Morton's KingdomA Story by Haunzwürthe
James Stanley Morton sat in one of the two walnut stained rocking chairs smiling contently. On the outside, he was a Forrest Gump poster child wearing work gloves. On the inside however, his hamster was on steroids. There was an air about him, a smugness, as though this Spanish ranch house overlooking a freshly mowed and perfectly trimmed lawn was his kingdom. At this moment, it was. He had no reason to view it otherwise. The renovations, the porch, the rocking chairs on it, and the landscaping had all materialized from his hands. He even designed the in-ground pool in the backyard complete with an advanced filtration unit and a fuel efficient, off-grid generator housed separately in his shed.
His lawn was an annual source of amazement and jealousy from the corporate professionals around him as well as the landscapers they employed. While the summer turned most yards into shades of yellow and brown, Morton's grass stayed a vibrant, healthy green. The proof was displayed in the four Rancho Bernardo Summer Lawn Awards in the study. While a fifth was imminent, he had not made space for it.
It wasn't just the house and yard that gave James his porchly throne. His life was nearly perfect. He was the master of his domain in all sense of the term. From elementary school science fairs to high school valedictorian. From Stanford scholarships to his lucrative career at Northrup Grumman as an aerospace engineer. Every subject and task he had taken on over the years was about to culminate on this Memorial Day weekend. Erin's family was coming over.
They had been together for just over three years and had finally moved in together after the renovations were finished last Thanksgiving. She, along with her kids Jeremy, 12 and Suzanne, 9, were the completing pieces to his puzzle. Erin was a black haired beauty of Greek descent that the press would drool over. She spent most of her time working from home as a network account administrator. This schedule allowed her to release her cleaning fervor on the house, something of which James especially allowed today. She had nearly locked him out to clean every last surface possible before her parents and two brothers arrived. Unfortunately, her expectations and his intentions were no where near being on the same page, much less the same genre.
"Sweetheart, I think everything's ready," she said as she came out and sat in the chair beside him.
"Does that mean I can come back inside?"
"Oh stop it! I never said you had to stay out here."
"I know." He put his hand over hers. "As much as you're looking forward for them to get in, I figured I'd just be in the way. Truth be told, I'm looking forward to it too." For different reasons. She looked away and smiled, the thought of a proposal written in the pink hue flushing across her cheeks. "Don't worry though, they'll get the surprise of their lives when they get here."
"Yeah if those two maniacs don't destroy the house before they get here."
"When do they expect to arrive?"
"Well, I talked to Mom and she said they just hit traffic north of LA, so I'd say about 7:30 or 8pm."
"Then let's go swimming. That'll kill time before we have to get ready."
"I don't know. I don't want them to get water everywhere after I've already swept and mopped."
"Babe, it's just water. What's it going to do, dry? Besides, they could track in the grass and get stains all over the carpet. Now go get changed. I'll put the lawnmower up and be right behind you." Her smile broadened and she stood up.
"I can't wait to see the shock on Dad's face when he gets here," she said after planting a kiss on his lips.
"You have no idea. Now get!" He spanked her bottom through his gloves and she let out a squeal. She ran inside giggling and he heard her yell out for the kids to get their bathing suits. All three would make the perfect media darlings.
He sat a few minutes longer, rocking slowly, and enjoying the world he had built for himself. It was one for the history books. All he had left to do was set it free and watch it become the picture of perfection. He stepped off the porch and drove the red Craftsman around the side of the house and by the pool, admiring its beauty.
