The Being of Love

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is the tale of Phil Canton; a mind deteriorating from the disappearance of his daughter Lily Elizabeth Canton.

Submitted: November 05, 2014

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Submitted: November 05, 2014

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“Got a wife and kids in Baltimore Jack,

I went for a ride and I never went back,

Like a river that don’t know where it’s flowing,

I took a wrong turn and just kept going,

Everybody’s got a hungry heart,

Everybody’s got a hungry heart,

Lay down your money and you play your part.”-Bruce Springsteen

 

They all ask me what I remember about her. I never really had that sappy quotation or any of that. I just see her, with one of her front two teeth hanging out past the other. A crooked smile; it could have been taken from an angel or Satan himself. Two glistening corneas, peering into your now sweltering soul. The way she would get that cheap maple syrup in her hands and bleached hair. Strands of it would stick together, and she would laugh. I swear; if you saw another kid do it, it seemed as if meaningless. But when she let out those deep gasps, you truly fell in love. Her paltry fingers were nimble as she ran her fingers down the spine of one of her “picture books”. I took on the duty of reading to her. At times, she was exasperated, and jumped around her bed and acted out the tall tales. But other days, she plopped down and seemed to wander off into the covers.

She was a sweetheart. I loved her. I had been an atheist before I married Diane, but with her strict Catholic orders, I converted to Christianity. None of it really mattered to me; I passed it off as religious propaganda. That was until she came. There was nothing like it. A bliss from the heaven above. They all wanted a reason to hear. Or at least, that’s what I contemplated before. But then, I had a reason. I didn’t argue to go like I had in the past.

When she ate sandwiches, she only had American cheese on them. I thought it was the cutest thing. And that was that. Us piling ours an immense sandwiches of forlorn layers to cover up the week. Her: cheese. Nothing else. Just some good old American cheese. Now my wife wasn’t as gullible as I proceeded. She would try to force her to get other toppings or at least some vegetables but no. Just cheese. I miss that. Days like that. The days she would get off the bus as an impoverished speck jumping off a colossal giant. The fading Pink Walmart-bought backpack pulling her to the ground. I miss that.

4 Months Earlier

I sat in the study, carrying a morose glare on my face. It was supported by my limp arm on the leather office chair. I sighed. Frances sat in the other room, staring lifelessly into her phone. I never really understood it. She had been young like Lily but had transformed into a desolate void. I lifted my arm up. It partially clung to the leather but peeled off like one of those stickers Lily kept leaving around the house.

The door barrels open. I clear my eyes, hoping to wake up my transparent ghost, but it just makes me worse. I lift myself up.

“Hey sweety,” Diane attempts to kiss Frances but she edges herself away from her mother’s face. Diane cedes and backs away.

“Where’s my little princess?” She beckons to the stairwell.

“Lily?” She questions once again.

“Did you get her off the bus like I told you to?” She had turned back to Frances. She had a prune look on her face.

“That’s not my problem now.” Frances never once looks up from her phone.

“Phil?” She advances her eyes to mine.

“I just got back,” I accidently summon an argument.

“Just stop. You’re giving me a headache.” She started rubbing her temples. She turned and snatched her coat from the rack which she had just hung and slipped out into the hyperborean environment. I as well, repeated the ritual.

3 Weeks Later

The antithesis of a cold-blooded murderer is no emotional reaction to a death. I find that to be a lie. It’s the opposite. An innocent man does not have an emotional reaction to a death. Those that do are sick. Not that everyone is, but rather the ideals implanted in their minds are wrong. I mean, what could you do? Morals are like sharpies. Once they‘re on, they won’t come off. That is, if you wash them away. But you’ll look down at the paper and remember the sharpie on there. But really, what was the point?

Everyone in this world tries to take too much. Like those cheap lotto “scratch-off” tickets. Most rub it until they start to wear out the numbers themselves. Others don’t bother, and just scratch a tiny part off, leaving the numbers almost incomprehensible. But who says life is gambling? Whoever said that, is right. Face it, you don’t have a say-or maybe you do. Maybe you discard your “get out of jail free” card, not realizing it. That’s beside the point though. 3 weeks, 4 days, 8 hours, and 17 minutes.

