Sauk Valley Community College

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Honorable Mention - "No Rest for the Wicked"

1998 Anne Horton Writing Award
Honorable Mention
"No Rest for the Wicked"
by
Ryan Grove

"Gary!" she screamed. "Gary, I know you're awake!"

She slapped his face with such force his vision blurred.

"Mom?" he whispered.

"You faker!" She slapped him again. "You see? You weren't sleeping, you were faking!"

Her weight crushed him. Her thighs pinned his arms to his side.

"Faking is lying. You're a faker and a liar!"

Spittle and breath wreaking of alcohol sprayed his face.

"Mom..."

She stopped him short with a smack.

"I know you're not sick. You're faking that, too. Why do you have to lie to me? Why does everyone have to lie to me? You're cock-sucking father lies to me, now you are lying to me! WHY?"

She grabbed his cheeks with her claws and squeezed.

"Answer me, you lying son-of-a-cock-sucker! Goddammit, answer me!"

Gary tried to wriggle free, but his mother was too strong. His face raged with heat as she tore at it. From somewhere in the darkness, a small voice spoke.

"Mom? What's going on?"

His mother's body stiffened. It was Gary's little brother James. He was in his bed crying.

"I told you not to spy on me, James!"

The weight on Gary's body lifted. The hand unhooked itself from his face.

"I told you not to sneak, James! What is the matter with everybody? How can you keep treating me like this? I told you not to sneak. I asked you not to sneak, but look at you! You're sneaking!"

Snarling with the fury of a rabid dog, she tore at him mercilessly.

Gary scrambled from his bed and scurried across the dark room. He was used to maneuvering his way through the house in the dark. He hurried down the stairs to the second floor, where his two older brothers slept. He dove under Henry's bed only to find Henry already under there.

Henry forced Gary out and said, "Get in the closet."

"I can't. She'll find me in there. She's so pissed."

"Get in the closet! She hit the circuit breaker again. She won't even be able to find the closet. Not when she's this drunk."

Their mother had gone into the cellar and hit the circuit breaker many times before. Whatever the motive was behind the phenomenon, it was a mystery to the boys. Once they hid themselves in the dark, she could never find them. Perhaps some part of her didn't want to find them.

On the other hand, maybe it made the hunt more exciting.

One of the steps leading down from the third floor creaked.

Gary wriggled beneath Michael's bed. Again he was driven out.

"Get out! Get out! Get out! Get out, you fucker, get out! PLEASE! " Michael pleaded. He frantically kicked at Gary, striking him in the nose. Gary tasted blood on his lips.

The floor boards just outside the bedroom moaned. Gary choked back a whimper. He leapt to his feet. With no where else to go, he flung himself into the closet. As quietly and quickly as possible, he covered himself with clothes and toys. He held his breath and waited.

He let the air leak from his mouth ever so slowly.

"....Gary? Gaaarrryyy?"

Silence.

"Gary, honey. I wasn't finished talking to you."

Silence.

"Was I being too loud for you upstairs?"

The floor groaned as she moved into the room.

"Did you come down here to sleep with Henry and Michael? I don't really blame you, honey. It's a lot more quiet down here, isn't it? You're tired and sick and need your sleep. Yessssssss, little cock-suckers need their sleep."

She was next to the closet door.

It was stuffy inside. The heat was unbearable. It was so hard to breathe, but Gary had to relax. He had to keep control.

Suddenly, her footsteps thundered away from the closet toward the beds. The floor heaved as she threw herself onto one of them. She gasped....then screamed.

"Henry? You're hiding ,too? You're all hiding? From me? I'm you're mother! You can't hide from me! You're all just like your cock-sucking father. Sneaking around and hiding!"

The shattering of glass rang out as she threw her bottle of 'Wild Turkey' against the wall.

"I won't let you grow up to be cock-suckers, like your father. I won't. You'll see what happens to little cock-suckers when they lie and sneak and fake and.... uurrAAAAAAGH!"

She fell into a berserk rage. She smashed whatever her hands came in contact with as she flailed them about. She staggered out of the room, carrying the tantrum down the stairs to the rest of the house.

Gary didn't move. He didn't make a sound. He simply sat in the closet, underneath the mess and allowed air to leak from his mouth ever so slowly, before taking another breath.

He had to pee.

The dull clamor and muffled curses continued to echo up the stairs without pause.

He had to pee real bad.

There was a bathroom on the second floor. It was only a few feet from the closet door, but Gary didn't want to risk the trip. His mother could hear a pin drop on a pillow from way on the other side of the house. She could hear two little cock-suckers whispering to each other on the third floor from all the way in the basement where the circuit breaker was. In fact, she could sit at home all day and hear Gary thinking naughty thoughts at school. It was true because she would be waiting for him when he got off the bus.

