Chapter 18 - Big Boots to Fill
7:24 AM | Author: Jeff
For three days after the funeral, Jay had neither called, visited nor answered his phone, he shut himself in and the world out, Paul, was worried. After Pops had died Paul had offered to be there for Jay for any reason at any time day or night, an offer Jay had politely refused, knowing that despite the brave front he put on, Paul was suffering just as much as Jay. Paul had been sick since Pops had died, so sick he couldn’t even make the funeral, he told Jay it was a cold, though Jay knew it was grief. Jay also needed time to be alone, to collect his thoughts and decide what he was going to do next.
And so Jay Sutherland sat, locked within a house that he had shared with his grandfather, a house which cancer had made his own, but he was not alone, he sat there with a bottle of bourbon whiskey, the first bottle he had ever bought, Pops hadn’t put much stock in booze, and the ghosts of his past to keep him company.
The day of the funeral Jay had driven home alone, his mind swimming with the memories of Pops. For the first time in a while he actually felt a strange sort of peace. Thanks to Tom, Jay had been able to remember Pops as he was, a great man, man of integrity and honesty that was unparalleled in this world, but it was an image that could not last.
Jay arrived home shortly before night fall, he turned on the light and walked over to Pops’ Wall of glory, staring at each of the photos that hung there, sucking in the youth and vitality that they captured.
“Good night Pops” he had muttered to the collection of photographs, before heading off to his bed in search of a peaceful sleep, something that Jay hadn’t had in more than a while. No more than a minute after Jay’s head hit the pillow, he was deep asleep, but his sleep was far from peaceful, Jay’s mind suddenly was engulfed by dreams. His dreams came as if from nowhere, suddenly he was outside in the back yard; the air seemed to be so thick it muffled every sound, as though he were underwater. Jay looked up at the cloudless blue sky above, the suns warmth, tingled his cheeks. Suddenly he heard a voice, a voice he instantly recognized, one he could never forget, a voice that had for as long as he’d lived sent chills down his spine, the voice of Hank Turner.
“Well, well, look who’s all grown up, fuck faced little gay Jay.”
Jay’s heart was pounding hard, his entire body willed him not to, but defiantly he turned to face his tormentor.
“What do you want?” said Jay the beginnings of rage in his voiced almost smothered by his own fear.
“Oh, grown some balls haven’t you, you little dipshit” mused Hank.
“What do you want?” repeated Jay.
“Your fucking blood boy!” screamed Hank, his face turning red, his eyes wide. He fake stepped towards Jay causing him to flinch in fear, and then broke out laughing.
“Yep, grown some balls alright, just not big ones.” Hank chuckled to himself; he then reached into his pocket and pulled out his pack of smokes, took one out and lit it with a match. Hank looked up at Jay as he exhaled a lung full of smoke.
“Want one?” he said offering the pack up to Jay. Jay didn’t move; he was half frozen with fear and half with disbelief.
“What do I want, what do I want?” muttered Hank to himself. Jay stood his ground and watched as Hank paced back and forth muttering to himself; suddenly Hank spun around and sucker punched Jay in the stomach, the blow doubling him over.
“Yeah, that’s what I want; to kick the living fucking shit out of your sorry ass, see if I can’t get a bitch squeal out of you like I did that whore mother of yours.”
Jay placed one hand on the ground to steady himself, the punch had knocked the wind out of him, bile was rising in his throat.
Slowly Jay tried to rise to his feet, his legs trembling, the pain so vivid and real.
“Not so tough without your big strong grandfather to protect you are you, fuck face?” mused Hank. “Where is old Papa Sutherland huh…? Oh yeah that’s right he’s fucking dead isn’t he!” Hank began laughing.
“Shut up!” yelled Jay tears flowing freely down his cheeks.
“Died on his fucking back didn’t he, just like his whore of a daughter!” Hank said, a crazed smile on his face.
The anger jumped into Jay like a bolt of lightning, suddenly filling him with adrenalin, his body seemed to grow until he towered over Hank as a man does to a boy.
“Fuck you!” Jay yelled at Hank, his voice so loud it hurt his ears.
“Fuck me? No, no, fuck you!” replied Hank, not backing down an inch.
Jay grabbed Hank by the throat and lifted him off his feet.
“You are nothing! You can’t hurt me anymore!”
“Why’s that tough guy?” replied hank as if unaffected by being suspended above the ground by his throat.
“Because you’re dead!” said Jay as he released his grip.
Hank fell to the floor, he looked up at Jay, his mouth agape arrogance replaced by shock, slowly he faded away and disappeared.
Jay felt the sunlight land on his cheek, the golden rays of light warming him, lifting the chill of his past from him.
“Jay” he heard a voice call.
“Pops?” replied Jay a sudden rush of emotions surging from his stomach and leaping from his chest.
Jay turned to where the voice emanated from and saw his grandfather lying in his bed, face gaunt.
“You are everything you need to be my boy, you are a good man.”
Pops smiled and began fading away, his voice echoed, “My pride, my boy”
Jay opened his eyes and found it was already morning, the light poured in through his bedroom curtains, causing him to blink rapidly. Jay felt something on his chest, lifting it up he found it was a picture of his grandfather, fully dressed in his formal drill uniform, for a moment Jay focused on the green eyes of the young soldier that stared back at him, then turned his attention to the crisp pressed navy blue pants with the bright red stripe.
“Ok Pops” Jay whispered to the photograph.
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"Wow. That's awesome. I like how you write, it's unique and descriptive and paints an image for you. when i was reading this first chapter, i could just picture this becoming a blockbuster movie or something." ...Toni Brolin

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I'm supposed to be doing all sorts of things--writing cards, laundry, decorating and what happens? You put up another Chapter! So much for my schedule. Ooh, it's a good one, though that's for sure. What a cliffhanger. Can't wait to see what Sabian has to say. Really good tense stuff, but with just the right poignancy."...
Kat