Tag Archives: death

That cat, Blue. A horror story

That cat, Blue
A horror story.

So you want to hear my story? Well, I guess I can tell you. Why not? I have plenty of time on my hands. Most prisoners do especially the ones waiting for their trial to get underway. You know what I’m accused of – murdering my dear wife, Mattie. You know some of the details but not all. The details I’m going to give are much more gruesome than what lawyers know.
You want to know how I was discovered? Hah. I’m here because of a cat. You look surprised. You’re probably thinking I’m playing with you but believe me I’m not. It’s all because of Blue that I’m here. Blue was my wife’s cat. Oh, I’m so angry for being done in by a little cat. I should have been more thorough. But that cat was on to me. She was much more intelligent than what I gave cats credit for. You want to know what happened to that cat? Let me tell my story first then I’ll tell you.
My wife had a thing for animals. Every Monday and Tuesday, after she finished work, she volunteered at the SPCA. Wednesdays and Thursdays, she volunteered at the wildlife center. When she wasn’t doing her volunteer work she was with her dog. She took her dog everywhere when it was ok for her to bring him- hiking, biking, trips to the beach- you name it. She named her mutt who was more pit-bull than anything- Dave. You know, Dave was the one the cops found with my wife, right? Dave loved my wife. He died protecting her. Did you know that? I bet you didn’t. He was the last dog. Mattie had two other dogs before she saved Dave. Her other dogs had run away- at least that’s what she thought. She was so heartbroken. I was the one who put into her head that they probably ran away. Dogs do that a lot, I consoled her. Still she couldn’t understand when she had loved them so much and they had loved her. It took so much discipline not to burst out laughing whenever I saw her eyes reddened and swollen. I tried hard not to snicker when she took her leash and went out into the streets calling out for Ben and later George. You see, my dear, her dogs had not run away. I killed them. Oh, stop looking shocked. You should know by now what I am. And just so you know, I laughed as I killed them. I love torturing creatures. Its something I loved to do since I was a kid. First it started with flies. I loved pulling off their wings and drowning them. Then I moved onto birds, mostly sparrows. I loved to drown them, too. I loved to listen them chirp crazily as they struggled in my clinched hand, pleading for their insignificant lives. It didn’t take long before I grew bored with birds and flies. Killing them didn’t give me the thrill I craved. I think I was about 13 when I moved onto dogs and cats. Nobody noticed. Who cares about strays? Oh, come on now. Spare me your tears.
You ask me why I’m so evil? Was I abused? Was I neglected? No. No. I was born evil!
Mattie and our children had absolutely no clue. Neither did our family or our neighbors. As far as everyone was concerned, I was the model husband. I was the model neighbor. If there was handy work to be done, I offered. If there was a lawn to be tended for a sick neighbor, I did it. Our neighbors adored us. They invited Mattie and I into their homes for bonfires, dinner parties, birthday parties and trips to the shore.
For a long time, my wife and I got along so well. Mattie fussed over the kids. She fussed over me. If I felt a cold coming on, Mattie jumped to action-making homemade chicken soup, cooing over me like I was a helpless child. If I felt fatigued, she rubbed my shoulders or my feet without hesitation. Every morning without fail, my clothes were set out and my shower started. When the kids and I came downstairs, breakfast was ready. Every evening, she had supper on the table. Our house was always clean. She worked but she made sure she was home before the kids got off the bus. She was what you would call a super mom, a super wife.
Then things changed. The kids grew up. Our two sons married and bought homes close by. Our two daughters went to college. They stayed local but lived at the dorms. Suddenly, we were alone. We were still young though with lots of years ahead. It was my hope now that we were empty-nesters, Mattie would settle down I like I had. But she didn’t, and that’s when our troubles started.
She joined a hiking club. She joined a biking club. On weekends, she hiked or biked or did both. She joined a gym and worked out during the week. She left early in the morning and was back in the house before I was out of bed. She was like an electrical charge that never lost its power. So it was that I aged but not Mattie. She grew more youthful, more vibrant.
Mattie begged me to work out with her, to go hiking and biking but I blew her off. I said I was too tired. Actually I wasn’t really tired. I just wasn’t interested in the gym or the outdoors. What I wanted was to play on my computer. I love computer games. Everyday like clockwork, after I ate dinner, I headed straight for my computer. It was my addiction. Everyone has an addiction. Don’t you agree?
After awhile, Mattie stopped asking. She had new friends now- much younger friends. Quite a few times, her cycling buddies came to our door for her. When they showed up, Mattie’s demeanor suddenly changed. She no longer walked but pranced. Her voice was no longer monotone. Her eyes shone with joy. She was a young girl again. She never acted like that when she was alone with me. I think that’s when I began to hate her.
On the weekends, she was gone for hours. I hated when she went out, and I hated that she had friends. She left me alone and I hated being alone. I wanted her home with me. Early one morning, she left with a promise to be back by the late afternoon. She left Ben home. That was a bad mistake. I told you that I killed strays when I was a young man. Well, I never stopped. I enjoyed killing too much although I never killed an animal that I knew. But Mattie leaving me alone to hang changed all that.
