Happy Mother’s Day
“Mister Johnson, I presume?”
Jarome and Glauria are hiding on the couch. The former’s still not quite sure what’s going on. Where’d the stuffing go?
“Uh, y-yes, but you can call me Mikey.” He extends his hand for a shake. The buyer accepts. “And you must be…”
The buyer smiles kindly. “Mister Williamson – Hilter Odolf Williamson – the one and only.” The handshake goes on for quite a bit longer than it needs to, but Hilter doesn’t seem to pay it any mind. He doesn’t seem to notice how sweaty Mikey’s palm is, either… or maybe he just doesn’t mention it. Regardless, “May I come in? You have a nice hand and all – firm shake, too, I admire that in a man – but my Mother’s waiting for me in the car. I hate to rush things, but we must keep this as quick as possible.”
“Oh, uh, y-yes, please come in.”
Mikey steps over to the side and Hilter comes into the foyer, closing the front door behind him. He looks around with awe, his eyes tracing the crown molding around the perimeter of the white plank ceiling then drifting down the beige walls to the immaculate cherry hardwood floors and the base and shoe molding where they meet the walls. He’s especially taken by the custom-made wood baseboard covers, which were designed to match the trim.
“It’s beautiful, even more so on the inside than the out. And the space!” He clasps his hands together. Mikey flinches. So does Glauria, even though she can’t see Hilter from where she’s sitting. “I love how you’ve knocked down the walls and made it one big open room, it’s glorious. Glorious, I say!”
Mikey takes a step back. “How did you know–”
“Mikey, my good man, I do my fair share of research before picking up the phone. I know this house was raised in the sixties, and we humans just didn’t make ‘em like this back then.”
Hilter walks further into the Johnsons’ home, into full view of Glauria and Jarome, and honestly, he doesn’t look all that scary. Dude’s got short brown hair, a clean-shaven face, a powerful chin. Dressed in slacks and a blazer, wearing brown Stoneports on his feet. ‘This is the guy who murdered his father? He doesn’t seem that evil.’
“The kitchen is gorgeous. I love these granite countertops, you folks are folk of taste.” Hilter spins around on his heels and looks at Mikey, then to Glauria, then to the confused face of Jarome, and he can’t help but chuckle to himself. “May I see the upstairs next, please? I understand there is something of a second living room up there.”
Hilter Odolf Williamson is shown the upstairs: two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a second living room that Jarome calls the chill room. He has nothing but kind things to say.
The Johnsons lead him back down to the main floor and show him the master bedroom, then the office, then the tour continues into the basement and the Johnsons show him where the boiler and the sub-pump are, and who to call if he ends up buying the place and there’s an issue with any of the equipment. He tells them he’s absolutely interested – so interested, in fact, that he’ll cut them a check on the spot. And so he does. And so the Johnsons sell their house on Fricker Drive to a Mister Hilter Odolf Williamson so he can have a new house in which to both live and take care of his Mother.
“I’d like to move in this upcoming Mother’s Day,” Hilter tells them when they’re all gathered back in the foyer, “if that would work for all of you. I figure it would give you all plenty of time to find a new place and get settled, and I’d be lying if I said I was ready to make the move now. Would Mother’s Day suffice?”
Mother’s Day would indeed suffice.
“Very good! Now, just one final order of business.” He looks Mikey dead in the eyes, then Glauria, then Jarome, even though Jarome doesn’t look half as disturbed as his parents. “I suppose you lot know who I am.”
Nobody says a fucking word.
“I’ll take that as a yes – in my youth there was a news story printed about me which said I was the convicted murderer of not only some wild animals, but also the neighborhood pets and…” He pauses to rub the back of his head, as if he doesn’t know how to say what he’s about to say. “And my father – I suppose I may as well just come out with it. They said I killed him, gutted him, and filled him with the fluff which I took out of a myriad of stuffed animals, which they said I mutilated worse than the live animals which were found buried in my backyard. Not that that makes any sense, because, as you may know, stuffed animals are not animate, they cannot necessarily be mutilated…” He sees the disturbedness on the elder Johnsons’ faces evolve into downright terror, so then says, “But I digress. What you folks may not have heard – and I don’t know why, for the life of me, only the first half of the story was given front page placement and widespread coverage by the local and national news stations – was that I was found innocent of these terrible crimes.”
