Au Revoir

Bad News Bruce - Posted on 28 January 2014

Al Osorio/ special to PNN/ KHJ foundation


The Property Clerk Office attendant upends a manila envelope, spilling its contents onto a table and then stepping back. As beads of sweat appear on his forehead he begins to tap the envelope against his leg, in rhythm with an unheard tune. After a few moments he brings the empty envelope up to eye level, inspecting it with an apparent deep fascination before resuming the nervous tapping.
A young man shifts his field of vision from the attendant to his personal effects, then back to the attendant who seems unaware of the mans existence. Eventually he turns to the items, inspecting them dispassionately. Wallet, car keys. cell phone. Drawing closer,  fury begins to build inside him. The wallet was a Christmas present from his mother. How dare these people touch things his mother had touched. Turning on his heel, the young man strides for the double doors  just as three women are entering. Visible from the rear are six blood-encrusted bullet holes,  four in his back and one each in his neck and head.
The attendant’s agitated tapping abruptly ceases, his demeanor no longer one of unease. Tonelessly he mumbles “Sorry for your loss” in the direction of the women.
Three women sit closely together in the dimly lit hallway. All share the same heavily-lidded eyes and high cheekbones – features also shared by a young man they have just identified, a young man now resting in the freezer room directly behind them. The older woman nods her head and rises, her daughters rising dutifully alongside. One of the young women fusses at her mother’s face with a crumpled kleenex, further smearing her makeup. The woman’s dignity remains intact.
Entering the Property Clerk’s Office as the attendant makes his utterance, both daughters are startled as their mother suddenly pulls away from them, whispering her son’s name. “Did he just pass by?” She looks with ghastly hope at each daughter. “I think I felt him, just for a moment“. Each looks at her with deep compassion and pain.
Oh mama, mama“.
Gazing at her daughters, the corners of her lips twitch in an attempt at a smile. As the tears flow the Mother’s eyes begin to lose focus. “I just want to see him for a minute. That’s all, just a minute. Just a minute to say goodbye, to let him be on his way…’s cold in there, he always hated to be cold. I don’t think my baby knows what’s happened to him, I don’t think he knows”. She falls silent. Turning towards the hallway, she whispers his name once more. “My baby, my poor baby, my baby boy, Sweet Jesus he don’t know. I love you my sweet baby, why did they take my baby boy I want him back. I want him back I want my baby back oh God I want my baby oh God oh God oh God oh God OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD!”
Shrieking her sons name, the Mother sinks to her knees as her daughters enfold her.
Flashing red lights rhythmically illuminate a vehicle parked along a frontage road adjacent to a copse of birch trees. Inside sits a young man, heavily lidded eyes glancing into the rear view mirror at the police cruiser, wondering what the police will do to him, puzzled by how long he has been there. Periodically he is instructed to exit the vehicle and place his hands atop his head, at which point he is riddled with bullets. Presently he will be back inside the vehicle, glancing again into its rear view mirror and once more wondering what the police are going to do to him.
The Mother dreams of a large crow standing beside a frontage road, blood encrusted bullet holes scarring it’s back, driving away other birds before returning to strut in the roadway.
As she now does each morning, the Mother eats breakfast outside, a second place setting untouched beside her.  Sipping tea, she observes a crow as it alights nearby, a little closer today. Recently it has begun allowing sparrows to cluster within the birch trees. Soon she will dream of her son. He will come to her, and reach for her hand, and together they will rise above the clouds. Will she return afterwards? She will find out.
John 14:2  In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.


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