Ben was a big German Shepard, a beautiful dog. I know Mattie adored him. What better way to get back at her then through Ben? He was outside in the yard barking. He was too involved with the cat that was taunting him to notice me. I walked up to him from behind and stabbed him into his ribs over and over. He gave a startled whelp then crumbled to the ground. I don’t think he knew what hit him. Months later, Mattie brought home a Doberman Pinscher that had been dumped off at the SPCA. Mattie claimed the dog was too old to be adopted so she decided to take him. She named him, George. She loved him, and he loved her too. George’s eyes would actually sparkle when Mattie came home. And when she took out the leash he would go absolutely nuts. He loved going on day hikes with Mattie and practically became Mattie’s hiking group’s mascot.
Mattie had signed up for a hiking trip. It was an overnighter. She asked me if it was OK if she went. I told her to go and enjoy herself but inside I was fuming.
No dogs were allowed so George stayed home. As soon as he saw Mattie getting her hiking boots and hiking stick, he jumped for joy. But when he realized he wasn’t going, he whined and carried on. Mattie felt bad so she brushed him, and gave him a treat. But George was desolate when Mattie gathered her stuff and walked out to the car. He ran back and forth from window to window whining as he watched to Mattie pull out of the driveway. Despite being upset at leaving George, Mattie was excited. I was excited too. This was my opportunity.
There are those that say dogs don’t shed tears. But they do. Believe me, they do. George did.
Mattie cried. Oh, how she cried for her handsome dog. She looked for George. Her friends helped but George had disappeared. I comforted her, of course. I played the role of the supportive husband.
Not too long after George’s disappearance or so Mattie honestly believed, she showed up with Dave, more pit bull than anything. Dave was rescued from a kill shelter, and Dave seemed to understand it was Mattie who had saved him. Everywhere, Mattie, he followed gazing at her with that same adoring eyes of Ben and George
I’m no fan of dogs. I tolerated them until I killed them. Haha. You don’t appreciate my humor, do you? You hate me. I can tell. But that’s OK. You can hate me all you want. Let me continue- the one animal I truly hate is a cat. Mattie knew it. So on the day she showed up with a stray kitten, insisting it was not a big deal because the kitten was hers to take care of, I went berserk. We fought. I swung at her. I would have hit her in the face, but Dave rushed at me and caught my fist in his mouth. There was no adoration in his brown eyes only a warning. He growled softly as he held my fist firmly in his mouth. Mattie stroked his big head and murmured, “its Ok, boy. Let him go.” Dave opened his mouth slightly and I yanked my fist out with a terrified squeal, but Dave was unmoved. His eyes never left mine.
So the kitten stayed. I will admit she was a beauty. Her body was typical of a tabby cat. Her forearms all the way down to her paws were charcoal black and downright dainty. And, those eyes! It was her eyes that caught everyone’s attention-so big and blue- all the more big and blue against her black chocolate face. It was no surprise to anyone that Mattie named her – Blue.
Mattie made a fuss over that kitten who went from an adorable little kitten to an adorable little cat in a very short time. Her looks were striking and she seemed to know it. Whenever anyone made a remark about her she tilted her head upwards, softly narrowed her eyes and mewed in agreement. Mattie bought her toys and played with her for hours. Even Dave played with her. Sometimes, in the early morning I would hear Mattie singing songs to that cat with Dave howling softly like a backup singer. Who ever heard of people singing songs to a cat? Well, Mattie did and it annoyed the hell out of me. Blue enjoyed the songs and the fuss. She loved Mattie. That was obvious. But she didn’t like me. Quite a few times, she would follow me from one room to the next like a spy gathering information. She kept her distance staring at me so intently it made the hairs on my arms stick me. I knew she knew about me. She knew all my secrets. She knew all about my obsessions, my misdeeds and my crimes. That cat with her enormous blue eyes that I hated was always watching me. Once, I reached my hand out and called to her. But she sprang backward and scampered away in fright. She knew I wanted to hurt her. Ha-ha. Imagine that? That cat knew.
I knew it was only a matter of time before Blue had to disappear just like Ben and George had. It was time for that cat to go where the dogs had gone – an abandoned shed in the woods not too far from our property. It was the perfect spot. No one ever checked there because no one ever suspected.
Saturday came, and Mattie was preparing to go out despite the bitter cold. I was in the living room watching TV. I had downed my third can of beer, and it was still early morning. I saw Mattie getting her coat out from the closet. “Rushing out to meet your boyfriend? Huh?” I tried to sound jovial. Mattie glanced at my empty beer can then at my belly hanging over my belt. I saw the look of disgust in her eyes and laughed. I grabbed my belly and shook it at her. “You like it, huh? You like the big belly? “ Mattie wasn’t amused. “You have no shame. And no, I don’t have a boyfriend. I wouldn’t go near another man if you paid me.’ Dave walked slowly to her side and nudged her hand. She patted him, “its alright, boy.” Dave looked at me. He was not amused either. Mattie was silent as she took out the leash and put it on him. Dave didn’t wag his tail. He stared at me as he walked with Mattie toward the door. “When are you coming back, my dear?” I called after her sarcastically. “What do you care?” she answered. I could barely hear her.
I went to the frig and took out another beer. I looked out the window and watched until Mattie and Dave walked out of view. I popped open the beer and guzzled it down.
In the dining room, I heard the jiggle of little bells. I went to investigate. Blue was so engrossed with playing she didn’t see me. She eyed the jingle ball tenderly then pounced on it then lightly tapped at it with her soft paws only to whack it hard and send it spinning across the floor.
