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Back You are here: Home Stories Words for the People Short Stories March 2011: The Ides Upon the Sons
Monday, 28 February 2011 23:39

Upon the Sons

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'Hello?'

'I think I'm being followed.'

'. . . Mark?'

'The weird thing, though, is that they're little girls. All these little girls everywhere I look and they're all looking at me, just, like, staring, comatose like, flat affect, just eyes trailing me.'

'You're not going to trail of into a long explanation of why you're practising pederasty.'

'Pedarasty's for boys, this'd be pedophilia, but, no. I swear these little girls, though, man, you don't know what it's like to have people following you.'

'You remember Amber Davis?'

'Redhead?'

'Yeah.'

'Yeah.'

'Do you ever wonder what happened to her?'

'I don't think I knew her, really.'

'Sometimes I wonder what she's doing now.'

'Were you guys close?'

'No, nothing like that. I don't think we even knew each other. Not really.'

'What?'

'I've been thinking a lot about people, but never the people we knew.'

'We don't know the same people.'

'But you remember some of them. Like Amber.'

'Listen, Pauly, I'm serious. It's not paranoid delusions, not this time. These little girls, like, statistically improbable amounts of young girls everywhere I go, even at the places they've no business being at.'

'Think most people are like that?'

'Followed?'

'What? No. Thinking about people they never really knew.'

'What?'

'Maybe if just a few things had gone differently I would've married Stephanie.'

'Who's that?'

'We had calculus together.'

'There's one outside. Across the street.'

'Or maybe, like, if I had, like, dropped my spork in line one day Beth would've picked it up and we would've smiled at each other and then sat together and we would've realized that, maybe, like, we were exactly the same, opposite sides just waiting for that infinitesimal galactically fatalistic coincidence to coalesce. Ask what she wants.'

'I can't. She's dressed in private school uniform and it reminds me of some bad movie happening outside my door. She's even eating a lollipop. A goddamn lollipop, Paul. And maybe you're just lonely.'

'Erin had the softest skin. But it never looked that way.'

'Freckles?'

'You remember. What do you think Mom's doing now?'

'Suicidal depression.'

'Who?'

'This girl, I swear she can see me. I drew the blinds but I think it makes it worse. Wait. They're grouping. Fatal error. Pulling the blind like shooting a flare, gave away that I know.'

'Sometimes I imagine Mom's turned to stone at his grave.'

'They're waiting and trying to act like I'm not here. Pauly, I lied. They're wolves, not little girls. Believe that? Wolves out here.'

'Where are you now?'

'Suburbs of everywhere.'

'Tom still talks with her, I think.'

'Tom still lives at home.'

'Do you talk to him?'

'He's always been like that. You don't have to talk to him to know. He talks about Dad a lot, too.'

'Did you go to the funeral?'

'I thought you went.'

'I did. Jenny came with me.'

'Which one was she?'

'I don't remember.'

'I didn't go.'

'I wonder if that's why I keep thinking about them.'

'It's not normal for girls to just stand there like that.'

'I thought they were wolves.'

'Pauly, don't worry about it. We all get, what's the word, reminiscent.'

'Nostalgic.'

'Yeah. I still think about when I thought I could make it West.'

'Need hair for Big Time.'

'Unless you're already there.'

'Maybe I should've tried.'

'Hair?'

'Stressless life. Do you remember someone named Jackie?'

'Boy or girl?'

'Girl.'

'I don't think so.'

'Boy.'

'Definitely no.'

'. . .'

'Still there?'

'The wolves?'

'Girls, yeah. Little Ones.'

'I think about them a lot lately. Mom and Dad. Tom, too.'

'I started calling them that a few days ago, after the third of being followed.'

'It's clever.'

'Think so?'

'Did she kill him?'

'I thought you went to the funeral.'

'But you talk to Tom.'

'No I haven't.'

'No?'

'Did I say I did?'

'I think he probably knows.'

'Give him a call.'

'I did.'

'. . .'

'. . .'

'Pauly?'

'Yeah.'

'What'd Tom say?'

'I asked him about Marie instead.'

'Which one was she?'

'No, Aunt Three.'

'Oh.'

'They still there?'

'I haven't seen the family in a long time.'

'The Little Ones.'

'They're bating me, false sense of security and all that. One week, can you believe that? All my neighbors have kids now, like they were all planted here at the age of ten to send everything into disequilibrium. It's not normal, this many kids in the same place at the same time. We didn't have anything like that. And they're all girls.'

'They say the sexual pendulum's swung their direction.'

'Did you mean Jackie O'Neil?'

'Maybe, who was she?'

'He. My age, not my friend, really, but he came around a lot with Taylor.'

'She was blonde, yeah?'

'He, too, yeah. Blonde, kind of surferish.'

'I don't think those are the people I was thinking of.'

'. . .'

'. . . I think you're lying.'

'We're strangers now.'

'These biannual calls don't help.'

'Don't kids play anymore? They just stand there, staring, jackolantern vacant.'

'I think they're wolves and you're married, two kids, probably, and Jackie's your wife. Mom and Tom live down the street. You never went West.'

'You okay?'

'Why did you call?'

'We're brothers.'

'Not anymore. Not really.'

'Not a family.'

'Not since Dad.'

'You think Mom?'

'You weren't there. She never cried once but Tom did. Tom cried through the whole thing. It made me nauseous. Jenny kept squeezing my hand harder and harder every time I looked at him and Mom until I told her to stop. A lot of people showed up but none of them talked to Mom afterwards or even offered condolence. Not to her. Then she stopped sleeping and I found her with her head in the oven six months later and then on the bathroom floor two months post that.'

'I'm sorry, Pauly.'

'You never went West.'

'There are ten of them.'

'Why didn't you come to the funeral?'

'Ten of them. They could surround me, take three to each exit. I turned the lights off but it's still day. I don't think they noticed.'

'Why did you call?'

'Hold on a minute. I'm gonna try something.'

'Don't hangup.'

'I won't.'

'I don't have dreams anymore, not like I used to, not about people I know. I used to dream in cartoon. I liked that. Somehow the cartoons I stopped watching two decades ago stuck with me. But now, nothing like that. Just all these faces from past lives. Sometimes I believe in that. What is it? Reincarnation or eternal recurrence? I think I'm seeing my many past lives over and over and over. Then I see faces I recognize. When I wake up, they're all lined up in front of me, and I'm sick, like I'm guilty of something terrible, abominable, and I pull out the yearbook and see them, not how they were in my dream, but the way they looked when I saw them last, high school, middle school, even, and college. I knew a Jackie, I think, but I don't know where or when. I think you probably married her instead of Westward heading. Jackie. You have two kids now. Dan and Carol. She chose the latter.'

'Who's Carol?'

'I haven't met him.'

'Who were you talking to?'

'Where'd you go?'

'I ran upstairs, check the surroundings, escape routes.'

'The Little Ones.'

'It's uncanny. They're grouped strategically around the neighborhood. All exits blocked. Even the alley with dogs. Pomeranians, but dogs nonetheless.'

'Wolves.'

'Like I said.'

'Where's Mom?'

'Listen, Pauly, I think I'm in trouble. I'm gonna try someone else, okay?'

'Less than helpful?'

'To say the least.'

'Good luck.'

'Thanks.'

'Mark?'

'Yeah.'

'. . .'

'. . .'

'You still there?'

'Yeah.'

'Bye.'

'Maybe we should get together soon. It's been a long time.'

'Yeah. Maybe. Yeah. Okay.

'See you.'

'Yeah. Bye.'




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edward j rathke

Getting foppish since '96.

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