Four Days of Mason
This is a short story I wrote a few years ago and has continued to be my own personal favorite. I decided to finally put it on hubpages. I love to hear feedback and comments about it so that I can continue to improve my writing -- even if you don't like it, that is okay and you can still let me know. :)
Four Days of Mason
I think my father killed someone. The unrecognizable names made it difficult to decipher who he was talking about, except for one, himself. When I read his manuscript, the character based on me was named Peter, but that obviously wasn’t my real name. My father, under the pen name, Mason Llewellyn, was a gifted author and always wrote fiction, making up characters; however, the manuscript that he gave me read like a memoir. He handed it to me before it was published. I think he wanted my approval, but he collapsed when the pile of papers landed in my arms.
That night, I should have talked to my grief-stricken relatives, but I turned off my cell phone and read the entire manuscript. Despite a clever take at writing in the third person, my father named the main character after his pen name. Strange. The storyline, at first, felt far away from what I could remember from my childhood; but, most of it depicted events from before I was born, such as this woman that Mason dated for a while, Lydia. For some reason, I never imagined my father with such a bitch of a woman because my mother was so kind to us, or so I was told. I can’t really remember. As I read the manuscript, another person in the manuscript became clear to me. I was confident the Peter character was based off me. In the order of events, right after Peter was born, Mason killed a man named Lynch. The details of the confession I read to myself echoed through my dreams when I slept that night.
Before the murder, the Mason character frequented a warehouse that I recognized by the description my dad gave it. I remember my father would take me there as a child. In the manuscript, it was the warehouse that Mason considered a place of employment, and frequented often. I had to find out how accurate that was and I thought it might be a safe place to start. The next morning, I drove down to where I thought that warehouse should be. I drove for a bit, confused at first, but finally saw the faded green warehouse that the manuscript jostled back into my memory. I walked around the perimeter of the warehouse before walking inside, only to find a few older men, smoking and playing cards. I looked around and sure enough, I felt like I was in the book. They stopped their game and shifted all their attention to me.
“Afternoon, fellas,” I said.
After I spoke, they resumed their game, like I didn’t exist anymore. I guess wearing nice clothes has its disadvantages, too.
“I’m sorry for interrupting, I just want to ask some questions,” I said.
The tallest one, a worn man who looked to be in his late sixties, dirty, with a kept beard as silver as a dime, set his cards down and looked at me. The others ignored me.
“You a cop? Where’s your badge?” he asked.
“No,” I looked him in the eyes, “I’m not.”
“Freddie send you here?”
Before I could respond. “You tell Freddie we already paid,” he said.
“No. My name is James Casey, I was just wondering if you knew my dad, Hank?”
Silence. I heard water dripping somewhere.
I assumed more silence would follow and contemplated walking out, but after a few awkward moments, silver-beard spoke to me.
“Never heard of him.”
I turned to leave as the old man turned to play poker again, but a thought struck me.
“Mason Llewellyn,” I said.
Silence again, but accompanied by staring from all of them. Silver-beard approached me with an extended hand. I shook it.
“You Mason’s kid?”
“Yeah, I just want to know about what he did here.”
“Sorry son, s’confidential.”
He shook his head at me. I sighed, and then looked around the room.
“What about his wife, Amber?” I asked.
My fists tightened and my knuckles turned white. Silver-beard shook his head.
“Can’t you tell me anything?”
“Blah Blah,” he said.
I crinkled my nose and slouched forward. With my hands open, I asked, “What?”
“Blah Blah,” he said again.
“What uhm, what does that mean?”
He closed his eyes, opened them, and said, “Blah Blah Bar.”
I nodded, put my hands in my pockets and said, “Thanks.”
I went home that night and reread the chapter where my father detailed the murder.
The next day my feet wouldn’t stop tapping and I glanced at the clock every two minutes. I walked out of the office and missed a sales meeting. I drove to the Blah Blah Bar and thought about a girl on the way. I think she was my girlfriend, but I didn’t much care for her today. Her name was Elle, and we had been dating off and on for about two years, but last time I saw her was about a week ago at my apartment. The vodka made us drunk and we got into a heavy shouting match about something I can’t recall. When the sideways yelling died, we kissed and fucked, and then she left. I knew I had to stop seeing her because my dad never liked her. He never told me, but I could see the disapproval when he was alive, and he was right.
I walked into the Blah Blah Bar and the décor was exactly how my father described it in the first chapter, only he called it something else. The place had no customers, but I suppose that’s a good thing for ten in the morning. I saw a girl, sitting at the bar, counting money, while a man, reminiscent of a brick wall stood near the entrance, eyeballing me the entire time. I was positive she saw me out of the corner of her eye, but she finished counting a pile of money and wrote something down on a piece of paper before standing up. She wasn’t gorgeous, but her features made her cute. She had auburn colored hair and was dressed very casual. She looked a little thick while she was sitting, but when she stood up, she seemed athletic. I liked her a lot at that moment when she stood there, looking at me. I felt like I was interrupting something important.
