Respite by irishauthorme
Story of the Month contest entry
Artwork by supergold at FanArtReview.com
Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of language.
Outside the church, I could hear the organ music bleeding through the closed doors.
I pulled the heavy, oak door open.
In a black, mortician's silk suit, Paul Belguss tried to work up a sympathetic smile as he handed me an obituary pamphlet. On the front, there was a picture of Heavenly light shining down on a white-robed Jesus, hugging a lady with dark hair, while they both stood in silvery clouds.
Inside the church the organ music was louder, droning on like an insomnia remedy. The cloying fragrance of the wreaths surrounding the casket was suffocating.
The shiny, new wedding rings in my pants pocket were jabbing my leg.
I stood for a moment, trying not to look at the open casket in front of the podium. Alicia's mom, Grace, motioned for me to sit in the front pew with them. As I sat, Grace took my hand in hers, her great, searching eyes on mine, filled with questions she couldn't ask yet. Alicia's stepdad, Carl, glared at me, turned his head sideways, and looked away. Did he know? Carl looked down as he opened his pamphlet, and read it again.
Across the aisle, in the front pew, River County Sheriff Bill Emmett, in Class A Uniform, nodded to me.
I opened my pamphlet. On the left page was a picture of Alicia, in her graduation gown, mortarboard hat tilted with the tassel hanging, proudly holding her high school diploma.
On the right page;
Alicia Grace Emmett-Weston
June 6, 2004
September 10, 2022
Services, Sunday, September 25, 2022
Calvary Christian Church, Riverton
I didn't read the rest.
I still could not believe she was gone. My beautiful Alicia! No! I would not have been surprised if she came and sat down beside me, hands between her knees, blinking and smiling, as she apologized for being late. Cute. She was always late.
There was more shuffling as mourners came in and found places, then our Pastor, Tom Barnes strode behind the podium and opened his Bible.
Will Stoddard, our county coroner, stared at me as he walked by. He knew.
Somehow, I didn't hear a word Pastor Tom said. I rose to sing with everyone, but I don't remember the hymn. I do remember Grace, softly sobbing beside me, and Carl, hanging his head.
When Tom told us to sit after the hymn, he nodded to Bill Emmett. Bill rose, walked slowly to the casket, and stood staring down as mourners lined up behind him. I could see the tears running down his weathered cheeks as his closed fist tapped up and down on the casket.
My insides were watery as I stood with Carl and Grace to walk by the casket for the viewing before we went to Monument Hill Cemetery. I didn't want to look. If I did, I would have to acknowledge that Alicia was gone.
I didn't want her gone! But I had to take that last look.
She was as beautiful in death as she had been in life. Long lashes fanned pink cheeks. A slight smile on her red lips. Auburn hair on her shoulders. A fresh, blue Zinnia, her favorite flower, in her clasped hands. She wore the butterfly earrings and necklace I had given her on her last birthday.
As I looked at my sleeping beauty, a convulsion seized me. I bent, cried out, and grabbed the sides of the casket to keep from falling.
Inside Alicia, our secret. The sleeping son whom I would never watch nursing at his mother's breast. The son I would never see taking his first, hesitant step. My son, who would never call me "Daddy".
Bill Emmett held me from behind as I staggered toward the door. Outside, I was violently sick in the juniper bushes. I turned and fell forward on the lawn and beat the ground until my fists bled. I cursed everyone and everything.
Mostly, I cursed Emory Fisker, the rotten son-of-a-bitch who had taken my love away. Fisker, the repeat sex offender who had been out on bail, and was now two miles away, awaiting trial, in an isolated cell in our River County jail.
I sat up and wiped my mouth. People walking by on the sidewalk looked away. Cars streamed out of the parking lot, following Mort's old, 1959 Cadillac hearse.
I could not bring myself to go watch them lower Alicia into that deep, cold ground.
In my truck, I got out Bill Emmett's note again.
"Wear the skin tint, the cap and gloves, and the jumpsuit I gave you. Park across and down the street, at the library. The Justice Center's back door will be unlocked. Look to the right, away from the camera, as you enter. Take the stairs, not the elevator. The cameras will be malfunctioning at the sergeant's desk and in the jail itself. Push the 'Manual' button at the corridor door. The scum bag will be in A2-103. He ate all the shit we gave him for supper, so he will be out.
Do not, Do Not! Leave any marks on him, no matter how you feel! Use the sheets the way I showed you. If you have any last-minute doubts, Fisker bragged to Orey Bates, our 'planter inmate,' in the cell next door, about what he did to our girl.
Close 103's cell door. Use the 'manual' button at the corridor door.
When you are back in your truck, send me a 'M/A' on your phone.
The Riverton Record front page, Monday, September 26:
COUNTY JAIL INMATE FOUND DEAD, APPARENT SUICIDE
Convicted sex offender, Emory Fisker, 46, who was awaiting trial for the alleged rape and murder of Alicia Weston, 18, was found dead in his county jail cell early this morning. Fisker apparently used his bed sheets to hang himself. Fisker was previously arrested on September 2, and accused of sexually harassing a female clerk at Mercer's Market. He made bail and was released the same day. Fisker was convicted of the rape and death of Allison Eyes in 2000 and served 20 years of a 40 years sentence. Fisker was paroled in 2021, due to an error in his trial proceedings. According to the Ridge Mountain State Prison, Fisker had a perfect prison record and extensive counseling and passed a rigorous psychiatric examination before his release from prison. Sheriff Bill Emmett said the investigation into Fisker's death is ongoing.
On the Record's back page, in the obituaries;
"Services for Alicia Grace Emmett-Weston, 18, were held Sunday, at the Calvary Christian Church, in Riverton. Alicia graduated in May, this year, from Lincoln High School, Riverside, where she was an honor student. She is survived by her father, William "Bill" Emmett, her step-father, Carl Weston, and her mother, Grace Emmett-Weston. In lieu of graveside flowers, the family requested donations be made to:
Natural Resources for Sexual Assault Survivors (RAINN).
The family requests privacy during this period of mourning.
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