I Remember Mama

by Harry Neil

They buried Mama alive. I know because I monitored her smart watch on my smart phone. But they don’t know me, and they don’t know I know, so I’m probably safe, at least just for now. I hid in bushes far from the crazed mob, and I watched from a safe distance as they seized her, threw her into that construction ditch and used that bulldozer to quickly cover her with dirt and gravel. By the time the mob dispersed my smartphone told me all her vital signs had ceased.

I remember a lot of things about Mama. I remember how she held me in her arms and comforted me when I used to have nightmares as a little fellow. I remember her fantastic mac-and-cheese recipe, which was more like a custard than the yellow-painted noodles you get nowadays. I remember how she always took less than her share, saying she wasn’t really hungry, when she was actually too poor to have enough food in the house. I remember in second grade, how she copied my arithmetic exercises when I claimed it was too much work, so all I had to do was write the sums or differences or whatever.

As I grew up, I remember starting in with her old French reader, which began with the story of the three bears. I got through the first page or two before losing interest, and I remember how she warned me that I’d better work on my attention span. I remember her helping me understand algebra and geometry, and I remember helping her understand calculus.

Later, I remember how she encouraged me to kiss that girl with the big lips, and how she finally understood when I explained that I’d rather kiss boys. I remember how hard she worked, as a common charwoman, to help me through college.

 I remember her consternation when I decided to toss that hard-earned degree aside and become a househusband for a man she disapproved of. At first she was subtle, giving me a jewelry box and saying, “This is for you to use, not him.” Later I realized that she resented his wealth. He’d never worked a day in his life, and surely his interest in me was as a plaything, a poor one wwho had no option but to cling to him. She said I was her special tea rose that she’d cultivated carefully for her whole life, and she’d be damned if she’d watch while I turned into a ragweed.

Over the years Mama and my man evolved into first-rate enemies, while I stood by helplessly, not understanding how to calm the chaos. Finally, I remember them both storming out of the house, she to go home and nurse her grudges and he to find somebody else to love. She had driven my one true love away from me, and I remember that great swell of hatred that grew in me until it dominated my body and soul.

I remember drinking, drinking hard, and working myself up into a blinding rage every night before passing out. When I finally reached AA I was what they call a “high-bottom” alcoholic, because I still had a home and some money in the bank. AA saved me from my destructive rage, sort of. They helped me suppress it, but I privately channeled it into cunning. Sober, I got a job, and as soon as I was on my feet again I left AA and dedicated my life to retaliation.

I remember plotting my revenge, and carefully organizing a campaign of hate on every social media platform I could find. Mama never used a computer, so she wouldn’t know. I remember marveling at how easy it turned out to be, in these unstable times, to incite a lynching mob and to tell them where to go. She was, I hinted, a serial pederast who contaminated all the little girls in the neighborhood. Conspiracy theorists all over the world picked up the story, and pretty soon she was a cannibal and a devil worshiper. In the end, I didn’t need to do a thing but watch from afar.

So now here I am, with my open bottle of good champagne, planning what to do next. I guess I’ve left a trail of crumbs behind me, so I need to be somewhere out of reach of the local authorities. Maybe Rio, maybe Amsterdam. I’ll have to Google places without extradition agreements with America. I’ve long ago emptied what had been our joint accounts, my partner’s and mine, so I have escape money and I can be on a plane tomorrow.

Maybe now I can be happy again. Maybe I can find a new love and start over. I do still have that college degree, and I think I can still use it. There’s just one thing I still need to work on: how do I not remember Mama?

Bio: Harry Neil is a gay California desert rat born in North Carolina’s Cape Fear Basin. His first collection of short fiction was recently published by Donella Press as Screaming and Other Tales. His short stories have been published in Carmina Magazine, in Pink Disco, and in the Revenge collection from Free Spirit. 

He has published “The Diamond” and “Seabirds” previously with The Yard: Crime Blog

His book “Screaming and Other Tales” can be purchased at Donella Press, or found in our Bookstore.

Read more Flash Fiction at The Yard: Crime Blog

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Publishing Editor for The Yard: Crime Blog.

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