On a visit to Rose’s house, she said she had a movie she really wanted me to watch. In fact, she called me that week and asked me to come down specifically to see this movie with her. She sat me down in front of the TV and she showed me a Charles Dutton movie.
It was a movie about a father whose son is on trial for murder and the son has pled guilty. The father knows better. He knows that his son was not capable of that crime, so he takes a gun into the courtroom and he takes the jury hostage. Makes them go over all the evidence until they figure out who really killed that person and the son is set free.
This was the movie she wanted me to see. As soon as the plot became clear to me, she pointed at the screen and she smiled.
“Do you think that is possible?” she said. She had almost a religious zeal to her when she said it, as if this movie had just proven Grasp was innocent. “Do you think that he is right? That his son did not commit that murder? Don’t you think that as that boy’s father he should know if his son is capable of murder or not?”
“No Rose. I don’t think that father has any idea what he is talking about. I don’t think that a parent will ever think poorly of their child enough to think them capable of murder. I know you don’t.”
“I don’t what?” she snapped. “I’m not sure I like your tone, mister.”
“You don’t think he did it. After all the testimony and the medical evidence came in you still think that he is innocent, don’t you?”
“He is innocent,” she hissed. She leaned close, her fingers flexed into talons. I was almost sure that she would claw my eyes out right there, but she only snarled at me. “He didn’t do this! I know! I’m The Mom!”
“So, the doctors are lying?”
“No, someone got to those kids, but it wasn’t your brother.”
“Why would they say it was, then?” I asked. I calmed myself down even though I could see that she was beginning to lose control of herself. Her back arched and she looked at the ceiling. Her fingers were flexed and clawing at the air. As I watched, she was losing herself.
“I don’t know why they lied, but they did.” She stalked around the room. Her fingers clenching and unclenching.
“All of them?” I said. “All four kids from two different families that only have him in common?”
“Mumble too, they all have Mumble in common,” she snapped. She stomped as she walked and I stood up. I did not want her coming at me when I was sitting down. Her head twisted to look at me and I saw it then. She was losing her mind. She could not face the fact that her son had done this thing. It was eating her alive.
“You are saying that Mumble did this now?” I said. “You are saying that Mumble molested those children and their love for him is so great that instead of getting rid of the one that hurt them, they would turn their wrath to someone else? They don’t want Mumble to be put away so that he will stop hurting them. They want to get rid of Grasp instead of the one that really hurt them?”
“No one is getting rid of my son!” She screamed. “I want you out! God wants you out of my house! He wants you to get in your car and go right now! God wants you out!”
I called Bekah and she came to get me. I waited for her outside of my mother’s house. I still have that image rattling around in my mind. It is a jagged memory and it is stuck into the inside of my skull. Her fingers flexing, her back arched, her eyes up as she screams that Grasp is innocent.
Can you see it yet? The fact that there is no future for me and this woman, you can see that, can’t you? There is no world in which Guardian can live in peace with this woman. Right then, I knew I would never get my mother back. I knew that soon there would come a time when it would all boil up. She would attack me and try to hurt me and I would have to get her away from me for my own safety. That day was coming. It was coming fast.
After Johnson told the news he gave me two weeks before he was gone. He left me with the rest of the lease, but I was not leaving if I didn’t have to. I had to find a roommate and my focus landed squarely on Bekah.
I needed her closer. I wanted her with me all the time now. I wanted her in the room, even if she didn’t know what to say. Wanted to have her close by so that I could look at her. It seemed the only time I felt any peace at all was when I was looking at her. I wanted her living with me, and I knew it would work, too.
She had recently moved in with a couple of other design students. Tired of living alone she had moved in and they had given her the big bedroom. They hated me with a passion. One of them hid it well; the other didn’t even try.
I sat down with her one day, I can’t remember the restaurant.
“Johnson is moving out,” I said.
She nodded but looked worried.
“He is moving in with his girl and they are going to be beautiful in a place together.” I remembered the life we had lived in my old apartment, how we had lived in a place beautifully together, and I flinched. “I need a roommate.”
“Would we be living together, or would I be your roommate?” she said. There was no hope in her voice that I can recall. Just a question on the air.
“We would be roommates. You would have your own room.” I burst into tears. “I just, I’m just not ready for a relationship. I am not good right now.”
“Shh, it is okay, that is why I asked,” she said. “Of course, I will move in with you. When is he leaving?”
We talked details. I don’t remember the move. I don’t remember anything about it. I know she had furniture that didn’t match the floorplan that me and Johnson had plotted out so we moved things around. The dining room became the living room. The living room, the office. I kept my room and she took Johnson’s. It was bigger anyway, and she had a king-sized bed.
I slept in my room for about a week. Then we started sleeping together. Soon we were a couple again, but as if by accident. I kept staring at her and it calmed me down. I kept waiting for the magic to start again. The overwhelming love to kick back in. I did love her. More than any other person in the world I loved her. But that was not saying much.
Love did not come easy to me anymore. It could not be earned. It could not be cultivated. Love for everyone was cold. Bekah did her best to warm me up and I did my best to let her, but things were not good. I was still stumbling. I was still dying.
I kept drinking, but at different times. She was up in the morning and out to school. She got a job at a design firm at night and I drank when she was gone. Just enough to keep a buzz. Not enough to get drunk. The drinking had become a habit now. And it played the worst of the pain out.
I kept drinking and she didn’t notice. We slept together, but not often. The love making was cold for me. The kisses tasted like ash. I realized I was dying and not even Bekah could save me. Everything good in me was drying up.
But Katherine was coming.