Jack’s wrist watch showed it was 10:59pm as he slowly pulled into his dad’s driveway.
He dimmed the headlights of his SUV as it approached the sepia-toned gate. He was half-drunk and a cigarette was smouldering between his burnt fingers — a betrayal of his binge smoking.
The eerie silence that pervaded the area filled him with a sense of dread. An inexplicable premonition slithered through his body, coiling at the pit of his stomach. He sucked on his cigarette and blew out filling the inside of his car with clouds of smoke, hoping to dispel the dreadful feeling but it didn’t help.
He recalled the heated exchange he had had with his father. It unfolded in his mind with a persistence that threatened to drive him over the edge.
His decision to resign from the family business had fostered bad blood between father and son. The decision had been informed by an overpowering need to move on — to be his own man.
“You cannot walk out on what I have struggled to build. You have to stay on son!” The old man snapped in his wheelchair, his frail voice rattling with phlegm and unmistakable rage.
“No chance dad! My mind’s already made up,” Jack shot back, storming out and slamming the door behind him.
“Son! Come back here,” his father called out through painful coughs, unable to understand his son’s stubbornness and insubordinate behaviour. The wheelchair, unable to withstand the vigorous coughing and his general restlessness, took a tumble, throwing the old man to the ground with a thud.
Jack closed his eyes and rested his head on the steering wheel, undecided. He had been drinking all day. The moon shone brightly, ominously giving the area the macabre ambiance of a neglected graveyard. It was cold and breathing was painful. Nothing seemed to make sense any more. In his mind’s eye he could see his father’s anger growing.
Those thoughts established a tyrannical hold on his young mind and no amount of willpower succeeded in purging them. He wondered if he had been unfair to his father, who had been condemned to a wheelchair and loneliness through a grisly road accident that took the life of his beautiful wife, Jack’s mother.
He reached out for the bottle of expensive, high-end Scotch lying in the back seat and drank more. It tasted really nice and made him feel warm. With his right hand firmly holding onto the bottle, he opened the door with his left and got out. He pushed the door shut, forgetting to turn off the running engine.
Fatigue clawed at as he trudged towards the gate. Lights in the house burned amber, spilling over into the outside. Silence reigned supreme save for the occasional cries of nocturnal birds. He went in. It struck him as odd that the door was still open at that late hour. The house had a stillness to it that filled him with dread. A sense of abandonment.
“Dad! Is anybody home?” He called. “It’s Jack!” No answer.
He searched the rooms downstairs but found no one. The furniture looked like a collection of relics from a bygone era, filled with dust and filth — a stark contrast to the social standing of its owner. Half-satisfied that there was no one, Jack scurried upstairs, his pulse rate shooting up dramatically as if he had just run a marathon. It was a miracle that he reached upstairs.
“Dad! It’s Jack!” He called out again, adrenaline coursing through his body like electricity.
A strong smell stung his nostrils. He felt dizzy. He looked around at the state of disarray. Clothes were strewn all over the room, the floor was covered with smashed beer bottles.
The only thing that appeared intact was a huge portrait of his smiling dad and mum, revelling in the warmth of each other while staring at the mess beneath as if mocking the situation and him.
The smell of putrefaction grew even stronger as Jack approached his father’s bedroom stopping in his tracks to catch his breath and reclaim control of his faculties. He slowly pushed the door open and a ghastly sight met him.
The bedroom reeked of raw blood, urine, diarrhoea, brain matter and gun powder. The bed sheets were splattered with blood. His father, the old man as he fondly called him, sat on his wheelchair lifeless. The back of his head was blown off, with a revolver by his side. It looked like a scene from a horror movie.