Chapter Seven: Confessions and Lamentations.
He woke up the next day and immediately looked for Amanda. She actually slept longer than him which was really rare. She was always up before him in the morning and gone. I guess she no longer had anywhere to go. He was worried that she didn’t have anyone left besides him. She had her marching orders from Remus and the only other human contact he knew she had was Charles. Charles. He suddenly felt really stupid. Charles was his friend before all of this started and Anthony decided it was his job to set things right. Was Charles forced into this like Amanda and if so would he be able to save him too?
He went to the basement bathroom, relieved himself, brushed his teeth and turned on the shower. He climbed inside and tried not to think about anything for once. He just stood there and washed himself enjoying the warmth of the water. His body wash was supposed to be the scent of rain but he never thought it actually smelled like it. He did like the smell though. He finished washing himself and didn’t move. He let the water wash over his head and then a thought finally crept into his head that he couldn’t shake.
Jonathan had told him that he had to speak to his mom about the day his father died. He jumped out of the shower and dried himself quickly. He went to his room and got dressed. He heard Amanda’s deep breathing and figured she might sleep for a while. He went upstairs and saw Christina, the hospice nurse, coming out of his mother’s room. She politely said hello and when he looked towards his mother’s room she added that his mother was awake. He knocked on her door and he could faintly hear her say, “Come on in.”
He pushed the door open and moved very slowly. The woman who lay there dying was just a shell of the woman he once knew. She lost a lot of weight over the last few months and was very weak. He approached her bedside and sat down the chair that Christine uses when she is checking on her. Hospice had brought in a hospital bed for her that electronically raised the head and feet areas of the bed. She fumbled for the controller and raised her head up so they could talk while looking at each. “Hi. How are you doing son?”
He wanted to tell her the truth but didn’t want to worry her. “I am fine mom. How are you feeling today?”
“Weak. I can barely keep my eyes open.” She struggled with every movement that she attempted.
He didn’t want to upset her in this frail state but he had to know what she knows. “Mom, can I ask you something? I don’t want to upset you but it’s something we need to talk about.”
“I had hoped you would come. Father Byrnes was very concerned that you would not come.”
He was taken aback by that and asked, “You talked to him? When?”
“He called last night while you were out. We didn’t talk long but he was very concerned about you. He didn’t say why you needed to talk to me only that it was important.”
Anthony swallowed hard. He knew this was going to be tough but this was ridiculous. “Mom…I…Uhhh….need to know what happened the day dad died and why ever since then you have kept me at arm’s length.”
She nodded as he spoke and laid there in silence for a few minutes before speaking. “To put it bluntly I was afraid of you.” He could see a tear forming in her eye as she spoke. He felt his stomach drop. “You know how your father died? In the car accident?”
“Yeah, that’s what you told us.”
“You woke up that morning hysterical. You had a really bad nightmare about your daddy going to sleep forever. I will never forget how you came running to me and begged me to keep daddy home that day. I didn’t understand why but since your father didn’t’ have to work that I thought it wouldn’t be problem. He was fine staying here to make you feel better. He loved you very much and didn’t want you upset all day.”
Anthony felt the tears forming and they burned his eyes. He wiped his eyes and finally managed to say, “Why did he leave then? You never told me why.”
“He left because your uncle was coming into town, you remember him being there after the accident?”
Anthony thought for a second then said, “Yeah, Uncle Tony was very sad that day.”
He heard the beeps in the machine that is monitoring her heart increase slightly as she recalled these events. He heard this many times over the last couple of months and wasn’t too worried. She was obviously getting worked up about this conversation which is something he did expect.
“Well your uncle called from the truck stop saying he had car trouble and needed a ride. I wanted to tell him that I would go instead but he insisted that he would be fine. He snuck out while you were in bathroom to prevent a scene. When you noticed he was gone you began to freak out. You talked about how the car wasn’t going to work right and that it will fold up like paper. I found out later that night after the accident that the brakes went out and then I saw what the car looked like. You were right about everything. I remember you saying little details about how your daddy looked and I saw them in real life.”