I lay there, contemplating the wealth of my intelligence, ignorant to the fact. I had an unnerving feeling; a sense of distrust in humanity. One relying on the coldness of my feet and the warmth of my hands. I watched the covers and the wooden floor, knowing that soon it would behold the weight of my body. A feeling about my feet touching the floor. I lay there, counting the minutes and seconds and movements of my body. When they reached the cumbersome ground, I felt the rigged texture sliding beneath my toes. In the morning, getting out of bed, touching the floor. That was painful. No, not touching the floor. It was the sheer idea that startled me. Knowing that I would soon be consumed just like I did every other day for the past 3 weeks, 4 days, 8 hours, and 17 minutes.

“What do you remember?” That question still lingers in my head like the scent of a greasy Sunday barbeque. Or a half-eaten potato casserole sitting in your fridge, waiting to die, not realizing that death was no longer imminent: it had already happened.

***

I had tried; a hurried man. Life had been just that. An unpleasant chill breeze that sends a slight tingle up your spine. An ill-fated presence. An obscenity shined a light on another obscenity. That was how everything in this world worked. This and that. That and this. It wasn’t all that it made up to be. It was meager and pathetic.

I had wasted enough time with these bullshit reporters. Plucking feathers from a chicken who’s feathers have already been plucked. The absence of our minds beholds the “key” to society. Or what we believe is the “key”. ‘For a greater cause?’ Don’t tell me to bend over and wipe your ass with $5 bills and tell me that’s my pay! Believe me: I understand.

I had tried. Isn’t that what we’re told to do? To be kind? To be honest? To try your best? You wake up. You are educated. You find a profession and make money. You try to look attractive to lure in supposed “soulmates”? This is for the purpose of reproducing. And then what? Your offspring do the same as you. Get up, study, make money, get married, have kids. For the greater good? I know the system. It’s a recycled moral taken for granted. Then plunged into the abyss unnoticed. This is while they’re showing off celebrity’s puppies on the Today Show.

All that. All of that. That is what you want? Huh? What is the point? I mean, why even try, right? What a waste of time. Day after day, pain and misery? Just so you can let more people go through it? What a joke.

***

I lightly held the photo in my hand. It had been in a frame, loosely supported by the beige wall in the living room. It had been neglected by its parents, but now was being used by the benefactor. A distant cry. No, not a cry at all. Just guilt.

Death is inevitable. An unforsaken virtue. A lesson to be taught to the poor. A warning to the rich. My heart had sunken since I arrived at the studio. I kept thinking of that Springsteen song, Atlantic City. “Everything dies, baby that’s a fact, maybe everything that dies, someday comes back.” That verse haunts me till this day.

It was gone. Not her. But all the emotions riled up inside of me. It was lost. It had fallen out and into someone else’s mind. All that sappy crap-it was never there. It was an illusion. A wax portrait of a life I pretended to have. But it was a lie. It was all a lie.

“Sir?” A voice approached.

“Yes?” I pretended to pay attention.

“Do you see that corridor right there?” He aimed at a small, desolate, black hallway with his finger, from which echoed a fantastic swirl of what could have been called “white noise”. I nodded in agreement, and marched down it. It seemed as if it were some funhouse that wasn’t fun at all. Numbers and letters printed onto the walls and curtains only an insomniac would own. The noise became more distinct and transparent. A frail boy jogged past me, clutching a clipboard. He had wires sprouting from his pockets and panted like a dog.

I staggered forward as I noticed a woman clinging to a beige canvas armchair. She sat on her foot as if a preschooler who had to urinate or defecate. She wore a solemn smile when she noticed me. It slowly faded into a displeasing gesture. It seemed as if she had just drunken something sour. Next to her sat an empty copy of her own armchair. It seemed as if she wanted anything but for me to sit down in it. She indiscreetly motioned for me to come over.

My name was announced in an almost forlorn fashion. Hundreds of women and their newlywed husbands sat racked upon the cheap plastic seats. They clapped lightly, trying to be as polite as they could be. I couldn’t blame them. One of the men backstage had put a small microphone on the top of my collar. It was now veraciously grading away at my neck. It had become quite apparent I was not ready for this. But it was going to have to do.

***

 “Now, breaking news from Albany, North Dakota, where a 6 year old girl named Lily Canton has gone missing. For more on this story, here is Todd Pigeon.” She rambled like a robot.

“Thanks Nancy!” He unconvincingly mentioned.

“On December 19th, Lily Canton went missing from her home in Albany. They sent out an amber alert on December 20th, but the search is still ongoing. Officials say she was taken after being dropped off the bus from school. She was last seen with a purple dress and a matching violet blouse. They have not yet released anything else involving possible suspects or witnesses, but stay tuned to channel 5 for the latest on this case. Nancy, back to you.”