The bus would pull up to his house. He would walk down the aisle, where kids were teasing each other and laughing hysterically, and step out onto the gravel, into the sunshine, and feel it was too warm for a jacket. He would inadvertently glance at the front window of his house.

Other kids would look at his house, too. All they could see was a window covered by two drawn curtains of pea-green and gold. They never saw the thin black slit between the curtains from where a great wild eye peered out.

The great wild eye with the small black dot in the middle.

Gary's bladder screamed at him. He couldn't hold it much longer. Piece by piece, he began removing the clothes and toys from on top of himself. Every fiber of his being was intent on making no sound.

-Please. Please. Please.-

He waited until his mother loosed an extraordinarily violent stream of obscenities before opening the closet door. He waited until she hammered the cupboards with her fists before slithering out of the closet on his belly.

On the floor between himself and the bathroom was a vent cut into the floor above the kitchen and covered with an iron grate. The vent allowed heat from the kitchen to rise up and warm the second floor.

Gary crawled to the vent and peered down into the blue light of the kitchen. Shards of broken glass were scattered like confetti on the floor. The legs of a toppled chair jutted into view....

....everything....

...was....

...quiet.

Everything was still. She had stopped smashing. She had stopped shouting.

Gary's heart leapt into his throat, then threw itself down on his bladder.

His mother stepped right into the middle of the vent's picture frame view. With one steady motion, her face turned upward. She looked directly into Gary's eyes.

"You're spying on me, Gary," she said quietly, then vanished.

Not a second later she was thundering up the stairs.

Gary hurled himself into the bathroom. At the same time, he was able to lock the door and yank his pants down. He aimed his pecker blindly at the toilet.

He was about to let it fly, when....

BAM! BAM! BAM!

She pounded on the door.

Gary couldn't pee.

BAM! BAM! BAM!

"Come out of there right now, Gary! I"LL BREAK THIS FUCKIN" DOOR DOWN IF I HAVE TO, YOU COCK-SUCKER!"

"I gotta pee," he whimpered. "Go through the living room and down the hall. The bathroom is on the left, across from the study," said Father Mullin.

"Thanks"

Gary hustled from the kitchen to the bathroom. The priest's house was a virtual museum filled with everything children are not supposed to touch. The furniture looked like it had never been used. The tables and the wood work were polished exquisitely. Delicate vases filled with fresh flowers were tactically positioned throughout the house. An elaborate crucifix hung on the wall in each room. Everything was immaculate and sterile, peaceful and safe. It smelled like a church.

Gary peed for what seemed like forever. Before returning to the kitchen, he washed his hands. There was something about Father Mullin's house that compelled him to wash his hands after using the toilet, even though he refused to do so at any other time. He sat back down at the kitchen table, drying his hands on his jeans.

"Are you hungry, Gary?" asked Father Mullin. "I was just about to have some lunch."

"No, thank you."

"Are you sure? I have lots of pastrami and Mrs. Reynolds brought over three jars of home made sauerkraut. I'll never be able to eat it all myself."

Gary shook his head. Father Mullin's food always had a strange taste to it; like it was about to spoil but hadn't quite made it.

"Well, if you change your mind, just say the word and we'll fix ya right up with something."

The priest made himself a sandwich. He handed Gary a bottle of coca-cola and sat down across from him. He studied the boy between each bite.

"So.... how are you?"

"Fine."

"That's a pretty good shiner you got there... and a nice fat lip to match."

Gary winced. He took a swig from his coke bottle.

"Don't worry. There's nothing to be embarrassed about." He laughed and leaned over to trussel Gary's hair. "I know what it's like growing up with older brothers. I had six of them, myself."

Gary returned a weak smile.

"Yessir. I lost two of them in the first war. It was tough. I spent fourteen years of my life hating them, then turned around and spent forty years mourning over them. Be thankfull for what you got while you got it, cause...who knows.... anyway, I sure am glad I got you over here to help me today. We have got a lot of cleaning and reorganizing to do in the rectory. Do you know what everyone has been chattering about lately at church? Have you heard anyone mention the words 'Novus Ordo'?

Gary nodded but he didn't really recognize the words. He suddenly had to pee again.

Father Mullin continued, "...Well, it seems the Pope and his cardinals and his bishops and ...everybody, really... are not satisfied with the amount of business the church is generating... that's all it is to them, you know... business."

Gary had to pee as badly as before, if not worse.

"Excuse me, father. I have to go to the bathroom, again."

"Oh, well... go ahead. You know where it is."

Gary darted back to the bathroom. He was about to pee again, when there came a single, soft rap on the door.

He froze.

There came another soft rap.

"Father Mullin?"

No reply.

With trembling hand, he slowly opened the bathroom door.

"Father?"

Again no reply.

The hallway was empty. From the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of movement in the study across the hall.