It was an elegant design, his pride and joy. Ceramic tile made an asymmetric pattern of white, tan, and grey around the graceful curves of the pool wall. The water came up to the wall's edge, reigned in by drains that recycled the water to two sandstone waterfalls on both sides, acting as a boundary between the deep and shallow ends. They were normally the finishing touch but he had yet to turn the filtration system on. Marine mosaics decorated underneath the water line with flowing fish that sparkled in the colors of the rainbow. Six to be exact with flowing fins and tails seemed to swim towards the surface. Their eyes were bright copper discs that disguised the jets that released the filtered water from the shed. They gave the fish an excited and inviting look. They were anything but. The kids were already splashing in the water and Erin waved as she stepped into the water, her dark green bikini swaying gently with her hips. Once inside the shed, the sounds of laughter and water replaced the engine as he shut it down. He left the shed and walked back towards the house.
"There'd better be water left when I get back," he called out sarcastically.
"James wait." Erin swan to the edge of the pool so her breasts rested on the edge. "Is the filter on? I don't feel the jets running."
"You know, you're right hun. I turned it off when I put gas in the generator. Thanks for reminding me."
"Hurry up stud, I'm starting to get a little cold in here." She wiggled beneath her bikini top to emphasize.
"Don't worry, I'll take care of that. I'll be right there." He winked and went back into the shed. It was time.
The filtration system was on the left side of the shed and took in water from under ground pipes before returning it to the pool. The generator, the key to it all, was completely underground which cut out the majority of the noise a machine of its size created. Only the breaker box, a simple control panel, the air intake and exhaust were above ground. He grasped the priming lever on the side of the control panel, gave it three deliberate pumps and held the starter button until the engine quietly roared to life beneath him. Once the voltmeter had settled on 250 volts, he cranked the dial to the right sending the needle up to 1,000. The engine kept up easily and James felt the low growl beneath him. He pushed the dial in, bypassing the safety, and the needle slammed against the right side of the spectrum unable to go above 1,500 volts. The generator now sounded like a distant muscle car speeding towards the horizon and still barely audible outside the shed. Good. The hair on the back of his neck stood with the increasing electricity in the air.
He opened the breaker box and saw the green fault lights over the different circuits for jets, lights, filter, and outlets. This wouldn't do at all. On either side of the panel were two ordinary holes. He inserted his thumbs, lifted and the panel opened to reveal a single, unlabeled relay switch. The only marks were two dots, red and green, the latter on which the switch was positioned. He gripped the relay and with a loud snap, switched it to the red dot. He closed the circuit panel and the fault lights now blinked red. Much better. Red is such a good color. A game of Marco Polo had begun outside. Marco should have stayed in China.
Palming the main breaker switch, James Morton flipped it on. The electric aura was sucked out of the room in an instant. Thousands of volts pulsed from the generator, crossed the relay into an alternate set of underground cables, and circled the pool. Six separate splices sent a cable to the edge of the pool and ended, sautered to the backside of each copper fish eye.
The games and laughing ceased immediately.
One Mississippi. Two Mississippi...
He held his hand on the switch for thirty slow Mississippi seconds then turned it off. He turned on the filtration system and the rest of the circuits, reversing the hidden steps between. He tilted his head back and let out a long sigh. It was done and now perfect. He put his work gloves on the table behind him and and soaked the black latex gloves he wore beneath them in a douse of gasoline. The first he took off and dropped on the floor. He lit a book of matches and dropped them onto the glove, sparking a thin two foot high flame. The other glove followed and the last evidence of his existence burned to a sizzling end. Walking out of the shed, he paid no attention to the face down corpses. James Stanley Morton turned left on the sidewalk and nonchalantly left his Southern California Kingdom.
At 6:13pm, Craig Templton turned on the TV in his Hampton Inn room in San Diego's Hotel Circle. He was eager, like a kid at Christmas, to see the top story on the evening news. Besides, with a morning flight out of Lindbergh Field, there was time to spare. He was on top of the world. Why not enjoy it for a little while? Spinning hamsters can wait.
© 2012 Haunzwürthe
Added on April 1, 2012
Last Updated on April 1, 2012
About-------------------------------- I am Mark but Haunzwürthe is more fun. -------------------------------- This year represents a huge change for me. After over a decade of military service, .. more..