Blue was adorable to watch as she played and played. She was so soft and fragile and beautiful. Suddenly, I felt that urge to destroy that beauty. I could not control that urge and didn’t want to. I reached down and grabbed her. She looked up at me with wide eyes, her body rigid with horror. She struggled against me. She bit my thumb and clawed against my arms. But there was no escape. “You stupid cat,” I screamed, “ I got you, and now you’re going to die.” I laughed. I grasped her throat and pushed down hard. Her blue eyes bulged in absolute terror. “See, you were right about me the whole time. I’m evil, and you knew it. Shame you can’t talk. You could have told someone. But you can’t. You’re just a cat.” Blue withered in my grasp too exhausted to fight. I took her to the kitchen and put her on the table. I loosened my grip slightly as I pulled a butcher knife from the kitchen drawer. She mewed softly, weakly, and pathetically as if begging for mercy. But there was no mercy in me when it comes to killing. “You love those big blue eyes, don’t you ? But I want them and I’m going to take them.” I held her head tightly and brought up the knife. Blue knew what was coming. Now she was in an absolute frenzy. I angled the tip of the knife perfectly and pressed hard. Her eye popped out just as easily as George’s had. Blue screamed and it gave me such a delight. I brought the knife up again and angled it toward her other eye. Blue cried out agonized, and bite my thumb hard. I yelled in pain. That would be the first and last time that cat would bite me. I lifted her up and slammed her hard into the table. I heard a crack. Behind me, there was another scream. It was Mattie. I was confused. I thought she had gone hiking then I remembered there was no hike today because of the cold. She stared at me then at Blue. “What have you done to my cat? You bastard. You rotten bastard.” She screamed and then she was rushing at me. I was waiting for this confrontation. She hit me with every bit of her strength but she was no match. I grabbed her and slammed her against the wall. She was unfazed, and continued to claw at me. Her adrenaline had kicked in, and so had mine. I hit her in then Dave was on me. He tore open my leg and bit hard into my arm. I grabbed the butcher knife and stabbed that worthless mutt repeatedly. I have to give it to that dog. He fought hard. He loved Mattie so much that he was willing to die for her and that’s exactly what he did. Mattie was in shock, sobbing for Blue and now Dave. “You killed my killed my dog. You killed Dave.” I couldn’t help myself . Now was the chance to tell her what I wanted so badly to tell her before,, “Fuck Dave. I killed him, and just so you know I killed your other dogs. They never ran away.“ It took a moment for this to register in her mind. Her mouth fell open then closed as shock morphed into explosive rage. “You’re going to burn in hell!” She lunged at me. I knocked her to the floor, and hit her in the face until it was a bloody pulp. I felt her teeth crack with each pummel, and it felt good. There was no stopping me now. I never had the urge to kill a human but I did then. I cannot describe the thrill I gave me. And I hated her. I realize that now. I hated her for being popular and loved. I hated her perfect skin. I hated her perfect body. Well, she wasn’t so perfect now.
She continued to struggle. I stabbed her in the chest. How many times? I forget. Yet she still continued to fight. I grabbed her throat. and pressed down. She grabbed my wrists in an effort to free herself but it was hopeless. She sucked in one little breath then struggled to get another. “Mommy,” she moaned as her tears mixed with her blood. I was annoyed she would call for a woman who had died when she was just a little girl. Yet the moan had been so perfect, so melodic, I became aroused. I wanted to hear more. I relaxed my grip slightly but there was no more from Mattie. She was dead. In her last moments of life, I noticed, she had clutched Dave’s ear.
Blood was everywhere- on the floor, the cabinets, the walls. Pools of bright red blood, thick and gelatinous – had formed around Mattie and Dave. The floor was so slippery I had to use the table to keep falling flat on my face. I laughed as I looked over the fallen dead- the dog, the cat and my bride of twenty-three years. I looked down at her. She was barely recognizable as the woman I had shared my life with. I know at one point she had loved me, and I must have loved her but now I felt nothing. I put Blue’s limp body on Mattie’s serrated chest, and pulled them close to Dave. There was no movement. I unfolded a blanket and rolled the three of them unto it. I used the rest of the rope to tie the blanket at the top and bottom then I put them on a tarp making it easier for me to drag. Mattie had loved her pets so much, I thought. Well, now she would spend eternity with them.
The moon was full and I was able to see where I going without the aid of a flashlight. It was really bitter out but I was sweating profusely by the time I got to the shed. I opened it and dragged the dead in. The shed was built with cinder block years ago and was still in great condition. The far corner was where I buried Ben and George. I thought the least I could do was bury all of them together. Mattie would have liked that. The grave was a shallow grave and I was grateful for that because the ground had frozen and it was hard to shovel. I dug until I saw the remains of the dogs and dragged the bodies next to them. The blanket had torn, and Mattie and her pets were exposed but I didn’t care. I covered them as best as I could. I figured when the weather warmed I would come back and bury them properly. There was no hurry. No one knew about this place.
I went back to the house. I spent hours cleaning up the blood. When I finished, I was so exhausted. I fell immediately asleep as soon as I got into bed.
