Its rib mandibles reached towards me so I let go and run. Behind me, I heard it fall to all fours again as it scuttled behind me. I tore open the front door. My bloody feet flew from under me on the soaking wet stairs. Sprawled face down in the mud the hairs on the back of my neck rose to full height. In a moment, I thought I would be dead.
However, I rolled over just in time my mother’s broken form tumbled in the mud, having pounced from the stairs and finding no fleshy purchase where it landed. As it skittered and slid I ran towards the shed. My feet hurt with every stride pounding glass shards into my foot like a carpenter pounding nails. Fight or flight, I didn’t want to die tonight.
The shed made the house look new. We had only ever used it to store the push mower. The rain sprayed splattering the roof the shed and drenching the earth. My breaths came shallow and slow as I entered the door and reached for my prize. An old axe, it was big, notched and rusty as sin. My mother had forbidden me to play with it for fear I would hurt myself. How ironic I would have to use to save her and myself.
The thing that wore her bones no longer trumpeted as it kept slipping and sliding in the mud as it ambled towards the shed. I cried hard, sobbing as I walked towards her I started to laugh. The beast hissed at the rain. It's dull black eyes still oozing goo looked at me knowingly. The gazelle had become the lion.
Its ribs clacked uselessly in the mud. The first swing I did from over my head hard and strong. The rest were short and sweet. The whole time the creature’s dull black eyes bore into my own letting me know for sure that my mother was indeed gone. I didn’t stop until it was in pieces, just to make sure it was dead. So you see I didn’t kill my mother I laid her to rest.
The public defender across the table was white as a sheet. “You hacked her up with an axe.” He blurted.
“I set her free.” I replied.
“You really believe that John?” He asked his color returning.
“Didn’t you hear my story?” I asked.
He smiled at me then like a shark smelling blood in the water. “I sure did. You tell it just like that and we can plead insanity for sure.” With that, my public defender took his leave. Assuring me that I would be moved to serve out my sentence in a cushy state-run Sanatorium. Maybe, at least the pills they would give me there would let me sleep.