The beeping increased again and she was breathing really hard. He didn’t want to push her anymore and had enough of an answer to satisfy his needs. He reached out his hand and rubbed her hair. He scared her, huh? He completely forgot his part in the story. I guess the whole day was too traumatic for him to remember that he had that dream. He decided there was only one thing left to say. “I love you mom. All I have ever wanted was for you to know that.”
She started crying again and a lot harder this time. “I love you too, son. I always have and I am sorry I didn’t say it more often.” As the last word escaped her lips the beeps turned into alarms and she was in full cardiac arrest. Anthony yelled for Christine and watched in horror as his mother departed this world. He felt like he was the seven year old boy once again. He couldn’t control his tears as the nurse gave his mother C.P.R. Amanda and Theresa both came running into the room to see him there, broken. Amanda ran to him and wrapped her arms around him.
He heard music coming from somewhere. It was the most beautiful music he ever heard and it enveloped him in peace. He stopped crying and squeezed Amanda in his Arms. He couldn’t be sad anymore and could only guess where the music was coming from. He looked down on his mom’s body and knew she was also at peace. No more pain, no more struggling, no more need to be afraid. He reassured himself that his mom was now in a better place and there was nothing more he could do for her.
The rest of the day went by fast. The ambulance came and took her body away. There wasn’t much time to eat that day. Long lost relatives came and went all day long. Theresa played the dutiful daughter and arranged everything. Anthony felt a great deal of pride for her on that day. They had their issues that may never go away but for that day and until his mother’s funeral they were a team. Anthony didn’t feel the need to run and hide anymore. He and Amanda did everything they could to accommodate everyone as they came that day. Theresa would make sure everyone had food and they would make sure that everyone had a place to stay. Anthony would call hotels and friends in the area.
Anthony exhausted himself running errands making sure that all was done that was required of him. He collapsed into his bed that night and fell asleep without thinking about moving to the floor. Amanda didn’t try to get him to move and he slept in his usual spot on the floor. She felt bad that he had to celebrate his birthday under the mar of his mother’s death. While Anthony was busy taking care of his family she called around to find his birthday present. She had money saved up from what little Remus gave her to live on. She finally found something that was in her price range and asked the owner to drive it over in the morning. She slept very well that night thinking she had finally gotten something right.
She woke Anthony up early the next morning with a “Happy birthday” and he couldn’t help but smile. He survived the night without a dream and the first thing he saw was her smiling face. “Come on, get up and get ready. I have a surprise for you.” He smiled back at her and hurriedly got ready that morning. He managed to get ready in a decent amount of time and came upstairs to see Theresa sitting at table drinking coffee with his Aunt Sister Ann Marie. She was a nun who belonged to the convent that was outside Valley City which was about a half hour drive east of Jamestown.
“Hello everyone. Do you know where Amanda is? She disappeared while I was in the shower.”
“She is outside talking to someone.” Theresa replied between sips. Anthony walked towards the door when his Aunt stopped him. She pulled him into the living room and got the same look on her face that his mom used to get when he got into trouble.
In that stern and concerned Auntly way she asked, “Where does she sleep when she is here?”
Anthony gulped. “In my bed and I am on the floor. She has nowhere to go. It’s a long story that I don’t have time for right now, but I will tell you everything. Excuse me please I want to see what she is happening outside.”
She didn’t try to stop him as he made his way out the door. Anthony didn’t know the man who Amanda was talking to but saw they were standing next to a blue truck. Anthony saw the truck was an older model but probably had a few years left of service in it. He walked up to them casually trying to hide his excitement. He looked back to see Theresa and Sister Ann Marie standing on the steps. They obviously wanted to watch the show.
“Hey hun, this is Mr. Brim. He has agreed to sell his truck to you. I have already paid him the money, all you have to do is sign the title and it’s all yours.”
Anthony stood there dumbfounded as Mr. Brim extended his hand to shake his. Anthony shook the man’s hand and could feel his jaw open. He quickly shut his jaw but couldn’t erase the look of happiness on his face. They both signed the title and just like that Anthony was the proud owner of a 1978 Ford F-150. He couldn’t manage to say much other than “thank you” over and over again. He looked back to see that his whole family was there all singing him happy birthday. Theresa came down the front stairs with a birthday cake that he could only guess that she made herself from the sloppy spelling of his name. There were no candles on the cake but he didn’t care.
