This is the second vignette for the book, A Twinkle in the Eyes of God, A Monk Buttman Mystery, which will be released on 1/8/20. It concerns Monk’s contentious relationship with his mother, Rebekah. Monk is leaving. In Virginia, Monk was known as William Bohrman.
I remember sitting in the Falcon, not wanting to go in. I was at the house of my mother, Rebekah Altonberg, and her husband, Donald. Donald I had just left, having signed over my worldly possessions to Judah Martindale now that he had successfully taken my wife, Astral, from me. Donald was a banker by trade and Judah was buying my half of the farm.
My head hurt.
I found my mother sitting on her back porch, enjoying, I assumed, her garden and peach trees. She looked me up and down as I approached her, a grimace on her face.
“Is it all finished now?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said. My life here is finished now. “I’m here to say goodbye, mother.”
“Are you? It seems to me you said goodbye a long time ago.” She arched her eyebrows before returning her gaze to the grove of peach trees in the distance.
I wondered if she knew how much she sounded like her mother, the imperious Sarah Durrock, a woman I met at the end of her life and who was as unforgiving as my mother would come to be.
“I didn’t come here to argue with you,” I said.
She shook her head. “Yes, of course, say your goodbyes and run away. You’ve become very good at that, William.”
“Why shouldn’t I be? I come from very fine stock when it comes to running away.”
Rebekah Altonberg snorted. “Yes, very clever, except your father made something of himself as did I. You’ve done little other than to destroy your marriage and your family.”
My hands balled into fists. “I’m surprised. Those are the first kind words I’ve heard you say about Moses since I’ve been here. And what of my family? You left me when I was ten, so the sermonizing only comes off as self-serving.” I walked round to face her. “I’m well aware of how my marriage has fallen apart, and even though you seem oblivious to it, it does hurt, painfully.”
My mother’s face softened, a little. “Did you try, William? Really try? That’s what hurts me, because I don’t see it.” Her face tightened. “What I see is a man who talks a lot, but does little but brood. Lilith waited and waited for you to come to her, and did you?” She waved her hand as if hoping it had the power to change or remove me. “Is it any wonder she’s left you? And your daughter?”
“Becky has her own life with Farrell,” I answered as if that made my leaving any better.
“Yes, that’s right, what good are you to her now?”
For a moment I had the urge to strike, to scream. The ache knotting my skull continued to twist. I took a step towards her and stopped.
“I just came to say goodbye, mother.”
Rebekah Altonberg, her clinched unsmiling face staring at me was nothing like Becky, the free spirit I once knew as my mother long ago on a commune in the hills of Northern California. The hair that had once flowed along her shoulders was now tightly knotted to the top of her head. No doubt her head ached too, but for different reasons, or maybe the same: her son, William Bohrman, was a failure.
“So you said. Goodbye, William. May God be with you.”
Yes, God was with me as the tears streamed down my face, all the way back to California.
©2019 David William Pearce