PAST HOPE: Short Story in Two Chapters: TWO

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

A telephone call from out of the past fires up a partial memory. The other part is swirled round with suspense, fear, and death.

Submitted: January 26, 2016

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Submitted: January 26, 2016




A  Short Story in Two Chapters

Nicholas Cochran

Chapter Two


Jason took the tumbler from his mother’s hand and quickly inspected her eyes for any hints about the outcome of her memoir.

Seeing none, he went to the sideboard and returned with a fresh three fingers plus of Louis Royer.

After drinking a little more brandy, his mother sighed, and suddenly picked up her narrative; almost as though she were afraid that she would forget something—anything; some detail that would completely change the outcome—or rather, the interpretation of the outcome.

Now, with the restoration of most of her composure, she continued.

“I had this instinct, like some silent direction from inside me; it was a very strong feeling; that I should go toward the surf.

“As I plodded through the thick sand, I kept an eye on the horizon; and on the moon.

“I saw no one. I continued to walk, and quite soon I was there beside the water; almost at the watermark on the sand. The breakers were large; quite large: butnot ominous; not even frightening. Manly surf is one of the best; day or night,” she inhaled deeply, calling upon her lungs to help her extend her story,

“Anyway: as I turned to look back at Colin’s house, something moved just off to the left of his property—down the way, on the  beach.

“I didn’t know if they were people; or dogs; or even some other animal. “They were spinning, and packed so tightly together that it was impossible to make out any distinct forms; or how many there were.

“I ran toward whatever it was, as it bucked and rolled toward the water.

“Just as I came up to it, the moon gave just enough light to outline three people; they were hitting and grabbing and yelling at each other.

“I ran faster so that I reached them just as they all stumbled and fell into the water.

“Then I recognized Gertie and David. I couldn’t see the other man because his back was to me, and he had staggered into the surf and fallen flat in the shallowest part; near the wave line.

Miriam took another sip of brandy to prepare her for the rough parts of her experience. After taking in a long breath, she looked up and spoke to her son.

“David saw me and turned to Gertie.

“Suddenly the man in the surf appeared behind David, holding a large jagged stone.

“He yelled at David and accused him of raping Gertie. Gertie immediately went to David’s side, crying out that it wasn’t true; David had not raped her; he hadn’t done anything.

“But Colin screamed—he was very drunk—that Gertie had been naked and that David was beside her.

“Gertie screamed that they were just going for a skinny dip. I don’t think it was until that moment that I realized they were both na . . . had no clothes on.”  

Mrs. Melville was now entwining her fingers and Jason sensed that very shortly she would be twisting her hands.

“Colin sprang at David, but missed because David moved; and also because a breaker slammed into Colin and sent him under again.

“I rushed into the surf to find Colin. I saw his hand with the stone in it first and then his head, as the surf receded.”

She gulped, “Jason; I think I’ll have a little water now please; thanks son.”

Jason brought back a tall glass of ice water that his mother seized and immediately began to drink. When the glass was half empty, she placed it beside her and looked at Jason with appreciation.

“Thanks darling.”

 Jason just pinched her arm and tried to put on a look of encouragement. After a few moments, his mother continued.

“Colin began to rise and something inside me snapped; I just knew he was going to kill David.

“I ran at him and lowered my head, which knocked him back beneath the surf.  

“But there was his hand again—and the rock. I wrenched it out of his hands, and when he rose up wobbling in the surf and drunkenly lurching toward me, I hit him. “It hit his head but he didn’t seem to feel a thing.” 

Miriam began to knead her hands while stifling dry sobs.

“He lunged at me again and grabbed my other arm; and then he pulled me into the surf.

“I swung the rock into the water where his head had been, but he pulled my arm even harder; a large wave broke over us and I swallowed a lot of water.

He continued to pull me; I thought I was going to drown.”

Jason’s mother was now squarely inside the tent of that terrifying moment, trapped in the battering surf of searing recollection. Her eyes glittered with strikes of lightning in the dark green pools. Her breathing spiked.

“I swung again and then again; and again.”

Her dry sobs had turned to liquid. She drank a large swallow of her brandy.

“The next thing I remember is I was sitting alone in the water, and the waves were passing just above my shoulders. Gertie and David were gone.

