Posts Tagged ‘Short Stories’

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Hey, guys! I am now extremely proud to announce that I now have a Patreon! Be sure to donate for exclusive content and cool stuff that you can’t get anywhere else!
-A.B.

I thought you might like to know my writing process and why I wrote the short story Mary-Lou’s Baby. If you haven’t read it, you can find it here:https://austinbouse.wordpress.com/2015/05/12/short-story-mary-lous-baby/. Come back here when you’re done.

There are a number of films that are rights of passages for horror fans. The Exorcist, The Shining, Texas Chainsaw, etc. Films that go beyond the Universal Monsters and Hammer Horrors of days gone by and create genuinely frightening films. “Demon coasters” Stephen King calls them. Horror films that don’t feel like movies, but experiences made my filmmakers that you don’t quite feel safe with. One of those I think is Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby. Though not as gothic as other demon pictures of the 70’s like Exorcist or The Omen, Baby operates more like a psychological thriller. I remember watching it for the first time and was deeply disturbed by its themes of how being a mother could be the most horrifying thing someone go through. And yet, I was greatly moved by how Rosemary accepted her child at the end of the movie. “She’s not going to think that way when he hits puberty,” I thought to myself with a laugh. Then it occurred to me that what if that really did happen? What would the Antichrist be like as a teenager?

You hear this thing about how being a parent will make you a better person. How it will make you love more. As I get older, I think that’s not necessarily true. There are just some people that should not be parents. That’s what I wanted to write about. What if the Antichrist wasn’t born to a high-class New Yorker like Rosemary, but to an all-American girl from the deep south? What would that be like. But at the same time, if a mother supports her child no matter what, doesn’t that make her a good mother? After all, I highly doubt that Mama Hitler knew her little Adolf would become history’s definitive portrait of evil when she was changing his diapers. Should the responsibility fall on her for not taking him down a better road or would he just end up that way regardless? What are the limits to a mother’s love?

If Christ had one, shouldn’t his opposite have one too?
-A.B.

Warning: The following short story contains language and horror-related imagery. Suggested for mature audiences. 

    

They say that mother is the name for God on the lips and hearts of all children. If that’s the case, then I don’t know what that makes me. My name is Mary-Lou Watson and my son is the Antichrist. Now I don’t mean that he’s one of those problem kids or anythin‘ like that. I mean he’s the actual son of the Devil. That teenage kid that you see on TV at the podium in football stadiums? Yep. That’s him. That’s my baby. It’s kind of a long story.

     First of all, the thing that you’ve got to know first is that I ain’t no Satan worshipper. No, sir. I’m a good ‘ol girl from Critter, Texas and was bathed in the blood of Christ when I was just an itty bitty thing. I was Prom Queen of my senior year in high school, that’s where I met Bobby, but I’ll get to that later. Cheerleader for all four of those years. Even flossed my teeth every day. Whenever I told people that Jack is my son, they’d usually holler and run the other way or spit in my face. Can you imagine that? Little ol‘ Mary-Lou Watson, the prettiest girl in town, used to get spat in the face by total strangers at the Whataburger. It’s somthin‘ my momma and daddy never dreamed of happening to me, I guarantee that.

     My daddy’s name was Jordon Watson. He used to work on trucks and stuff. I remember the dirt under his fingernails whenever he’d come home from work. No matter how hard he tried, he could just never wash it off. My momma’s name was Doris Nightingale. Ain’t that a pretty name? Like somethin‘ out of a a Nicholas Sparks book. He’s my favorite. Anyways, she was a stay-at-home mom. I don’t have any siblings. Momma almost died giving birth to me. Maybe that was a sign that things weren’t going to be quite right with me. What’d ya call those? An omen? Down here we call them “cautions”. Something you gotta always look out for in life. My folks raised me up right. I learned how to say “Yes, sir” and “No, sir”. Always knew which hand to shake with. Always said “Please” and “Thank you”. Always ate with my mouth closed.

     I had a pretty nice childhood. It was your standard one. Played outside, ate ice cream, things like that. I had this doll, Emily her name was, and she had this fake hair on her. The kind that you could brush, and man oh man, did I ever do that. I would spend hours upon hours brushing little Emily’s hair. I would have her drink out of plastic tea cups and put her in doll-sized dresses every so often. One day, my daddy came into my room. “Lou-Lou,” that was his knick name for me. “Lou-Lou, you’re going to be a great momma one day.” I’d smile and he’d smile back. I like to think that he and Momma are lookin‘ down on me in Heaven and doing the same thing.

