Read 69 INCHES AND RISING Online

Authors: Rebecca Steinbeck

69 INCHES AND RISING (3 page)

“Who is this?” Jonathon asked.

“Police Detective Paul Sharman. I have some bad news.”

Jonathon took a deep breath and sat down. “Is it my mom?”

He didn’t know why he thought of his mother, except she was the only one he could think of that something so bad might have happened to that the police would bother ringing him at four a.m.

“She’s dead, son.”

A tear came to Jonathon’s eye. All the money in the world, and he had plenty of it, didn’t mean a thing right now. Nor did the mansion he and Serena shared and nor did the BMW parked in the garage. He looked around the lounge and saw the sixty inch television and the painting by Andy Warhol he bought on a whim and for which he had been offered twice as much as what he paid and the answer he gave the guy was no. A big fat one. Now, none of it meant anything. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. “When did it happen?” he asked.

“Late last night. She was shot once in the chest. We tried calling you several times but there was no answer.”

Jonathon thought back to the missed calls. Ring, ring, holy crapping shit and all that jazz. His heart sank and so did he to the floor. He began to cry and Serena came to the door. She saw him leaning back against the chair and looking out the window at the stars, and when the truth of what had happened sunk in just a little bit more to where it hurts your heart like someone has set fire to it he dropped the phone and cried some more. She went to him and wrapped her arms around him and they held each other tight. She wanted to ask him what was wrong but didn’t because she loved him no matter what and whatever was wrong could wait until the world’s best-selling writer of horror and now a writer of love stories was ready to talk about it.

 

 

CHAPTER ELEVEN

 

T
he angel that tried to help Jonathon’s mother out of the depths of Hell ascended to Heaven and confronted the band of angels who had sent her there in the first place.

“We have to get her out of there,” the angel pleaded. “We have to help her.”

One of the angels stepped forward. “You failed in your quest to save the good men and women we sent you for. Men and women who were welcome here in Heaven. Why should we then help you save but one scoundrel woman who cheated with a married man and who died at his hand in the hope their affair could be kept secret from a small town? They should
both
burn in Hell.”

The first angel replied, “Because of what we are instead of what we once were.
That’s
why.”

The second angel considered the words of the first. It turned back to the other angels who each nodded their heads. The angel turned back to the first angel and said, “You can have the woman’s son. Teach him well for he is your only chance of getting this woman out of Hell. Fail, and you will join her there.”

The band of angels turned as one and disappeared into the snow white clouds behind them. The angel wiped away her tears and left Heaven and returned to planet Earth. She stood with a sad heart outside Jonathon’s mansion, knowing that the young man inside was about to lose everything so his mother might gain one thing, but knowing in her heart that the one thing on offer would, in the much bigger picture, outweigh anything Jonathon had on Earth one hundred times over. She could only hope that he would, sooner rather than later, accept his part in the bigger picture was undeniable and the prize, the safe return of his mother’s soul to the bosom of Almighty God, was worth a whole heap more than the things he would have to give up in order to get it.

 

 

CHAPTER TWELVE

 

J
onathon went to the lounge window and ran his palm across the glass and watched as the world went by, painfully aware that its hero’s heart had just been crushed and he knew it had because he was the hero and the heart was his and it hurt like hell.

Serena came up behind him. “Can I get you anything?”

He wondered what even the most wonderful woman in the world could possibly get a man who had just lost the
other
most wonderful woman in the world. His heart was dripping his mother’s blood and it was filling his soul to the brim, yet he found it within himself to speak. “When my father died, I didn’t know if I would ever recover from the loss of a loved one. Indeed, I really didn’t know how to. I knew soon enough that I could learn, but learning meant being taught and being taught meant doing things their way, not mine. I like doing things my way, Serena. Not having to answer to anyone but my readers is how I like it but even some of
them
are nuts and I mean crazy as all shit.”

Serena wrapped her arms around Jonathon’s waist and leaned into his back, feeling his toned body under his gown and the beat of his heart against hers.

Jonathon thought about the crazed fan who threatened to blow him to bits then continued speaking. “I never told anyone but the police about something that happened a long time ago and it was soon after my first novel came out and I prayed I would never have to deal with them again. The police, that is. Prayers, however, aren’t always answered. In fact, I wonder if they’re ever really answered at all.”

Serena felt a growing unease. “What happened, Jonathon? Was it the police on the phone?” She tightened her grip around his waist and he held her hands in his.

“It’s my Mom,” he replied. “She’s dead. Murdered, in fact.”

Tears escaped Serena’s eyes and they rolled gently down the sides of her face. Her heart rolled over in her chest and tapped her soul on the shoulder.
The end has come and it’s time to go, it seemed to say. She knew it hadn’t and she knew it wasn’t but it felt like it. It felt like someone had just popped a great big party balloon and let all the air out. Time to go home kids. There’s blood on the floor.

Jonathon sighed. “Someone shot her.” And suddenly there was a whole lot more blood.

Serena had never known anyone who died, not even of old age when the body has lived all it can and then it’s time to let go. She tried thinking of what it would be like to be shot and could only come up with those cheesy old westerns with plenty of bullets and not one drop of blood being shed as Indians fell off their horses and landed on the ground. Then they got up and did it all over again in the next scene and again not one drop of blood was shed. She just couldn’t bring herself to think of what it would be really like to have a bullet pierce your skin at great speed then rip your insides to shreds before you either bled to death or lived the rest of your life crippled because the bullet cut a chunk out of your spine on its way through.