***

The alabaster flakes of a forlorn giant descend from the chill air. Children prance about, facing the inevitable. They go inside and drink hot chocolate and are told tales of giants and princes and princesses.

She stands there, studying the snow as if she had never seen it before. She would put a little in her hand and study the texture and taste and color and density. A cold day in December, contemplating Christmas. This was all it took. This is why.

***

“What is her blood type?” The burly man spasmodically questioned. I was not one for answers, but one for questions. That was how I had lived my life. Asking, not telling.

“B,” Diane quickly proceeded. The man jotted what seemed to be more than what Diane had said on a clipboard.

“Height and weight?” He raised his eyebrows. Diane searched through the pile of papers she had laid out on the tale.

“3’6” It was almost a question. She flipped through some more until she called out, “43 pounds,” A few tears cascaded down her cheek. I was in no mood to comfort her, so the man decided to glare at me.

“Friends, family, possible witnesses?”

“No, no, I … I don’t know,” She meandered about.

“Well…” He slid back the metallic chair transmitting a deafening sound into our eardrums. I raised myself up as well. But Diane still sat in the chair.

“Sorry, I didn’t catch your name?” My sentence was verbally conducted like a question.

“Detective Nick Gateau, head of the missing persons unit of Bismarck, North Dakota.” He rambled on as if some machine. I sighed in relief that I may let the pain subside for a few seconds. But it instantly came back to me.

“We’ll contact you if we get any leads or find any witnesses. As of now, we’ve contacted the bus driver and a few of your neighbors. None have mentioned anything.” He abruptly ended. We stood there in awkward silence while Diane sat with her face in a pile of Kleenex. I took grab of her arm and left the room. Nick and I exchanged glances with each other but never said a word.

The police department in Albany was the size of an ancient school house. Pillars stood outside as decoration rather than structure. It sat under a small roof, which ultimately formed a mini-porch. The building itself could have been a midget’s garbage can. The trash would come in, and then emptied out to a larger, more sustainable bin.

Diane sobbed and tripped along the sidewalk. I willingly tried to comfort her, but assistance from me was the last indigenous action she wanted me to contribute. I let go of her and worried about Frances. Lily had loved Francis. She was a role model to Lily. She looked down at her with saturated fury. Lily looked up to her with a crooked grin. She loved having an older sister. Lily would tell her her secrets and passions and hates and loves and raptures. The lining of my chest churned and deteriorated with every breath.

***

I look down upon this again and revise the question, “Why?” Why? A broad proposal of awesome heights. An amend to our daily lives. Questioning our very own beliefs and practices. Covering our morals with tote bags and asking us why. Why? Could it be broader? It is the foundation of our society. And yet we cannot define why. Or how. Or is. Anything advancing upon those lines.

Why? Why do we? We do we not? Maybe I should go steal someone’s watch. Or maybe I should go to the store and buy my own. No matter where you place anything, life is anything but order. Order is a restoration of our faith in humanity. It is not a truth. It is a lie printed on paper. They place it in front of you with a gun to your head. And you make that decision. They say it is uninfluenced.

Original? We base things off of other things. Those things are based off other things. You see? Order is a line through a country blindly placed by an infant learning to walk. You deal with it, I’ll watch.

Passion. The pursuit of happiness. That is what we live for. We want others to experience that. Well, I can tell you one thing: it’s a load of nothingness. Just clichés and uninformed grandfathers doing their best to die.

But that is not it. Ignorance is a virtue. It guides the light to a road barely lit. But the candle will burn out and you will pursue the caliginosity. No; you will indulge it.

***

I feel like I’m at some kind of sports conference. Convolving on players whose careers are trudging to a stop.

I stilt my weight at the microphone. Déjà vu pulses through my veins. A weight lifts up from my stomach. It slowly convulses up my throat and past my Adam’s apple. A texture of sand dunes arises from my lips. I push them against the fuzzy cover over the mic. The condensed room was filled with flashes resonating through the air. Shouts paced from every direction. I loosely hung my arms at my sides and let them sway. Reporters shuffled to their seats and the cacophony halted. They renewed their eyes to me. Several coughs dispersed through the air.

“My daughter, Lily Elizabeth Canton, went missing from our home in Albany, North Dakota, just 4 days ago. She is only 6 years old. Christmas is in only 2 days and… I know parents can agree with me that having a kid is a blessing. And we…” I searched for the words. “We congratulate them for giving us something to live for. We bought her a set of dolls-something she has been awaiting for all year. And, God bless her soul, I want to see her unwrap that set of dolls. I want to see her smile that crooked smile, and hug us and waltz around the living room. I want to see her feel loved. And I know the rest of you, would want to see the same for your children. I thank all of your support through this tragedy. This afternoon we will be conducting a search through Albany and Fargo. I want you all to know that… she will thank you all someday.” I backed away with a solemn look on my face. That was it. That was the last of it.

