Jackson lay in bed, in battle throes of guilt, defying any blame he should claim to receive forgiveness and peace. But, Jackson was not one to ask forgiveness, he was too proud even as he faced death. And death he defies as a weakness, a thing that cannot overcome him. Jackson knew he was always right and will win even over death.
Jackson lay in bed, his face to the wall. The pain was still there, always there, a constant reminder that he was nearing the end of his life.” Life?”, he asked himself. “What life? There is no life for me, just lying here day after day, night after night, suffering with this infernal pain and the same routine over and over. I gave my whole life to making sure others lived the way they should, always correcting the error of their ways, even demanding they learn from me how to be strong and successful. For what? So they could hate me, turn on me and leave me. Now that they think I will die any minute they are kind and want to care for me! On and on, the same questions every day! Why can they not just leave me to die in my own time, my own way, in my own bed, in my home? This is my home! Why are they here..why do they insist this is their home: It is not their home, they are not my family. My family are all dead and gone. These are just intruders, Intruding on my life and home, even my own room where I should be able to lie in peace and die, or not if I choose.”
He hated it, he hated them all. The approach of family members, coming in to “just make sure you are okay, do you need anything? Can I get you some tea? Shall I open the window for some fresh air? ” He wanted to shout out, “Yes! Open the damn window and jump out of it!” His whole life had been full of hate and it was because he felt family members were all so wrong about everything. His own son he would not claim as his. He believed he had no son. He believed his wife was unfaithful and died giving birth to what she said was his son. These were the deranged thoughts that consumed him in hate. Jackson was so full of hate it exuded from every pore in his body.
Sarah Jane is Clyde’s wife. Clyde is the son Jackson would never claim. Sarah was gentle and good to Jackson. At first he looked forward to her coming in to care for him. Then when it began to get worse and the agonizing pain caused bouts of delirium she would give him the morphine and straighten his bedding. She would sit near him reading, sometimes holding his hand. He would awaken to the feeling of his hand in hers and even that softness became a source of defeat and a reminder that he was not long for Earth.
Her touch suddenly became yet another enemy that caused a well of hatred to fill him. Her gentle caring for him had not changed since he first became ill. But, now he could no longer abide it and she would reproach him tenderly when he angrily pulled his hand away. “She cannot help it, she cannot change what is in her. She is weak.” He would try to justify his thoughts about her. Then the bad taste would return to his mouth and the pain could be felt again. He realized he hated her with every inch of his being. hated her for being so alive, so cheerful, so young with lustrous, shining hair, clean clothes, a sunny smile. He hated her for her blessed health as he had always hated Jesse and then Clyde.
“Jesse! Cousin Jesse!” He almost laughed, but it came out in a weak, scratchy sound that seemed evil. “Jesse is dead! I outlived Jesse. He got what he deserved, the good for nothing thief!” Then Jackson lost the feeling of delight he felt over Jesse’s death. “No! He did not get what he deserved! He should have lingered on and suffered as I am doing. He died instantly, not even knowing what happened. One second he was alive and happy, then BAM! Shot in the back of the head and dead on the floor. No suffering, no pain, no agonizing over life!” Sarah Jane sat quietly, listening to Jackson rave in his delirium. The outrage that had burst forth in him drained him of all energy and he almost passed out again.The pain had subsided when he was in that rage, now it was coming back. Sarah Jane gave him a another dose of morphine and gently washed his face with a cool wet cloth. He slept.
Jackson stared at the pattern of the wall paper seeing faces that were accusing him of wrongs, that he was guilty of hurting others. His eyes glistened with moisture, then became empty as he stared into the past. “Where did it go wrong? When was I ever happy and where did it go from there?” He thought of his childhood. “Yes, it was there once, some happiness … when I was alone with mother.” A faint smile touched his face and for an instant changed his look to that of brightness. “She loved me. She was so gentle and loving. But, my aunt gave birth to Jesse and he was adored. They all fawned over him all the time!” The gloom came back and the rage once again consumed him.
“It was then, when Jesse was born! That is when my life started going downhill and it went down, down, further and faster. Like a stone that dropped off a cliff and went down in a canyon, gaining speed as it plunged towards it’s final pit, a pit of hatred and torment, a hell!” And time dragged on for Jackson, year after year, the hatred growing day by day. His jealous mind created lies about his wife Anna and cousin Jesse. He created in his warped mind that Anna was unfaithful with Jesse and Clyde was Jesse’s son. All lies born from hate and jealousy. He believed his own lies until everything he saw in life, everything he touched became a reminder of lies and deceit and betrayal. And now that the inevitable end was nearing he vowed to find their spirits and make them suffer.
Sarah Jane and Clyde had come in early this morning with the Priest. “A Priest! For what? To make me think that I will be okay and all will be dandy after I receive prayers and last rights? Will that assure me a place in Heaven?” He tried to laugh again. “Heaven! I will not leave this house till I find them. They are wandering and I will find them and send them to hell before I gain Heaven. I will make them suffer for all eternity!”
With that thought of revenge calming him, Jackson rolled towards the wall, stared at the stained wallpaper and died.
© 2017 Phyllis Doyle Burns
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