The Aftershock

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Mom, what do they have him charged with?”  Tony asked. Over her sobbing, his mother answered ” He was arrested for soliciting a minor and sending child pornography over the internet. They say that they have chat-room transcripts and videos from the house where he went to meet the boy”  Tony let out an exasperated sigh, this was unbelievable. His dad was a 58-year-old retired teacher, a youth Pastor in the church, and a retired Air Force Captain.  In Tony’s thoughts,  he search for a reason that his Dad might have stumbled into this situation, perhaps a search for something innocuous, and following a thread that brought him to a  predator web site sting.   “Have you called an attorney, and have they set his bond?”  Tony asked.  Yes, I called our lawyer, Jonathan Strickland, he said he handles mostly probate cases, but after he looks into it, he said he will call a criminal lawyer after he has gathered all the facts.  He has told your father to remain silent until he talks to him.  Strickland also said that the bond was set at 80,000 dollars.” his Mom said. I will get a plane out of George Bush in the morning,  and I’ll be at there around noon tomorrow.  Tony says.  They talked a few minutes more, Tony reassured his mother that everything was going to be okay.  After they hung up the phone, Tony considered what his Dad had gotten himself into.

As noon  approached,  Tony was driving his rental car through his childhood neighborhood. He had thought about the news his Mom had given him last night and hoped that he would get to the bottom of all this by the afternoon.  Mr. Strickland had arranged Dad’s bond and he had been released this morning. Tony was apprehensive as he turned into his parents driveway,  mainly because he didn’t know what to say to his Dad.  The look on his Mom’s face told him that there would be trouble in this house.  The look of anger and embarrassment glowed through the doorway as she let him into the foyer. She gave her son a  long and loving embrace.  Upon parting he asked her “How are you doing Mom?”  His Mom replied with misty,tired eyes ” I’m doing pretty well, considering all that’s happened.  Your Dad’s in the study.  Go on in there and I bring you all some tea.”  Tony asked as his Mom turned to leave “Has he said anything….I mean about what happened?”  His Mom held a dismissive hand as she walked away ” I’ll let you hear from his lying mouth!”  She took two steps in the direction of the kitchen and stopped. “ You know ……I’ve been thinking about some little things that your Dad has done over the years…….Little things that didn’t make any sense until now. I know he says he’s innocent,  but somehow I just don’t believe him!”  The door rang while they talked, Tony’s Mom answered  it. When she opened the door,  it was his baby-sister Nadine.  The cold uneasy feeling in his gut,  that Tony had when he pulled up in the driveway swelled into a cancerous knot.  His Mom and Nadine embraced briefly, then Nadine and Tony hugged.  His Mom called Nadine to help her get the tea,  and they went off in the direction of the kitchen. Tony headed for the back toward the study, and his meeting with his Father, a man that he thought he had known from his birth.

The study doors were closed.  So Tony knocked on them gently, while he called out “ Dad!”  Tony waited for his  usual “come on” and getting no response he knocked again.  He called out again and turned the door knob, pushing the door open slightly.  a quick glance into the showed that his Dad was nowhere to be seen.  Tony went back toward the kitchen opening up the doors to the other rooms and calling out as he went.  When he got back to the kitchen where his Mom and sister were placing glasses of tea on a serving tray,  he said to his mother “Mom, I thought you told me that he was in the study?”  Mrs. Montgomery replied ” He was, but that was over an hour ago.  Maybe he came out and went out back while I was in the bathroom,  you know you can’t get out of this house without using the hallway. Go through the garage and look out back!”  Tony did, but he saw no sign of his father.  He came back through the garage and saw the door that leads to the basement.  He thought surely he couldn’t be down there,  only time we ever ventured into the basement was for the furnace’s pre-Winter inspection and to get out Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations.  But this was July,  he was sure that they hadn’t been down there in months.  Chances are the bulb will be out, it usually is.  The  electrician say it was because of the dampness of the room, moisture collects in the socket and blows out the bulb every time.  He said he could change it out for forty-five dollars,  that was twenty years ago, but Dad said he would do it himself.  Both his parents cars were inside the garage ,  so he knew his Dad hadn’t left in either car.  This intensified that feeling in his gut,  he was growing more apprehensive with each moment.  He decided to check the basement anyway.

As he opened the door, he noticed footprints in the dust on the stairs, two sets going down, one smaller set coming back  up.  The bulb that was always out burned brightly through the dankness below.  He called out to his Dad again, and not hearing a reply,  he descended the stairway, saying “hello” after he took every two  or three steps. When he reached the bottom of the stairs, he saw his father hanging motionless from a noose tied around a steel sewage pipe.  He screamed as he ran to his Dad’s lifeless body and he pushed the toppled bar stool aside.  He called out to his mother and sister,  who came to the garage.  But only Nadine came down the stairs,  and Tony yelled for her to call 911.  The fire engine was the first on the scene,  followed by the cops, the ambulance crew checked his dad’s vitals upon arrival, but said he had been dead too long.  The coroner had ruled it a suicide and closed the case within 48 hours of the incident.  After the burial of Anthony D. Montgomery Sr.,  Tony talked with his mother as he prepared to take his flight back to Houston.  “Mom, I guess that we can’t really know people,  Dad had a lot of things that he kept hidden from us.  I never imagined that he would pass away in the manner that he did.”  Mom stirred her drink, and looked up after a minute, ” Don’t you worry about that son,  he didn’t commit suicide.”  Tony stared at her and said ” What do you mean? I found him hanging in the basement, remember?”  His Mom held her snakelike gaze and said ”  Yep, you found him, but he had changed his mind and I helped him off that bar stool anyway.  I guess it’s like you said,  you can’t really know anyone,  can you?”

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2 thoughts on “The Aftershock

  1. Pingback: The Aftershock | Through the Looking Glass

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