Voices woke me up. They were coming from the kitchen. I got up. I walked down the steps and saw my daughters, Melissa, and Claire, home for the weekend from college, in the kitchen drinking coffee. They saw me and got to their feet. “Where’s mom, “Claire, inquired. I played dumb, “I don’t know. Maybe she went out. “ Both my daughters looked out the window. “But her car is here, and she knew we were coming this morning. “
“We spoke to her early yesterday. She asked us to hike with her,” Melissa added. I shrugged my shoulders, “she’ll show up,” and went back upstairs. I wasn’t concerned. Nobody had a clue.
Hours passed. The girls were frantic. They called their brothers, Bruce and Brian. They were at the house within the hour. The police were notified. Word went around the community. The phone rang non stop. Mattie’s hiking and biking buddies called for updates. Her co-workers called then stopped by. “Our mother would never go anywhere with telling one of us. This isn’t like her. I know she’s in trouble,” my son Brian could not hide the fright in his voice.
Harry, the guy Mattie usually hiked with came by. I didn’t like him. If people didn’t know Mattie and I were married they would think this creep was her husband. He grilled me worse than the police. “So you saw her leave?” He asked a little too aggressively. “No, I didn’t.” He stepped close to me and whispered, “I don’t believe you, and neither does anyone else.” He left me standing on the porch and went into my yard. I should have thrown him off the property but I was too stunned to do much of anything except watch him. Did he suspect anything? Even if he did what proof did he have? I took a deep breath and calmed myself. Harry walked slowly over the grass as if he were looking for clues. But even if he were, he wouldn’t find any. You see, I am very meticulous in covering my tracks. My children followed behind him like he was some kind of guru. He suddenly stopped and looked back at me, “So where’s Dave?”
“I’m sure Dave is with my mom,” Bruce replied. I smirked when I heard that, “He’s with your mother all right.”
Harry moved on deep in thought. “So Dave is with your mother. So where is her cat, Blue?’
Melissa and Claire began to stutter. “Where is Blue? She’s not here either. Oh my God, something is wrong, terribly wrong!” Clair wept. “Mommy’s dead. I know it. I feel it in my heart.”
Neighbors, friends and family did their best to comfort my children but They were distraught, too. They knew just as Claire knew- Mattie was dead. Harry tried to give them hope although I could tell he was struggling to stay composed. “We don’t know that, Claire. Please, we have to be optimistic. Can we pray? I think we should do that for your mother.” Everyone gathered together and Harry lead them in prayer. I hated Mattie even more then. Even in death, she got all the attention. The prayers seemed to have a soothing effect on the crowd but suddenly Claire broke down weeping uncontrollably then collapsed. I watched in disgust as Bruce carried her into the house.
Not only did my kids and family spend the night but that creep, Harry did, too. They stayed up late talking. No one bothered me. They assumed I was distraught with worry and wanted to be alone. Finally exhaustion overtook them and they fell asleep. It was after 3 am, when the howling began. Melissa and Claire were on their feet seconds after the howling started. “Did you hear that?” I heard Melissa ask. “it sounds like a cat,” I heard Brian say. Then Claire said with a bit of hope in her voice, “ Maybe it is Blue.” The howling was pitiful. I could barely stand it. Claire spoke again. I could hear the panic in her voice. She was so young, only 18 and sensitive-the apple of her mother’s eye. “Maybe it is Blue. Suppose she’s hurt and she’s calling to us to save her or maybe she wants to take us to mommy?”
“You might be right,” I heard Harry interject.
That got my attention. I sat up in bed. The howling was louder, more desperate. There was a rushing of feet toward the door. I heard Bruce say, “its right by the door. Open it.” Someone opened the door. “oh my God,” I heard Melissa gasp, “it is Blue.” I was on my feet. I ran to the steps and saw what they saw. How was it possible? Blue was dead. I knew that for a fact.
Melissa and Claire advanced to Blue slowly and carefully so not to startle her, talking sweetly. “Someone hurt Blue. Her eye is missing,” Claire held her tears in. They were close enough to grab her but suddenly Blue bolted. My kids ran after her but she disappeared.
The next day the police were back. It was apparent now that a crime had been committed. Mattie had not run away. Her credit cards and debit cards were untouched. Her car remained in the driveway. No one had seen or heard from her. They began to ask more in depth questions but I answered them without hesitation. My voice was firm, and confident.
I’m proud to tell you that I played the part of the grieving husband perfectly. I think I missed my calling as an actor. I had posters made of Mattie and put them up in the supermarkets and malls. I told my story to anyone who wanted to hear it, and most did. I poured on the tears when I was interviewed by the news. What a show I put on. And to tell you the truth- I loved the attention. It made me feel special. No one suspected a thing.
The next night, the howling returned. Once more, Blue made her appearance only to bolt away and disappear. My kids were beside themselves. They refused to eat claiming they had no appetite. I was the only one who had an appetite. I ate breakfast, lunch and dinner. My kids watched in sad amazement but said nothing. “I guess that’s his way of coping, “ I heard Melissa console them and they believed her. They waited. What else was there for them to do? If only they knew. But I would never divulge my dirty secret.
The police continued to grill me relentlessly but I never faltered. They would never break me. They would never find Mattie. My crime was too well hidden. Nearly a week had passed since Mattie’s disappearance. The police called again to inform me the FBI was involved now and they would be making a visit tomorrow evening. It was obvious to me they were trying to scare me. But I wasn’t scared. I sniffed at the idea of the FBI coming to interview me all because of Mattie. Ha. She was just an ordinary person. Why did they care?

