Porcelain (Part 43)

Once his boots were back on, Isaac walked out the side door, stopping when he reached the wood bin. Then he went back inside, emerging five minutes later in different clothes, shabbier ones, what Lydia called his tramp clothes. He paused again by the wood bin, picking the axe up this time and then walking over to the cabin. Despite the fact that he had realized months ago, on that night when Lydia had steamed open the letter and they had resolved to not send that or any other of his father’s correspondence to Harriet, that this moment would come, it still made him pause. It had been one thing to think about it; How hard would it be? Would he really be able to do it when the moment came? What was the best way? What would happen afterward? Those thoughts had kept him up on a few odd nights and had distracted him several times at work. It had also been an entirely different thing to whisper about it in bed with Lydia, usually after one of their generally unsatisfying sexual encounters. She seemed mostly concerned about where his father kept whatever money he was hiding, bracing up Isaac for the ultimate moment (as she called it, usually with a smirk), and asking what in the damn hell they were going to do with that troublesome little girl afterwards. That question had never really been answered and now, as Isaac stood on the porch step with the axe held in one sweaty hand, he also was not sure that Lydia had braced him up well enough. His stomach was sour and he had a slight tremble in his jaw. There was, however, no way that he could go back and face his wife’s derision. Taking a deep breath, and wiping his hands once again against his dirty pants, he stepped up onto the porch and listened at the door.

It seemed completely quiet inside and Issac gingerly reached down and pushed the lever, unlatching the door, which swung in with a slight creak. The sound seemed loud in the silence of the night but no reaction came from either of the cabin’s occupants. He waited several long minutes as his eyes adjusted to the gloom inside the cabin and then he slowly made his way across the main room to the doorway of his father’s bedroom. Here he had to pause once again to wipe his hands, and then he set his jaw firmly, grinding his teeth together to keep them from chattering. There was no door on the room, only the doorway, which seemed somehow darker than all of the other darkness that surrounded it, some kind of pit that he was about to step through and into. He did so, feeling his stomach flip once again, and then three steps later he was standing over his father’s bed. The darkness of course made it difficult to perceive the actual person lying there, but he knew the general arrangement of the room, and the bed, and knew that his father always slept on his back. Then Isaac just waited, willing his eyes to adjust better, while at the same time silently praying that no sound, no urge to urinate and no special sense woke his father up. A sharp but low scratching sound came suddenly from the main room, probably a mouse, and he heard a cat, likely that unnamed thing his son had brought home, meowing somewhere outside the cabin. His heart rate, which had been fast and loud up to this point, started to slow down and a small sense of calm began to creep out and cover up Isaac’s nervous state. He could do this. Finally he could see just a little better, enough to see the edges of his father’s face, the red blanket spilled off the end of the bed, the opaqueness of Wyatt’s fingernails where his hands were resting on his chest. And then he did it, fast and without any hesitation.

He swung that axe with all of his might and anger, driving the blade right down and through his father’s face. The swish of the weapon passing his ear was exhilarating and the loud crunch of it bashing though skull and skin brought a malevolent, lopsided grin to Isaac’s face. His father grunted as he died and that was it, although the sound of the axe slamming into the bed frame did wake Claudia up. She called out from the small nook where she slept, and then Issac heard the rustle of her moving around on her mattress. What to do if Claudia woke up had never been part of the planning, as Lydia believed the girl would not be disturbed as long as Isaac kept the noise to a minimum. Who could have guessed that the axe would go completely through his father’s skull? Isaac briefly thought about what to do if she did walk into the room, then was startled by a sharp bang from the porch. It sounded like a animal had knocked something over, the scamper of small feet audible for several seconds afterward. That seemed to reassure Claudia, who called out one more time and then went silent. Gingerly he pried the axe out and then waited for thirty minutes, listening to the blood drip onto the floor while trying to calm the shakes that were running through his body. He then rose silently, his nerves almost completely settled, and walked back out of the cabin to get Lydia. There was other work to be done.

…to be continued

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