For the first time since Hilter Odolf Williamson stepped into the house, a pin could drop and go totally unnoticed.
“As it turned out, my Mother was the real culprit. She had a very severe form of schizophrenia in which she heard voices all her life. It all started with one that she named The Father, which speaks volumes considering how her father did a less than stellar job with his role in her life – but she was never diagnosed because of how well she hid it from others. She knew how to play normal, she had a way of getting into your head and making you believe not only that she told the truth, but that she was the truth. It was almost like telepathy, or even a sort of mind control… my studies have actually led me to developing a few theories about that, but they’re neither here nor there. You may have noticed my first two names, Hilter Odolf, bear a certain resemblance to, eh… someone else’s name; my Mother granted me this queer moniker because the many voices inside her head allegedly serenaded her with an incongruous song which only she could hear. She was told that the overall human spirit is sick, for lack of a better term, nearly past the point of getting better; that, after so many incarnations of the human spirit were made to witness humanity committing terrible atrocities to itself, like the Holocaust of the second world war, for example, it had become blackened and sick, and the only way for it to get better was to have a scapegoat, to have a target to catch the blame – and therefore punishment – for the world’s atrocities.” Hilter takes a pause to breathe, then, “I was that scapegoat. She explained all of this – the voices she heard and the origin of my peculiar name – to me in a letter which I was only to open when I turned eighteen, years after she was put away for murdering my father in cold blood. I, too, have a form of schizophrenia, although it’s not quite as severe as my Mother’s, and I had quite a collection of stuffed animals who I would talk to when I was younger. They were my only friends back then, especially after my father died, and one day I came home from school and found that they were all missing, and not only that, but that my father was back! He was there, sitting on the couch in front of the television, just like old times… was what I thought at first. Then I looked him in the glass eyes and saw he was stuffed. Like a taxidermy animal.”
Hilter sighs with a certain tone that’s not quite nostalgia; not happiness, not reminiscence, but merely an acknowledging of a certain darkness which has since been illuminated.
“After murdering my father she developed a taste for blood, it seemed, and moved on to the local wildlife and such. She was an avid runner and, for the sake of keeping things civil, let’s just say she learned how to outrun animals with twice as many legs as she had. When the neighbors got to complaining about their pets going missing, they came to our house – we were the only house on the block without any pets, so it was a natural enough conclusion to come to – and my Mother, finally getting her chance to use me as the scapegoat her voices sang about in their songs, threw me under the bus and had me taken away to a mental health facility. My stay didn’t last long, as my Mother kept on running around and the animals kept on going missing long after I had disappeared, and I was eventually let out and placed into foster care, as my Mother didn’t have any living family to speak of. In truth, she may have killed all of them off too, there’s no way to really know. She had no contacts, didn’t really speak to anybody outside of the clerks at the local grocery stores and the mailman. She knew everybody, but nobody really knew her. I’ve spent my whole life studying the human mind, as well as consciousness in general, in an attempt to figure out exactly why one may find themself on the schizophrenia spectrum and why some are further along it than others. Up until recently I’ve been living on my own in a little bungalow near the university which currently pays me to conduct my research, but then I got a call from the psychiatric ward that was taking care of my Mother. It seemed the old girl’s brain had burnt out and taken a turn for the catatonic; rather than placing the burden on them, I decided to take her in.”
Hilter clasps his hands together and smiles a genuinely happy smile. “And now we’re all caught up.” Then, in a jovial manner, he asks, “Any questions?”
The Johnsons share a thick, meaty silence; neither Mikey nor Glauria know what to say. Then, Jarome speaks up.
“What have you found out?”
