Out the End of the Dark
Short Story by
In my head: Ben Mickey.
Father’s a hole; black rimmed shade edged not sharp cloud. Like cloud. Father’s a hole; like black rimmed shade edged black rimmed shade edged cloud; vague; not sharp; a father’s a—steadily comfortably not there never no more so yes yes love father steadily comfortably not there but; there; and not there.
Steadily comfortably round around mother, my Nora, our Nora, brother Ben’s and my Mom-Nora. Splat.
Here, kitty splat, kitty splat, Nora. Black hole father steady there, Mother. Here kitty, her’ he’ ‘rrr kitty. Splat kitty splat plop the food dish down. Feed the kitty, love the kitty. When love must feed as mother, et cetera, and back up the ladder where all the tiers recede.
Brother Ben and me she feeds. And, her selves. But; me, the kitty, and Ben just—himselves, forking in, get, lift fork back, lift, get fork back, and und yum tum yum yum yum—errrrrr. But.
Brother and Nora ’re one ball half and half. That’s right one ball half and half. Fields of weeds. Weeds out all bent in the sun, out, ‘f the fields of weeds. Start until stop. Mom-Nora’s shouting, Doc! Doc! Doc! Come in it’s dinner! Come in it’s dinner! And after all’s in, brother Ben’s this side, and Mom-Nora’s that side—each half’s a ball of the one wholefatted hollowspaced wholeball I came into. Sit, grip the fork, same fork, yes—yes, must be, then—do as told; feed. Do as told; feed as told; feed, told feed, fee’ ‘ee’ u-under full tell full momma. Mom-Nora, want to chuckle chuckle ‘t her, but don’t dare. No! Mom-Nora can yell, No, No, NO! Mom-Nora can yell very, very, loud—and if I let that happen, I cannot find the kitty. And if I cannot find the kitty, I don’t dare yell at Ben-Nora, It is your fault I cannot find the kitty, no, can’t dare, don’t dare; so, in bed tell God, Put the kitty back in ‘y my morning, and God put the kitty back in ‘y my morning every morning before, so, being sure as am that the kitty will be here in the morning, it’s easy to sleep. ‘cause, full belly, nice family, good God, good kitty. And, no one here’s a stranger, and. Here’s the kitty again. Oh yes, still yes, still the kitty’s still here, ooh hoo. And not a single one of them’s no damned stranger. Hey.
That’s good because strangers make bad things happen.
Strangers just don’t care.
Then; every day, in every day’s night, o’ might dream ‘bout strangers, but b-b-b-b-ut’s okay, cau’ its only just always just a dread of a dream. No; there’s never no strangers here, am sure there’s never no strangers, here, so then sleep sound like this every night. No strangers no strangers no stranger never no strangers, no never no never no strangers, no-nothing zuk no stranger-z’ no strangers-zu’ no stranger no strangers no zuk-zuk no, strangers no stranger n’ strangers ‘o ‘e ‘I ah wake up ‘n get up no no nooo Zuk Zuk Zuk ‘t Bowlerama, t’ membernancing dream of yon summertimes bowlerama as a boy—with old Zuk. Oole! Oole! Zuk—and—there’s never no strangers, never. No never; no, never, no never, no never, no, so; eh. What is a stranger? Not sure, eh eh. What does a stranger look like? Not sure, eh e’ ‘h e-e-e-e’. Gosh. No need to answer though; even though never sure, do not need, no no’ need, do ‘ot not ‘ee’, no no not know, since, because; there’s never no strangers trying to get in here, ever. Yes. I’ve never seen, known, talked to, or been talked to, by a stranger in here, ever. Great! Great! Great! This is why it’s s-safe to wake here every morning; because it has always been safe after waking every morning. Safe get up not faced with even one single stranger. Bu bu bu, bu buy-t-t-t—until, great! Great!
B’, that almost stopped being true at today’s morning (whoop!) by this new surprise; this Janie. This Janie. Who’s Janie? Though like mother-mom Nora, she isn’t at all either too—and though like—funny—she came in with Ben—she may still be a stranger. Can’t be sure ‘cause round ball mother-brother wholes-self does not talk to her like we ought to to strangers, but, I actually don’t know that truth a’cause a’ never knew how to talk to a stranger. But she might be yes very much so might be ‘cause, well well well she had never ever no never had been here ever before, unless—I just can’t remember. So ah, well. So ah, God, I said, give me what’s Janie. So God gave me to wait and see three times, like Peter’s three times as their cock crowed, no. God did not get mad at Peter, no. Or deny him that time, and not me ‘stead this time, and so it is ever safe to do what God says, which is always true. But. Being sceptical’s wise even of God long as gentle and honest’s the doing, but God said I would soon be sent a sign about Janie stranger or no, so, I put down the wonder and just waited and wait. Left it with God until one day Mom-Nora came ‘lone took me and said, Doc.
Ben’s going to live with Janie now.
Yes. I’m going over this afternoon to help him move in. Okay?
You’ll stay home. Watch the place. Like you do. Okay with that?
So. Mom-Nora went, was gone, then came back, and that was the start of the time of just we two. With time, things settled down different, it being just Mom-Nora and me, and that was the new way it was. Smoother and simpler. Quieter and better. All settled in tightly better; better to just be we two. Just us. Us two. Us two, better.
