a collection of steps

The Unlived Life of Russell Stone, Part 5

In death, divorce, fear, fiction, love, memorial on October 3, 2011 at 9:02 pm

A Novelette

by Cheryl Courtney Semick

At 8 AM, Rachel ushers Mrs. Stone into the Afterglow Room where her staff laid the body of Russell Stone. Candlelight cast a reverent halo around the deceased; soft, ethereal music welcomed the grieving widow. The scene changed quickly.

I’m still in shock. How can I explain this? We walked into the room. Mrs. Stone stood right beside me and stared at her husband’s body. Now understand that at this point, most widows gasp, choke on their tears and convulse as a fountain of emotion begins to erupt. They walk or run to the body. Some will kneel and gently caress the corpse’s cold hand, pat it and whisper loving words. Most spend a few moments of private good-bye, then express their gratitude for our respectful treatment of their loved one’s remains and leave.

Not Mrs. Stone. She laughed! That woman stood there and laughed! But it wasn’t a funny, ha, ha, type of laugh. It was maniacal. It was borderline evil. It was extremely bizarre; goose bumps scurried over my skin. She lifted her arm and stretched it out like a sword; it was fully extended all the way to the tip of her accusing index finger.

“You lost!” she screamed. “You lost!” Her laugh deepened into a sneering mock. “You stole my life and now I am free and you can never, ever, ever steal from me again!”

I grabbed her arm and tried to push it down, thinking she was out of control. “Mrs. Stone, why don’t we go into another room?” I whispered. I thought I would just usher her out of the room, give her a glass of water and bring her back into her right mind, but her arm was as hard as steel.

“You liar!” She shrieked, still pointing her sword at poor Mr. Stone’s body. “You thought I didn’t know your game, didn’t you! Oh, but I did, the whole time. And now you lose.”

“Mrs. Stone, please,” I insisted, “Let’s go sit down in the other room.” She lowered her arm and I thought she was going to turn and follow me when I heard—no, I felt a swish. I jumped at it; the hairs on my neck stood at attention.

Mrs. Stone was lying on top of Mr. Stone’s body, kissing it, caressing it! It was morbid, disgusting!

I freaked.

I ran from the room and in no particular direction. I was nauseous. I couldn’t accept the sight of that woman getting passionate with her husband’s corpse. When I left the bathroom, I realized I was in Mr. Stone’s former room on Angie’s unit. I don’t know how long I was there or why.

I collapsed on a chair, my heart racing, mind spinning. I don’t really recall much about that moment except the leather journal on his nightstand. It was open, Mrs. Stone’s pen, uncapped, lay across its pages.

What drew me to it is still unclear, but the poem appeared penned just moments before I arrived, as I smeared a stroke with my thumb as I lifted it off the table. Its lines capture and confuse me; its mystery clouds my mind and I soon forgot about my nine o’clock court date.

To be continued…

__________

Read Part 1

Read Part 2

Read Part 3

Read Part 4

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