I told my kids and they said they already knew. They wanted to be there. That was fine with me.
The sun had already set when two FBI agents arrived along with two police officers. I was annoyed that the cops came. Did they suspect something? My kids sat with in the living room. They asked me the same questions the police asked. They were hoping to catch me at something that would lead them to arrest me but it didn’t happen. After an hour of basically interrogating me, they realized they were getting nowhere. They wrote what they had to write and were packing up to leave when the howling started. The agents and the police stopped what they were doing and listened. My kids listened, too entranced. The anguished howls were like a call to prayer. They sounded almost human. “What is that?” a woman FBI agent asked.
“My mom’s cat. She howls at our door but runs when we try to get her,” Brian offered. The howls grew closer. “Its outside the door,” a cop said. “Open it,” the lady agent requested. The cop opened the door and there sat Blue. The agent carefully approached Blue and knelt in front of her. She choked. “She reeks. She smells like decomposed flesh. Her right eye is missing. She’s in really bad shape. She has to be in pain.“ She looked at Blue tenderly. “Oh my God, you poor thing. Who did this to you?” she reached out to touch Blue but Blue backed away then stopped and looked at the agent imploringly with her remaining eye. She mewed then walked toward the agent only to walk away again. “I think she wants me to follow her,” the agent said to the cop.
Now, I had had enough. I rushed toward that cat and tried to kick her. But the agent and the police office with hands on their guns shoved me out of the way. “Stop where you are,” the cop commanded. I stopped. He motioned to the others. “We’re going to follow the cat. This is too creepy to pass up. And you’re coming with us,” the cop leveled his blue eyes at me almost daring me to resist. The other cop and agent took me by my elbows and led me out of the house. I didn’t give them a hard time. I thought then what could they possibly find?
My kids were more intrigued than frightened. They followed close behind.
The odor that emanated from Blue’s body was nauseating. I gagged and so did everyone else. She staggered as she walked. It was obvious she was in great pain and that made me glad. It was comical to watch as she weaved lopsided like a drunken sailor through the yard. It was when she went into the woods that I began to worry.
Blue led us down one path and then another. She mewed frequently as if to signal to us. Finally, she reached the shed. She stopped and looked slowly at the agents, the cops, and my kids then accusingly at me. I lost my temper then. I screamed. “you damn cat. I killed you. I know I did. “ I jerked away from the cops and lunged at Blue. I was fast but the cops were faster. They threw me to the ground. They pulled my arms back and put plastic ties around my wrists.
“The door is locked,” a cop announced. “Break the door down,” the other commanded. With a kick to the center of the door, it broke open. Blue stepped in. it was dark. Flashlights were turned on. Blue howled like a grief stricken child. She staggered over to the burial site. The bodies were exposed. Blue must have dug them up. Ben, and George were decomposed but still recognizable as dogs. Dave was still intact, the cold weather certainly helped. Beside him, lay Mattie. Blue went to her. She touched Mattie with her paw. She purred with a great love as she licked Mattie’s grey disfigured cheek. The cops and the agents stood transfixed. Tears slid down their cheeks. My kids came in fearfully, tentatively knowing what they would see but knowing that had to see. What they saw they should not have seen, and they would never had seen if it weren’t for that cat. They looked over the bodies. They saw their mother. They wept hysterically and clung to each other for support. They did not look at me as I was led away. That was the last time I ever saw them.
So, that’s it, my dear girl. The End. You know the rest.”
“So, what happened to that cat, Blue? You said you were going to tell me?” the young reporter inquired. She re-positioned herself in her chair and waited.
“Hah, you’re going to think I’m crazy. Wait, I’m already crazy. But, not in regards to Blue. I wasn’t the only one who saw. But why would I waste your time? You not going to believe me.”
The young woman cleared her throat and replied, “Try me.”
“Ok, I will. I was already in the custody, sitting in the back of the cop car so I’m telling this story second hand from the cops. The lady FBI agent asked where Blue was. She was told Blue was still next to Mattie. I got the impression the agent wanted to adopt Blue and take care of her. She went back into the shed to collect Blue. She found Blue laying on Mattie’s chest. She called to Blue but Blue didn’t respond. At first, the agent thought Blue was sleeping. She lifted Blue up and was startled to find Blue frozen, desiccated, stiff as a board. You see, Rigor mortis had set into her tiny body. She had been dead for over a week.