The light in the house suddenly dimmed to a dull gray as if the sun had slipped behind a cloud. The partially opened door to the study opened wider revealing a pair of feet and two thick calves spread across the floor.

Gary wanted to hide in the bathroom and lock the door but he couldn't. He was helpless to watch as the door gradually exposed, inch by inch, the naked body of a woman. A bloated woman. A bottle of ' Wild Turkey' and a crumpled pack of 'Chesterfields' lay next to her. A green ashtray made of heavy glass rested on her stomach. A swollen hand was trying again and again and again to light a brass lighter that sparked but never caught fire. The door creaked to a stop, leaving the entire naked body in view... except for the head.

The hand flicked the lighter one last time, then stopped.

"Women are whores, Gary. Cock-suckers like your father look at naked whores."

The naked body bolted up-right. His mother's face peered around the door.

" Are you a cock-sucker, Gary?"

A telephone rang.

Father Mullin appeared in the living room and answered the phone.

"Hello?"

He turned to Gary in the hallway.

"Gary.... it's for you. It's your mother."

Gary shouted at his naked mother lying in the study.

"Why are you doing this to me?"

She smiled.

"You've been thinking naughty thoughts again, Gary. You've been jerking that pecker of yours and thinking about whores."

"Gary! Your mother is on the phone."

Gary drifted into the living room. Blood swished in his ears. He brought the phone to his face. "Hello?"

Gary, I want you to come home now, honey."

"But mom, I'm supposed to help Father Mullin..."

"I said get home."

She hung up.

Father Mullin patted him on the back.

"Don't worry. We'll get the work done. The life had drained from his face. He closed his eyes.

When he opened them again, they were met with morning sunlight pouring through the window. He sat up in bed, letting the light wash over his face.

But not for very long.

He had wet the bed.

He quickly jumped up and removed his pajamas. He crumpled them up and stuffed them in his school bag.

James's bed was empty. His little brother was already downstairs eating breakfast. Gary yanked the sheets off of both beds and switched them. He remade the beds as neatly as possible. He dressed himself in clean clothes and went downstairs.

His father was in the kitchen at the stove with James. Henry sat at the table devouring a bowl of cereal. Michael was still asleep in his bed, exhausted from the previous night's events.

Laying on the sofa in the living room, smoking a Chesterfield, was his mother. Her eyes were almost swollen shut with fatigue. A blanket was pulled up to her arm pits, revealing a small bit of night gown. Gary noticed that it was torn.

She sensed someone watching her and turned.

"Good morning."

Gary croaked an unintelligible reply.

His father turned away from the stove with a smile.

"There's Gary! You hungry? We're making poached eggs, if you want some."

James took a big drink of chocolate milk which left a mustache on his lip.

His dad said," You better shave that thing or they'll throw you out of school for being too old!"

James burst into giggles. He thought his dad was great. He was the only one of the boys who called him dad. Everyone else called him 'daddio'. They felt uncomfortable calling him anything else.

Their mother sat up. "Hey, Ted? Could you bring me another cup of coffee?"

Daddio looked at his watch and said, "No, I can't. I gotta get goin' or I'm gonna be late. Get off your fat fuckin' ass and try getting it yourself."

"Are you leaving now, dad?" asked James. "Awww, you always gotta go."

"I know. Don't touch this pan, it's hot."

Daddio grabbed a piece of toast, put on his hat, and with a 'see ya later alligator' he was off.

James moped into the living room and sat on the floor in front of the t.v. "It's Saturday. We don't have to go to school, so dad shouldn't have to go to work."

"He's not going to work, James." said his mother.

He whined for a few more moments before the television hypnotized him.

"Gary, honey? Would you bring me my sewing basket? I need to sew a patch on your black jeans."

He brought the basket to her She picked up his jeans, some thread, a needle and started sewing.

Gary sat down at the table with a bowl of cereal. He had barely taken a bite when Henry kicked him in the shins and snapped, "Quit eating like a hog. Can't you eat like a human?"

"You quit eating like a hog. All your slurping and crunching woke me up," said Gary. He crunched as loud as he could.

Henry picked up his bowl and drained it, making the sloppiest, loudest, sucking sound he could manage. "aaaaaAAAAHHH" He slammed the bowl down on the table. He stood up and put on his jacket.

"Where you going?" asked Gary.

"No where." He put on his cap and with a 'see ya later alligator,' he was out the door.

"Gary?" It was his mother's voice.

He turned. Their eyes met and Gary knew what she was going to say before she said it.

"I can't remember anything."

"I can."

Gary went outside to look for Henry.

They stayed out all day, putting off going home until the very last minute. They crept into the house together, hoping that the demon wouldn't notice their return.

It wasn't until later that night, when the boys' fear was no longer able to fight off sleep, that the demon took notice.