MAY / JUNE 2015: BY VERONICA LEIGH
“What is this?” Abe demanded, storming into the room. When his father didn’t look up, he shook the papers in midair. “Pops? Pops?” When receiving no response, he yelled, “Henry!”
Henry Morgan’s head snapped up and he lowered his reading material. “Sorry, what was it you were saying, Abraham?”
When his young looking, 236 year-old father got comfy in his easy chair with a book, and was being serenaded by a boring old record of Chopin, it was difficult to get his attention. Despite all of their differences, the huge age gap and the “curse,” Abe had no regrets. He would not have chosen a different father. Even so, now and then the effects of the curse caught up with them. He was the only boy whose dad never aged beyond 35 and the only one whose dad never died. After losing his mother the way he did, Henry’s longevity came in handy in regards to Abe avoiding losing another parent. In time, though, it would pose a problem.
There would come a day that Henry would have to bury him. No parent should have to outlive their child.
“What is this?” Abe asked again. When he stumbled on the stack of papers in the basement, he thought it was more theories about the curse. He was stunned that his father had branched out. “Time travel?”
Henry had the goodness to look sheepish, laid the book aside and rose to his feet. “It’s not what you think.” He paused and shook his head. “All right, it is exactly what you think. It is only a theory though, nothing more.”
Abe tossed the papers on the coffee table. “Isn’t it enough that you’ve lived in four separate centuries, must you also travel through time too?”
“I don’t wish to travel in time per se. I was only wondering if it were possible, if I could have prevented the curse somehow,” Henry said. “I wasn’t going to do it.”
Abe sighed. This was almost as bad as when his father got the flintlock that had originally killed him. Another mortal, one called Adam, had planted the idea in his head that if they were killed with the original weapon that killed them, their curses would be broken. Thankfully that theory was disproven, albeit the hard way.
The last thing they needed was another cockamamie scheme to play havoc with the lives around them. The curse itself provided enough of that.
“It’s not a curse!” Abe snapped. “If anything, it’s a gift. A crazy gift, but a gift nonetheless.”
Henry winced. He gripped Abe’s shoulder. “Abraham! I wasn’t going to go through with it. How could I? If I had, I never would have met you or your mother. You two were worth all of the pain.” He gathered his research and headed toward the fireplace where the flames were cracking with heat. “Look, I will destroy one! Will that make it better?”
“Yeah, that would be a start.”
Henry and Abe froze.
“Not so hasty,” a chilling voice hissed from the dark corner of the room. “I’ll be taking those.” A pasty man wearing an old cabby cap slinked out into the light. “Hello, Henry.”
There was only one soul on the planet who could take two simple words and twist them into something creepy.
“Adam!” Henry sputtered. “How is this possible?”
The last time Adam attempted to kill Henry, Henry was able to inject him and cause him to have an air embolism, which had sent Adam into a semi-vegetative state. The only way for him to come out of it would be if he… died.
“Did you really think you could leave me like that? Forever? I got lucky; I had another aneurism.” Adam merely smiled; the remainder of his face remained icy cold. He raised his arm, aiming the flintlock pistol at Henry.
“Hey!” Abe yelled. “Have you forgotten? Killing him with that only sends him back to the Hudson. It won’t change anything.”
Adam chortled. “Who said anything about me killing him?” He whipped around, this time directing the pistol at Abe. “Give me the research or I will kill your son.”
Henry let out a strangled cry. He lurched forward, to step in front of his son but then he stopped. Taking a bullet for Abe wouldn’t solve anything. After Adam shot him, he’d continue on to do something awful to Abe. Or at least that was what Adam wanted him to think. His fingers tightened around the papers and in a dramatic sweep, he flung them into the fire.
“No!” Adam charged towards the fireplace and was able to reach in to pluck them out.
Henry rushed forward, wrestled the weapon out of the immortal’s hands, and held it on him. “Don’t move.”
Abe gritted his teeth, wishing his body wasn’t as aged and arthritic as it was. If only he could have moved that quickly.
The flames swallowed the research, leaving only black crisps behind. So much for a theory.
Adam tilted his head. “I underestimated you, Henry. Gambling with your own son’s life.”
“There was no gamble.” Henry said. “You may have killed me before and you may kill me again, you may kill countless others, but you’ll never harm Abraham.”
As much as Abe hated Adam, he knew if it came down to it, Adam would do the right thing by him. They had a connection, one that he didn’t even share with Pops. He and Adam had been in the death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau. The infamous Dr. Mengele had experimented on them both. They had an odd little kinship.
Adam lifted his hands, palms up and shrugged. “Now what? We both know you are incapable of killing anyone, Henry. Even me, even though it wouldn’t be permanent. Your conscience won’t permit it.” His eyes twinkled. “Just give me what I want and you’ll never have to see me again.”
Henry rolled his eyes. “Now why don’t I believe you?”
While the two continued to exchange witty barbs, Abe held his breath. He grabbed the neck of a bottle of wine, swung around and smashed it over Adam’s head. The immortal listlessly dropped to the floor. The impact wouldn’t kill him, but it would incapacitate him long enough for them to tie him up.
“Oh, Abraham! You shouldn’t have done that!” Henry scolded. “What if the gun accidentally went off? You could have been killed!”
Abe waved him off. “We have bigger fish to fry. Right now we have to dispose of Adam. Again.” He put his hands on his hips. “Any bright ideas?”
Henry rubbed his chin. A sly smile crept across his face. “Want to test my time traveling theory?” his Pops suggested. “We can send Adam someplace where he can’t hurt anyone.”
Abe clapped his hands together. “I’ll get the rope!” He headed down to the basement, hoping that they were making the right choice.
Perhaps they’d be rid of Adam for once and for all… ◦
Veronica Leigh is an aspiring novelist, who lives in Indiana with her family and six furbabies. Her obsessions range from Jane Austen to the Holocaust to the TV show Once Upon a Time. She has published two short autobiographical pieces and hopes to see more in print. She also lurks on her blog.