4 Days Later

I lay there on the couch with a pillow befuddled over my face. I had not slept in days. I studied the lining of the Winnie the Pooh design. Eeyore, Tigger, Piglet, and Winnie stood in unison across the width of the cushion. I was furrowed into it so most of the pillow was enveloped in darkness. I had tried to read, but it made things even worse. I pondered in reveries of Lily prancing about and laughing. The way it would occasionally enlighten even Frances. I had lost that train of thought a while ago. All I see now is her lifeless corpse beholding a glance of sorrow. I had tried. Isn’t that what they want?

An utterly blasphemous atrocity rung through my eardrums. It burned my soul in an inexplicable way. It held me on the couch for a few seconds until I finally conquered it. The pillow bounced off the couch and onto the floor. I reached and successfully grabbed the phone. I held the receiver up to my ear.

“Hello?” I called out.

“Yes, Mr. Phil Canton?” It was the same voice I had heard at the station. Except now he was talking in an eerie tone. I shuddered at the thought.

“What may I help you with?”

“There really is no easy way to put this, just, should we come over?”

“No….just…” My heart sunk.

“Your daughter, we believe that… we have recovered her body.” He sighed. He had paused and was waiting for me to say something.

“Her clothing and features meet the description. We are currently running DNA tests. We’ll contact you back when we receive more information. My condolences and best wishes.” He continued. I rubbed my forehead at an attempt to wipe away the beads of sweat. “My condolences and best wishes.” That line ran through my head.

1 Week Later

Her corpse was laid out on a small, forlorn table. Her skin which had danced like silk when alive, was now pale and frail. The crooked smile was now covered with pursed lips. Her eyelids now encompassed her beautiful pupils. I languidly gripped her hand and lifted it up. That foreign liquid I had mentioned earlier, now rose from my corneas. It dripped down my cheeks like raindrops. Her arm took on the weight of a hundred pounds. I let it down easily.

I glanced back to find Diane sobbing. She held the side of another table to keep her balance. She choked on her own tears. I concluded that it was the ideal of a thousand emotions bundled in an unwelcome package to Death.

***

I slid through the navy blue door beholding my home. No, not even that. Just a place I slept. A place I ate in. Nothing more. It led directly to the living room. Diane sat cross-legged in a love seat. Her body was purposefully placed in the middle.

“Come on, Phil,” Diane cried. She lifted herself up.

“What the hell do you want me to say?” I raised up my arms in annoyance. She sighed and cupped her eyes with her hand.

“Now… this is all we have left and… and you damn well know that!” She tried.

I chuckled. “You think it’s just that? What the hell!?!” I penetrated the wall with my foot. A thin, white powder lingered in the air.

“It’s not that,” Her voiced cracked after what seemed to be a minute.

“I want you out.” She murmured. Her voice was small and unrecognizable. Something came up my throat. No, not anything physical. But it reached my Adam’s apple. My eyes pooled with a foreign liquid I had yet to understand. But I held them in.

That was that. Nothing else. She just stood there with her arms crossed peering into my eyes. I gritted my teeth.

“What do you mean?” I grumbled.

“What do I me…” She couldn’t seem to get that last syllable out. She changed her view to the floor. You could call it a laugh. You could also call it crying. She looked up again and trying to keep herself together, she roared, “Get out…… I said get out!” She convinced herself.

We exchanged glares. Seconds. That was all it took. Seconds. Not years. Not months. Not days. Not hours. Not minutes. But seconds.

“Don’t ..” I lurched forward, letting my emotions take control. She raised her hands up and widened her eyes in disbelief. I took hold of her fleece sweatshirt and slammed her against the wall. Her body tumbled to the floor. Her eyelids had covered her pupils.

***

“The body of 6 year old Lily Canton was recovered two days ago after much speculation. She disappeared after getting off the bus to her home in Albany, North Dakota. Officials say she was apparently raped and murdered. They have not released the names of the suspects that may be involved, but they did say they will do their best to bring justice to those who committed this heinous crime.”

***

I’ll always remember that question. “What do you remember?” But I will never have a sufficient answer. For I listen; I do not answer.

THE END


© Copyright 2019 Ryan Williams. All rights reserved.

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