The phone rings as Jeff takes a long sip of his Tennessee whisky. He hesitates, not wanting to ruin his lazy Saturday afternoon. The downpour meant he couldn’t go fishing, getting drunk was the next best thing.
The phone rings again. He picks up the handle, “What?” He mumbles.
“Jeffery Daniels?” The other man questions.
“Yeah, what you callin’ me fo?”
“Sir this is Captain Solders from Colby State Penitentiary. We’re calling on behalf of your mother.”
Jeff hung up. He didn’t want to deal with this today, he took another sip and stared out at the storm clouds.
The phone rang again. And again. And again.
“Man, I don’t know what kind of trick you tryin’ to pull here but my mom died twenty years ago. I ain’t got time for your pranks.”
“Uh, Mr. Daniels, we have your mother here. She’s well alive, we have her set to be released today and we’ve had a heck of a time trying to find you. She said you’re her only relative.” Captain Solders said in a concerning voice.
“It’s raining.” It was Jeff’s only concern. Mostly because he never really believed his mother died, they never even had a funeral for her. He was curious to actually see who this officer was actually releasing.
“Uh, yes sir it is.”
“Alright. But if I was fishin like I was supposed to be y’all would have been shit out of luck. Where do I need to go?” He sipped his whisky again.
The officer on the phone sighed in relief. “Thank you. What you’ll need to do is head to the main gate, tell the gatekeeper that you’re here to pickup an inmate. They’ll direct you where to go from there. You’ll need an ID.”
Jeff hung up the phone, downed the rest of his glass and grabbed his keys.
After signing the necessary paperwork and leaving the penitentiary, Jeff and his mother started the long drive back to his house on the lake.
“You don’t need to give me the silent treatment, Jeffery.” The frail woman sat in the passenger seat and looked at the trees passing by.
“They said you were dead, ma. Then out of the cloudy gray sky some police dude called from some upstate prison said you were alive and well just sitting there waiting to be picked up by your only relative.” He stopped the truck on the side of the road. “You care to explain any of this before I take you back there?”
“Just wanted to protect you baby. It’s a lot easier growing up thinkin your momma’s dead instead of the truth.”
“And what was the truth ‘momma’?” Jeff gripped the steering wheel. While most children would be happy seeing a long lost parent, he was angry. And for good reason too.
But she didn’t answer. Just stared out the window, tears in her eyes.
“Come on, I’ll take you home.” He started driving again.
“Could we do something first?” She waited for an answer but could tell he was in a bad mood. “Could we get a real meal? Something hot, and not mushy?”
“You remember that steak place we went to when I was 10?”
“For your birthday?”
“It was the last time I saw you.”
“I’m sorry, Jeffery.” Her tears welled up in her eyes and slowly rolled down her cheeks.
“It’s alright, ma. Let’s go there.” They drove in silence.
At the restaurant they caught up on all the things she had missed during his adolescent years. Jeff indulged his mother, telling her about graduating school and the job at the factory and the girl who almost-was. About how he struck up a good amount of money and bought his house and the lake and his new business. All the while the question still grew in his mind until he couldn’t take it anymore.
“What did you do momma?”
“You can tell me momma.” He gave her a stern look.
“I told the cops that I was the one that killed the man in the park, honey.” Her tears began to fall again but she didn’t sob.
“The park?” Jeff was confused.
“Yeah baby, the one over on pine street.”
He fell silent and stirred food around his plate. “But they said he had a heart attack?”
“You killed him?” The memories rushed to his head. He wished he had been able to fish. Or maybe he hadn’t answered the phone. Above all, Jeff wished he had still been sipping on his wisky. He looked up and noticed his mother’s face and all of the memory hit him at once. “….I killed him.”
Mrs. Daniels, with tears in her eyes, nodded her head.