“Thanks everyone, but really you didn’t have to do this. I would have been fine considering what’s all going on.” He felt the love from his family that he had been longing for his whole life. They explained that if they did this because they felt they needed something happy to happen for their sake as much as his. The rush of emotions ran the entire gambit from happy to sad and back to happy. He had no idea but this would be the last birthday he would celebrate with his family.
He drove Mr. Brim home with Amanda sitting next to him. They drove to the DMV and got the title exchanged. Anthony was so excited to have his own vehicle that he didn’t notice that it needed some work. It didn’t break down that day which was good because they drove all around town together. She sat next to him the whole time and she felt just giddy seeing how happy her present made him. She took that tainted money that Remus gave her and turned it into something good. They returned home later that night just as happy as can be.
There was Theresa sitting in the same place she was earlier, drinking another cup of coffee. Anthony walked by her straight towards the coffee pot. He poured himself a cup and looked at Theresa. She barely noticed his presence. “So, how ya doing sis?” She looked up at him with an all too familiar look of scorn on his face. He looked down to see her holding a piece of paper in her hand. He walked over to her noticing there was something definitely wrong with her.
“The next time that idiot friend of yours comes over tell him not to be so rude.”
Anthony frowned before saying, “What friend?”
“Charles you moron!”
Anthony stepped back. “First, he is not my friend anymore. Second what did he say to you?”
She shook her head, “Doesn’t matter. He wanted me to give this to you.”
Anthony unfolded the paper and read it.
Meet me in hell and don’t forget your sword.
Anthony shook his head as read it. Anthony wondered of all the places they could meet why Charles picked that place. Hell was what all the local kids called the one abandoned warehouse in Jamestown. It was located at the bottom of Hillcrest hill and east of the junk yard. It was in the middle of a field far away from other structures. The kids called it Hell to scare other kids when they brought them out there. They went there once as a kids and Anthony remembered being scared of that place. It was just spooky. There were random pieces of hardware lying around and cobwebs everywhere. Anthony decided he was going to answer the invitation and walked down to his room with Amanda right behind him.
Amanda watched as Anthony took out his sword from its hiding place under his bed. Her eyes got really wide when she saw the sword. She looked at him with disbelief. He dropped the sword on his bed then went over to her trying to hug her. She pushed him away saying, “You are to go fight him aren’t you?”
“I don’t want to fight him Amanda. I have to go and see if there is a chance I can save him too.”
She swallowed hard. “There may be no saving him.”
“I have to try. If what you told me about Remus is true, then someone has to get through to him.” He replied with a heavy heart.
“Please stay. I am afraid you might get hurt.” She pointed at the sword saying, “I mean you don’t know how to use that thing do you?”
Anthony shrugged, “Better to show up prepared for a fight and lose than to show up unprepared and never have the chance to win again.”
“Ok. So why are you so eager to go if there is a chance you will lose?” She asked and she was starting to tremble. He pulled her close wrapping his arms around her.
“I have to try to save Charles and if I can avoid a fight I will. I was able to save you and considering he and I were friends for many years, I think I owe it to him to try.”
“Why does it fall to you save the world? Isn’t it enough for you to know that you saved me?”
He took a deep breath then replied, “If I was to die knowing you were the only person I was able to save I would die happy. You are as much of a reason to do this as anything else. The world needs to be saved so that you can live in it. I don’t have all the answers and I don’t want to know them all. I know that there is a chance I can help him and I am going to try.” She could only nod her understanding. He squeezed her gently and turned to leave. She grabbed his arm and without thinking he turned to kiss her. She let him go and he asked for her to wish him luck.
