Monday, May 30, 2011

Chapter 83: Jorge Could Promise Anything

Mon December 7, 2074 11:10 pm: Arbormoor Manor-- Arbormoor, Pleasantview


The flames rose, claiming shards of the cherry wood cabinet, dry leaves and the occasional exploding bottle. A resolution stronger than logic kept Jorge in place, within spitting distance of the shattered glass, unflinching.

Often when he opened himself up to impulse, words and deeds poured forth that he never knew he had inside of him. Hidden sentiments emerged from the swirling morass of his thoughts, so black with emotion that they could have been mistaken for a perfect nothing. No assessment, rational or otherwise, was made during these moments. It was as though his body was possessed by the ghost of himself.


Earlier that evening, Jorge found himself standing in the cellar door, turning the gas lamp overhead on and off, on and off. The hatchet that he used to chop firewood was leaning against the wall, away from the rakes and the spades, flecked with mud. For a time, Jorge studied the object against its shadow, its shadow against the floor. He forgot his purpose, forgot whatever task he meant to accomplish by opening the cellar door. He slid his hand down the length of the handle. The sound of the blade scraping the stone floor echoed down the narrow passage as he dragged the instrument towards him. With both fists tight around the handle, it was equally likely that he was on the verge of dismembering himself as it was that he was off to collect timber.

Jorge lifted the hatchet high above his head as he entered the dining room. His footsteps gained momentum like they knew what they were after. He stopped when the toe of his boot hit the clawed foot of the liquor cabinet.

His movements were mechanical, the slump of his shoulders, indifferent with each fall of the hatchet.


The backdoor slammed, jarring Jorge into the present. A board collapsed and the sparks flew upward, an incandescent murder of crows. Dead leaves crunched under Macaulay's sneakers.

"Dad?" Jorge fought with his own face. He needed to look okay and he needed it to seem genuine. "What is all this?"

Jorge folded his arms over his chest, at once aware that it was cold. He glanced over his shoulder at Macaulay who was rubbing his eyes against the sting of smoke.


"What do you mean? I thought you liked bonfires. You always used to when you were little." Macaulay smiled pitifully. It seemed to say, Nice try, old man.

"What are you burning?" Macaulay's voice was soft. Jorge peered into flames, finding the beveled edge of an ornate leg.


"It's the liquor cabinet." He did not turn back to his son but he could feel their shoulders brushing. The fibers of Macaulay's sweater grappled into Jorge's coat. Macaulay scuffed the dirt with his shoes.

"For serious?"

"Yep." Macaulay's eyes widened. He understood that this was less a piece of furniture chopped to kindling than it was a funeral pyre.


"Was the alcohol in there when you lit this thing?" Macaulay's tone was somewhat joking, despite his morbid sense of wonder.

"Some. Most of the bottles broke when I smashed the damn thing. Didn't you notice the mess?" Macaulay leaned against Jorge's arm. Whatever amusement Jorge had heard in Macaulay's voice settled. His curly hair brushed Jorge's nose and mouth.

"I'm not sure I want to leave you like this when I go to Veronaville."

"Leave me like what, exactly?"

"Quirky." The wind blew, revealing a few charred remains. Macaulay lifted his head to look Jorge in the eye. "If you need me, I'll stay. I won't even think twice."


Jorge's chest ached. Every disappointment that he had ever put this boy through, every worry, every rage, every ladder rung towards a forced adulthood-- Jorge had disassociated himself from his own parents for arguably less, and yet here Macaulay remained. His son, who did not judge. His son, who forgave without rancor. Jorge cupped his hands over Macaulay's ears and pressed the bridge of his nose against Macaulay's forehead. He'd done nothing to deserve the love that he felt for this boy and less to deserve the love that was returned. His hands slid down Macaulay's neck, resting on his shoulders.

"I'll never stop needing you but I'm not your responsibility, alright?" Macaulay nodded. Jorge patted his cheeks. "You're everything to me, you and your brother. You know that?"

"I know." The fire cracked and hissed. Macaulay's gaze drifted amongst the embers. "Vin looked pretty at dinner the other day, didn't she?" Macaulay paused as though awaiting a response. Jorge did not give him one. "I don't expect you to pledge your undying passion or anything but can't you at least be friends? It makes me sad to think that you can't."

"Cully..." What little pride Jorge had barred him from saying this aloud but he was beginning to understand how essential Lavinia had been to his life. Everyday he would think of things, trivial things that he wanted to say to her. When he remembered that he couldn't say them, that they weren't even friends, he knew a heartbreak akin to mourning.

"I just want you to be happy, both of you," Macaulay whispered. Jorge wrapped an arm around his back.

"You make us happy." He could say that with a certain amount of authority, even in Lavinia's absence.

"Not enough." It was not an accusation, only a simple truth but it lashed Jorge just the same. This was what he deserved.

They stood in silence for a time. The fire began to burn low. A barn owl hooted far off in the distance.

"I'm selling the house." It seemed as good a time as any to break the news. There followed a pause so prolonged that Jorge thought Macaulay did not intend to respond.

"That's probably for the best," he said. Clouds obscured the stars, making the ground that much dimmer. "What about Mom?"

"Mom is going to to Gothier Green Lawns, where she should have been in the first place." Macaulay rubbed his arms to generate heat. His breath washed over him as he exhaled.

"We're going to be okay, aren't we?" Jorge was not sure what his notions of 'okay' were anymore but in that moment, he could have promised Macaulay anything and meant it.

"Yeah. We're going to be okay."



  1. Awww :(

    Poor Cully and Jorge (and Lavinia and Hunter too). But it's nice to see that they're starting to take some steps in the right direction.

  2. Yep. A lot is going to change for this family within the next few weeks (DBL time) alone.

  3. It occurs to me that in previous chapters, those trees were completely bare. Heh, please ignore the trees.