Here ya go! I decided to release the entire short story “Alone”, just for you! This was my first real attempt at writing a complete story. I got the idea from a weird hypnogogic dream. The image of Luis and Randolph kinda popped in my head. I had to write the narrative. The original story is lost to the ether, what is here is a second version of it that I trimmed from the original to meet the requirements of a short story contest. The first version was probably around 10k words, but the requirements were less than 7k (if I recall correct). Anyway I trimmed it down , cutting away some of what, at the time, seemed like fluff., but in retrospect, that “fluff” tightened the narrative. I won first place in the contest, despite the trimming down so I suppose I left enough meat on the bones to make it work.
Caution, graphic violence ahead. if you are squeamish you might want to pass on this one.
Alone part 1 of 4
He stopped working just for a moment, straining to hear the unnatural sound which only offered itself when his pitchfork was doing its duty. Momma? The sound was familiar. Again the sound pushed forward to the edges of his hearing, “Momma!” The screams sent shocking waves of fire through his veins, forcing adrenaline-laced blood to his legs. His sprint slowed to a jog as blood in the dooryard caught his attention, and the screams grew louder, more frantic. His eyes traced the thick sticky trail of blood from the garden to the front door of the colonial-style farmhouse.
“Jimmy! Get in here and fetch me some linens! Then go run to the Doc! Hurry!” His father yelled.
The twelve-year-old boy bolted through the half-open door, sidestepping the pools of blood that were large enough to catch full reflections of his father. He raced to the linen closet; his throat nearly closed as the painful screams echoed through the hall. He grabbed a stack of linens with shaky hands and brought them to his father.
His father took the linens with confused and frustrated movements. Worry lines etched his pale, nearly white face as the man struggled with his inability to provide the smallest amount of relief for his wife’s agonizing labor. His voice cracked and broken, barked a frantic reminder,
“Run, boy! Go!”
Jimmy sprinted headlong into the cornfield. Flowing tears carved muddy lines across his dusty cheeks. His feet kept the hurried pace long after he was out of earshot of his mother’s screams, those awful heartrending screams.
A shiny new Plymouth coupe barreled up the long drive with Dr. Hathaway at the wheel, Mrs. Ingram, the town’s midwife, next to him and Jimmy in the dickie seat. Jimmy did not wait for the car to come to a complete stop and jumped out of the dickie. Dr. Hathaway and Mrs. Ingram soon followed him into the house.
The midwife cleared away the blood-drenched linens while Doc assessed Jimmy’s mother. Dr. Hathaway looked at Jimmy’s father, his face wrinkled with tension and sorrow. “I’m sorry, George, she’s not doing so well. Her breathing is very shallow, and the baby is in distress.”
”Oh, Momma!” Jimmy sobbed.
Doc opened his medical bag and began pulling out his tools. He probed the woman’s chest with the stethoscope, then his face went sullen, “You should take Jimmy out. This… this is going to be….” He took a deep breath. “Um, he shouldn’t see this.”
Dr. Hathaway’s grim face told George the rest of the story. George took Jimmy by the arm and gently led him to the porch. The boy sniffed and wiped his nose with his sleeve, smearing snot across his face.
”Poppa? Momma’s gonna be okay, ain’t she?” Then another sniffle and wipe before slumping down against the side of the house. He was losing his battle with his own emotions; George’s voice croaked, “I don’t know, son, I just don’t know.” He sat down next to Jimmy, put his arm around him, and they both cried quietly for some time.
Through the solid door to the farmhouse, they heard Dr. Hathaway urge Mrs. Ingram to help. ”Come here! Give me a hand. I can’t do this alone.” Both of his arms were elbow deep into the cesarean slit that opened a hole in the womb. He gently pulled out most of a tiny little body, but it looked as it was snagged, and he could not finish the extraction. “Reach in, quickly! Get the other one.” He whispered a gruff order of urgency.
The midwife reached to the gaping split, looking away from the visceral and writhing form. She felt the familiar shape of arms, legs, and a torso, then drew out the other infant. She gasped as they awkwardly dealt with the twins. “Oh my God,” she blurted and then tried to retract her astonishment by turning her head away.
Alarmed by the sudden whispering and gasping, George and Jimmy jumped to their feet. George put his hand on Jimmy’s shoulder to hold him back. “No! You stay here. I’ll check and see what’s goin’ on!”
”No boy, ain’t no place fer ya. I’ll come and git ya when it’s time. Just sit here fer now.”
George took a few steps avoiding the dried brown stains on the porch, and opened the door. Doc and Mrs. Ingram looked surprised when he walked in. They looked guilty as if they were the ones responsible for the state of the twins. His jaw dropped, and he moved a few cautious steps forward. Horrified, he looked at the infants. Confusion chiseled into his features as he shook his head, defiant that this was really happening.
The twins writhed and gurgled as they were cleaned. Individually they were normal, though one twin was larger than the other, and both were fine. Fingers and toes in the right places. Arms and legs are suitable sizes. All was correct, except for their heads. Their faces were normal, or at least not deformed. They were attached just above the ears; the skulls collided together in a mishap of nature that marked them permanently as freaks. The shape was all wrong, too, as if their heads were welded together then pulled slightly apart like taffy, each face looking forward.
They were wrapped now, looking like a mummified wishbone, cooing as infants do, natural, soothing. George now understood the reaction of the midwife. He felt it too but choked down his aversion to not alarm his son standing behind him, despite his father’s stern words. Satisfied with the swaddling, the midwife looked to the father with misty eyes, full of shame and sorrow for the man.
”Do you have names for these the boys?” she asked while adjusting the awkward bundle. George’s eyes widened as if he was reacting to a cruel joke. “No. No names.” He turned to look at his son. Jimmy, so strong and handsome, reliable… normal. His son… His only son. His face hardened as he clenched his fists.
“Take them. Adoption, whatever.” He glanced at his wife’s lifeless body, covered in a shroud of bloodstained linens. “Take them! Those things, take them away from me!” He turned his back, not wanting to look at the abominations any longer. Jimmy looked on and then took his father’s hand in agreement.
”But George, there is nowhere to take them. They’re alone and helpless. They need you.” Mrs. Ingram pleaded with him.
“No. They need a mother, who they killed. They need someone that will be able to deal with them.”
In the months following their birth, Mrs. Ingram did what she could for them. Did what she had to do. Kept them alive. She tried to care and feel the maternal impulse that she would have felt for any other child and had felt for others. All she could feel was shameful revulsion. She knew what she should feel; she knew that it was not their fault. That was the root of her shame, and that also brought on its own indignant self-loathing.
She noticed the handbills during her daily trip to the market. At first, one or two, here and there, and the closer she got to town, they seemed to be everywhere. Bright red and yellow bill posters of “The Great Cirque De Lune Rouge” plastered on makeshift billboards, announcing its arrival in two weeks. It didn’t take a thought. Her decision was made at the first glimpse of the advertisement. Only two weeks, and she would be rid of them.