Nineteen years isn’t enough.

I am near the art museum. I am going to see a patient. I had intended to see this patient and then another one before taking my nephew out for breakfast. I had spoken to him last night. He was depressed. He wouldn’t tell me what was wrong. All he did was cry. I was worried. I asked him to go to breakfast with me. We could talk face to face. I told him not to worry whatever was happening we would take care of it. He wept hard then and said, “I don’t think there’s anything you can do but I’ll be there.” And me, always the optimist and the one who thinks she knows everything, replied, “ We’ll handle it, don’t worry, Tommy.” Because I’m your aunt and I’m a nurse. I heal people. I’ll make you better.”

I saw my first patient at 7 am. She’s a diabetic. She’s blind. I check her sugar. It’s 355. I give her an insulin shot. I check her feet and do her blood pressure. I make her breakfast. Not because I have to but because I want to. I’m that kind of person.
I see my second patient. He has wounds on his legs. They drain terribly. They hurt him so much he cant get a decent night’s sleep. I comfort him the best that I can for he’s an old man, alone, having outlived his wife and children. I wash his legs. I pat them dry. I apply medicine to his painful wounds, cover them with dressings, and then I wrap his legs. He says he feels much better and off I go.
I’m in my car. I travel on the back streets to avoid the rush hour traffic that is now bumper to bumper.
I turn onto Spring Garden Avenue and that’s when I get a call from my husband. I pick up the phone. “Hi, what’s up,” I try to keep the annoyance out of my voice.
“Are you driving?’
“Yes, Of course, I’m driving.” Now I’m really annoyed.
My husband’s voice is deep and serious devoid of its usual jovial tone. “Pull over.”
I don’t ask any questions. The annoyance has left me. I’m scared.
“What’s wrong?”
“Turn off the car.”
“What’s wrong?” I begin to cry because I know something is wrong. Something is terribly wrong.
“Tommy. Tommy is dead.”
I wail, “ No. No. That’s impossible? He was meeting me for breakfast.”
“He went to hang out with friends. When they woke up they found him dead.”
“I’m heading over,” I weep.
My heart fills up my chest. It is beating so hard I can feel my carotids pulsating with blood.
I cry uncontrollably. I claw at my face. Then I calm down into a numbness. I drive on the avenue and wipe away tears. Then Tommy as a little boy flashes before me and I breakdown all again.
I was going to treat you to your favorite breakfast, Tommy- Thick slices of toast dipped in egg and cinnamon and vanilla, cooked to perfection then dusted with powered sugar, dripping in syrup. And sausage- almost crispy- nobody loves sausage like you.