     High school was a-ma-zing. Like I said: cheerleader, prettiest girl in town, blah, blah, blah. Then, in junior year, I thought I met my soulmate. Bobby Reynolds was the captain of the football team. Six foot-two and with a face that could melt butter. All the other girls wanted to have him, but everyone knew that I was the only one that could be with him. It was like Romeo and Juliet. He was so romantic. He would give me flowers, open the door to his car for me, he’d even pick up the check when we would go out.

     My first time I did it with him was after prom. Except it wasn’t really with him. See, what happened was, we had gotten all liquored up and had gone to Hickey Hill. That was were all the other couples went to to make out and get laid. And don’t think I’m just some slut, cuz I ain’t. I didn’t do it up until then because of him. I knew Bobby was The One and he was definitely The One who was going to stick his rocket in me. So, there we are at Hickey Hill, he had told everyone to meet up at a certain time. I was kind of nervous that my first time was going to be an orgy, but whatever. The Romans did it, so why don’t we? He had told us all to make sure to buy some robes. Specifically black. Except for me. Now it was pretty obvious, but at the time I just thought it was kinky. The way you get to the hill is through this forest, see. What we did was we all parked in a ditch somewhere and turned off the lights so that no one could see us. Didn’t want the cops to catch us now did we?

     “Baby,” Bobby told me. “Now, baby, listen to me very carefully. We’re going to go through these woods, ya hear? Your gonna hold my hand, don’t worry, I got a flashlight. And we’re going to go to the top of the hill. Okay, baby?”

     “Mmhm,” I was feeling really tipsy from all the beer at the time.

     I took his hand and we went through the forest together. Now this part is a little fuzzy, but I’ll try and describe it as best as I can. The woods was really scary. The kind of scary that you see in a Disney movie, ya know? Real dark and the trees all crooked. If you looked closely, you could see faces in them. I could hear all the others going through the trees. I could hear them whispering and giggling to one another. Their flashlight beams going back and forth through the woods. I asked Bobby if this was some kind of love-fest, but he told me to be quiet in that real sweet voice that he had. After awhile, I could see or hear the other kids around me and I reckoned that they got to the top of the hill all ready.

     “Come on, baby!” Bobby said, pulling me. “We gotta get up there quick!”

     I didn’t know what all the rush was for at the time, but now I do. When we got up to the hill, I was surrounded by firelight. Lit torches in a circle surrounded the top of the hill. All of the other kids were in their black hoods and were wearing black masks. The masks had fangs and cat-like eyes carved into them. In the middle of the hill was a table made out of stone.

     “What is that?” I asked.

     “It’s for you, baby,” Bobby said to me. “It’s all for you.”

     I started to get real scared. Something didn’t see him right to me. But I looked into those deep blue eyes that Bobby had and I couldn’t resist. I loved him with all of my heart. I’m a believer in following my heart and I’m a believer in doing anything for the man that I love. So I did.

     He lead me by the hand and on to the stone table. I could now see that a pentagram was drawn in pink chalk on it. He knew that pink was my favorite color. What a sweetheart. He told me to lay back and raise my arms over my head. I did and I noticed that there were metal cuffs above and below me. He went around and locked them around my wrists and ankles. This was turning into some real Fifty Shades of Grey type shit. Bobby stepped back and said something in a funny language. The other kids repeated after him. He then gestured towards the the group and they parted. Another member, I can’t remember who, came up the hill carrying a goat. The member handed the goat to Bobby and he laid it on top of me. The weight of the hairy thing was really hard on me. I could feel it shaking it was so scared. I started to get nervous too. Bobby pulled out a knife from his robes, grabbed the goats‘ neck, and cut it. Blood poured all over me. Bobby and the crowd chanted in that funny language over and over. I screamed as the blood got into my eyes and into my mouth, but they just kept chanting and chanting. Their voices got louder and the whole place started to spin. This next part I remember a lot of.

