Rain drizzled down onto the black polished top of a shaped box, carried by four men, two on each side. The sky overhead was an angry swirling combination of blacks and grays, as though the colors themselves were fighting. People stood in a huddled group around a hole in the ground in front of them, a freshly dug grave. While most of the crowd stood huddled close to each other sharing black umbrellas; a young man stood a short distance away from them. The young man’s black suit was drenched with the fallen rain and his dark fair hair was plastered to his skull; but still he stared through sorrowful eyes as the men lowered the dark box into the freshly dug grave.
The man tore his eyes from the grave and looked around at the crowd as a preacher began to recite the words that no one ever wishes to hear. Most of the crowd was made up of the dead man’s comrades in crime; after all the man had been one of the best known leaders of the biggest mafia in Manhattan. The man saw his mother and newly widow standing across the grave from him, facing him with her face buried into her gloved hands. Anger tore at the heart and he clenched his jaw when he saw a man slide his arms around her petite shoulders in a gesture far from sympathy. The young man’s blue eyes hardened and grew icy as he glared at his uncle, the new leader of the mafia with his arm around his mother and his lips pressed to her cheek.
The rest of the funeral was a blur of sadness and soon the man found himself seated at the bar in a filthy pub on the corner of a busy street. The air in the pub smelt of cigarettes, beer and the smell of men. The young man’s eyes were beginning to droop, the smell overwhelming and his hand gripped tightly on his glass of whiskey. His vision was blurred and his wet clothes clung to his damp skin. Voices from behind him were laughing, talking the sound of pool balls hitting each other filled his ears. His eyes dropped further and further down along with his head until at last he slumped over onto the filthy counter top. Any passerby who happened to notice him would have thought him to be an innocent drunk but they would be far from the real truth.
Thoughts seemed to rise like the un-dead out of the fog in his head. He saw images of his mother crying and telling him that his father had been shot and murdered. Images of his uncle telling him how much he would regret having to take his father’s place as head of the mafia. Anger boiled inside his veins as he remembered his uncle kissing his mother at the funeral then afterwards slipping a small silver band around her finger. Did his father even matter? The anger and the sadness boiled together in a dangerous combination; a combination that became voices that spoke from the dark corners of his mind.
What if his uncle had killed his father? The voices repeated the question over and over and his inner demon the whiskey had created roared his approval. Suddenly he was shook from his thoughts back into reality. The smell of sweat and smoke brought him back and he sleepily looked around for what had startled him but when he saw what it was he almost fell out of his stool. A man was sitting next to him but the man shouldn’t have ever been in the bar. In fact the man shouldn’t even exist, the man was his father. The young man sat with his mouth open and the image of his father swimming before his eyes.
Finally the man found his tongue and stammered stupidly, “You’re dead, you are.” The man shook his head and looked at his glass of whiskey, wondering if someone had slipped something in his drink when he wasn’t looking.
“Stop yer yappin’ and listen up boy!” His father’s ghost spoke in his father’s usually brisk tone. The boy looked back at his father after draining his now empty mug and studied him. It certainly looked like his father with the black suit and white tie, the long black hair that was pulled into a pony-tail. His father’s face grew stern and his brown eyes seemed to slice through the young man.
“Stop staring at me and listen up because I’m only going to say what I have to say once!” His father commanded and the man shut his gaping mouth and tried not to stare.
“That’s better, but the truly important thing is, what are you going to do about my death?”
“I uh…” The boy tried to clear his head but the web created by the alcohol caught his thoughts and rendered him speechless.
“That’s what I thought.” His father nodded and his eyes seemed to bore into the boy’s skin. “You never did know what to do.”
The man looked away from his father’s piercing eyes with his head swimming and shame in his heart. Was his father really shaming him beyond the grave? What was he supposed to do about him dying? As he pondered the question the people behind him suddenly laughed at someone who had told a funny joke. The laughed seemed to awaken the voices in the man’s head. A sly voice seemed to whisper in his head, “Why don’t you just kill your uncle?” A smile stretched wildly across the man’s flushed face as he turned back to his father.