Thank God, yes. That God had answered. God said that Janie must not be a stranger because strangers never bring blessings. Like now that all’s just two—is a blessing. How it is. How it is. From now on. And, now and then, Ben and Janie come see us eating sometimes. But they always go home again. Thank you God.
Nora me. Happy. Me ‘nd Mom-Nora. Good. Is. Happy.
And each night’s sleep’s softer. Easier. Quieter. Think of Mom-Nora. And she of course me. Then, after; up out to the same fine great big breakfast every day. The same good smelling, the same fine smelling, the same. Sleep; breakfast; day; sleep; and, next breakfast, and next day, over next, and the next. Nice. Nice.
The last day like that came, and went, but didn’t know it. And the next morning opened up same way as ever, but, Mom-Nora came close, with a, Doc. Listen Doc.
There was an accident. God took Ben to heaven.
God called Ben to heaven. Like—do you remember when Daddy got called to heaven?
Well—it’s like that.
Doc? Did you hear me? Ben has died—did you hear me?
Good. So anyway. We’re going to go someplace to pray for Ben later.
Yes. And to say goodbye. So listen. After you eat, let’s go upstairs. I’ll help you pick out what to wear there. Okay?
—to say okay—
Later; in the car, on the way, it felt all different, more and more different the closer we got, a’ we got closer, oh, yes; and; Mom-Nora didn’t talk driving. She always talked driving. So that’s different too. Closer, we got slower, down to stopped at a big wide house. So much bigger. Porch and awnings, bushes and trees. The door opened ‘n Mom-Nora took my hand, saying something too low ‘nd broken to hear, but we went on past it, up the walk over the steps cross the porch and in the door ooh garden smells fresh, but; there’s strangers; no; yes strangers, no no, but, Mom-Nora’s hand’s safe; so walk into through spring flower colors her hand her hand tunnel of dark strong sweet smelling of nothing, to—a roomful, of strangers; no no, but her hand squeezed, it’s safe, so; up to a wide long wood closed box shiny brown smooth candleglow cross, flowers up this side, ‘n down that side, right up to the end of it.
Gently, she knelt us down.
Say a prayer for Ben, that he will be happy with God in heaven, Doc.
But do it quiet.
Be happy with God in heaven, Ben.
This closed down brown box.
Good. Come on.
Her hand got us turned to, and, oh, Janie. There’s Ben’s Janie—we went past and—strangers and strangers how many, can’t look, but, stopped past that and Mom-Nora whispered down, Okay, Doc. Sit here. We’ll sit down quiet a while. Then we can go. But hey; how about we stop for ice cream on the way home. Okay?
Yes. Okay. yes. Nod.
Waiting there squeezing Mom-Nora’s hand looking down from the—stranger coming by, strangers saying sorry—for your loss, sorry—sorry stranger after the next—too much, but; I held her. Safe. Hard but. Safe—and then, we finally left, stopped for the ice cream, then got home. And it really shouldn’t be a different day after all that, but it was. Mom-Nora didn’t talk making dinner, or while we ate. Or even after dishwashing, and all. I did not see why, because everything looked the same—until later. Watching television after dinner was the same watching television as every other day after every other dinner watching television, but, in the middle, Mom-Nora went upstairs, for no reason. For nothing. Nothing. And, this was not right, ‘cause it wasn’t how it is, and how it is ought to keep being what happens, but. So. Went up to see. Upstairs to see. Afraid. Quiet. Slow. ‘t’s too different now too afraid—too—stop.
Crying. Bad. Sad. Bad. No.
Saying, Ben, Ben—dear God, what will I do? My Ben is gone.
Turned fast, back down, go quiet, so can’t hear.
Off TV. Sit.
God called Ben to heaven.
Bad thing. Bad thing.
So; God might be a stranger.
No, not—God is a stranger, yes, for sure—and God is everywhere. And in everything. And everything everywhere, is God, so; now strangers are everywhere in everything!
No! So wrong!
No, but—yes! So, run; run under the dark now. Hide invisible under the dark blankets of the bed—but—the blankets and the bed are—no!
Every bad night before this one was only just a dream; but when everything’s a dream at the end, then then all the dreams turn real. Everything is a stranger and strangers are everywhere. Can’t sleep now; or do anything now; to’ dangerous now, to’ dangerous; dangerous everywhere—no! Get up. No! Get up. No! Never, but; no! Not no more kitty; not no more Mom-Nora; no. But; Mom-Nora; Mom-Nora; save us like you always do! Please put the kitty back in ‘y my morning. Put the kitty back in ‘y my morning. Yes; being sure the kitty will be back here ‘y my morning, I’ll sleep. Sleep is away—so make me sleep. Let me sleep. Sleep is away. Yes, at last, at least all’s away, while I sleep. Keep sleeping, keep. Do not say the word awake never again that word. Never awake.
Jim Meirose's short work has appeared in leading journals, and his novels include "Sunday Dinner with Father Dwyer"(Optional Books), "Understanding Franklin Thompson"(JEF), "Le Overgivers au Club de la Résurrection"(Mannequin Haus), and "No and Maybe - Maybe and No"(Pski's Porch). Info: www.jimmeirose.com @jwmeirose