A Chapter by James

The dried, golden leaves fallen from the shade trees of Walter Park always gave Peter an indication of seasons change throughout. It was his shortcut home and a place of so many memories. Under the canopy of trees was where he had his first kiss, his first cigarette and the dimly lit hideaway gave him a sense of calm as a child growing up. Walter Park was a kindred world of his own and Peter let it be as such.

He hadn’t seen the park since senior graduation nor had he let the thoughts of its boundaries enter his mind past college. They were images he had more than welcomed to fade from his memory. After the discovery of his father’s body amongst a pile of crisp autumn leaves, the name stirred an emotion inside of Peter Conroy that not even he, himself could explain. 

William Conroy was found lying face down next to the pond where his son had once fed bread to the ducks, transforming a place of contentment into a desolate nightmare that he hoped he would never revisit. 

A single bullet was lodged into his left temple, ending William’s miserable life; suicide was the cause of death. Was this why he was face down in that early morning fog? Did William know that it was going to be Peter himself, that would come across his corpse and out of shame, he would plot to shield his lifeless eyes from looking back at the boy who once looked up to him?  Discovery of one’s own strength can be decided in a moments time, and with this, Peter discovered that he barely had any.

The young man tried to convince himself that his dad had died heroically, maybe saving a woman from getting mugged or perhaps from being robbed himself. The truth of the matter was that his father hadn’t saved a soul, not even his own. He had cowardly taken the selfish road and hidden his life behind the amber glaze of a liquor bottle. The man that had taught him the morals of life

painfully destroyed his own. Peter watched, and learned. The thoughts of these nightmarish stages in his life became a reason to hide away from what he once knew. These were his torments, his guilt, his hell and soon, his pleasure.


Peter Conroy suddenly opened his eyes from a dark space somewhere in time. Warm sunshine pushed through a filtered layer of fog and touched upon his skin as he gathered his bearings. All around, withered and wearied oak trees pushed towards the sky and let out their naked branches, guarding him like a prison. In the distance, the creaking of a merry go round cut the silence of the

early morning, catching his attention.

Where was he and better yet, how did he get there? The confusion struck him like a drug induced state. Was it a dream? Was he kidnapped? The questions enveloped him without any hope for an answer. Turning a complete circle to search for a clue, Peter felt as if he had been there before, like the trees welcomed him from the past. He glanced toward the sky and noticed a single leaf hanging from a branch above him, just within reach. Letting the urge over take him, he reached for the brittle branch, pulling the leaf away from its source of life. The object’s stained brown color painted its surface with an artist’s touch. The edges pushed away from the crease that made the center, drawing Peter to follow the middle with the tip of his small finger. He absorbed the color like reading a book, tracing each line with precision. The tip of his finger pushed off from the end of the leaf, finding nothing but emptiness in the air. As if Peter had placed a curse to the fragile item, the leaf’s edges slowly began to deteriorate away in the grasp of his fingers. Each piece fell like snowy ash, finding its own resting place in the grove. All but a single fragment shortly remained, struggling to stay on against the tease of the wind. Peter took the remaining piece within the grasp of his other thumb and fore finger, pulling it away and watching it flutter effortlessly towards its likeness upon the ground.

Darkness swallowed his eyes once more and the sounds of familiarity fell silent. 

Warmth swallowed his body like a security blanket as he felt a rush of adrenaline pass through his veins.

“Peter, come back from the water. You’ll fall in if you’re not careful,” a voice called to his ears, strangely entangled with the whispering of a fall breeze.

The voice made him open his eyes again, forcing him to peer across a hazy body of water.

Gray, green water lapped over small stones lining the shore of a pond, its ripples being pushed by the wind that had spun webs with the familiar voice. Peter reached down towards the water with his hand and noticed that it wasn’t his hand at all. It was that of a child’s. Short, stubby fingers extended out past an open pink palm. Soft textured with out the aging signs of life passing through it.

“Peter, sweetie, please”, again the voice calling to him.

This time though an aroma of freshly washed cotton tinged with caustic lilacs passed through his nose. It was a cheap perfume his father had purchased for his mother from the local drug store some years ago. William had told his wife that he had been wanting to get her something nice for her

birthday but Peter knew the real truth-in a frantic, last minute decision it was easier to pick something up when he had stopped for his nightly six pack.

Wait a minute, thought Peter.

He hadn’t smelled that perfume for almost 15 years. The last time his mother wore it was at his father’s funeral. 

Images of William Conroy’s body lying in solitude against the silks of his casket played like a slide show in Peter’s mind, flashing in and out against the murky pond as its background. Hands gracefully placed upon his still chest, a single white rose sat placed within his clasped fingers. William’s eyes were fixed and still, gone to a place unknown to the living mind. The look upon his lips reminded Peter of the sternness his father tried to etch into his childhood. William wanted a household ran like a military installation, the comfort of his own past. As a Vietnam veteran, Peter’s father never recovered from the trenches of war. His caring wife and son would suffer the consequences of these moments until his last breath.

Any thought of these times made Peter quiver with remembrance and fear of his father’s hypocrisy. Was there ever any substance to his love?

Peter let the darkness swallow him once more, only to be broken with the touch of a hand on his shoulder. The contact made him jump a little. The dizzying and alienated presence that he existed in made him feel separated from the strange world he was visiting.

He turned a cheek to the hand that had touched his shoulder at the water’s edge and followed the arm to its owner. His mother stood behind him. Her sandy blonde hair was elegant and beautiful and her lips were contoured by the gloss of red lipstick. 

