[Note: This is linked to" Microcosm" # 15. ]
The sound of crushed glass under his feet cuts Lou off of daydreaming. A single broken pane with jagged glass teeth around the frame and room enough for an arm to slide in and reach for the handle. But the window is shut.
" Might be a trick. The fucker could still be inside". He feels a lump constricting his throat and his mind quickly races back to the image of the man shuffling his battered boots out of the city. When their eyes met, Lou felt as if shards of ice pried open the windows of his mind. The man studied him, carefully, reading every corner of his heart, he knew everything.
In a way, he had been there, at the funeral parlour, as Lou had gazed at the lifeless body of his wife, lying into an open casket festooned with silky lining, fingers interlocked, resting comfortably on the bump of her belly. He had seen Lou running a finger along the cold cheek, her face painted into a new youth, useless where she had been about to go. He might have put his hand on Lou's shoulder as the tears had slowly crept up, first through tingles in his nose then a refrained sob trickling slowly down the furrows of his cheeks.
He blinks new tears away and listens carefully to any sounds coming from the house. The tumble weeds lightly creak, blown away by a gentle breeze whispering almost soundlessly at Lou’s ears. He stands there motionless, holding up his breath trying to decipher the mystical language of the wind as if it carries words of warning from an unseen world.
“Lou”, they were in the pristine hospital room. A constant beep was beating the few minutes she still had to live.
“Honey, could you open the curtains?” Her voice was weak, she sounded out of breath.
He pulled on the rope and the light of the day flooded the room, lightening it up in an aslant ray.
“We had a good run, you and I “she croaked.
“Sure we did” he said looking thoughtfully at the wedding ring he could no longer remove from his pudgy finger.
She smiled and turned her head away closing her eyes against the sunlight.
“Got to get inside” He scans for something to do damage, anything really, a crow bar, a heavy stone, anything to give him an edge in the battle to come. But he knows that all the good stuff is back inside the barn. He usually leaves the crow bar lying around and counts on luck to find it when he needs it. “Looks like the fucker’s been luckier than I am” He tries a lame “Hullo! ‘nybody out there?” His voice squeaks. “He sure havin’ the time of his life havin’ me down on m’ knees”. He pictures him behind the bedroom door, holding the crow bar at the ready with two hands, listening intently at Lou’s muffled steps on the carpeted floor, madness glowing in his cold eyes, a lopsided grin revealing crooked and missing teeth. The sun has been long setting and the light is now a deep dark orange, Lou looks in vain for a light in the house, a sign that would point to his tormentor.
It was late one night. He was staggering home from Anita’s, kicking and stumbling into the ruts dug into the path by heavy rains. He was waltzing in his drunkenness when his bleary eyes caught the glow of Aaron’s light behind the curtains of the attic room. He let himself in, tiptoeing his way through the house not to wake up Barb. She had had the first signs a few months before and they were now pumping chemicals regularly to get at the bumps ceaselessly growing in her breasts. The house was quiet and seemingly empty. Two unfinished cans of coke stood in the shadows of the kitchen given away by the glint of their rings in the moonlight through the window. Aaron was always a messy one. He mused fondly at the time when he was but a boy. How he would follow him all day long, on his lap while he was driving the tractor, how the boy was never far from him, playing with toy excavators as his father was doing the real thing. Now, the boy was only home for breaks, a six-hour drive from them, into a sort of parallel universe away from the fences, the cotton, the cattle, into labyrinthine streets, boulevards and avenues worlds apart from Resguardo’s single street. He climbed the stairs, holding the handrail to steady his unruly feet. Mid-stairs, he understood that the climb would be easier, and quieter, to complete on all fours. And so, he crawled up, baby-like and lied down for a while on the second-floor landing to catch his breath. He was gently sliding into sleep when a distant, repetitive and regular banging caught his attention. He propped himself up on his elbows likeca beach-goer,listening to the disturbed quietness of the night. He staggered up his feet and dragged himself up to the attic. The beating became more distinct with each step, it mingled with the beating of his heart made louder by the thickness of his drunken blood. “Hey, Aaron what’s this all …" That was the last time he saw his son.
The house is still quiet and stars are already twinkling through the dark blue sky. Could it be him inside? Coming back after all those years to apologize, apologize for everything, for not coming to his mother’s funeral, for being a fucking queer. “If that be him, I’ll kill him myself, tresipissing on m’ property like that spook. I’ll show that little fag”. He sees it all so clearly, how he is about to kick the door open, how he is about to rush for the drawer in the desk at the entrance, how the gun is already loaded, how he won’t be convicted because of self-defence. Aaron or not, he will have it out with the tormenting demon forbidding him to step into his own home. And even if he has the upper hand, even if he bludgeons him to death, the claw of the crow bar cracking away at his spotted skin, prying open his skull, oozing blood and brains on the white carpet of the bedroom floor, Lou would find some peace and quiet anyway.