One Last Visit
A son is contacted by his dead father, who warns his wife’s seance is the wrong way to re-connect with him ~ especially today.
The light from the lone window on the West wall proved a truth unmistakable for Chris – especially today.
Can’t doubt the sun’s destiny every night, he thought. It sets down on all of us.
The worst of life’s realities sank into his bones. Dad was gone as of yesterday and the sense of loss proved as sharp as a knife stab to the stomach.
Chris and his father, Carl, were inseparable. For over two and a half decades, they built homes as engineers alongside contractors and contributed to the real estate establishment intended for poor families in need, including any entrepreneurs who couldn’t gain a start up location by any other means. That included accountants to mediums. No judgement was involved in their quest to reach out to everyone they could.
This created a friendship as strong as steel, which became the cornerstone of their three-person family consisting of Mom, Dad and Chris. Dad and Chris spent all of their available time together, from Monday to Sunday. Sunday was their day, their cornerstone. But the cornerstone had been instantly removed, without warning.
Carl’s sudden diagnosis of lung cancer surprised everyone in the family. Before they learned of its severity, Carl passed from a complication stemming from an early treatment effort. Chris’s mother collapsed into acute depression, trying desperately to understand her husband’s death. She somehow mustered enough strength for funeral proceedings. She did so while seeking immediate professional help, but she wouldn’t say what kind or from whom.
Chris’s world shut down, except for his thoughts pounding loud.
Today, the day of his father’s viewing, Chris’s energy dropped down another notch, committing himself to a lonely view out of the window. The low volume from an announcer on the radio described the gorgeous weather outside with unusual enthusiasm. Chris’s ire rose with his hands gripping the leather chair arms with the kind of force that would leave a permanent indentation or a wide rip. Tears rolled down his face, his eyes burned from a sorrow most unwelcome in his otherwise productive energetic world. Four thirty quietly clicked on this clock/radio. His eyes slowly turned to glare at the clock as if it insulted him with moving time forward with cold regard. His cell phone suddenly sprang to life with an assigned ring tone. With a grunt, he grabbed his phone .
“Why are you calling me?”
“Janie, you dumped me at the WORST possible time.”
A nervous moment passed.
“How do you think I feel, Janie? Ever think of that?”
Chris hung up on his ex-girlfriend, who up until his dad’s diagnosis, proclaimed undying love for Chris and their future. Their break-up occurred shortly before his dad was admitted into the hospital. The sound of her voice alone swelled the acid in his stomach, making her the least likely person he could tolerate ~ especially today. She claimed his father came between them too much.
She broke up with me! And she wants to talk? Why? To chastise me again, for grieving?
He tossed the cell phone on the floor and into the shadow underneath the pane of the west window.
Why did you die, Dad?
He grabbed a picture of his father and mother and threw it at the baseboard below the same window, shattering the glass. It didn’t fall face down on the floor. Instead it landed at an angle, propped face-up by its unusually sturdy frame.
Why did I just do that?
Chris’s hands cupped his face hard, nearly squeezing his sharp features into soft ones. About a minute passed before his home phone went off. He violently picked it up.
His eyes widened and softened to the response.
“Sorry, Mom. I…”
“I know honey. Me too.”
“What’s going on, ma?”
“Come to the viewing tonight?”
“I don’t know Ma if I can take seeing him like that.”
“Consider one last visit, please?”
“Alright Chris. I’ll do the next best, so you can see him one last time. Come by around 6pm before we leave.”
“Ma? What do you mean?”
“There’s someone I’m getting to help you and me. Someone you and dad once helped. Please, have one last visit with him, tonight. “The phone line clicked twice.”There’s another call on the line, Chris. I’ll call you back. It must be the funeral home confirming everything.”
Chris lessened the grip on his home phone and kept it near on the floor next to his chair, taking a deep breath.
“Why? Why now? We had projects to finish! DAD! Families depended on us!”
His heart pounded within the solid confines of his chest. In-between heartbeats, his work phone sprang to life. Chris’s tears poured down his face and his eyes exploded in disbelief at the disrespect of another call demanding his attention.
In his best controlled voice, he answered.
“Hey Chris. Larry here. Got a minute?”
“Ok, sure Larry.”
Word about Chris’s death hadn’t reached the ears of his employer.
“Larry? Can I ask a favor?”
“Sure Chris, what is it?”
“Larry. Listen. I’ll get on the project in about a day or so ~ death in the family. The viewing is tonight. Preparations, you know.”
While those words resonated, and settled, Chris’s mind blanked out. Larry’s words of consolation didn’t register completely and Chris somehow interjected a polite thank you before hanging up. The reality of his dad’s passing sunk a little deeper, like the final thrust of a knife to end the beat of a human heart. Chris dropped the phone to the floor and plunked down into his leather chair yearning to dissolve into nothingness. He succumbed to his fading energy and slept off. He awoke to the sound of all three phones ringing. His nerves ascended into a rage.
The first phone he picked up showed Janie’s ID.
“No Bitch! No more of you!”
His large fingers tore at the phone, removing the cell phone battery and silencing it.
He got up to reach for his work phone sounding off and answered it. No one answered back.
Chris scowled and dismantled the battery from his work cell phone.