With her body draped in white, she stood enchantingly surreal only a foot from Peter. He gripped her hand with a sorrowed stare, a hurtful stare, a stare that cried to her, “Where did you go when I was so young and helpless?”

It was a stare that wanted to hate her forever but could never find the strength nor the will to do such a thing. No real words were spoken; looks of sadness, loss, and deceit spoke for themselves with the pained eyes that Peter passed to the woman that left his life with out warning.

Susan Conroy gave birth to Peter 10 days to the eve of her 17th year; an early birthday gift that not even she had prepared for. Nonetheless, Peter was hers, first born, only born. 

The memories that he carried for his mother were only of vague images and scents. She would pass at his sixteenth year from a fight with breast cancer.  Now he was certain that this wasn’t real. The image, the physical appearance of his mother standing in his presence with revitalized health and compassion was nothing more than an apparition of his own mind. His thoughts were holding this picture in front of him, taunting him, holding his arms from fully embracing the woman he loved so dearly.

“Wake up Peter,” he attempted to push from his sealed lips.

The call for an action went unnoticed while his mother stood there covered in the white linen dress she was buried in. Her face was unchanged with the emotion she first touched him with. He tried to scream out loud once more and as if the sky revealed his pain, the clouds grew darker. The leaf strewn soil began to tremble and from where his mother was standing, the earth began

opening between her feet. 

Peter tried to grab for her, reaching for a hand, an arm, a piece of her dress but nothing would hold. As quickly as she had arrived, the depths of the abyss were taking her away. Peter fell to the ground, taking whatever he could grab to hold onto her. She continued to slip between his weakening fingers.

 “Mother, don’t leave me,” tears dripped from his eyes. “I love you, I’m sorry,” he screamed at the dark hole that was swallowing his mother.

Just as the black space slowly started to close, Peter felt something grab him from somewhere in time, calling him with angered authority, “Peter, get away from her!”

The person that had violently grabbed at him loomed over his head. The incarnation was his father, dreary and deteriorating corpse falling to pieces as the autumn leaves had from their parent limbs.

“You will always follow in my footsteps Peter,” his father smirked as he again reached for his son.

Peter dove to the ground and rolled to a stop on the wet dirt.

“You lied!” screamed Peter, “You are nothing to me, nothing!”

Peter pushed his body from the mud and stood to his feet, cold and trembling in the shadow of his dead father. Suddenly the ground began to shake again!  The dirt covering the forest floor cracked and slowly opened between Peter’s legs, pushing further and further apart. The earth opened to the black abyss once more.

William Conroy laughed through his gritted, yellow teeth.

“You’re wrong Peter, I am everything to you because you have become what I once was. You care only about yourself. You love only yourself.” William stepped closer to his son as he spoke, souring Peter’s nose with a scent of dried and rotting flesh.

Peter choked back vomit from coming into his mouth.

The ground opened further, too far for Peter to keep his balance anymore. Peter slipped and barely caught himself on the cragged and muddy edge that had formed in a matter of seconds.

“This will be your destiny,” William continued. “This darkened hole will be the hope of your life, an empty space draped in solemn hell.”

“Please, help me!” pleaded Peter as he struggled more and more. His fingers felt like fire against the cold dirt falling all around him. “I can’t die, I can’t go like this!”

William leaned down and looked at his son and for the first time in so many years nothing else around them existed. William placed a necrotic hand to Peter’s face and rubbed his pink cheek. His chapped and almost skinless hand scratched Peter’s face as he brought it down from his ear and ended at his chin.

“Peter,” William paused to impact his words. “You already have died.”

Peter looked back at his father, speechless at what he had just said. The pain he showed revealed the struggle of years past and the threat of many more.

William quietly closed his eyes and took in a breath of the fresh morning air, letting the moistened surroundings embrace his dead body. Slowly he opened them and looked back at Peter.

“I’m sorry.”

William grabbed his son’s hands and ripped them away from the dirt wall, releasing his only born into the emptiness of a black, cold ending. His world went dark.

Peter jerked awake from under his down comforter, soaked in sweat from head to toe. His heart pounded as if he had just finished a grueling marathon.  The palms of his hands shook and ached from gripping the mattress as if it were the edge of the nightmarish hole. 

He closed his eyes and leaned back against the damp pillow. His bedroom was dark and quiet like always, something that he had grown accustomed to since deciding the single life of a bachelor greatly surpassed the torture of a wife and kids.

Peter reopened his eyes into the darkness and reached for the nightstand drawer. The wooden drawer slid open and the sound of papers and a glass bottle greeted his ear like an old friend coming to talk. Peter reached for the lamp on the table and flicked it on, illuminating an empty whiskey bottle lying atop a stack of brochures, ticket stubs, and women’s phone numbers scribbled on napkins.

He picked up the glass bottle and looked through it like a spy glass with nothing on the other side. A minor remnant of liquor hugged the corner of the container, bringing a look of frustration to Peter’s face.

He replaced the bottle of liquor to its home in the drawer and closed it with a thud. Peter leaned in to shut the light off and was again bathed in darkness, his darkness. He let his head drift back to his pillow and looked up at the ceiling. He was again by himself, surrounded by nothing but his thoughts. Peter liked it that way, it was his life and soon, thanks to his father, his death.

© 2013 James

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I really love your writing style. Very descriptive and you captured the emotions well. I am very interested in what will happen next!

Posted 10 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


10 Years Ago

Thank you Easybreezy. Your comment meant a lot.

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Added on May 5, 2013
Last Updated on May 5, 2013



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