Stanley woke up from his sleep with a headache. Beside him, two nurses were busy replacing cold towels on his forehead. They were working fast, but Stanley didn’t feel much more than a massive migraine.
“What… happened?” he groggily asked.
“Um… sir, you had a… heat stroke.” one of the nurses lied.
“That’s cool.” he sighed, sitting up.
“Wait, sir-” one of the nurses panicked.
“Don’t worry. I can take care of myself for now.” he insisted.
“Well, if you’re awake, you have a visitor.” she said.
“A visitor?” he said blankly. “Well, can I see her?”
“Um, yes. But it’s not a woman. I’ll send the gentleman right in.”
“Gentleman?” Stanley asked himself. “What gentleman would want to talk to me right now?” His head suddenly throbbed with pain, making him lay back down. He stared at the ceiling and traced the events of his life back for a few days.
“Boy, it’s been too long!” boomed an angry voice at the door to his room. It was a voice that Stanley hadn’t heard in years, and one he wished he’d never have to hear again. At the door of his room, his father stood in his blue suit and pants; his every greying hair still apparent.
“D-Dad” Stan mumbled, not wanting to believe it was him.
“Hmph. I do wish you’d call me ‘Father’ sometime.” he grumbled disapprovingly. He turned to the nurse behind him. “Can we get some privacy in this room?” he asked. The nurse nodded and bowed profusely before closing leaving and closing the door behind him.
“You wanna start?” Stan asked, not very motivated to get up.
“It’s been quite a while.”
“Not long enough if you ask me.” Stan mumbled.
“Why do you hate me so?” his father asked.
“I don’t know, Charles. What’ve you done for me?” Charles pounded his cane against the ground.
“You shall not refer to me as Charles! I am your father!” he shouted.
“Oh yeah? How’s mother?” Stan asked slyly.
“She- When-” While his father was at a loss for words, Stanley sat up in his bed and looked his father in the eyes for the first time in years.
“Better yet, how’s Sarah? Have you even told her that I ran away after all these years? I bet she’d be happy to see me back at home.” Charles looked ready to blow a fuse.
“Boy, lay back down. Let me tell you something.” Without seeing a reason to resist, Stan laid back down.
“This better be one hell of a story.” he mumbled.
“All I ever wanted was to see you succeed. You took my help and threw it in my face, spitting on it afterwards. After you ran away, I saw it as something I could only benefit from.”
“Your story’s not making me change my heart.”
“Silence! As I was saying, I thought I could only benefit, but it was my worst mistake. The night before you left your sister told me that you were planning on running away. I figured it was because of her condition, but I wouldn’t have stopped you even if I had believed her. After you left though, everything fell apart.”
Stanley raised an eyebrow. That might have been the closest thing to remorse that he’d seen his father express. Stan assumed he could only feel anger, content, and schadenfreude.
“After you left, your mother blamed me for your running away, which I will assume to be true. Margret left me, calling me a wicked man. I was left with your sister, whose condition was rapidly deteriorating with you gone. She began to remember less, recognise less. I had told her that you had gone off to college, which doesn’t seem to be a total lie now that I look at what you did after leaving.”
Does that really make it any better? Stan thought, not really believing what his dad was saying, but also totally believing it.
“She soon became a depressed shut-in who would spend hours on end mumbling to herself in her bedroom. I couldn’t sleep; all night, I’d hear her howling, begging you not to leave. I had to find her a doctor; she’s seeing one right now. There; you’re all caught up now, aren’t you?” Stanley shook his head.
“You trying to label yourself as some tragic hero or something? You’ve told me why Mom and Sarah are gone, but I want to know why you’re here. I know you wouldn’t visit me, even on my deathbed, unless you had a reason.” He laid back down, putting his head back on his soft pillow. “What’s your deal, dear old dad?”
For the first time in his life, Stanley saw his father afraid of him. He looked like he was just sentenced to death. Charles put on a face of sorrowful confliction before gripping his cane. He twisted the handle, and it detached from the rest of the cane, revealing a long knife attached to the end of it.
“That’s pretty cool.” Stan remarked, putting on a sad smile. He knew he wouldn’t be able to overpower his father. When he woke up before, he was told of a previous attempt on his life. “Did Holt send you to do it?” Charles nodded.
“He said that if I killed you, he might possibly be able to save Sarah. One child or the other, he said.”
“Heh. What does that make me? Alright Abraham, time to sacrifice your son. Will it be worth it?”
“Let us both hope.” Charles said gravely.
“Before I go six feet under, can I do something?”
“Name it.” Stanley told Charles, who nearly reeled back in surprise, but decided to fulfill the wish nonetheless. He took out his phone, set it to a voice recorder, and gave it to Stanley. He pressed record.
“Hey, sis.” Stan started. “I know that when you get this, I’ll be long gone. I can’t tell you how I went away, but I know that if you want to be a lawyer, your intuition can tell you.” he laughed. Tears started forming in his eyes. “I’m sorry I never visited after all these years. I’ve been a bad brother, but I want you to know that I’ll always love you. Remember what I told you about not following someone else’s wants? Don’t live on your knees; it’s better to die on your feet. See you around, sis.” He ended the message, handing the phone back to Charles.
“Is that it?” he asked.
“Maybe I should leave something for Ire, but I think she’ll deliver a message more powerful than I could ever give.”
“Then you’re ready?” he asked seriously.
“Just make sure Sarah gets the message.” Stan said weakly.
Charles nodded and took a deep breath. In one painful motion, he took the knife and stabbed Stanley through the heart.