Friday, February 13, 2015

A Mother's Love by O. D. Hegre

A nightstalking child murderer gets a glimpse of what awaits him in the afterlife; by O. D. Hegre.

Mommy, mommy, hold me close.
Am I not the one you love the most?

Hush now child. Find someplace to play.
Baby is crying. You cannot stay.

But where will I be if not with you?
Denied your love, what might I do?

The room glowed in shades of green - a bit eerie, even for him. The manufacturer claimed a phosphor screen of that color optimized the human eye's visual acuity. He held out his hand. The resolution was quite extraordinary.

The idea came to him after watching the 1991 Oscar winning thriller, Silence of the Lambs. Good old Buffalo Bill, the night-vision goggles made things so much easier. With that innovation, Herbert Marston had helped so many more.

He looked down on the sleeping boy. Tonight, another lucky lad would find freedom from his burden. In her sorrow and in her relief, another mother would find the way back to the true source of her joy. A mother's love renewed - undiluted - unwasted.

He made his way down the hall.

Earlier that day, Herbert had left the boardroom and the responsibilities of his real estate empire behind. He took particular pleasure in visiting the malls that his conglomerate owned. Mother would have loved these places. The food court at the Mid-Valley Spectrum boasted one of those mini-donut shops like the ones from his youth - like the ones at the State Fair. Mother looked forward to popping those little buttery balls of fried dough. Even now, despite thirty pounds of excess baggage, he could not pass up one of those shops. Besides, children always frequented the food courts. Little families - most in good shape, but occasionally Herbert would find one he could help.

Today the property looked encouragingly busy. At the open-air booth, enjoying his thousand-calorie lunch, the scene unfolded before him. The boy (maybe around thirteen) bore up courageously while the little brat appeared to make her demands (Herbert had a particular dislike for females of around six years of age). The exact nature of the fuss eluded him but when the mother came to the little girl's aid, Herbert felt everything stirring again inside.

Their Lexus led him to this nice little suburban neighborhood on the West side (he'd gone back to the office, worked late while considering the matter). The walkout basement entrance offered little resistance.

He had reached the end of the hall; the door decorations left no doubt to who slept inside.

Jame Gumb sewed things. A renovator, so to speak - putting things back together. Herbert found no use for thread but he did seek companionship in a pair of scissors - her scissors and his interest centered only on cutting things apart. It seemed so appropriate: she'd cut him off from her attention, her love; now he severed relationships, relieving others of the misery he had suffered.

Herbert's first experience had been personal. But not 'up close and personal'. As he progressed, the need to take a more active role materialized. 'Accidents' always proved useful but they took planning. Over the years, other emotions joined the mix of his original anger and jealousy. Now he welcomed spontaneity as his muse.

Herbert withdrew the 12-inch shears from his jacket pocket. His other hand held the pillow. Messy came to mind. In the verdant gleaming, cartoon characters decorating the walls stood frozen in their antics - watching as he leaned over the bed. For a moment he looked into open eyes. Glowing white pupils stared back at him. Just a peep before the scissors found their mark. Then - hold. Hold. He held till the commotion stopped.



No glare from the overhead light. Had others before him complained, he wondered? A cotton sheet, tacked to the ceiling on either side of the broken fixture, diffused the light into a shimmering. Times were tough - a recession the paper said. No sense the State wasting money, renovating a room like this. Especially now that it saw such infrequent use. A nice gesture, however, on the guards' part, Herbert thought. If he could just get loose of these straps, perhaps he could reach up, grab the sheet of cloth and garrote at least one of the bastards before someone put a bullet in his brain.

Herbert looked out, beyond the wall of reinforced plastic separating him from the rest of the world, into the eyes staring back at him. Wouldn't that be a nice show, he thought and managed a little nod to go with his broad grin.

Then he settled back down. He looked up again at the overhead light. He had his doubts about the other one - the one at the end of the tunnel. No. This would be the last light he would ever see.

The reflection of the clock off the Plexiglas read 10:56 pm - still time for a little reminiscing.