My mouth is twisted in agony. Tears dribble down my cheeks like rivulets of rain against a windowpane. People stare at me with worried looks. I want to tell them, “My Nephew is dead. He’s only 19. How can a 19 year old be dead?”
This is a mistake, I tell myself even though I know there is no mistake.
I pull up to my sister’s house. There is a huge crowd. Immediately they surround me. Kids are crying. Adults are crying. My sister’s sister in law tells me Tommy was found on the third floor, the back bedroom. “He’s still in the house. Do you want to see him?”
I nod. She takes my hand and leads me to the house my Aunt and Uncle once lived in.
Another crowd is standing outside the house. This was a close neighborhood when I was growing up and it still is. The crowd steps aside to let me through. All of them knew Tommy since he was born. I know these people, too. I grew up with them but now I can’t remember a single name.
I go into a house I had not stepped foot in since my aunt and uncle passed away- that was many years ago. It was a well-kept house back then but now it’s filthy. It reeks of urine, and garbage. My throat burns and I sneeze over and over again. What were you doing in this house, Tommy?
I walk up to the third floor and step into the bedroom. Dirty mattresses are scattered on the floor. Trash is everywhere. The cops are there. A priest is there. My sister and my brother in law are there, too, standing in a corner, staring with large wide eyes; too shocked to do anything.
But I can do something. I’m a nurse. I’m a healer.
I look down at my nephew. His body is gray and stiff, dry vomit and blood have caked around his mouth and nose. Broken blood vessels that look like a mass of spider webs have darken his sweet handsome face.

I’m here, Tommy. I took care of you when you were a little boy and I’ll take care of you again.
I kneel. I put one hand on my nephew’s frozen chest and place the other hand over it. I press down again and again. I lean forward. I tilt Tommy’s head back. I lift his jaw. The cops are stunned at first then one- a young man of no more than 25 years takes me by my shoulders and pulls me up. “He’s gone, miss.”
“Gone? How can he be gone when I was talking to him last night? We were supposed to have breakfast this morning- French toast and sausage.” The cop gives me a sad, sad look as he pulls me back. I jerk away. I’m not disrespectful but I’m firm. “No, you’re wrong. I need to do CPR. That will revive him.” I am very controlled or at least I think I’m controlled.
“Miss, please. I have to ask you to stand back.”
I ignore the cop. I go back to Tommy. I have to save him. I know I can. How many people have I saved in my career? “Come on, sweetheart. Wake up. I’ll get you cleaned up and out of this hellhole. I’ll take you wherever you want to go.”

The cop gently takes my hand. “You’re his aunt.”
“Yes,” Hysteria rises in my voice, taking control of my body.
“Miss, there’s nothing else you can do. Please don’t make this difficult.”
I look into his eyes. They are pleading. I wail then quickly stop. My mind suddenly clears. Its like the sun finally pierced through heavy clouds. Ambulance drivers have arrived. I look at the priest then back at the cop. “Can I please kiss my nephew goodbye?” The cop nods. I kneel once more and press my forehead against his. I’m shocked at how cold and hard it is. How can that be when once it was so warm and soft? I can barely breathe. My body has separated itself. My mind no longer controls it. Tears drip onto Tommy’s face and gently cascade down his closed eyes and onto his cheeks.
“Come on, Tommy, get up! You’re just messing with me. I know you, Tommy. You were always a joker. How many practical jokes did you play on Brittany and me? I lost count. Please, Tommy, open your eyes, and laugh. I won’t be mad. I promise. “
I hear a stretcher being unfolded. A silver bag is being opened. They’re going to place Tommy in that bag. This is not a practical joke. This is for real.
I stand up. There’s only one thing left to do. “Father, can you pray with me?” My voice is so quiet and still. The priest takes my hand and I bow my head. To my surprise, the cops and the ambulance drivers, my sister and my brother in law, and his sister gather around and pray, too.

