Friday, June 22, 2012
If He Was Dead
((March, 2006) (The Old Chap))
There was no hope in trying to mend fences with his son-in-law, or daughter, it was the last stroke, his son-in-law had tried to kill him once, by trying to break his ribs, and his wife jumped on his back to stop him. What would be next?
—Perhaps we should move. She told her husband.
—Okay! He said in agreement to the moving out of Minnesota, and out of the country, and to Peru, where she was originally from, and had family that adored her husband there. His mother had passed on a few years prior, and there really wasn’t any reason to stick around anyhow. The son-in-law told him point-blank, he would never allow his grandchildren to visit him again; retaliation for not allowing them to use the washing machine anymore when they were not home, feeling the son-in-law might try to hurt the old chap again—in some off-the-way, fanatic tantrum.
He wrote his daughter a letter that they’d be leaving, she never responded; she lived across the street in one of his apartment buildings he was selling.
Night after night, the son-in-law passed his house, as if checking it out, during the day, he had his wife check it out, she’d walk through his yard, not saying word to him, not saying hello, or how are you or anything, just walking through to the bar across the alleyway: having read the letter and knowing time was short, that he was ill, and he and his Peruvian wife would soon be gone, with all his money: they were contemplating something.
It was in February the son-in-law saw the reflection of the lights on in the semi darkened house, figured: if he was dead, it would be better for everyone concerned: him, his wife—the old man’s daughter—, and the boys, his two boys that didn’t care for him anyway, that only saw him when he was dying in the Hospital once, and as soon as he got better, took off like a hound chasing a rabbit, bad luck for them.
Every night the son-in-law, in the month of February checked out the lights in the house, in fear the old man had left—figuring he was a aberrant being and he longed for him to be dead.
The old man was sitting by his computer, writing—no I wouldn’t say he was exactly writing, he was thinking of moving, reading some poetry, writing a few words down here and there, tired, it was 2:00 a.m., he was thinking of sleeping, his wife was sleeping.
Outside was the son-in-law, waiting, just waiting, no doubt arranging his thoughts and opinions, and a plan—waiting for the old man to get tired of his endless stories and poetry and so forth, and go to bed—praying to the devil he’d go to bed.
The son-in-law began to suck on the butt-end of his cigarette, puff again at its half inch—thinking his theory might work, if it did, I mean, if it really did, he’d be dead, and his wife would be dead, and he’d inherit it all, well, one third: they were fearful the wife would get it, they didn’t like her one bit.
The old man didn’t see him staring in the window, but felt him staring, someone staring, call it intuition.
—Yes, he said to his second self, out loud: We’ll go, we’ll move in March, next month no one will be sorry to see me go anyhow!
Now the old man was sleeping, his wife to his side, the bedroom door closed, the bedroom was attached to the kitchen, the kitchen was attached to the garage, and there was a steel door to the kitchen archway that led to the garage.
The son-in-law was passing the house; all the lights were off.
The old man knew he was under observation, but to what extent, he didn’t know. The old chap hired his son-in-law—all two-hundred and fifty pounds of him, six foot tall, to do odd jobs around his apartments—he was as lazy as the day was long and a bit on the narrow side of life—near neurotic might be the classification, gave him nearly free rent, and paid his daughter for not cleaning, when she should have been cleaning the halls of the buildings. Mind you, this was not a great deal for the old gentleman. He had a great wish to help them in anyway possible. God have mercy on their souls for what they were setting up though.
He continued sleeping; it was now 4:00 a.m., the son-in-law, with his friend, who was once the caretaker of one of the old chap’s apartments, now living with the son-in-law, had persuaded him to help him kill the old man, and they had a key to the garage, let a fire near the old man’s car, then ran off, knowing the smoke would kill him once it seeped into the house—if indeed the fire didn’t take hold and burn the whole house down in a matter of minutes, as the fire Marshall said might had, had the fire got to the ceiling of the garage—but it hadn’t yet, and the steel door prevented over half the smoke from entering. Had it, it would have smothered both the old gentleman and his wife.
—Rosa! Rosa! Rosa! A voice kept saying. And Rosa’s mind woke up to the call, it sounded like her husband’s mother, Elsie. But she was dead of course. Her mind told her to go and look at what was going on in the kitchen. It puzzled her head. In the dark room she got up, heavy faced and nearly paralytic—something was wrong; she opened the door, receding into some unpleasant vicious region of thick smoke, the old man, coughing, and trying to adjust his thinking, grey faced, had he been alone, he’d would have been dead, he never would have woken up.
His hands searched to find his way to the garage, and there was his wife with a broom and blanket putting out the fire…
—Open up the garage door! He yelled: to let the smoke out. He added.
—Explain to me what’s going on! It was a statement-question for the most part, mumbling to himself, if anything.
As the doors opened, the clouds of smoke dribbled though the opening, it also had soaked into his garments he wore. Then he saw the fresh footprints in the snow, they were the same size and make of his son-in-laws boots: and those of another person’s near his…
—Yes, we should be moving soon. He told his wife.