What a journey - a lifetime with only one regret. She'd just never given him what he really needed. There was always someone else. He did his best to earn it but without her attention Herbert simply broke and followed an inevitable path. At least that's the way he saw it.

"Herbert Marston, the State of Indiana has found you..."

He never fit into the social order. It only saw him as disorder. At first they labeled him a sociopath. From his standpoint, the lack of a conscience posed no disadvantage when it came to the business world. Later, when they found out how he dealt with his anger, they labeled him a psychopath. Just a matter of degree in his opinion but even the best lawyers in the country couldn't get him off with a plea of insanity. Not after what he had done and definitely not in Indiana.

And now on this night, the rest of them would take their revenge. In a matter of minutes, it would all end; he could rest. No tunnel. No light.

Herbert raised his head as much as the restraints would allow. He turned and again looked out beyond the transparent barrier. They stared back: the parents, the grandparents. A few of the women diverted their eyes. Even the most 'Christian' of them couldn't forgive him; he had no doubt of that. They all despised him and he didn't give a rat's ass.

The words of the Warden again caught his attention.

"...and have mercy on your soul."

He couldn't help but smile as he turned his cheek to the cool smooth fabric of the gurney. Bullshit even at the end. How fitting. Mercy wasn't in his vocabulary. Most had begged for it, one little shit in particular. The scissors 'fixed' that crybaby before... and Herbert's mind lost itself in the past. He used the scissors a lot, he realized. They were his favorite.

A sound.

He understood: the first push.

A chill passed over him. The chemical now flowed throughout his body - to quiet him, make him docile, not resist the leather straps that held his wrists and his ankles. No need. He felt calm. He welcomed where a few more ticks of the clock would take him. Nowhere - into nothingness.

The fantasy that he would see her again had dissipated long ago. But those first seven years, when he had her all to himself, still graced his memory. He did the chores where he could (a handy man did the major tasks after his father left them). Always at her side, he helped with her sewing, with pickups and deliveries and fetching things for her. Don't run with those scissors, Herbert Marston! A dutiful little soldier, through Mother he learned the meaning of love. He also sat beside her every Sunday in Church. Herbert listened to the words of the sermons intently and on some Sundays, he almost pissed his pants. There he learned the meaning of fear.

Then his mother remarried and the other one came along. Everything changed; his anger began to build.

It was a Wednesday. He remembered because it took him two days to get ready. At thirteen, the resentment he felt for his abandonment raged within him. Herbert put down his bible. He picked up a hand mirror off her dresser and looked into the teal gray eyes staring back at him. He had beautiful eyes; Mother always said that. Then he looked deeper - inward. What he saw convinced him that it was all bullshit; he had nothing to fear. Absolutely nothing.



Something caught his eye. Again Herbert raised his head and looked down at the end of the gurney. For just a moment he felt the sphincter of his bladder spasm slightly. Maybe the sedative was a good thing. No one had said anything about hallucinations.

She sat there on the side of his bed, smiling. Gone twenty years and she still looked as young as the day she died. She just smiled, her head held at an odd angle. He couldn't kill them all. His mother was a fucking baby factory. One gone and the woman just produced another and then another. Each new one took more and more from him. He had done his best with the first - the one now sitting at the end of his gurney. But the others? He had tried yet failed.

"You and I have some business to settle, Herbert."

He heard the voice of a six-year-old speaking words way beyond her years.

"I've waited a long time."

The voice sounded as cold as the fluid racing through his veins. "You can't do anything to me." Herbert pushed himself to remain conscious. "I'll be dead in two minutes, you little bitch." He tried to catch his breath. A sheet covered him. No one could see he had soiled himself.

"Two minutes... maybe a few more," she giggled.

Her fingers drummed on the side of his leg. Herbert wondered for a moment why he could feel a figment of his imagination touching him.

"Don't I know it!" She slapped her little knee. "Then you'll be mine!"

He watched her eyes light up as if someone had blown on hot coals.

"Ever consider why you couldn't work your little magic on the others?"