The phone rang again and Jonathon ignored it. All he did was look out the window at the stars that twinkled and the moon that shone and the bats that flew across the night sky in search of fruit to munch on and dead bodies to feed on. “Not much I can do about it now I’m afraid, so they might as well stop ringing.”

The angel looked in at them and watched as the love between a man and woman deepened and the connection between them grew. She knew in her heart she couldn’t take one without the other and it was probably best to leave them both alone. But life has never been short of moments that make us cringe and the chances it gives us one after the other aren’t always fair. We can only make the most of them even if they aren’t what we hoped for or thought they would be. “I’ll have to take you both,” the angel said. It was all she could do.

 

 

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

 

J
onathon stood over the kitchen bench now and poured himself a cup of tea. He looked over his shoulder at Serena who was sitting on a stool at the other end of the bench. She was wiping away the tears that had refused wholeheartedly to stop. He turned back to the cup and stirred some milk into it. Black became white and nothing else mattered now because his mother was gone and a cup of tea was all that was left except Serena who he loved with all his heart. But his heart was broken now and he wondered how it could ever be put back together.

The phone rang again and Jonathon kept stirring. He didn’t want to talk right now and even if he did he didn’t know what to say. “Can you get that please babe?” he asked.

Babe was his pet name for Serena and he called her that often, but not when he was sad or upset no matter whose fault it was. She looked up at him. He was focused on that one thing in front of him and nothing would break through the brick wall he seemed to be building around whatever was left of his heart. She wiped away more of her tears. “Of course.”

She stood up and went to the phone. She picked it up and straight away felt a cold chill run down her spine. She didn’t want to speak for fear of finding out what had caused it but now she had answered the phone she had no choice. “Hello?”

“Serena? Can I speak to Jonathon please? It’s urgent. ”

The cold fingers of the Devil wrapped around her throat and she found it hard to breath. Sweat formed on her brow and she began to feel sick in her stomach. She put down the phone and stepped away from it.

Jonathon turned to her. “Who was it?”

She was shaking and sweating and unsteady on her feet. She touched her hand to her forehead and it was covered in sweat. She reached behind her for the stool she had stood up from to answer the phone and sat back down. She was sickly pale and looked like she had just seen a ghost. She looked at him and, sadly and with a soul whose every fibre had been gripped by fear, said, “Your mother.”

Jonathon looked at her for several moments, unable to believe what he had just heard her say. It hit him soon enough though and he leaned back against the kitchen bench. He looked around the room, taking in all those things he saw in the hope they would overwhelm those things he felt, hoping that what he saw would banish what he felt for all time but they didn’t because that’s not how things work.

Just then a clap of thunder roared over his home, and the early morning sky lit up like a Christmas tree pumped full of steroids and high on speed and cocaine. Jonathon looked outside and saw the stars twinkling against the black, velvet-like backdrop that was outer space. Another clap of thunder came and he wondered what was going on for there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. He stood up and went to the window and a pillar of pure white light descended from above. An angel of extraordinary beauty, the likes of which Jonathon had never seen before, stepped out of the light and beckoned him and Serena with open arms. “Come to me children, for this is the way and you must take it before it’s too late.”

Jonathon and Serena looked at each other. There was no need for words and none were spoken because sometimes you just have to trust that something out there knows more and better than you, and this was one of those times because they trusted in what they saw. They took each others hand and left the house by the front door. Jonathon closed it then looked back at what he was leaving behind which was a whole heap but he knew in his heart that the pull of the light was strong, that their greater good was being called upon, and it was time to answer that call with all their hearts. They stepped toward the light and the angel embraced them both, wrapping her wings around them and closing them tight, drawing Jonathon and Serena into the light which drained them of all human life and replaced it with everlasting life after death. The pillar of light vanished and it took the world’s best-selling writer of horror and his girlfriend who had changed his life forever with it, leaving behind no sign but the words on a blank page and the love two hearts shared that they were here at all.

 

 

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

 

T
he pillar of white light that took Jonathon and Serena from where they were to where they now are slowly vanished and they looked around in awe at the scene before them. Birds flew across a clear blue sky, each of them singing a perfect song in perfect tune. Green grass spread out before them like a blanket perfectly sewn by the hand of God. A rainbow with all the pretty colors arced across the sky from one end of the horizon to the other. The sun shone brilliantly, bathing the land before them with an effervescent warmth. A cheery rabbit bounced across the ground in front of Jonathon and Serena then dived into a hole next to a great oak that towered into the sky. Jonathon and Serena looked at each other then turned to the angel that was standing behind them.

“Are we dead?” Jonathon asked. “We must surely be dead for this must surely be Heaven.”

The angel smiled. “Nothing is ever dead, child. It is only moved on from where it was to where it is meant to be.” She turned them back and sent them forth. She watched them wander around hand in hand, each of them like a young child at Christmas. She so hoped he had it in him to be everything she needed him to be, and she so hoped that Serena, who was once but a simple fan of his work and who was now the woman who would spend all of time by his side, had it in her to understand that while her father was not perfect and he, like everyone else, had made mistakes, he had committed the cardinal sin, murder, and not just of a human being but of the love held by one human being for another, and for that he had to be punished to the full extent of the law as written by a God who created man not to kill but to love and to do so in his name. Meanwhile, as Jonathon and Serena enjoyed the warmth given off by the sun, the man in black’s soul was burning to death in the fires of Hell. It screamed for help of course but no one helped because no one heard, and no one heard because no one cared, and while the man in black’s soul burned to death in Hell, Jonathon and Serena kissed and held each other close as the sun set behind the horizon and the twinkling stars came out to play.

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