men, short fiction

Sons of the muse

Henry taught ethics at a university.  Held tenure, slept with his students. Got into the awkward street fights disguised as social justice at an age where he should have been worrying about his prostate.

They caught him on a video, swinging a bike lock on the head of a Trump supporter with a dull thwack before he ran away, huffing as his age weighed him down like a lead weight. He found a terrible glee in his actions. A terrible cunning allowed him to evade arrest for four days before someone on 4chan posted his name and details.

 

Henry’s mother died in a dry, tight knot of agony and insensible through the fog of narcotics keeping her alive. She kept trying to tell her son something important. She wandered from her bed when he ran out to the store and wrote a name on the corner of a tablecloth in lipstick. Henry found her, soiled and unconscious in the hallway and smudged the lipstick into illegibility with a brush of his hip as he lifted her to his hip. He bumped a framed picture of her, flowers in her hair and caught dancing with an intense, skinny man with burning eyes and lithe, taut limbs. He did not see it.

 

Donald never told anyone he had been born with a different name. He had changed it the same week he had joined the Marine Corps.

 

Sky. His mother had him adopted when she returned to New England, tanned and pregnant, to the chill bosom of her family. She never told anyone who the father was. She knew but the burden of revelation lay in the fear it would come. Sky went to a series of foster homes, fought his way to the top of the bloodied hierarchy he found himself in.

 

He went where they told him. By November of 2017, he was a decorated colonel in an office. Part of him wanted to be out there, fighting again. He was too brilliant a leader to stay at the front line but anyone who fought with him said they would believe themselves alongside someone borne to war and safe in his company.

 

If pressed, they would admit they were frightened of him. He loved it too much, persuaded his men over ordering them and the power of it returned to them in the bitter watches of the years after. He sat in his office and struggled with the urge to go out and kill. On that day, he gave in and when the armed response team breached the campus, he had littered with bodies, he wept with relief as the air rang out with shots.

 

Steven sat in the car on his driveway, hands gripping the steering wheel and grimacing as he watched his wife moving from the living room to the dining room. His kids and their families, all waiting for his birthday party to happen. The shotgun laid across the back seat, gleaming and lethal with an empty box of ammunition next to it. He got out and reached across to lift the shotgun as he left the car.

Steven had struggled with the lack of control in his life and when he surrendered to it, all his anxiety was wiped away. The dancing demon monkey in his head had its message heard. He had tried to be a good man, and could summon an unearthly charisma but his wife Ellen made a passive revolt when the children went to college and went back to college. He walked up his drive with the gun in his hands and enjoyed the hot stone of excitements in his belly. It burned good as he kicked open the front door.

 

The police thought it was a drug related murder but Steven was in Mexico by then and enjoyed six weeks before a sweet little girl with a grown up ass knifed him on a dance floor after warning him about tickling her twice. His dad, Paul, had a heart attack when the police told him about his son and his family. Franny had died twenty years ago, and he’d kept the secret of how he wasn’t Steven’s biological father as a way to keep something of his wife alive. He loved his other children more,they were easier, more agreeable people than Steven had been.

 

Franny went to California in the sixties for college. She managed a semester before she returned to town and when Paul asked her out, she said yes. The pregnancy was sudden but she didn’t want him to wear anything. Time unravelled the deceit, calculation disguised as instinct.

 

Charlie laid on bleached worn sheets, raped with IV tubes and machines to monitor his waning vitals. Memories were his drug of choice. He remembered the women he fucked, although he liked the ones who resisted. He always knew when he got one pregnant. A reporter had tried to get photos of him and Charlie was disappointed he didn’t. The terrible thing for him was the idea of being forgotten, dismissed and belittled by a world which knew him to be a joke. His power and his destruction were connected in his ability to inspire others. He thought of his children as his body surrendered to entropy and hoped they knew of him in some way. He was a corrupt muse, and as he died, he wanted to know what horror he might have inspired.

Or whom.

 

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