Tuesday, 14 December 2010
SQUEAK LIKE YOUR MAMA by Pete Risley
Before reading, please note this is not for the faint hearted and deals with a shocking subject. However, we publish this tale to remind our readers that there is real horror in the world.....
Squeak Like Your Mama
Mama's funeral, like so much for days, had been a nightmare. The funeral was over, but the nightmare wasn't.
They were home again. What used to be home. Sherri sat down on the couch, exhausted. She wanted to get out of the dress. Daddy had made her wear Mama's fancy full-skirted party dress, white with elaborate red ruffles of trim, like an expensive cake from a pastry shop, purchased on a trip to Dollywood two summers ago. Mama had never worn it out, just around the house when Daddy wanted her to. It was scratchy, hot, and big on Sherri, and didn't seem right for wearing to a funeral, but she wasn't going to argue with Daddy.
No one had said anything. No one had spoken to her at all. Not Aunt Helen or her cousins from Covington. They all just glanced at her, accusingly. Nobody else was there, except some men that Daddy worked with. Everybody had heard from Daddy that it was her fault.
Daddy came in. "Don't be sittin' down, there's work to be done around this house." Roni and Brandi had already crept upstairs, closed their bedroom door, and weren't making a sound. They'd acted like they were afraid of her, like they might catch something from her. They had wailed wetly and piteously when first told, but seemed stunned at the funeral, silent before the closed coffin.
Sherri didn't touch them at all, or go near them, afraid they might have bolted away from her. They hadn't been getting along that well before the accident, because she'd yelled at them a few times lately for getting into her things, and had forbidden them to come into her bedroom anymore. Mama had taken her side on that. "Your big sister's a teen, now let her be." Roni was five years younger, Brandi six and a half. In between, Mama had told her, had been the boy babies, who had both died.
Mama was kind or at least fair, Daddy was harsh and quick to anger. They all hid things from Daddy so he wouldn't get hot-headed, yell and scare them by banging his fists at the wall, throwing the cat down the basement stairs. Now, there was only Daddy, and more than anybody, he blamed her and wouldn't forgive. It wasn't in him to forgive.
Daddy had made her tell Roni and Brandi about the accident, to confess that it was her fault. Mama was trying to teach her to drive, she had pleaded with Mama to do so, because Daddy said he was too damn busy. She was sixteen and wanted her license real bad. It had been stupid, so stupid, driving right into a building in the parking lot where they were practicing. She kept getting the brake pedal confused with the accelerator pedal, so that Mama had yelled at her, but even so, she would swear that the accelerator had stuck and caused the crash. Sherri wasn't hurt at all, but Mama had banged her head against the windshield. There was a crack in it where her head had hit, and a wide many-pointed star-spatter of blood etched into it, trickling down to the dashboard.
Sherri had thought Mama was knocked out, like on TV, but couldn't wake her up, and began to scream. Someone had come, she didn't know who. Then she was in the Emergency Room, and Daddy had come, panicked, looking at her like he never had before, as if caught in a revelation. She had told her sisters all but the last, her voice sounding like someone else, someone on TV giving a speech or reciting a poem, giving a sermon, even, and they had stared, silently. Daddy had stood over them all, also silent, arms folded, determined.
How strange that the funeral had come and gone. It seemed so long, she was surprised it wasn't dark out when they left the chapel. The minister had spoken on and on and said nothing. There was some crying, but many faces looked bored. Now it seemed to have lasted only a short while. It was late Saturday afternoon, Mama would be working in the kitchen, and dinner would be over, and if her homework was done, she'd be sitting right here watching TV with her sisters. They'd want to watch those Japanese cartoons of theirs, which she thought were so weird and goofy. She'd watch them now, gratefully. She looked at the silent, grey-screened TV set. She didn't dare ask to turn it on.
Daddy had been drinking early this morning before the funeral, and had chewed on some cloves to cover the smell. It didn't work, but no one had said anything. He had a bottle out again, a different one than this morning, a long square bottle with amber liquid in it, and was striding back and forth through the living room and kitchen, still in his suit but with his tie off and shirt open, muttering darkly to himself. She wished he'd stay in the kitchen, but here he came again, and this time, was looking right at here. He came up and stood over her, scowling down.
"OK. Didn't I just tell you there was work to be done around here?"
"What do you want me to do?" There was a whine in her voice she couldn't keep out. It seemed to aggravate him more.
"I want you to get this house clean. Your mama kept it clean. That's gonna be your job now." His breath was like something fiercely rotten, and he was swaying. He was way more drunk then she'd realized. Maybe he'd been sneaking drinks at the funeral too, and she didn't see him.
"I will, but you have to tell me what, I don't know where to start."
He sneered out a laugh. "Look around you! Why don't you start with the damn dishes? Your mama's not comin' back to do them for you."
"I'll do it Daddy, I'll do whatever you want." She couldn't cry anymore, she didn't know why. Her voice had that whine in it, but it couldn't become crying anymore.
Daddy shook his head and chuckled with disgust, glared hard at her again. "Everything is about you, isn't it? All about you."
"No, Daddy, it's not. It's not. I'll do anything."
"Anything." He shook his head. "You don't have any idea in the world what your mama meant to me, do you? I had me the best damn little wife in the world." His voice broke. "She sure knew how to take it. You know what she used to do? She used to make this little squeak, it meant she was tightening up. She would just, it would..." He paused, shook his head. "Nah, you wouldn't know. You sit there like you're so fuckin' pure. She got you every fuckin' thing you wanted. Think you're so cute, doncha? You won't ever be as good as her." He leaned closer, not swaying now, intent.
"Well, you killed your mama, and now I got you. And you're just gonna have to take her place. Now get out of your mama's good dress."
Sherri tried to take the dress off, but Daddy was impatient, tore it and pressed her down, sunk into the couch beneath him. So heavy on top of her, grabbing and squirming, bared skin in a rank sweat. Kissing her brutally, his gruesome breath in her face. She felt it against her, something dirty and wrong, and with strong hands he wrenched her legs apart.
It hurt bad, but she didn't cry out, didn't want Roni and Brandi to hear. Soon, however, she found she was making that little squeak, like Daddy wanted. Mama was gone forever, and Sherri knew now that she'd really never wake up.
Pete Risley is the author of the novel RABID CHILD, published by New Pulp Press in July 2010 http://www.newpulppress.com/titles/rabid_child/ He lives in Columbus, Ohio.