I leave the room so the EMT’s and the police can do their job. I slowly descend the steps. My hand slides down the wall to steady myself. How many times did I run up and down these stairs when I was a kid? I don’t remember. It was a happy house then- full of people and parties but now it’s an ugly house.
As I walk through the pallor, images of Tommy dance before my blurry eyes- Tommy at the beach, jumping the waves holding Brittany and his sister’s hands; looking up at me as I read him bedtime stories; tormenting Brittany only to be tormented by Bill; using Brittany’s dead, desiccated rabbit for a football then pleading forgiveness when Brittany crying her eyes out told me; his blue eyes sparkling, his chubby cheeks and those dimples so perfect. How could I not forgive him? I always forgave him.
Then he turned 16 and he slipped away from me- back to his mother and his old neighborhood. Why did I let him go?

I’m outside now. I step into the crowd. People take hold of my hands and squeeze lightly. I feel their grief and that comforts me.

The door opens. The priest steps out. The police step out. My sister and her husband step out. Then the paramedics carrying a silver bag on a stretcher step out. Wails erupt. I try so hard to be stoic but I can’t. I’m shaking uncontrollably.
A young man, his eyes swollen from tears, approaches me. He says he was Tommy’s best friend. He tells me he and a bunch of other kids were with Tommy last night. He was the one who woke up and found him dead. “We were just having fun. You know getting high, just a few pills and booze, that’s all.”
That’s all? Just having fun?
I blink at him in amazement then I lunge at him. The boy makes no effort to defend himself. Instead he covers his face sobbing and collapses to the ground. I stop. The urge to beat him to a pulp is gone. He’s already been beaten.

Your Aunt and Uncle’s old house is a crack house.
Your nephew was there almost every night.
He was popping oxycodone like they were candy. He was snorting crack and meth.
The money you gave him was used to get high.
Everybody in the neighborhood knew except you.

My nephew would never take drugs!! Never. Never. Do you hear me? Never. Lies. All lies.
People stare at me. There is pity in their eyes. They knew about Tommy and they knew I didn’t know.
I look at each one of them then it hits me. Tommy was a drug addict. It wasn’t bullshit. It wasn’t a lie.
I refused to see what everyone else saw- the slurred speech, the weight loss, the inability to hold a job, money stolen, the glassy look in his eyes, the haggard look. Why didn’t I see?
Oh my God. Why didn’t I want to see?

That night, after I spoke to my nephew, he went to my Aunt and Uncle’s old house. He drank a large amount of liquor. He took Oxycodone, Xanax and Motrin. Sometime, during the night, he began to retch- too much Motrin can tear your stomach up- but he was in such a somnolent state- due to the Xanax and Oxycodone- he was unable to wake up. He aspirated his vomit. The vomit went into his lungs. He suffocated.

Just 19 years old. 19 years isn’t enough! No, no!

We all watch as Tommy is placed in the ambulance. We watch as it slowly pulls away and then disappears.

I have to leave. I can’t stand to be where I am. People are talking at me but I don’t hear a word. I’ll see them soon enough I say. My eyes can’t focus. I can’t make out faces. I can’t make out anything.
I make it to my car and get inside. I don’t have the energy to start it. Instead, I cover my eyes. I want to blot out my last image of Tommy. I don’t want to remember the vomit and blood, his mottled skin or how hard his chest was when I pressed into it. God, please erase it. Please, don’t torment me. As if on cue, my son’s christening flickers before me. Tommy was so proud of being chosen godfather. That was less than a month ago.
Oh, you silly boy. You thought you were a Peter Pan. You were immune from death. But you were wrong. Now, it’s too late. No second chances. No college. No walk down the aisle. No children of your own.
I grasp the steering wheel hard to control my shaking. How am I going to go on without Tommy? How is Brittany going to go on? She doesn’t even know.
Then I feel something. It’s sweet and light like a warm breeze brushing against my skin. It’s a whisper. I know that whisper. It’s Tommy. I hear his voice calling for me- from years ago. He’s a little boy again. He’s looking for me. Then I hear his voice again- this time in song. Oh what a voice he had.
At the age of 13, he sang solo- “Ave Maria” at St. Anne’s church. The evening sunlight streaming into the church illuminates his handsome face. He’s so close I can reach out and touch him. His voice resonates loud and clear.
Now another memory more recent- he’s a young man dancing at Zak’s christening. He has a microphone in hand and he’s belting out one Elvis Presley song after another. People are oohing and aahing over him like he’s a superstar himself. My mind is now full of song-happy songs. Tommy has reached out to me. I know it. I can feel it.
I laugh at the memories. There are so many. Tommy’s life passes before my eyes like a summer night ablaze in stars.

In my grief, Tommy has come to my rescue.

Dear Tommy, I thought you would bury me. If only I had known I would have saved you.
If only I had been there… if only…