Robert Vanguard was a cranky old cuss. Seventy-eight and in failing health, he refused to go to a nursing home, rather, he insisted on being cared for by his only son, William.
William was thirty-six and loved his father very much. But as much as he loved his father, he hated the way the old man ran him around by constantly calling out to him, “William! Bring me some oatmeal!” or “William, I need to be changed!” More often than not, the old man would also bang his cane on the floor while he yelled. This bothered William to no end. With every rap of the cane, with every call and demand, William slowly but surely began resenting the old man.
William didn’t have much of a life, which he longed for. Before his father fell ill, he had a great job, great friends and met plenty of women. He worked hard and partied harder. When Robert got to where he couldn’t take care of himself, William gave up his life to devote it to his father.
He didn’t mind because he loved his father. Before he fell ill, the two had a decent enough relationship. But after Robert became in need of live-in assistance to help him do things he could always do on his own before, he grew cranky and he took it out on everyone. It got to the point where nobody stopped by anymore to see either of the men. Robert’s nasty attitude kept everyone away, and his constant demands kept his son too busy for company of his own.
One night after his father had gone to sleep, William decided he would drink. He didn’t get to do it often enough anymore, but he needed it. He needed some sort of break. Even though his father was a restless sleeper and often woke in the night, William risked it to have just one night for himself.
He sat alone in the study of his father’s large house and drank from a bottle of his father’s aged Brandy while listening to the thoughts in his head. Thoughts of how his life used to be versus how it was now. Depressed and liquored up with the bottle half gone, William began to fall asleep, hoping for dreams of a life without his bossy old man. Just as he started to snore, his father banged his cane on the floor and yelled out, “William! William! Bring me some milk!”
William shot up in his seat, the room spinning around his head.
“William! Bring me my milk now!”
William took a large drink from the bottle and stood on shaky legs. He groaned and stumbled through the dark house into his father’s bedroom where his father was laying in bed, banging his cane on the floor next to it.
When Robert saw his son was drunk he grew angry. “You’ve always been a no good drunk! Were you drinking my liquor? I know you were, because you’ve been using me for my money all this time! Bring me my milk!”
William was enraged. How dare he say that? William gave up his life to help his father. He never asked for this, to be an unappreciated slave. He grabbed his father by his bed shirt and lifted him up, causing Robert to drop his cane on the floor. “How can you say that dad? How?”
Robert was shocked at his son’s audacity and he began beating on William’s shoulders with his fists. William stumbled and he stepped on his father’s cane, which caused him to fall backwards. He held on tighter to his father in a desperation for balance, but he fell anyway. As he did, he pulled his father out of bed and they both crashed to the floor. William landed on his back with a thud, knocking the air out of his lungs. Robert came down next to him, head first onto the floor. William quickly gasped for air in a drunken panic until he became light-headed. Paired with the adrenaline and booze flowing through him, that was all it took, and he passed out.
The following morning William awoke with such a hangover! His head was pounding and his back was stiff and sore. The room spun around him when he opened his eyes and the dim light coming in through the window was enough to blind him. He moaned his displeasure and held his head with both hands, hoping for some stability, but none would come.
Finally he felt as if he could move, so he looked around to figure out where he was, since he clearly wasn’t in his familiar room. Just then he noticed his dad lying next to him on the floor with a puddle of blood under his head.
William sat up quickly, and again the room spun around him. He felt as if he might vomit. He took a moment to steady himself and then focused on his dad until finally the realization hit him.
“Oh god… oh god no…”
William searched his father for a pulse but found none. He wasn’t sure if he did it right, so he tried shaking his father awake. That’s when he saw his father’s eyes, wide open and staring across the room. His mind raced and William felt again as if he might vomit.
That’s when the second realization set in. Suddenly his thoughts all settled down and he focused on one particular idea. His father was dead. William was now free. Free from a life of agony and torment from his ungrateful father. He was no longer bound by his father’s chain. He could get his life back on track and be happy again.
“Poor Dad… he fell out of bed during the night and…” A smile grew upon William’s face. He began to laugh to himself, quietly at first. He was finally rid of the old man. His heart ached over his loss, but more so, excitedly beat away in his chest at the prospect of reclaiming the life he once had.
William got to his feet quickly, the pain in his body doing nothing to slow him down. He ran out of the room and found a phone. He dialed the morgue to let them know what had happened and to have them send someone out to collect the body to prepare it for the funeral.
As he dialed, he suddenly remembered bits of the previous night and the dialing stopped. He had ripped his father from his bed in a drunken rage. His father was powerless to defend himself. What had he done? William’s mind raced again and he set the phone back in the cradle. He couldn’t do that. He couldn’t pretend as if nothing had happened. He had to do what was right by his father, and be true to himself. He picked up the phone again, only this time he dialed the police.
The phone rang, and rang again. William heard the phone pick up on the other end and there was a shuffle. Finally there was a groan and he heard his father’s voice. “William, you killed me William! You’re such a drunk! Such a horrible drunk!”
William’s jaw dropped. “No dad! I didn’t mean to! Honest! I love you dad! I’m so sorry!”
“William! You putz! You’re going to Hell for what you did to me! You can never be rid of me!”
William dropped the phone and fell to his knees, holding his hands over both ears while he sobbed. He could still hear his father on the phone yelling at him for a moment and then the line went dead.
After another moment William opened his eyes and stopped breathing. He listened but couldn’t hear a thing. Other than the beating of his own heart inside his chest, all was silent. William reached for the phone and just before he could pick it up he heard his father’s cane smacking against the floor in his bedroom.
“William! Bring me my milk!”
Matt Roberts writes stuff sometimes, and it’s usually of the horror
variety. You can get his book here
or you can check out his website and read some free short stories at
officialmattroberts.com. He also has a Twitter
and a Facebook page.