     It was completely black. No chanting, no Bobby, no Hickey Hill. Just total blackness. I don’t even remember breathing. It didn’t feel like I was in my body anymore. I was just. . . there, ya know? Then I heard something. It sounded like a cat purring. It started off soft and then, as it got closer to me, it turned into the sound of a dog growling. I felt hot breath on my face. I saw long claws coming out of the black and red eyes and horns. All of these things weren’t connected to a body, or one that I could see anyways. Tails came out of the thing and looped around me. I could feel its dryness going all over my body. I got really warm, not just downstairs but everywhere. It was like the best orgasm I ever had. Then I saw fangs and its face. It was a man’s face looking at me. Smiling at me, but not in a nice way. The man turned into a woman. The most beautiful woman that I’ve ever seen. Then a lion. Then back to man. Then a lizard. It kept changing its face, going through all sorts of things. Its tails started to move faster around me and harder. The hotness that felt good before now felt like sandpaper. It hurt so bad. The worst I’ve ever felt. The thing above me grew wings like a dragon and started screaming at me. It wasn’t one voice, but a hundred of them. Lions, elephants, horses, cats, dogs, people, you name it. Anything that had a voice screamed at the top of its lungs at full blast. I wanted to cry and scream, but I didn’t have a head to do it. The pain was so bad that I wanted to die. Just end it, I thought. I wasn’t Mary-Lou Watson anymore I was less than that. I was nothing. Just something for this thing to torture with. It opened its mouth and a snake came out of it. The snake hissed at me and then went inside me. I could feel it coiling in me. Making its home inside of me. Then I woke up in my bedroom.

     Pretty fucked up, right?

     Well, you can bet that I was pissed off the next day. I banged on Bobby’s front door, yelling that he owed me some kind of explanation. He answered the door very calmly. Those blue eyes and that smile didn’t look beautiful to me any more, they looked ugly. He got me a glass of water and sat me down on the couch in his living room. He explained to me that he and his family had been a part of this cult. Except he didn’t say the word “cult” he said “religion”. He told me that he was trained since he was little to carry out a plan. A plan that he was honored to carry out. When he was old enough, he would court a girl and then have her be the carrier for the son of their God. Their God was Satan. He said that I was going to be the momma of the Antichrist. I took a sip of that water that he gave me because I felt sick. Then I spat it back out at him. I slapped him. I slapped him so hard his face was covered in red blotches. He grabbed my arms.

     “Baby! Baby! Listen to me!” He looked right into my eyes. “I know you’re upset and I know I did you wrong. But believe me when I tell you that I love you. I do. I really do. I didn’t want to fall in love with you, that wasn’t meant to be a part of the plan, but I did. I think you’re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever met. Both inside and out. But I had to do this. This is important. You’re baby is going to change history. Your going to be the momma of the man who rules the world.”

    When he put it like that, it kind of made sense. After all, you’re suppose to respect people’s beliefs no matter what, right? Jesus didn’t judge people, so how could I? Beating him up for doing something that he was raised to do wasn’t right. Maybe, as a momma, I could raise him up good. I’ve always wanted to be one and this was my chance to do that. What if I was responsible for raising the ruler of the world? That would make me the best momma ever, wouldn’t it? And he did love me. I believed that Bobby would never hurt me. 

     He held my hand gently. “And I’ll be there with you every step of the way.” Nine months later, Jack was born.

     The pregnancy and Jack’s birth went as planned. Nothin‘ too serious. Momma and Daddy were so happy to have a grandson. ‘Course, there were a few people at school that gave me the dirty look at my bump, some teachers too. But I didn’t care. Let them look. Bobby and I got married a few months before Jack was born. It was a small ceremony. It was only until Jack was about six months old when things started to get weird.

          The first caution was when we took him in a church to get baptized. Bobby argued with me that it was against his religion. But I told him that, if we were going to keep this a secret, we had to act like Jack was just a regular baby. We couldn’t get him up to the alter because he was crying so loud. His wailin‘ was echoing against all the walls. It was quite the scene.

    When I would play CDs of baby music to entertain him, he would cry and cry and cry again. Then, after awhile, he figured out how to control it. He would swirl his finger around and the music would start to play backwards. It was this really horrible low warble that would come out of the speakers. It turned my stomach into knots, but if it made my Jack happy, then I was just fine with that.

In the morning, when I would go into the nursery, the room would be covered in flies. Jack would just be lyin‘ there in his crib, giggling up a storm as thousands of black bugs buzzed around him. Instead of coughing up the usual phlegm that babies do, he would gurgle this black tar type stuff whenever I’d pat his back. I took him to the pediatrician once, but the doctor said he was just fine. I don’t even want to mention what kind of a mess he would make in his diapers.

