In 1968, when David is twenty-two, his mother, Bethany, a single parent, dies. Among her effects he finds a letter, ‘To my dearest David.’ Until then, all David knew was that his father, Richard, died before he was born. He had no idea that Reg, his father’s brother, had murdered him. Shock throws David into a rage of an intensity he never thought possible. He finally understands why he hasn’t an extended family and why he and his mother took on the world alone. David has no one to ask why the murder took place.
After considerable research, David learns that his uncle Reg was given a ‘Special Verdict’ under the 1883 Trial of Lunatics Act: he was deemed insane and unfit to plead to the charge of fratricide. Subsequently, in 1946, he was admitted for an indefinite time to secure hospital accommodation in Cane Hill asylum.
Discovering that Reg is still alive, David applies for compassionate leave to visit his uncle on the grounds that Reg is his only living relative. Reg’s doctors carelessly accede to this request; Reg is a model inmate.
David, carrying a hospital photograph of Reg for identification, enters a dayroom, where he sees Reg sitting upright in a high-backed armchair staring out of a large window. He has jet-black brylcreamed hair and, despite the obvious age of his clothes, he’s smartly dressed.
David pulls up a chair next to Reg, who asks, Who are you?
David is shocked; he’d expected infirmity; his uncle is sprightly and sharp as a tack. I’m David, your nephew.
Jesus! You look like your sodding mother. She dead yet?
Yes, David replies, startled to see a grin on Reg’s face.
Shall we go for a walk? Reg asks. Don’t want the nutters in here knowing my business.
Outside, in the hospital grounds, Reg leads them to an extensive standing of rhododendrons. Deep amidst the bushes, they sit on a wooden bench.
What do you want of me? Reg asks.
Because of you, I had no father and my mother was off her head most of the time. Why kill your own brother?
It was all because of the war and all the dead and the dying in Bergen Belsen. But I coped with horror because happiness awaited me with the woman I loved. Your father stole her – some fucking brother.
You loved my mum?
The bitch cheated on me. She’d promised me she’d wait. After the war, Richard was demobbed early. By the time I got back, the bastard had her pregnant. And now you’re here – their spawn, the embodiment of their treachery.
You were never insane, were you?
No. I told them Bergen Belsen sent me off my rocker. All bollocks. What do you want?
How you going to get that, boy?
David produces a cutthroat razor from his jacket.
Reg laughs as he springs forward.
As Reg returns to the dayroom, an orderly asks, What happened to your visitor?
Next Sunday will be the second anniversary of my weekly 500 word stories. I’ve really enjoyed writing them and the responses I’ve received.
But I need a rest.
Next week’s story The Headstone will be the last Sunday story for a few weeks.
My intention is to post a story as I finish it but with less pressure than a story once a week.
I hope you enjoyed this story. Remember, until now, I published a new story every Sunday.
Please feel free to pass them on to others you know who may be interested.
You can read previous stories from “Behind the Plague Door” here >>>More
© Phil Cosker 2022
Phil Cosker has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. All rights reserved; no part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted by any mean, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.
Great story this week Phil – I look forward to The Headstone but pleased you’re then going to take a break : )
Thank you dear friend! Semi retirement! Go well P