He got out to his truck and threw the sword on the seat. He started the truck and pulled it out of the driveway. He drove east towards Hell with the hope that he could something good. As he was driving he again saw the world melt before him. He pulled the truck over before he lost sight of the world around him. He saw himself standing before Charles with blood on his sword. Charles was begging for Anthony to stop. Anthony could feel anger inside him that he could not control. Charles was his victim and he was going to make him pay for hurting Amanda. Like before this vision melted away into a different one. He was standing in the exact same place as he was in the last vision. Only his sword was still in its scabbard and Charles was laughing at him. He could tell that Charles was in control this time. He wanted to defend himself but let Charles hit him instead. He could feel every punch and didn’t know if it was sweat or blood that was dripping down his face.
The world returned to normal around him as he realized the choice he faced. He understood what Jonathan meant now more than ever. Danger or knowledge. He put the truck back in drive and continued on towards Hell. He got there shortly and sat in a truck thinking for a second. He got out of the truck, grabbed his sword and attached the scabbard to his belt. He walked inside to see Charles just standing there with his back to him. “I am here. I brought my sword as you demanded although I will not use it against you my friend.”
“FRIEND? That’s what you call me? After all you have taken from me, you dare call me friend? She was promised to ME not YOU.”
“Did Remus send you here?” Anthony asked suspecting that this was an independent action.
“NO. He doesn’t know where I am right now. I came here to kill you and take back what’s mine.”
“Charles, listen to me here. It’s not too late for you. We were best friends once and we can be that again.”
“You were never my friend. You probably thought that I was disposable the way you so easily replaced me with Ryan. A real friend would NEVER DO THAT. Remus told me how much you enjoyed not having me around and that you liked having your other friends around more than me. I refused to believe it at first then I saw you two together and you were having a grand ole time. It made me sick to think my friendship meant NOTHING to you.” Charles ran up to Anthony and slapped him across the face.
Anthony winced from the pain, his hand was steady on the hilt of his sword but he stopped himself from drawing it. Anthony spit because he could taste blood. His teeth had obviously cut into cheek when Charles struck him. He looked straight at Charles face and saw the hatred in his eyes. What kind of person would get this mad at anyone over something so petty? Charles couldn’t be this crazy could he?
“Why are you doing this Charles? I am sorry for what happened before but this is our chance to reconcile. Isn’t there any part of you that wants my friendship?”
“NO” Charles yelled and this time he used a closed fist to strike Anthony causing him to stumble back a step.
Anthony stood his ground believing that this what his visions meant for him to do if he wanted knowledge. He was trying to think of the right thing to say when Charles struck him again and then again. Anthony’s head was hurting and he could tell that he had an open wound on his forehead. A feeling of wooziness overtook him but Anthony stood his ground.
“Charles, I don’t know what Remus has told you but this isn’t the way man. I only want to help you.”
Charles scoffed at Anthony’s words saying, “Help me? You have everything. You know NOTHING of pain, how could you hope to help me?”
“I know what pain is my friend. I left my happy home in Fargo because I thought I was going crazy. I came back here and I suffered through losing you as my friend for a second time. I found out only two days ago that my entire relationship with Amanda has been a lie and yesterday MY MOTHER DIED! How dare you say I don’t know pain? I know it better than you would ever imagine.”
Charles stopped as if he was suddenly frozen in ice. Charles’ mind broke irrevocably in that moment and then continued his assault on Anthony. Anthony fell to the ground as Charles continued speaking, “You are so stupid. Did you honestly think you could talk me out of this? I made this CHOICE OF MY OWN FREE WILL. Remus showed me the path to everything I ever wanted. Why would I choose you over that?” He kicked Anthony one last time as he tried to crawl away. Anthony figured it was time to fight back. As Charles kicked Anthony grabbed the foot and rolled. Charles flew forward and face planted in the dirt.
Anthony got to his feet as fast as he could which wasn’t very fast at all. Charles was reeling from the hit to his head and managed to rollover. Anthony steadied himself as best he could and looked at Charles. “It’s never too late for you change your mind. The good thing about redemption is that you can seek it ANY time you want.” He then turned and walked away. He got to his truck and undid the attachment to his belt which his sword hung from. He threw the sword in the truck, got in and drove away. He was in more pain than ever. He felt like a failure and would blame himself in the months to come because he could not save Charles.