Casey knocked on my door around 10:30. I never ever expected my fleeting mother to come to my doorstep with a smile nonetheless.
I was in bed with my wife, Marisa. We were watching “Bones”, my favorite TV show. It always made me happy when the bad guy was finally caught.
Then, a brisk knock on the door reverberated in my ears. I turned to Marisa.
“Are we...expecting someone?” I asked. She shook her head, a concerned look crossing her face. I got up, cautiously walking to the door. Through the peephole, there stood a bedraggled woman half-leaning on a beaten cane. There was something oddly familiar about this person, but it was difficult to see her face beneath her mask of matted hair.
I inched the door open, cautious as ever.
“Can I help you?” I asked, hardening my voice in a no-nonsense kind of way. I hoped it came across that way. Her wrinkled face split into a wide grin.
“Tom!” She laughed. Her voice was unsettling, all high and raspy. She sounded like a smoker.
“Who are you?” I asked, feeling more and more like I knew this woman.
“Oh, Tom,” She moaned sympathetically. There was something about those electric blue eyes that made my stomach churn. Suddenly, I gasped.
“Casey?” I whispered. Anger and bewilderment filled me to the brim. She laughed her raspy laugh again.
“Yes, Tom! It’s your mother!” It took a lot of effort to not growl at this. Mother? She left when I was four for her third husband. There was nothing motherly in the hungry look of her eyes.
“What do you want?” I seethed.
“Now, is that any way to talk to your mama?” She said, patting my cheek. I recoiled, and she slipped through my doorway uninvited. I opened my mouth to scold her, but she spoke first.
“Your little house out here is quite charming,” She declared. Her eyes searched everything, as though she was calculating how much she could get for stealing them. I reminded myself that that was probably exactly what was going through her devious mind.
“Casey, I would ask you kindly to leave. This is my house, and you left me first, remember?” She rounded on me, a surprisingly sad smile on her face.
“And I completely regret everything I did,” She whispered softly. I raised an eyebrow. I noticed Marisa standing in the hallway, looking confused.
“Wait here. I’ll go make some tea,” I told my mother, motioning to the couch. I found that tea took the edge off, and I definitely had a chip on my shoulder with my mother. She smiled and sat down, propping her muddy boot on the coffee table. I walked stiffly over to my wife, frowning deeply.
“What is she doing here?” Marisa whispered, worried lines creasing her forehead. She rubbed her hands on her round belly, a nervous habit since she had become pregnant. Another reason to keep her safe from Casey.
“I don’t know, and considering her track record, probably something horrible,” I griped. I splashed hot water into a mug and haphazardly threw a tea bag into it. I walked into the family room to my mother, looking as if she was about to doze off. I thrust a cup into her hand and sat in the chair farthest away from her.
“So,” I muttered. “What do you want?” After a large gulp of tea, she sighed.
“Oh, my baby,” She crooned. “I’ve missed you every day of the years since I left. I’ve been searching for you forever,” She blithered. I frowned deeper.
“I was at Dad’s house until I was 18,” I growled. “If you truly were looking for me, you would’ve just come home.” I crossed my arms defiantly. “But you didn’t.” Marisa came from the kitchen and stood behind me, her comforting hand on my shoulder the only thing stopping me from lashing out. Casey averted her eyes from me and they landed on my wife.
“Ah, your beautiful wife!” She cried, setting her mug down and standing up. Her wobbliness made me uneasy, as if she’d spent too much time at a bar. She strutted over, but I stood in front of Marisa. Normally she’d have refused this kind of gesture, but with a baby on the way, I knew she’d be more careful about anything and everything. I wasn’t sure what Casey would have done, but I wasn’t about to take any chances.
“You still have not told me what your business is here,” I snarled angrily. “You give me a good reason to welcome you in any way, or get out of my sight.” I trembled with anger, my eyes filling with hot, furious tears.
“I need a place to stay for the night,” She answered, speaking slowly as if choosing her words carefully. "I'm going to see your sister in Florida, and I didn't book a hotel. I didn't realize Florida was this far!" Casey's story was so unbelievable I almost laughed. “And what if I don’t want you here?” I quipped shortly. A sad look crossed her face.
“Then I will leave,” She whispered, so quietly it almost wasn’t audible. All the built up anger in my gut dissolved at the dejected look in her eyes. It sounds ridiculous that I’d even think of forgiving this woman for what she did, but I recognized that look. It was the look I so often wore when I was trying to get Marisa's attention in whatever absurd way before we started dating. I took a deep, steadying breath.
