I Tried, Dad

Written by Pat Adams

"I tried Dad," Ron bellowed, clutching the corpse of his father. Though only dead a short time, the flesh was already growing cold. The stench of death was spreading to cover up the odor of spilled beer coming from a half-dented can of Lone Star. The old man looked so peaceful once Ron had closed his eyes and smoothed the angry scowl he was wearing when he died.

The doctors said it was a heart attack that killed him. Ron's father drank and smoked too much, and this weakened his heart enough that he just couldn't take the stress of yelling at Ron. The doctors could rationalize it all they wanted, but Ron knew that he had killed his own father.

At the funeral Ron tried to remain strong, but as the casket was closed before being wheeled out of the church, he broke down. He sat in the front pew sobbing, tears running down his face, then dripping off of his carefully clipped goatee onto his black silk tie. Time like this made him wish he could sink into a blackness of despair as dark as his suit and vest.

But interring his father into the ground on a cold December day was only the beginning. For most of his like Ron had felt a gnawing guilt that he had let his father down. After killing him, those feelings intensified.

Then Ron saw him.

While driving down 5th street three days after the funeral, Ron saw him sitting on a bench outside of Earl's Barbershop. Ron nearly swerved off the road, but shook his head and denied the apparition. He did not want to be crazy.

The next day while loading some groceries Ron dropped a pint of ice cream. He knelt down to pick it up, and as he stood, an old black Ford crept past. His dad glanced at him from behind the wheel. The car sped up in a puff of acrid smoke, but it didn't need to still be around; Ron was shaking with fear.

Ron drove home slowly, heart racing and eyes wide open, wildly looking around for the specter. He pulled into the driveway and thumbed the button for the garage door. It arose with a loud creak. Ron waited impatiently for the door to rise, yet fearfully, terrified that his dad might be standing there waiting for him, waiting to finish the argument.

Maybe he didn't want to finish the argument, maybe he didn't want to fight. What if he wanted to take Ron back to Hell with him?

But there was no ghostly visitor waiting in the garage. Ron went into the kitchen after grabbing his bag of groceries and shutting the garage door. He put away his TV dinners, then picked up the ice cream. The doorbell rang, startling him and making him drop the ice cream again.

Ron left the container of ice cream rolling on the floor, leaking vanilla ice cream. It's top had fallen off when it hit the floor, and a spray of ice cream shot onto the cabinet. Ron wasn't worried about cleaning it up: divine retribution was at hand.

The doorbell rang again, but Ron's porch was empty when he pulled back the heavy oak door. Ron breathed a sigh of relief, wiped the beads of sweat from his forehead, then shut the door, making sure to set the bolt.

The lights were off in the kitchen when Ron returned. He flicked them back on. Ants swarmed over the spilled ice cream, shiny black warriors en masse. Ron knelt down to wipe the mess away with an old washcloth, then jumped up as he heard the noise.

Someone was sitting at his kitchen table eating his ice cream. This visitor was not just "someone", Ron knew who it was, though he could not recognize him. It was of course his father, though his appearance was changed enough to hide that fact.

The creature was horrifying, a rotten and broken human body perverted in ways unimaginable. Most of its flesh was charred an ashy black. The few remaining spots of unburnt flesh were riddled with holes and moved from the maggots underneath. Puss oozed from open sores, as well as the mangled socket of one of the creature's eyes. Dante could not paint a more hellish figure. It took a bite of ice cream, the muscles in its neck squirming as he moved, visible through the holes in its skin. When it swallowed the soupy ice cream it bubbled out through a gash in its throat.

"Ron," it wheezed, "I'm disappointed in you."

"Dad?" Ron stammered.

The creature stood up with a struggle, then started to limp towards Ron. Its uneven gait was a mockery of human movement, amplified by the creature's missing foot=85 His father's missing foot.

"Are you taking me to Hell?" Ron asked. "Are you taking me to the Devil?"

"I know nothing of the Devil, I've never met him. Hell is not so bad.

You'll learn to enjoy it." The creature's hand shot out catching Ron around the neck and cutting off his air.

Ron managed to force three words out before the blackness obscured the hideous grinning face of his father. "I'm sorry Dad."