“I’m going to kill him.” The man said quietly, a smile twisting across his thin lips and he hiccupped.
His father’s face split into a wide grim and he cried out, “Atta boy! I knew you had some of my blood in you somewhere! Now hurry, I just heard someone pull up out front and I recognize the sound of my limo motor anywhere. I recon you still have the pistol I gave you?”
It took the man a couple of seconds to locate his pocket then shoved his hand into the wet material and felt something smooth and cold press against his skin. His fingers wrapped around the handle. A crazy grin stretched across his face. He looked at his father and nodded.
“Good for you boy! Now go and kill that two-faced brother of mine!”
With the words of his father ringing in his ears the man struggled to turn around and placed his feet firmly on the ground; he put his weight on his feet and nearly fell. The group at the pool table had turned to look at him and he heard their mocking voices as though from the top of a canyon, echoing in his head. He struggled to his feet with the crazy grin still on his face and stumbled out the door into the downpour of rain.
Through the blurriness of his vision and the torrents of rain the young man could see a sleek black limo pull up in front of a large house across the street. His father’s house, the boy knew, but the man getting out of the car holding his mother’s hand was not his father.
“James.” The man tried to shout his uncle’s name but it was too quiet to be heard over the oncoming traffic splashing through the puddles. The man did his best to clear his throat and tried again, “James!”
Finally at last his uncle turned around and starred across the street, a look of confusion on his face. His mother even looked confused as she stared at her drunken son but then her gaze fell upon the gun in his hand. Her mouth moved rapidly as she said something to her new fiancé, her words lost to the rain. His uncle looked at him with suddenly worried eyes.
“James you fool! Did you really think you were going to get away with murder? Your own brother, how could you? You heartless little two-timing b-” The man, who had been walking slowly across the street suddenly tripped and fell on his face, when his grip on the gun tightened and there was a deafening blast from the gun.
There was a woman’s scream and a yell from his uncle. The man looked up from the road where he laid and through his drunken stupor he saw his mother lying on the ground with his uncle’s arms around her. There was a gaping bloody hole in the side of her head; the blood from the wound mixed with the rainwater and ran in the gutter. People on the streets were running as quickly away from them as possible but the man didn’t care.
Shock joined the whiskey in his head and he leaned over on the street and expelled all the fluids and food he had consumed for the past five hours. He had shot his mother, his sweet loving mother. Shock was quickly replaced by the anger boiling in his veins, anger at his uncle for being with his mother. It wasn’t really his fault after all, he told himself, it was James.
With new found strength the man stumbled across the street to where his uncle knelt clutching the bleeding body of a woman who had been a mother to a son who had killed her. Hot tears traced their ways down the man’s cheeks as he angrily aimed the gun at his uncle’s head.
His uncle looked up at him through tear-filled eyes. “you killed her.” His uncle’s whisper was accusing. “You killed your own mother.”
This accusation was like a knife between the ribs. “No! No, I didn’t!” The man shouted as his hand holding the fun shook. “You did! You took her from my father’s safety and now you’ve gone and killed her! You deserve to die!” The man pressed the gun against his uncle’s head and pulled the trigger. Blood splattered back onto him as his uncle slumped over onto his mother’s body.
The man starred down at his enemy’s body, not knowing what to do next. In the distance police sirens wailed, coming closer. I have nowhere to go, the man realized and he dripped to his knees. Suddenly the gun he was holding in his hand gave him an idea, a wicked idea. He raises his bloodied gun to his own head and began to cry. Fat tears mixed with the slowing rain and his shoulders shook with silent sobs. He looked up at the heavens before him and saw the sun trying to peak out from behind the clouds. The few escaped rays fell upon his face and still he cried.
The warm slippery blood made the gun hard to hold and he slipped to the ground. The sun was shining now and he thought dimly how anything could be so beautiful when everything was so broken. Tears glisten on his cheeks as he tightened his finger on the cold trigger; he could practically feel death’s cold breath on his neck. Without waiting another second he pulled the trigger and the world exploded into a blinding white light.