His thinking faltered for a moment. He fought back against the drug; he wanted to understand what she meant. Herbert's mind reached back - back -



Autumn and the apples were falling from the trees. Their time to play grew shorter every day. After school, they usually took the long way home, down by the river, along the bank, past the processing plant. Somewhere they would have to cross. Many choices existed. On that Friday, Herbert knew exactly where.

She kept up. He saw to that. A couple of thirteen-year-olds can move pretty fast over any terrain. A six-year-old needs more time. They'd move and then rest till she caught up (Herbert wanted a witness). They always had her in view. Never once did they lose sight of her. Never once. They saw her all the way down. They saw her fall all the way down to the rocks below.

He had chosen to cross at Ell's point, high above the river but safe - usually. Half way across the suspension bridge, the boys turned back to check on Sadie. Herbert watched as she made her way to the bridge platform and took the last step up to the wooden deck. Her foot slipped as a large rock dislodged from its earthen bed. Her hand reached out for the rope railing. Too far? No. Her small fingers encircled the thick strand as her weight transferred to the braid of hemp.

"Hemp rope should last a good twenty years", the Sheriff told his mom. "County checked that there bridge three years ago. Everthin' was just fine. But these last two summers... been God-awful hot and with all that rain. Weather affects things, ya know," he said then sipped his tea. "Of course, coulda been a manufacturer's defect. We got the rope, if you wanna litigate. The ends are frayed where it gave way. Maybe a raccoon or beaver got to it. Hard to say, Mrs. Marston. Just hard to say."

Herbert remembered his difficulty in suppressing a smile. He'd seen his mother use her scissors in a number of ways on cloth and yarn - and rope. He used her whetstone to sharpen the edges. Repositioning a rock that size offered no challenge at all. Probably the first tumble broke her scrawny little neck. He hoped it wasn't so because the next few seconds passed without mercy. In the end, the little body lay folded upon itself on the rocks below. Stones and pebbles continued bouncing down the cliff, some of them reaching the water, some of them falling on her - gently prodding her to get up. She didn't. Well, not then anyway.



"For me... yeah. You managed." She stared at him, her head kind of leaning on her right shoulder, wobbling just a bit. "But think about it, Herbert. For all the other attempts you made something got in the way. Oh you did your shit on strangers - but not on my family. Ever think why? No, you never had that much in you. Something got in your way."

Herbert watched as she tapped her chest with something shiny.

"Me."

He looked back up into her eyes. They were empty now but somehow he could see beyond them - something. "Noffing allwas gothes onth's ww... way." His tongue felt like it filled his entire mouth. "Bu fr you, yu lill bith, it wen ju... just fyne."

"Push two." The warden's voice seemed miles away; an echo in some valley on a distant moon.

Herbert could only manage to squint now. But in the empty eyes of his little sister he could see movement - a crowd gathering - little children moving forward, each carrying something shiny, something metal - opening and closing. As the image of his sister slowly began to dissipate, he realized her hands held something as well - some thing she opened - then closed - opened, then -

He tried to scream but the drugs now had him fully in their grasp. As his conscious mind drifted away he could hear the snapping sound of his mother's scissors and Herbert Marston realized he would have plenty of time for screaming - in two minutes, maybe a few more. Don't I know it! Then you'll be mine.

3 comments:

  1. Instant Karma's gonna get you... (John Lennon)

    Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. You put this hideous guy together well and the reader can't help but despise him by a couple of paragraphs in. It's a full on hate by mid-story. Nicely done, especially considering the subject matter turns away a lot of potential readers.

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  2. The anatomy of psychopathy - down to a tee - very well done and convincingly transmitted. There is always a consequence.
    Ceinwen

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  3. I don't know if it is just me, but some FOTW writers seem to be channeling Jim Thompson, the master of the disturbed. In my mind that is a very good thing. It is important to know that there are sociopaths (Ted Bundy) out there. My goal would be to write as well as JT without being as crazy as he was.

    In a book that I read about serial killers, the conclusion was that they came from a life with no supportive unconditional love. In other words, our monsters are created, not born.

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