All Stories, Fantasy

A Hell of a Story Part Three by Frederick K Foote

“Handy, this is a pretty good turnout, isn’t it?”

“Oslo, man, how many people do you think are here? Maybe 200 or so? And people keep coming. I mean, a lot of these folks just invited themselves, I think.”

Handy and I are sitting on a slope overlooking the picnic grounds at Southside Park on a cool September afternoon. The sounds of the blues and the aroma from the bar b que are calling me back to the celebration. 

I spent the last hour talking to 57-year-old Rona Bronstein, formally Rona Liptak, and our 41-year-old son, Fielder Litak, II. The experience has left me and them a bit dazed.

First of all, Rona and I have no recollection of meeting each other. Second, none of our friends or associates from back in the day recall seeing us together or ever mentioning each other. However, our DNA testing confirms the father/son relationship. Finally, from the moment of our first reconnection over the phone, there was an immediate attraction—a strong affiliation.

Rona had long ago admitted to our son that as a teenager she was wild and high for months at a time and she didn’t have a clue who his father was. Fielder came to accept he would never meet his father, and I had shown up and destroyed his equilibrium. Now he was suspicious and confused by the congeniality between his mother and me, our mutual attraction, and our denials of any memory of each other.

That’s why I deserted my party for a minute to clear my head.

Oh, shit, here comes Father Mateowaving three beer bottles at us as he jogs up the slope. I have been trying to avoid him all day.

Handy chuckles. “There is no rest for the wicked.”

I wonder if Handy is talking about me or Father Marcos, or both of us or all of us.

Father Mateo hands us each a beer and plops down next to me

“Thank you. Are you enjoying the party, Father?”

“My God, Oslo, this is a wonderful celebration. I hope you had the good sense to reject the exorbitant prices of Young Hee. That woman is a profiteer.”

“Thank you for your concern, Father, but Young Hee, Valentina, and our kids are financing this fiesta. I think this is their way of avoiding paying for or having a memorial service.”

Handy adds. “I tried to contribute, but they said I should just pay you that $30 I owe you. Damit! Which I forgot to bring with me.”

Father Mateo smiles at Handy. “You often seem to forget your wallet when we take up the collection, too.”

The good Father turns back to me. “I apologize for my behavior when you were presenting your memories of, of your afterlife. I was in a state of shock.”

“No apology required, Father. I think we all were a little unsettled.”

“Thank you, Oslo. However, on reflection, I think Heaven could exist. I mean, even if you didn’t want to abide with your family, there would be millions of wonderful historical figures to meet, and you would never run out of intellectual stimulation. Heaven is not just about family reunions.”

Handy nods in agreement. “That makes sense.”

I see Valentina glance up our way. I try to get her attention, but she is turning away from us.

Father Mateo pulls at my sleeve. “Oslo, did you hear what I said?”

“Look, I’m not trying to defend or explain what I experienced. But if you are dead and can’t grow or change, then you can’t make and benefit from new friends. That’s the way it looks to me.”

Father Mateo tugs at his collar. “Well, that is a problem. However, only a monstrously cruel God would put his flock in that kind of diabolical predicament.”

I stand and wave at Young Hee. She turns away and motions to Valentina and they both start up the slope.

Shit! What have I done this time?

Handy says. “Uh oh, I see trouble on the horizon. I think I’ll go down there and get us a couple of more beers and some que. You coming, Father?”

Father Mateo glances at the two long-time foes and stands quickly. “I think I will join you.”

They acknowledge the two women as they trot past them.

Without a word, Young and Valentina sit on either side of me for a minute or two of silence. What is this? What do they want?

 I disrupt the quiet. “Hey, thank you, guys. This is exactly what I wanted. Thank you.”

Valentina turns her face to me. “Rona was 16 when you got her pregnant. And you were in your 20s. Did you ever have any morals?”

“Well, I—”

Young cuts me off. “Oslo, you could have 50, 60 kids running around here.”

“No, according to Dr. Ryan, I only have these four. Thank God or whatever.”

Valentina nudges me with her elbow. “You’re so lucky there is no Hell.”

“I never said that. If I said that, I misspoke.”

Young says. “I knew it. I knew it. There’s no Heaven, so everyone goes to hell. Fuck! That’s fucked up.”

“I don’t really know. I—”

Valentina nudges me from the other side. “Rona was a hottie. How did you forget her?”

“I don’t even remember—”

Young grabs my arm. “Dying should be simple and final. Bang! It’s over-no afterlife bullshit.”

“I agree. Young, that would be my Heaven—”

Valentina raps me on the knee. “Fielder. Who the hell names a kid Fielder?”

Young tightens her grip on my arm. “When you die and come back next time, that’s what you need to tell people, okay?”

“I don’t want to—”

Valentina rests her hand on my shoulder. “Fielder and his siblings are delighted with each other. I think that might work out okay, don’t you?”

“I hope it—”

Young stands. “Remember what I said, Oslo—no fuckin’ afterlife.”

“Young I don’t intend—”

Valentina stands and talks to Young. “One thing I can say for Oslo is he was not the worse father around.”

“What the hell—”

Young replies. “Yeah, at least for the kids he knew about.”

They laugh as they hook arms and walk down to the party. Why are they referring to me in the past tense? Why are they acting like I’m not even here?

Valentina sighs. “I wish he were here to see this.”

“Hey, I’m here! I’m right here. We were just talking.”

Young smiles. “He would be down with this for sure.”

I stand and follow them down the incline until the “Welcome to the Oslo R. Jennings Memorial Celebration.” sign stops me in mid-step. 

What the fuck? Am I dreaming? —everything fades to black—

Frederick K Foote

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay 

A Hello of a Story – Part 1

6 thoughts on “A Hell of a Story Part Three by Frederick K Foote”

  1. Fred
    This keeps you off balance, then floors you at the end. For some odd reason this extremely peculiar “afterlife” is appropriate. Who has proof that death makes any more sense than life? Congratulations on approaching 80 stories.
    Leila

    Like

  2. Hi Fred,
    What I love about this is how much it stands alone but when read with the other two then that takes this to another depth, maybe more character driven than ‘place.’
    As interesting as always my fine friend.
    Hugh

    Like

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