Hilter Odolf Williamson’s smile widens. “I’ve found out that schizophrenia – or what we refer to as schizophrenia, that is – is, in simple terms, a case of the human brain interpreting reality a tad bit too fast for its own good. Being too aware, in other words. You see, when we perceive sights, noises, smells, the works, our body is taking in particles and vibrations; this sensory information is raw data, and the brain works as a translator; in the brain of a schizophrenic, the translations may be done at so fast a pace that the brain often makes mistakes. A gust of wind could result in one hearing someone calling their name, a shadow on the road could be seen as a menacing human form, things along those lines. Many psychologists disagree with me, but as far as those who fund my research and I am concerned, my hypothesis is solid. For example, if the brain operates too quickly, then it would make sense that the rest of the body operates too quickly as well, no?”
Jarome nods his head. “Sure.”
“Interestingly enough, and this is going to seem like a reach, but if one analyzes the urine of those inflicted with schizophrenia after they drink and process orange juice and compares it to the urine of neurotypicals who also just processed orange juice, one will find the presence of a specific enzyme in the schizophrenic’s urine that is not present in that of the neurotypical’s. This happens because the body processes the juice too quickly for the enzyme to be properly broken down, and so it’s simply passed through the system, lickety split. If one organ works too quickly, then so may another. Make sense?”
“I… suppose. But how does that make schizophrenics more aware than normal humans?”
“Well, with neurotypical humans, there is a delay between the receiving of raw sensory data and the translation of said data. In humans with schizophrenia, that delay is much shorter, if it’s even there at all. Heightened sensitivity leads to heightened awareness, which leads to a heightened chance of misinterpretation of one’s surroundings, or in other words, hallucination, which often leads to delusional thinking, which may lead to… well, in the very worst of cases, the kind of business my Mother Daisy used to get into. As for why the brain gets to be too fast for its own good, there are many possible factors, and some are just plain genetic, but most point to extended periods of isolation during youth, especially in cases of bad family environments. A boy or girl may spend all their time alone in their bedroom – talking to stuffed animals, for example, to escape an abusive relationship with their parents or guardians, or just out of a lack of friends and other things to do – and all of the energy which would normally go into making their whole bodies grow and develop would go instead into developing their brain, because, rather than using and exercising their bodies, they use and exercise their brain all day. Over time, those stuffed animals might start talking back; who’s to say the brain wouldn’t learn to make the interior voices rise without the exterior trigger?”
Jarome nods his head again. He has no more questions.
Feeling satisfied, Hilter looks around at the previous owners of his new house. “Well then, I was being rhetorical when I asked if there were any questions, but since you asked, I had to indulge myself. In my travels around this vast, magnificent planet, I’ve found that not many humans truly understand consciousness, not like I do, at least, and I enjoy sharing my wealth of knowledge on the subject. That said, my Mother’s waiting in the car, and I really must be going now.”
Hilter firmly shakes hands with each surviving member of the Johnson family. “It was a pleasure meeting you all, and thank you so much for agreeing to sell me your beautiful home. I will take great care of it, that much I promise.” On his way down the front steps, he says, “I’ll call a few days in advance of my moving in, just to make sure all the affairs are in order. If you need any help packing or moving, please do let me know. I’d be more than happy to lend a hand.”
When the door shuts, Mikey and Glauria finally breathe again. Although he doesn’t say it, Jarome thinks twice about burning off all of Owen’s old journals. He’s still probably going to do it, but now he’s thinking about maybe saving them instead. Maybe he could donate them to a head doctor like Mister Williamson for purposes of research… or maybe he’ll still incinerate them. He’ll probably incinerate them… but maybe he’ll save them. Maybe he won’t, but maybe he will. It’s just a thought, and they’re not going to be moving out for at least a couple more weeks, so he won’t be acting on it either way any time soon. But it’s still a thought. And maybe, just maybe, it’ll be enough.
Hello Commons, this has been the fourth subchapter of the second story from Convenient Incidents, an anthology of fifteen interconnected short stories which revolve around a man by the name of Hilter Odolf Williamson.
Convenient Incidents is part of the Third Spiral, an anthology of sorts called The Here and Now which is comprised of stories told from the various planes of Existence.
Convenient Incidents is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.
I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.
If you like Convenient Incidents and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed copy of the book (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) copy from Amazon by clicking here OR you can buy the ebook for even cheaper here.
If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. Be well Commons~