Chapter 1: At Last

by Regis Boff

He pinched the dead thing, spinning it by its stem. He dropped it back into the leaves that the cold wind scrambled and piled at his feet.

The funeral director met him at the carved doors. He looked relieved. “Your mother is ready, I believe she would have been pleased, she looks alive,” he said.
“Let us hope she isn’t, Mr. Sidney,” Harper said, handing him the coat.
He seated him in the first pew, twenty feet from her. As the old man was turning to go, Harper took his arm,” I will not be at the burial tomorrow and you will not see me again. Are our parts satisfied? “Completely sir, thank you,” he answered.
“ Good, give me a moment with her before they come. ”
Death had not made this woman shorter. A smile broke like an egg over his face.
Her knees had been bent to fit her into the casket.

The severed hand he’d jammed under his arm came out when he heard the doorbell. It’s index finger, now in midair, motioned as if it had a question then tumbled towards the floor of the basement.
She would not have heard the bell over the buzzing of the electric hacksaw. He left the hand and put down the rest then turned back up the basement stairs.
Tugging his shirt over his head he threw it behind a chair, then doing the same with his gloves. He shoved open the swinging kitchen doors.
“There’s someone at the door,” he said to his mother.
She was too tall for this kitchen. She lifted the splattered protective glasses onto her forehead with her left hand while shutting off the saw with her right like it was a ballpoint pen.
He shrugs before she can ask who it is. “Well, go find out for heaven sakes” she was hunting on the counter for space to put down the saw, finding some next to the frozen Thanksgiving turkey. To his back she added, ” be polite”.
He put his ear to the door while messing up his hair to look as if he had been asleep. He jumped when the bell rang again. He opened it.
The old man looked up at him. He had a hat in one hand and a cane in the other. He was handsome except for the large ears that folded awkwardly forward like baseball mitts. Even slightly stooped, he was tall. The mucus pooling in his eyes glistened. His tailored suit wasn’t new, it sagged like his ears.
Harper moved around him to close the door noting the man’s driverless Mercedes parked in the driveway. He took his hat and coat putting them on a hook.
” Everett Corcoran,” he said, looking confused at the shirtless chest. Raising his eyes to Harper’s, “I am your grandfather, your mother’s father. And you are Harper?”
The man traded his cane hand and offered the other. Harper ignored the hand, instead putting his own on the man’s shoulder to gently nudge him out of the foyer and into the living room. Everett pushed easily inside and stood silently watching Harper’s face.
Everett saw his daughter coming from behind Harper. He tried to step back, but she took him by his suit lapels and pulled him forward and up to her face.
“Hello Everett, “ she said beaming, kissing him gently on his mouth. His eyes were wide now. She turned him around, gripped the shirt and coat collar behind his neck with one hand and began dragging him towards the kitchen. She straightened him to his feet as they passed through the swinging doors.
Everett saw the torso on the kitchen floor. He panicked in her grip, and she slapped him hard across the face. He stopped still. She lifted him with both hands like a child onto the counter astride the sink. His hands sat palms up in his lap, and he started to cry. She reached behind him and brought out the bloody knife she had been using and held it up and under his nose.
“You remember this smell, Everett?” He was trying to pull away his head, but her hand on the back of his neck held him tight. His eyes followed her hand as she stabbed the knife into the flesh between his legs. He bawled like an infant, nearly vaulting from the counter.
She changed her grip on the knife. “Ready dad?” she whispered to him in a man’s voice, her smile not fading and her mouth an inch from his eyes. She pulled the knife out of him 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.
“Shit Julie,” Harper screamed. She whirled to face him letting Everett topple into the sink, the knife still in her hand. The goggles had been pushed over part of her mouth, “ Please stop swearing,” she sighed, putting her empty hand gently behind her son’s neck. She pulled his mouth to hers, banging his lips off the plastic eyewear as she kissed him. She released him when the kiss was over. A few seconds later he reached into his mouth and pulled out what he hoped wasn’t a piece of bone.