     Now you’re probably asking yourself, “Mary-Lou Watson, how could a God fearing woman such as yourself be as right as rain to getting raped by Satan and being the mother of his child?” To that question I would respond with this: I’m a big believer that God has a plan for all of us. Whether it be for good or for bad, that is up to Him. And if His plan means that I’m the mother of the Antichrist, then I’ll be the mother of the Antichrist. Besides, what kind of a mother would hate their child? Jack never asked to be who he is. He doesn’t have goat legs or horns or a mark of triple sixes on his forehead. No, Jack is a perfectly handsome boy. It’s not like I was his slave or anything like that. I had my say in some things too, ya know.

  Over the years, Bobby became less and less of a father to Jack. He would usually show up at two in the mornin‘ stone drunk. He’d beat me and yell at me. Call me a whore. He’d tell me that I didn’t matter to Jack at all. That he would find his own way to become the Antichrist. That, once he did, we’d all be dead. Everyone. The whole world. I had loved him, but now I understood that he was just an asshole all along. That behind those blue eyes was a pig of a man. I couldn’t divorce him since my family didn’t believe in it. One night, when Jack was about four, Bobby beat me up something fierce. He tried to slam my head through the wall and it must’ve woken him up.

     “Daddy?” Jack said, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. “What’s wrong?”

     “Nothing son,” Bobby whisky stained voice said. “Mom-mommy and I are just talkin’. Isn’t that right, Mommy?”

     I nodded the best that I could. I was on the floor with my make-up running down my face and blood in my hair. “Yes-yes, baby. Daddy and I are just talkin’. Go back to sleep, now.”

     Jack looked at me then back at Bobby. He squinted his eyes at me. “Daddy hurt you, didn’t he? It’s okay, Mommy, you don’t have to lie to me.”

     You know when people say that a lightbulb turns on in their head when they have a good idea? Well, that’s what happened to me at that moment. “Yes, honey. Daddy did hurt me. Daddy hurt me real bad.”

     “What are ya doin’?” Bobby asked me, his breathing getting faster. “Don’t tell him that.”

     “Is that true, Daddy?” Jack asked. “Did you hurt, Mommy?”

     “I-I-I,” Bobby could fill a bar with all of the alcohol he was sweating.

     “Daddy’s been hurtin‘ me for a long time,” I said getting up.

     Shut up, Mary-Lou!” Bobby screamed at me. “Don’t you know what he’s capable of?”

     “Daddy was being mean,” Jack said stepping towards him. “Daddy should never ever hurt Mommy.”

     “Jesus Christ,” Bobby whispered. “Help me, Mary-Lou. Please fucking help me!”

     Jack stretched out his arms beside him, his palms facing outward. “Daddy should be in time out!”

     Jack clapped his hands together and, before he could scream, Bobby blew up. His brain, blood, bones, and everything in between was all over the living room. His intestates hung on the couch like party streamers. I gasped in shock, soaked with Bobby’s insides. Jack, covered in blood, walked over and hugged me. “It’s okay, Mommy. I’ll always be here to protect you.”

     “Good boy,” I said. “Good boy.”

     After that incident, Jack and I became really close. Inseparable even. Where he went, I went. After we cleaned up Bobby, we would tell anyone who asked that that drunk son of a bitch uped and left us. Gone. See ya. We didn’t need him anyways. I can go to community college and raise a child by myself, thank you very much. Even home schooled him too. Can’t let him go to a regular school and have him turnin’ kids into hamburger every time they make fun of him now can I?  For years it seemed like Jack and I were the only people in the world. That is, until Brother Malcolm showed up.

     It was the day after Jack’s thirteen birthday. The knock came when he was playing video games in his room. I opened the door and the man was dressed from head to toe in black and wore sunglasses. I was stunned that he would wear such a thing since it was during the summer. Texas summers are hot as fuck.

     “Hello, is this the Watson residence?” He asked in a very calm voice.

     “Yeah,” I said. “Are you sellin‘ somethin‘?”

     “Oh, no, Mrs.Watson. My name is Brother Malcolm and I am a member of an organization that is concerned a great deal with your son. May I come in?” I looked down and saw a golden goat’s head on the front of his collar. That was how I knew. Goat’s heads are sort of like black ties and white shirts on Mormons. You just know.

     “Or course you can,” I said.

