Maeve and I got to the house as the sun burned, torturing our once thriving green lawn into a dried up, yellow patch of scorched earth. We brought home greasy bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches on poppyseed rolls, wrapped in tinfoil from Cherry Valley. My father was in his usual spot, asleep and snoring on the couch. I left his breakfast on the stove.
My father always fell asleep on the couch with the television on. He never slept in his bed, in their bed. That morning From Beyond The Grave played on our old clunky 31 inch Samsung. The movie was one of hundreds of VHS cassettes my father had. At this point in my father’s sad existence nothing would really be considered impressive, except for his collection of vhs cassettes. And that was reaching, a freebie, and maybe I’d allow some props for refusing to conform to a new format, or any societal norms at that point.
My father, the non conformist. He bought cassettes back when he’d actually leave the house. He recorded movies off of the television. A cinephile, with a rather extensive catalog. Some VHS cassettes that he recorded had two or three movies on it. He tried to group them, pairing the same actor or director, or production company. The House That Dripped Blood and From Beyond The Grave were on the same cassette, both films shared similarities like time frame, actors and style. The former was filmed in 1971, while the latter was made in 1974. Christopher Lee starred in The House That Dripped Blood, but his long time colleague Peter Cushing had roles in both movies. These two classics were anthologies set in England. One revolved around an ominous country house and the other a mysterious proprietor and his antique shop.
My father was a sucker for the old Universal horror films, as well as most of the American International, Amicus and Hammer films. He passed down a love and a nostalgia for those films. He thought that Vincent Price was one of the greatest actors to have walked the earth, and I was in agreement. A personal favorite. We enjoyed the slasher films too. We watched them all. Halloween, Friday the 13th and the Nightmare On Elm Street movies. We had our favorites within the franchises. He liked the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre whereas I preferred part two. The same went for Hellraiser. We watched these films together. It was the only thing we did together. It was the only way for us to connect in some capacity. We watched Rosemary’s Baby. The Changeling. Legend of Hell House. The only things my father and I had in common was a love of horror films and bitterness.
The sight of my father sleeping saddened me. It made me wish a truck did hit us. I saw myself when I looked at him. My broken father, a crystal ball. He was a good man but he just couldn’t keep it together. He couldn’t make it work. Life destroyed him. Now he was all alone on our old battered couch, all alone in this world where nothing brought him joy, abandoned by his wife and detached from everything, especially his son. In his mind, maybe he thought he was like Vincent Price in The Last Man on Earth, which is what I was watching when my mother left us. My father like Dr. Morgan, was depressed, isolated and probably close to insanity.
Life had not gone his way, as it doesn’t for most people and in turn he abandoned life. Gave up on living. Threw in the towel. Haunted by the dreams of the past. My father was breathing air and eating, just enough to survive, but there was barely any trace of fire inside him. The difference between my old man and Vincent Price’s portrayal of Dr. Robert Morgan was that the doctor got up each day and tried to retain some semblance of humanity. My father was closer to being a zombie, or a vampire, something dead. He was more akin to one of the shunned monsters than an actual person.
He sat there in the inappropriately named living room with an empty look, drinking, watching the same shit over and over, while tying his knots, preparing for something, possibly his exit. Just movies and inertia, and the dulling of senses. A sight to bring a tear to your eye.
Was this a mirror being held up? Was I inheriting the same heartache? This could very well be my own fate, it could be all of ours, how could you know? It was possible, history did repeat itself and maybe I was looking into the future.
A prophetic glimpse of impending failure. The result of a life unfulfilled. Browbeaten and heartbroken. Alone and despondent. Words in which to describe my grey haired, disintegrating father. Sadness filled me and anger altered my disposition. The worst part was that I knew deep in my heart if my mother returned to him, to us, he would take her back. She wasn’t coming back, but he still hoped she was, and that hope appalled me. He would welcome her back, no questions asked, he would just accept all the torment he received and ignore the shame and ridicule.
I would never want to arm anyone with that kind of power. I would never want anyone to be able to destroy me like she destroyed him. A part of me wanted to go downstairs and tell Maeve to go home, to tell her to get the fuck out of here. Run, Maeve, run.
My mother was never coming back. She wasn’t coming back to rescue my father from his slumping depression. She was gone. That was what she needed to do and I was at peace with it. I could never forgive it but I was at ease. That ship had sailed, and I was aware I had that in me as well. I wished a trillion times that one day I would leave and never come back to this fucking place. How could I fault her when we wanted the same thing. I let people keep me here whereas she didn’t give a fuck who was here. Nothing was stopping her. I had people in my way. The Cravens and the rest of my friends were anchors. Maeve was a padlock that I was intent on breaking. I knew Maeve had the ability to hurt me, if she so chose she could easily devastate me, reducing me to a pile of rubble but I’d rather die before that happened.