Lights in the Night

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Chapter 4: Fright Flight

A thirteen-year-old boy rode his bike down a west London street. Not one of the fancy neighborhoods but welcoming and safe enough. His father recently died in an accident several months before. An accountant, he provided a safe environment for his wife and sons to grow up in, if not an exciting lifestyle.

For the first time since his father’s death in a train derailment, the boy was happy. He just asked his first girl out. Unlike his brother, he always found it difficult talking to girls. Today he got up enough nerve to walk right up to Betty Longenacher, and stand next to her until she asked him out. That was not how he remembered it, but at the time it didn’t matter.

On top of the world, riding through the streets. A warm June day, it seemed things could not get better.

Arriving home, he jumped off his bike, as he skidded behind his mother’s car, bounded up the steps and through the front door.

“Mum,” he called out as he headed for the kitchen and the fridge. Snack time, unable to find what he wanted.

“Mum, there any milk?” still, no answer.

Bookbag dropped on the countertop, he searched the lower level of the house, calling, “Mum?” every so often.

Running into the small back yard, he checked the shed and the garden. Father’s favorite hideout, his little place he would go and escape from the stress of his job. Not finding her outside, he ran back into the house and started upstairs.

Not getting a reply, he became pensive, slowing as he climbed the stairs. His calls quieter in case she was asleep, knowing she cried herself to sleep most nights.

Now softer, “Mum?” Still, no answer. Cautiously he opened the door to her bedroom. He still smelt his father’s scent in the room. The bed made, fresh folded clothes laid out.

Moving to the bathroom door he tapped and gave a quiet, “Mum?” After no answer, he cracked the door open and saw his mother laying naked in the tub. “Mum?”

She seemed peaceful, asleep. Eventually, he spotted the broken wine glass on the floor next to her hand.

The plane took a sudden drop from turbulence. Trevor jolted awake, grabbing the armrest of his business class seat. In a row alone, it took a moment for him to recover the awareness of his location.

He took a handkerchief from an inside coat pocket and wiped his eyes. That dream always made him emotional. Damned if his mother didn’t go and die on that day. Thinking, never did go out with Betty, I wonder where she is now?

Soon afterward, he moved in with Barney. Barney had always been the best older brother. Right out of college and twenty-three at the time. Just starting his life, but being damned sure not to let his little brother fall into the system. Barney did his best to finish raising Trevor.

The coroner’s inquest ruled her death an accidental overdose. A deadly combination of wine and sleeping pills. Trevor, always the romantic, told himself she died of a broken heart, she couldn’t cope with the death of her husband. Some people just aren’t meant to be alone.

Barney told himself she was weak, deciding to never let anyone so close to him again. It took all his strength to keep the pain hidden from Trevor. A lesser man would’ve started his own self-medication but Barney needed to be strong, for Trevor’s sake.

Barney took the little piece of land, the life insurance and liquidated it all. Kept Trevor in school, and that was the beginning of their business.

The first ten years were hard. More than a few times, Barney played fast and loose with the law. Clever, he never let the crimes take place near him. Always keeping a safe distance between himself and the illegal acts. After twenty years, he went legit. He had his connections, and the police still questioned him from time to time, but for the most part, he stayed clean.

Never having gone as far as murder, Barney only claimed busted fingers and kneecaps in the day: Now his survival relied on his reputation and his associates. It was well known if he needed something done, while not in the racket, he had the ability to make a phone call. Putting him promptly in touch with several crime organizations.

Trevor knew nothing of this. The memory of his mother dead, nude, in the tub, hit him hard. He worked hard to leave High School at the bottom of his class, tanking his A Levels. It was recommended he take some time off before college.

He headed off to find answers. The first few years he wandered the subcontinent of India. He found nothing in that brand of spirituality to help ease his pain. Wandering east, he skirted the more dangerous countries, but still found nothing to answer the questions plaguing him. Roaming through China, he spoke to every wise man available, until he found himself in Tibet. Still, no answers.

After exploring Asia, he came home to England where Barney kept the business running well and more important for their future, legal. Trevor cleaned himself up and started working with Barney learning the ropes. Even as he slipped on an air of respectability he still searched for answers.

When not at work, Trevor was reading books and combing the internet, searching for any hint that there might be something to the supernatural. He was infatuated with ghosts and spirits. Any avenue he thought might lead him to his unanswered questions he would seek out and study. After seeing so many false stories, his research had turned him into a skeptic. Often debunking promising leads from the comfort of his flat.

The sad thing was, Trevor, didn’t even understand the questions he asked or how to put them into words. He just knew there was an empty hole his mother once filled. In one way or another, he searched for the last two and a half decades, since his mother’s death, not knowing what he was actually searching for.

On the plane, composing himself he ordered a double scotch, never finding the urge to self-medicate with anything harder than alcohol and occasionally a little weed. His mother’s death showed him the dangers of prescription drugs, he took that to mean all drugs.

Thinking as he sipped his drink in silence. What the hell do I have to do to stop having this nightmare? Perhaps that’s what he was searching for. A restful night’s sleep. Currently walking through life in a constant state of exhaustion, staying up until he would drop off due to fatigue. Only to repeat the dream again, which would wake him up. He rarely got more than a few hours’ sleep a night.

Glancing at his wristwatch he realized he’d dropped off for a few hours. Maybe I am getting better? Maybe one day I will be able to lead a normal life. He finished the drink and exhaled a soft sigh. Stop being such a wanker.

He often wondered how long a person needed to go without sleep before they started hallucinating. He had read once over ninety-six hours, depending on the person. There were times he got so little sleep, he questioned if what he saw was real, lucid dream or a waking dream. How can a person tell what is real?

The flight had a couple of hours till landing, now would be an appropriate time to start cleaning up. He got up to wake his two traveling companions.

A long drive awaited them.

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