     The screen door closed behind him. Seeing his tall body in a double-wide was like seeing a regular person try and stand in a dog house.

     “Should I get him for you, Brother Malcolm?” I asked.

     “Not at the moment, ma’am,” he said sitting down on the couch. He took of his sunglasses and I saw that he had gray eyes. Never seen those before. “I’d rather speak with you first.”

     “Oh, okay. Can I get you anything to drink?”

     “Some water, please.”

     I got some from the tap and set it on the coaster beside him. I parked myself on the the sofa across from him. He took the glass and looked at the water closely. Like he was inspecting it for bugs. He drank it. The whole thing, in one long gulp.

     “Thank you,” he said, putting the glass back down. “Now, Mrs.Watson I assume that you are aware that young Jack is, in fact, the Antichrist?”

     “Mmhm.”

     “And that the young boy has now hit the age of puberty?”

     “Mmhm.”

      “And that he has no father? No one to guide him?”

     “Mm- wait. How do you know all this stuff? And I can guide him myself, thank you very much.”

     “We have our resources,” he said quietly. “I am well aware that you can guide him, Mrs.Watson. However, I am also aware that you do not know the way of the Hellspawn like I and his late father knew. You see, Mrs.Watson. Once Jack starts to develop the attributes of an adult male, he will also develop the attributes of a demon. He is born of both Earth and Hell. Like most people his age, Jack will not understand how to use these attributes to their logical conclusion. This is where I come in. My organization sent me to tutor him to become what he must. The ruler of this planet and the bringer of Darkness.”

     He placed his hands together. He looked at me, but wasn’t looking at me if you know what I mean. Like I was some sort of fish. “Okay,” I said. “How are you going to do that?”

     “He and I will discover that together,” Brother Malcolm said. “What I need from you is your permission and trust that I can see him through his destiny. It would be a great honor, Mrs.Watson. It is something that I have been training for my entire life for.”

     I sat there for a little while, thinking. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust Brother Malcolm, the clothes and the way he spoke was enough evidence for me to know that he had Jack’s best intentions. It’s just that there was a part of me that felt that, well, that I’d be getting replaced. Now a momma knows that sooner or later she’s gonna have to let her baby boy or girl go. That a husband or a wife is going to take them or that they are just going to go through this wild world alone. Parents only can do so much. All you can do is just be the best training wheels that you can possibly be, really. Do the best and hope for the best.

     “Jack!” I called down the hall. “Jack! There’s a man here that wants to speak with you.”

     “Tell him to fuck off!” Jack yelled back, his voice muffled by his bedroom door.

     “That wasn’t very nice, Jack,” I said. I laughed politely at Brother Malcolm. His smile looked like an imitation of one.  “Come on out or you won’t get any supper.”

     I could here a loud sigh from all the way down the hall. The door opened and Jack walked out. Wearing his standard jeans, converse, and Waylon Jennings T-shirt, he came down the hall. The tips of his hair were now neon green. Yesterday it was purple. He didn’t need any products to do that, he just did it by thinking it. Such a creative boy. He got to the couch and Brother Malcolm stood up.

     “It’s- it’s such an honor to meet you, sir,” he said. It was the first time he ever showed any sign of nervousness. Any sign of being human, really. “Such an honor.”

     I explained to Jack that Brother Malcolm was there to help him become the antichrist because blah, blah, blah. Jack didn’t say anything and looked at me with half-awake eyes. He then looked at Brother Malcolm.

     “Okay,” he finally said. “But if you try anything funny, I’ll put maggots in your scrotum.”

     “Oh, Jack just loves to tease, doesn’t he?” I said to Brother Malcolm. “He really is a sweet boy once you get to know him.”

     “I’m sure he is,” Brother Malcolm sweating. “Shall we begin?”

     “Yeah,” Jack said in that lazy voice of his. “Just let me finish this level.”

     And that was that. Brother Malcolm lived with us from then on out. The tutoring that he did was a bit on the unusual side. He didn’t have any text books or homework. It was mostly done in Jack’s room. Candles, chants, that kind of stuff. I once snuck a peek inside and saw a huge red pentagram drawn on Jack’s wall. Could’ve sworn I saw it glow too. The tutoring did have its downsides, though. Sometimes the house would shake or the lights would flicker while I was doing the dishes. The TV would even get all fuzzy. I’d get mad then. I know the whole thing was important for him to plunge the world into eternal darkness and all, but did they have to do it during The View? Oh, well. Boys will be boys, as they say.

