Chapter 10 ….. Grandpa Clears his Throat
by Regis Boff
The severed hand he carried under his arm slipped out when he heard the midnight doorbell. It’s index finger motioned as if it had a question then tumbled towards the floor of the basement.
Mother would not have heard the bell from the kitchen over the waspy buzz of the electric hacksaw. He left the hand and turned back up the stairs to warn her.
Tugging his shirt over his head he threw it behind a chair then did the same with his gloves. He shoved open the swinging doors.
“There’s someone at the door,” His voice carrying just over the racket.
She was too tall for this kitchen, being a head and a half higher than the refrigerator. The elbow length turquoise rubber gloves and her bone spattered protective glasses gave the impression she was busy cutting trees. She pushed the goggles up onto her forehead uncovering the dark blue eyes.
He shrugged before she could ask who it was. She said, “Well, go find out for heaven sakes.” She considered the worktops around her for a place to put down the bone cutter finally resting it gently next to the 20 lb. defrosting turkey. She pivoted and took two long strides to the sink where she found her long skinning knife. To his back she added, “and don’t forget to be polite”.
Harper put his ear to the door while messing up his blond hair to look as if he had been asleep. He jumped when the bell rang again and opened the door.
The old man looked up at him with brittle old eyes. His large ears folded forward like two baseball mitts hunting for fly balls and sounds. Even hunched as he was, he was tall. He had preserved much of his snowy, closely chopped hair but his eyelashes were nearly gone, maybe dissolved by the thick corrosive mucus that pooled and crusted around his eyes like decades of damp orange rust. His big cheeks were crucified into enormous dimples resembling the flabby intersections on a fat man. He could not have weighed much more than a young girl. His lips wrinkled into delicate spider zippers clenching over toothless gums. His mouth seemed anxious to keep itself from being drawn down into his throat.
“My name is Everett Corcoran,” he said while looking dumbly confused at the shirtless young man’s chest. He raised his head and eyes to his, “I believe I am your grandfather, your mother Julie’s father. And you of course are Harper?”
The man traded his cane to his other hand and offered his right to his grandson. Harper didn’t take the hand, instead he put his own on the man’s shoulder and gently helped him through the door and into the foyer. Everett pushed easily inside. He stood and waited. Harper took the old man’s coat, hung it behind the door and then glanced outside. The man’s Cadillac was parked crookedly in the driveway slightly on the grass. No waiting driver. He closed the door softly.
Everett saw his daughter coming from the kitchen before Harper turned around. She was still wearing her goggles and gloves. He tried stepping backwards but she took him by his suit lapels and hauled him forward and up to her face.
“Hello Everett “ she said beaming. His eyes were opened very wide now. She turned him around by his shoulders, seized him by the scruff of his shirt collar, and with one strong hand dragged him backwards towards the kitchen. Once through the swinging doors she swung him around again.
Everett saw the armless torso on the blood-covered floor. He started to reel frantically in her grip and she slapped him hard across the face.
He stopped still. She lifted him like a child onto the counter next to the sink. His hands sat palms up in his lap and he started to cry. She reached behind him and brought out her bloody knife and held it under his nose.
“You remember this smell?” He was trying to pull away his face but her left hand on the back of his neck held him tight. His eyes followed the knife as she brought it down between his legs. He bawled like an infant, nearly vaulting again from the counter.
“Ready dad?” she whispered to him in nearly a man’s voice, her smile not fading and her mouth an inch from his wet eyes. She pulled out the knife and slowly cut his throat, floppy ear to floppy ear, straight through the old man’s jowls like they were borders of icing on a birthday cake. She let him drop into the sink.
“Shit Julie, what the fuck?” her son whispered at her. She whirled with the knife still in her hand. Her goggles had slipped over the corner of her mouth, “ No swearing,” she purred, as she put her empty hand behind his neck like she had done to her father. She pulled his mouth to hers, banging his lips off the plastic eyewear and kissed him. When the kiss was done she let him go. Harper reached into his mouth and pulled out what he hoped wasn’t a piece of bone.