“Hi, I’m James.”
“Hi James. You’re welcome to stick around but we don’t really open for another hour,” she said. Her politeness made me like her more. I want a girl that will say please and thank you, or tells me how it is without insulting me.
“I was actually just trying to find out some information.”
“An old friend, I think he might have worked here or frequented here.” I felt bad obscuring the facts.
She tilted her head and swayed. I blinked, and then looked up. Our eyes locked.
“A long time ago. Maybe twenty years,” I said and my head teetered left and right.
I decided I didn’t have a girlfriend anymore.
“Got a name?”
“A few. Stop me if I say anything that sounds familiar.”
“Lynch. Lydia. Desiree. Amber. Hank. Mason.”
Those were the names I could remember from the manuscript off the top of my head, as well as some real names that might have worked. She shrugged.
“My mother owns this place, you know. She might be able to help. I can ask her when she comes in.”
“What’s your name?” I asked.
“Cat, would you be interested in getting some coffee or lunch?”
She looked at the brick man. Then back to me.
“Yes. Yes, I would.”
We drank coffee and shared a thick muffin that was hot and moist like meatloaf. I tried to stay focused on my initial investigation, but I kept staring and talking nonsense to Cat. I eventually got back on task, but I couldn’t bring myself to explain to her that I thought maybe my dad killed someone. Every time I imagine that conversation with her, she walks away, thinking I am crazy. Maybe I am.
“When does your mom get in?”
“’Bout half an hour. I can try calling her again.”
“Don’t worry. Just give me a call when you ask her about these names. I have a lunch meeting.”
I lied. Strike one. I handed her a piece of paper with my phone number and the names I asked about earlier. I don’t know why I lied. I didn’t have another meeting to miss. Instead, I drove back to my house. I took off my shirt and laid on my bed with the manuscript. I set it aside and thought about Elle. I picked up my cell phone and called her. Voicemail.
“Hey, Elle, Yeah, Hi, it’s James. I want to be done, you know, break up, so, we’re done, again, for good. Okay? Sorry.”
I hate voicemail. I hate phones. I do much better in person. I tossed my phone off the side of the bed and started thinking about Cat. Before long, my hand was gripped between my legs and my pants were unzipped. I was pulling at myself pretty fast when Elle walked in. I stopped. I think I should have felt awkward, but I just pulled my pants up and sat up. She stared at me.
“Didn’t you get my message?” I asked.
“No. What message? And what the hell are you doing?”
She pulled her phone out of her purse, but set it down.
“Well, I’m here now, so, I guess I’m psychic.”
I couldn’t help but smile. She sat down next to me and her perfume tasted good when I inhaled a non-lethal dose of it. She placed her hand in my pants and I thought about Cat. Eventually, she used her mouth to pleasure me, and when she asked me to return the favor; I got up, locked myself in the bathroom and sat on the toilet. While I was in there, I could hear the faint sounds of Elle dialing her cell phone. I assumed she was listening to the message. I inhaled. I waited. I exhaled. I looked at the door knob.
There it was.
“I’m, I’m sorry?”
She yelled a lot more while she broke anything fragile enough that would shatter when it hit the wall. After Elle left, I came out of the bathroom and looked at the manuscript again. Luckily, she left that alone. I looked for my phone. Maybe Cat called. Elle found my phone in her rampage.
I went into work the next day, wanting to tell someone about the weirdness, but no one asked me where I was the previous day. Maybe it wasn’t that weird. I managed to spend the whole day working without speaking at all. I still wanted to tell somebody.
After work, I sat in my car for twenty minutes. I didn’t know if I wanted to grab some fast food, go home and jerk off, or do some more detective work. I liked feeling like I was doing something important. I turned on the ignition and drove to the Blah Blah Bar. I had to park a few blocks away because it was busy already.
I saw Cat tending bar, and a woman with creases in her face and silver-brown hair, tending with her. I sat on a blue barstool at the bar. Cat saw me and her lips parted when she smiled. She licked her lips.
I smiled back.
“Did you hear my message?” she asked.
“No, I lost my phone.”
I lied again. That’s two. Somehow, I thought that was easier than the truth.
She looked at the older woman and said, “Mom, this is the man I was telling you about.”
The older woman approached me.
“This is my mom, Charlotte, but everyone calls her Chuck.”
I extended my hand. Chuck’s mouth opened and her lower lip quivered, and then she shook my hand.