“I couldn’t remember seeing them leave. Colin was gone too.

“I was wobbly from fear; and I was exhausted. I began calling Colin’s name. “Then I began to cry; and the louder I yelled into the waves, the heavier my sobs,” now she was whimpering between spasms of choking reminiscence.

Jason patted her knees.

“Hey Mom, you okay; take a break here; okay? Maybe you should lie down for a while; it can wait; okay?”

“No. No, Jason; I must tell you now; I don’t want to have to repeat any of this; I’m okay—really dear, I’m really okay. I’ll finish.”

She took some more water and allowed it to slip down her throat before arranging her hands on her lap in an obvious effort to not only control herself but also to relax her son.

The warm summer stillness waited for Miriam to continue.

“I don’t know how long I’d been thrashing about in the surf, all the time looking toward Colin’s house to see if anyone else was coming out—or maybe Colin had gone back in.

“I finally left the breakers and the beach—and the rock that I had tossed off the beach while I was yelling for Colin to appear.


“Back at the house, the party had really degenerated. It was so noisy and smoky. Everyone was a little drunk and most were very drunk. Half of them were asleep.

“Seeing them sleeping like that, snapped me back into reality; my watch had been drowned dead.

“I grabbed somebody’s wrist and it read after two thirty.

Then I just started shaking my head; and soon I was shaking all over: I couldn’t believe it; I couldn’t have been out there three hours, but I couldn’t remember doing anything else; nothing,”

His mother lifted her eyes to meet her son’s. They were flat and secret, “absolutely nothing else than what I’ve told you,” sipping some water and then flexing and intertwining her hands and fingers,

“I looked everywhere for Gertie and David, but they had gone. I didn’t knowwhat to do. I panicked,” eyes widening, but with a beginning smile, “yes, your mother actually panicked.

“I began to call the police but quickly hung up; what would I tell them? The few people still on their feet were slow dancing to the only sounds: the music and the breakers.

“I left and found a phone and called a cab. Gertie was in our room when I got back; fully clothed; and in a deep sleep.“I sat on my bed and had a tearless cry.

“I couldn’t face any more that night.

"I had to believe that Colin had survived and gone home, but I also knew that was virtually impossible; unless I had blacked out, or he had knocked me out. 

"I did have a huge bump and a large ugly bruise on my jaw. I cried myself to sleep.

“The next day, Gertie told me that she and David had run from the beach, naked, and retrieved their clothes; and had begun to leave.

“She had wanted to go back for me, but David had convinced her that I was alright; because he had seen me on my feet; knocking Colin a good one, back into the breakers.

“Gertie said she turned and saw me standing there. Colin was half in the water and looked completely whipped; and I had looked like a conquering Amazon,” Miriam smiled more broadly and took her son’s hands in hers and squeezed, “I felt much better after that and called Colin’s place right away.

“His mother answered and told me that Colin was at work. I thanked her and called his work number. They told me that he hadn’t come in yet.

“I began to worry. We had four more days before we had to board our ship for Singapore.

“I called Colin’s mother again; and then, at the end of the day, I called his work again. No one had seen or heard from him.”


Jason’s mother straightened her back and folded her hands on her lap. “Your aunt and I boarded our ship. I called from Melbourne, Perth, and Jakarta—several times; and again from Singapore.


Miriam gave a finishing gasp, followed by the contrived smile of a false sense of security,

“And so, my darling son, that is it. Your father is your real father—and Fiona’sas well.”

Suddenly her face clouded over with the realization that the amazing tale she had just told was, in truth, only half over.

“That was David Wells on the phone.

“They recently found Colin’s body stuck in a crevice, well above the surf line, four miles north of Manly.

“He was not much more than a skeleton but was identified by dental charts. They matched up the crushed part of his skull with a large bloody stone that a surfer had taken to the police the day after Colin’s party.

“David is a police inspector now, and wants me to go back to Australia with him to answer some questions about Colin’s death.

“They have a fingerprint off the bloody rock and it matches one of mine I gave to get my visa.

“David wants to come over and talk,” beginning to softly sob, “about . . . if I’ll waive extradition and fly back to Sydney with him.

“They’ve charged me with murder.”

© Copyright 2019 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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