Stumbling Ahead, Chapter 1 (Part 2)

I asked the boy if we had a car. He told me we did, and he showed me where it was. I asked him where the keys were. He suggested I check my pockets. Sure enough, they were there. There was also a wallet with money in it, and a driver’s license that said, “Steve Henderson”. I assumed then that that was my name, and resolved to do my best to remember it. Perhaps, for starters, I’d try to remember that there was a wallet in my pocket.

We both got in the car, but then I realized I did not know where the hospital was. Feeling lucky for the moment, I checked my other pocket and found a phone. I had to go back inside the house to look up the phone number. I called for directions, then got back in the car and started off.

We went to the hospital, and entered the emergency room. We asked about the boy’s mother and were shown to a private room. We waited for a few minutes, then the doctor came in and told us that the woman had been declared dead on arrival. We were both very sad to hear that, especially the boy. I thanked the doctor, and he left the room. The boy had been crying for a while by then, and I reached out to give him another hug. He was glad of that and latched onto me right away.

I realized then that I still did not know his name, so I asked him. “Michael,” he whispered, still crying a little. I said to him, “Michael, let’s go for a ride, okay?” I took his hand and we walked back to the car. When I started the engine, I happened to notice that the gas gauge was almost on empty, so, I decided to look for a gas station before we got too far.

We stopped to get gas shortly after leaving the hospital. I seemed to have plenty of money in my wallet, so I used some of it to pay. I got back in the car and we drove off. Michael asked me if I was going to go to work today. I thought about it for a second, then told him, “I’m on vacation.” That seemed to satisfy him for the moment, so he stayed quiet for a little while, albeit a little bit of crying under his breath.

We drove for a while in silence. I couldn’t remember anything about the city we were in, so I just stayed on the road the hospital was on. It took us all the way through the city and out into a less populated area. I finally asked Michael how he was feeling, and he said, “Okay, I guess.” I realized that I was getting hungry, so I asked him, “Would you like to get something to eat?” “Yes, please,” he said. So, we stopped at a diner on the outskirts of the city. I was glad that I thought of it before we got too far away, as it didn’t look like there was much past that point on the road.

We went in and got something to eat, and while we sat there, I decided to ask Michael if we had any other family nearby. He said we didn’t, which I was sort of glad about, since that meant I had less people to deal with. We finished our meal and got back in the car. I asked Michael if he would like to go home, and he said he did. With Michael’s assistance, I found my way back to our house. I was happy to be somewhere that I didn’t have to make a lot of decisions, and Michael seemed almost content as well.

I turned on the television, and we both sat on the couch. I gave Michael the remote control, as I had no idea how to operate it, nor did I remember anything about the stations. He put it on a music video channel, and left it there. We sat there for a while. Eventually, I thought to look at the clock. It was about nine o’clock at night, so I asked Michael what time he usually went to bed. He said he could stay up as long as he wanted. I wasn’t sure if this was the truth, or if he was playing on my bad memory, but I decided that he had been through a lot, so I’d let him do whatever he wanted.

Around eleven o’clock, I noticed that Michael had fallen asleep. He looked like he didn’t weigh much, so I put one of my arms under his legs, and one arm under his back, and lifted him up. I carried him to the nearest bedroom, and it had all the toys and things that little boys like, and the sheets had Superman symbols on them, so I concluded that it must be his room. I laid him on the bed, then pulled his shoes off. He woke up a little, so I checked a few drawers in the dresser and found some pajamas. I helped him put them on, then pulled back the covers. “Get into to bed,” I told him, and I pulled the covers over him.

I decided to go into the kitchen and check the refrigerator, as I was a little thirsty. There was some soda, a jug of milk, some bottled waters, and a case of beer. I decided to have a beer. I sat down on the couch in the living room, and drank the beer. When I finished that one, I went back and got another one, then another. I realized then, that I must be used to drinking a lot of beer, as it didn’t seem to have a strong effect on me, at least that I could tell.

I woke up around four o’clock in the morning, realizing that I had fallen asleep on the couch. I got up and decided to look for my bedroom. I went into the third room, as the second was apparently an office. I noticed on the dresser a picture of me, Michael, and the woman that had died, Michael’s late mother, and, apparently, my late wife. I did not feel sad, as I had no memory of her in any way, except as dead, when I had found her the day before. I got into bed and went to sleep. I had no idea what I was going to do in the morning, but I decided I’d figure that out then.

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Author: Gordon S. Bowman III

Writer, Visual Artist, Blogger, Advocate

2 thoughts on “Stumbling Ahead, Chapter 1 (Part 2)”

  1. Good character study and development. Has a surrealist quality. I see the Horror and underlying Sci-Fi elements. Looking forward to reading Part 2. Motivates me to work on my partially finished short stories and at least get a few more chapters done. Thanks.

    1. Thanks, DeBorah. I appreciate the feedback and encouragement. I’m getting a little frustrated, because I am caught between trying to make it realistic, and trying to make it interesting. I think Chapter 1 was better, but maybe not as realistic. I’m trying to mix the two a little in Chapter 3, but it is very challenging.

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