“You can stay here for one night,” I spoke cautiously, studying her face. “If you make so much as one wrong move, then I hope to never see your face again.” She bowed awkwardly, and I wondered if I’d made the right decision. From the look on Marisa's face, she didn’t seem to think so.
“Thank you, son, thank you!” Casey cried, clasping my hand. Her hungry look was back, along with triumph. Unsure of what else to say, I took my wife by the hand and trudged back to our room with a warning glance over my shoulder. The moment our door was shut, Marisa spoke.
“Tom, why did you let her stay? She’s obviously had quite a lot to drink, and I can feel in my gut that her intentions are not good! I mean, showing up here at ten o’clock after abandoning you for twenty some years? You have to admit, she’s not exactly a good person,” She finished, a pitying look in her warm amber eyes. Every doubt I’d had about my mother’s sudden appearance, my wife had just voiced.
“I just felt like it might’ve been the right thing to do,” I murmured, looking at the floor. Even though I was almost a head taller than her, Marisa always seemed to be able to scold me as if I was a little child. She sighed, rubbing her hand across my arm nervously. Without another word, we climbed back into bed and shut the lights off to go to sleep. Naturally, none came.
I rolled over, my mind spinning at a hundred miles an hour. Every noise made me jump, every sound made me break into a cold sweat. Finally, when the clock read 3:00 AM, I drifted off into an uneasy sleep. What felt like only minutes later, a loud crash sounded from the living room, followed by a curse. I leaped out of bed, bubbling over with pure fury. Foreboding thoughts chased each other around in my head. I practically ran out the door, and stopped dead in my tracks, my mouth hanging open.
The entire room was stripped of anything valuable. Any table adornments, picture frames, even the curtain hangers were gone. A drafty wind blew through the wide-open door. A chill sped up my spine, one that no draft or wind could cause. I dashed to the door and looked around wildly, only to see the blood-red tail lights of a beat-up white Ford disappear around the bend of our driveway.
I sank to my knees, my stomach churning. You should’ve listened to your gut, I wanted to scream at myself. Of course my mother had only come to pillage. How could I have been so foolish? I cursed myself. Hot tears ran down my cheeks. All my own mother wanted was to deceive her own son. Typical Casey.
I turned to look at my wife when a tremendous crash sounded. A faraway yell followed, that only could’ve been my mother. Marisa, who’d come up behind me, stood silently. We both listened intently, straining our ears against the pitch black of the night. A loud sound suddenly erupted through the air, ripping the blanket of silence like a knife in butter. Police sirens.
I ran down our front steps and along the driveway, wincing as sharp little rocks pierced my bare feet. A police car was parked haphazardly on the street next to an old white Ford. The Ford seemed to have crashed right into a telephone pole; the whole front end was caved in and around the pole like it was giving it a warm hug.
I wanted to shout for joy when I saw Mr. Bennet handcuffing my own mother. Officer Bennet was our neighbor, who always seemed to have a nose for trouble. I strode up to the officer, hardly able to keep my grin at bay.
“Sir, you are...” I started, but I couldn’t find the words to finish my sentence. I wasn’t overjoyed for getting our stolen things back, but I was thrilled to see my mother suffering how I thought she’d always deserved.
“Tom, please!” Casey cried, pulling against Officer Bennet’s grip. “Tell this man I’m innocent!” I leaned in close to my mother’s face.
“Then that would be a lie,” I rumbled, narrowing my eyes into slits. An enraged howl escaped my mother’s lips.
“You fool!” She shrieked. “I am your mother!” I looked down my nose at the disheveled woman handcuffed in front of me.
“You are no mother of mine,” I snarled. Casey's curses could be heard miles in every direction as she was tossed into the cop car like a rag doll. As horrible as it seems to be glad to see someone thrown into jail, I was relieved she’d be put where she belonged.
I turned, breathing heavily, to my wife. She looked shocked and pleased at the same time.
“Well,” she said awkwardly. “I guess that solves that problem.” I laughed.
“I guess so. Let’s go get some sleep,” I smiled, realizing how exhausted I truly was. “Let’s hope we never hear from my mother again,” I said, unable to care how ungracious I sounded. Marisa smiled.
“I like that idea.”