     Jack and Brother Malcolm studied together for about six months or so. Night and day. Those two were inseparable. Then came the day Brother Malcolm told me it was time for Jack to begin his “Word” as he called it. I was so proud of my baby boy that I almost screamed. We had a party for him later that night. Cake and everything.

     Brother Malcolm was much more tech savvy than I was. And I thank the Lord for that one, because you can be certain that I could never come up with what he did. See, Brother Malcolm had figured out in that smart little head of his that, in order to spread Jack’s Word, he needed to do that on the largest platform possible. He and Jack decided that the best way to go about this was YouTube. Hell, everybody practically has a YouTube account now a‘ days. I like the funny dog videos. Anyways, they uploaded the videos and BOOM, he hit the mother load. With his first video, Jack got 666,000 views. In them, Jack would sit in front of his computer and talk about how the government was destroying everything and that civilization needed to eat itself in order to be born again. He said something about a snake eating its tail, I don’t know the exact details, but they were so popular with the young folks. Teenagers would share them on Facebook and Twitter. They made T-shirts that said “JACK WATSON IS GOD” or paint upside-down crosses on their foreheads. That part I didn’t quite agree with, but it sure did catch on like wildfire. It was like his logo. His McDonalds arches. Even Fox News got wind of it and had Jack on the Bill ‘O Reilly show! Of course, things got kind of awkward when he melted Bill with his eyes, but still. Any publicity is good publicity.  The fans gave me some attention too. They would make glass candle holders, posters, drawings of my face on the body of the Virgin Mary. They thought of me as a blessed vessel for their savior. I just thought of myself as Mary-Lou, but I would be lying if I told you I didn’t like it.

     I wasn’t entirely exempt from any of criticism, though. My neighbors would ignore me. My friends from high school quit talking to me. Moms would slap me in the face when I was in line at the H.E.B. because their kids were turning away from Jesus. But I stood strong. I couldn’t help the way my Jack thought about things, could I? I firmly believe that a mother’s job is not to raise her child like she would want them to behave, but have them become their own person. Your kids may be from you, but they aren’t a clone of you. They’re their own person too. Besides, those bitches were going to be dead anyways.

     Now this is the part where things get a little ugly. Like I told you before, Jack’s videos were getting huge amounts of attention. Movie and TV deals were heading our way left and right. But Brother Malcolm would tell him not to sign anything. It was not the time. See, Jack wouldn’t just preach to kids in his videos. He’d tell them to do stuff. He called it homework. He’d tell kids to break a bunch of cars or set a church on fire. But no one would get hurt. Just a little vandalism is all it was. No biggie. But that was just building up to something big. His last instruction would be the match that lit the dynamite keg.

     It was the night before Halloween when he posted the video. He told all of the teenagers to not dress up that year and instead go after the real monsters. The parents. He said that parents, me excluded obviously, was the root of everything that was wrong in the world. He said that, because of bad parents, teens were cutting themselves, killing themselves, blaming themselves over all the things that went wrong. Jack said that parents were that way because their parents brought them up that way and so on and so forth. Parenthood was a cancer that continued from generation to generation. He told them that, if there were no parents, than teens would be able to eat, drink, and fuck whoever they wanted whenever they wanted. Paradise on Earth. The world would become Neverland and he their Peter Pan. So they did. They grabbed their daddy’s guns, their baseball bats, their lighters, their steak knives. Anything that they could get their hands on, they used it to take out their folks. That was really hard for me to see. On the news and in the streets, kids murdering their own mothers and fathers. Breaks my heart just thinkin‘ about it. Kids are pretty vulnerable to people their age. Jack knew this and used it to full effect.

     Since then the world has changed. Volcanos have erupted, tsunamis of blood have ripped through buildings. Demons are rising from the cracks of the ground. And here I am in my double-wide, sitting on my recliner, drinkin‘ Lone Star in the city formally known as Critter, Texas. I’m watching a broadcast of one of Jack’s sermons. He’s in a football stadium with thousands of kids chanting his name. Their arms outstretched to him, their eyes wide as hubcaps. The stage is flanked by banners with his logo on them. Brother Malcolm stands quietly next to him with his arms folded as Jack speaks into a microphone on a podium. “I’d like to thank my mother,” he says looking into the camera. “I love you.” And I start to cry.

     Good boy.