The home phone persisted to be answered, irritating his last nerve. In one swift motion he tossed his work phone aside, and answered his home phone.
Static answered. Maybe a word or two emerged, but he could understand nothing. His face twisted into massive irritation.
Leave me alone!
The home phone didn’t stand a chance. It lay in pieces in front of him. Chris fought his adrenaline surge and attempted to ease down his rapid breathing. His eyes fought the sharp light of day against the darkness behind him in his small living room.
“Damn, I’m thirsty.”
Chris managed to angrily fill a glass of water, drink it, and slam it down on the counter.
“Dad? I can’t do this alone!”
The echo of his new reality bounced unapologetically around him. He turned around, glaring at his empty place, wondering how to cope. On his coffee table, the book he and his father read every Sunday rested quietly. Their Sundays were accented with a small half drink of straight whiskey and a pipe each. The cigar was a kind of peace pipe, with each smoky exhalation symbolizing the release of any hard feelings, grudges, or issues from any work week. The taste of whiskey was a sharp taste of how life is at times. And the good book kept life in perspective and in solid purpose.
It was their ritual, bonding them as father and son to handle the practical nature of unrelenting work. Additionally, his dad had a way of challenging Chris with s cryptic but meaningful nuggets of potential inspiration. These bits of wisdom sounded like statements but were meant to be questions. Dad would blurt out a wise quote and Chris would decode it on his own time. And they’d always make a note to talk about it later in the week. This always kept Chris on his toes, never to slip into the assumptive nature of arrogance and pride from any weekly lesson.
But today the book stoically stared back, and no whisper of a challenge met Chris’s senses. No whiskey was there to drink, no cigar to smoke.
The room went empty and void of all Sundays now.
Chris fought the urge to recreate any memory in respect. But his feet made him walk over and circle the table like a predator does before its attack. He reached for the book as if it would bite back.
He grasped it firmly in his hands as if it was the neck of a mongrel or snake. He opened it to where the bookmark was last placed. The was handwriting on it, which read:
Son, there is one reality in this life
“What’s this? Chris demanded,
“When did you write this, Dad?” Chris demanded, frantically searching between the covers and flapping the pages.
His fingers splayed the book open, turned it upside down, shaking it to free anything stuck between.
“Where’s the rest of it?”
He slammed the book down in disbelief and sat back, slapping the plush fabric of his sofa on either side of his legs.
“What did you want me to know, Dad?”
In the few minutes that passed, the afternoon sun descended further, casting deep shadows around his living room. The clock in the far corner read 5:55Pm. He exhaled roughly, trying to decide to go the viewing or not. Ma said to be there at six.
Why so early for a visit though? The viewing was just down the main road at 8pm?
Without warning, his home phone rang out. Chris couldn’t believe his ears. Thinking he was hearing things, he walked over to the disassembled phones.
Only one rang.
I broke that phone. How is it ringing?
In one deliberate, slow reach, Chris picked up his home phone and pressed the answer button.
He paused to listen.
“Son, there is only one reality in this life.”
Chris’s eyes widened and his face went pale.
That’s ma’s home number?
Holy crap. That’s ma’s home number!
“Get to your mother, son. She’s dabbling with something she shouldn’t.”
Chris stared at the phone as if it paralyzed him. The sounds in the background erupted. Cluttered sounds of things smashing, people were screaming.
“You have to stop your mother, son. She has to STOP the séance!”
“Dad? What? Hey…!”
Chris dropped the phone in disbelief.
“Séance? Why would she…?”
How it was his voice remained a shock. Chris remembered what she said earlier.
Chris grabbed his keys and darted out his front door. He rushed to his car, realizing he snatched the wrong keys and questioned his next move.
“Ma, what did you do?”
Chris ran off in a sprint down his avenue. She was five blocks away. That was his dad`s voice, no doubt. But how? There was no time to back-track. His Dad always assessed a situation and made the right decision. Chris ran, determined to get to his mother and stop her. Dark clouds moved northeast, looming over the small subdivision and directly over his mother’s house. Chris got to her door in a panic, his heart nearly exploding out of his chest.
“Ma! Ma! Open up! Open up! That’s not dad! It’s not him!”
His fists and feet smashed into the door relentlessly. And with one huge body thrust, the door collapsed inward.
Chris stood dumbfounded.
Where is everyone?
Chris collapsed to his knees, his face buried inside his hands.
With every burst of exasperated breath, reality set in deeper.
Still on his knees, he somehow stood up, head still hanging low.
A soft breeze passed under his nose, with it the smell of cigar.
His eyes opened slightly.
The taste of whiskey introduced itself to his mouth and lips.
Tears rolled down his face.
A quiet whisper entered Chris’s awareness.
“Son, go make our legacy real. That is the only reality you need practice.”
Chris looked up to the sky, which now cleared from all clouds.
Clarity set inside his soul.
The grief he felt somehow suppressed itself.
In it’s place, a resonant realization warmed Chris from head to toe.
Today’s lesson was the toughest to learn, hold and do.
Every day now had to be Sunday, the brightest day of the week.
The Full Audio Book Here – Dramatized – (use headphones for best experience)
Featured Guest Voice – Preni Jani
Bill D. Bistak, Author, Producer of Bestshorthorrorstories.com & Founder of Friedrich Imagines, Ltd. a media production company