A killer story
He sat drumming his fingers on the table while the old lady shuffled her way to the seat opposite. His apprehension faded once her face came into view. He studied her, watching her fidget in her seat as she tried to make the cold grey plastic chair as comfortable as possible. Her head gave an occasional twitch and her hands shook as they held onto the large faux leather handbag resting on her lap. When he saw she was ready, he began.
“Hello mother,” he said curtly.
“Jason,” she replied.
He examined her reaction. Turning his head side to side like a confused dog. ‘Oedipus Complex my arse,’ he thought. ‘Why would I want to kill my father? Save him, protect him, yes, kill him no. And her. Sex with her. Look at her. She’s so old, saggy, lines weaving her face together. It’s a hollow face too, lifeless, like those eyes. Nothing behind them, no soul. Her figure. A potato with stem buds.’ He wrinkled his nose in disgust. “Did you bring it?” he asked.
“Why did you ask me here?” she said, summoning up the strength to look him in the eyes.
“I said did you bring it?” His face was stern, his jaw stiffened making it hard to articulate the words properly. ‘Control, control. Keep the anger in,’ he counselled himself.
She rummaged through her bag and produced an old worn out feather duster. She waved it at him as she pulled it clear from the bag. Her hatred was all too evident on her face. She didn’t want to be there, she only came in the hope she would find her little boy lurking somewhere inside. Perhaps she could somehow bring him back.
“Place it on the table,” he commanded. She did as she was told. He gave a wry smile as it came to rest.
“You didn’t ask me here just for that. Why am I here Jason?” She tried to use the voice from Jason’s childhood. The voice of authority that only surfaced when one of the kids were to be reprimanded.
He tilted his head slightly downwards so his eyes would have to look up. They locked onto hers, forcing her confident facade to crumble. The demon revealed itself in her son’s eyes.
“I was told to speak with you. Dr. Winters suggested if I were to open up and share my feelings with you, it would go some way to help with my rehabilitation.” Dr. Winters, a forty-three year old psychiatrist from Oxford, had some success treating individuals with disturbed minds. It gave her an over-inflated opinion of her own ability. Jason would often fade out of their sessions and fantasise about what might be under her white lab coat. He liked the way the coat hugged her breasts as she sat hunched over her notebook. Every word would make her bosom heave. He imagined resting on her breasts, snuggling in for a sleep — amongst other things. When she suggested coming to terms with his feelings by meeting with his mother, he had suddenly began to listen.
“What do you want to speak about?” He heard the nerves vibrating through his mother’s words.
“I want to start with the feather duster. You may note it’s been thinned. How many feathers are there?”
She picked up the duster and counted them out. She mouthed each number, never uttering a word. Once she reached the final feather she revealed there were fifteen.
“Choose a feather,” he said. She pointed to the one directly in front of her. “Short round and fairly unattractive. Cousin Cathy,” he said. She turned the duster around for him to see the next one. “Ah, ah. Wait. Pull it out first.”
“Pull the feather out.” She struggled at first, grasping at the top of the feather. As soon as she grabbed the base of the stem and wiggled it, it finally came loose.
“Remove each one after I tell you who it is. OK, another short one, this time with a black spine. Cousin Jackie. You know how she liked a bit of black inside her.” He laughed at his own wit or lack there of. His mother pulled out the feather. “That one is cousin Kevin, fat spine ’cause of his fat arse. Aunt Judy and next to it, Uncle Ken. They just don’t look like they should be together. Tall one is Uncle Simon, brown one is Aunt Saanvi for obvious reasons. The three small ones next to them are their kids, Sam, Gemma and Keith. The black one, that’s Nigel or Uncle Nige, the black sheep of the family. The next one is speckled. It has to be your redhead sister Janice. The ruffled one is your mother and finally the one with half the feather missing is Great Uncle Conroy, you know, for his missing leg.”
All the feathers had been removed bar one in the centre. “What about this one?” she hesitantly asked.
“That’s my wonderful brother George. The centre of your attention. Your favourite. Wait…” She was about to pull the feather out. “He’s not dead is he? Leave it in.”
“Why have you made me do this? What do you want?” Her eyes were filled with tears. A single tear broke ranks and ran down her cheek.
Jason leant forward in his seat. “I know what you did. You killed Dad.”
“I didn’t,” she protested. “He killed himself. He shot himself.”
“He did that because you broke his heart. You had an affair. I saw you with Jimmy. Playing your fantasy games. Using that feather duster as a prop.” She sat there open-mouthed. She never knew they’d been seen. It was a one-off, an accidental incident fuelled by alcohol and low self-esteem. She had ended it almost as soon as it had started.
He leant further forward, resting his elbow on the table. “You killed him, you destroyed the only person that understood me. You should have seen his face when I told him, it shattered. I loved him. And you took him away from me.” He placed his left hand on the glass and pulled the phone closer to his mouth. “That’s why I killed them, to take away everything you cared about. To make you feel like I did.” He beamed at her. The tears rolled down her face. “My solicitor said if I showed remorse I would make parole. Well I told them what they wanted to hear and guess what, it was granted. I’m coming home.”
He stood up, keeping the phone against his ear. “And mother, when I do, get ready to pull out that last feather.” He smirked as he hung up the phone.