“So, my daughter was saying you were asking about a man named, Mason?” Chuck asked.
I watched Cat out of the corners of my eyes as I started to talk to Chuck. Cat walked up to a customer that sat down at the bar a few stools down.
“Yeah, well, I have a few names that might help.”
Cat served the customer a beer.
“A few? Are you looking for more than one person?”
Cat walked to another customer.
“No, I just, well, I’m not sure if there were aliases involved or something.”
Cat mixed some sort of cocktail with Gin.
“So, who is Mason to you?” Chuck asked.
Cat grabbed some empty glasses, placed them in the sink.
“Just an old friend. Mason Llewellyn. You know him? Or, knew him rather?
Cat wiped part of the counter clean.
Cat put the Gin bottle away and pulled out some fruity liqueur bottle.
“Yeah, he passed away over the weekend.”
Cat mixed another drink.
“What did you say your name was again?”
Cat glanced at me and smiled.
Cat walked back over, and stood next to her mother.
“James, what do you want to know about your father?”
Cat took a step back and tilted her head.
“Your father? I thought you said you were looking for a friend?” Cat asked. I guessed that was strike three. I stood up and walked out of the bar.
I glanced at Cat out of the corner of my eye before slipping past the brick man. I walked a few blocks, and thought about Elle. I wasn’t sure why I wanted her back, but I missed how simple it was before. Every few days she would come over or I would go to her apartment, we’d have sex. On occasion, we would go out to eat and talk about music. I wished I could call her.
I turned around and saw Cat.
“Did you follow me?”
“Why did you run out?”
“I messed up.”
I wetted my lips with my tongue. My heartbeat sped up and I could feel it in my chest.
“I think my dad killed someone.”
I think she was searching for her words because we stared at each other for a while.
“If he did, it was a long time ago, right?”
“My mother can help. Don’t worry.”
We walked back to the bar and I followed Cat to the back office. Chuck was sitting there with a photo in her hand. I sat down and she placed the photo on the desk in front of me. There were five people in it, lined up, but none of them appeared to be happy. Chuck extended her index finger and placed it over the leftmost person in the picture.
She moved her finger to the next person.
“And here is where you should pay attention. Bill. Donna. Hank.”
I recognized my dad, Hank.
“So who is Lynch?”
“I don’t know. Where did you get that name from?”
“My father was an author.”
“He wrote a book in the third person about his pen name, and in it, he killed a man named Lynch who stole a girl from him, Lydia.”
“If it happened here, it was Bill.”
“What happened to Bill?”
“I don’t know. Up and left one day. With Donna. Never heard from them since.”
“Didn’t that bother you?”
“Not really. They were both trouble. Donna treated your dad like shit, so when they split, he finally became happier.”
That night, I re-read the chapter about my mother after I was born. I realized that I missed something the first time because my father wrote it like it was in code. I wondered if he didn’t want me to know. Or maybe he did. One simple fact bounced around in my head. The woman I called mom, who raised me, died in a car accident when I was ten. I was with my father before he met her.
I called Cat in the morning and asked if I could meet her for lunch. She agreed.
At noon, I left work and drove to the bar. I walked in, approached her and asked, “Where’s Chuck?”
She pointed to the back office. I tilted my head, and she nodded. I leaned in to kiss her cheek, but she pulled away. I walked to the office, and opened the door.
“Chuck,” I said. She looked at me.
“I forgot to ask about my mom, Amber, you knew her, yes?” I asked.
Chuck looked at me. Her silence confirmed my suspicions.
“Why is it such a big secret? Was Donna my mom?”
“Amber and Hank were ashamed that they weren’t your real parents. They knew Donna and Bill didn’t deserve you or want you. Don’t you get it?”
I stared back at her.
“Yeah, he wrote it the way he wanted it to be.”
I shook my head. I thought for a moment about how wrong I was about what I just said. My dad didn’t write it how he wanted it to be, he wrote it how it should have been. I walked out of the office and looked at Cat. I thought about Elle for a moment. Cat deserved better. I walked up to her and she looked at me.
“Man of many words today.”
I chuckled. She nodded and smiled. I asked her for a glass of iced water. She grabbed a glass, scooped crushed ice in it, filled it with water and placed it front of me. I took a sip and felt the cold of the glass numb my hand. She stared at me.
“So, am I imagining things or did you ask me out to lunch today?”
“Shall we grab a bite?”
I took a sip of the water and held on to my glass.
“Did you know everything already? Everything your mom has said to me?”
I released my hand from the glass.
“Did you find out if your dad killed that guy?”
“No. I don’t know. But, I don’t care. If he did, I think I understand why.”
She wiped the bar down, but it was already clean.
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