Aphelion Issue 275, Volume 26
August 2022
 
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Mother

by Brian Douglas Graham


Simon snorted the tiny pile of white powder out of the junction of his thumb and forefinger. He angled his chair all the way back and stared at the traffic rushing past the car.

"You just snorted $40 worth of my shit," I said.

Simon reached into the tiny pockets of his $150 Italian jeans, the kind that showed off the bulge of his crotch and his lean ass cheeks. He brought out a wad of dollar bills and threw it in my direction. He was high, and he must have thought such a gesture suitably theatrical. I didn't demean myself by counting the money while I drove.

"Simon, we've got a new client for you. Tomorrow night. Don't be fucked up before I pick you up. You get as fucked up as you want afterwards, I don't care. But you get too fucked up that you can't get your dick up, I don't get paid. If I don't get paid, you don't get paid. You hear?"

"I hear," he said, watching the streetlights pass by through pinprick pupils.

"Don't you want to know who it is?"

"What the fuck do I care?" he responded, his voice barely audible over the hum of the engine.

"You should care. It's where your money comes from. I care."

"It’s just some guy who likes guys," he said, speech slow and deliberate. The rush of the high has passed and now he sat supine in the car seat, body rolling corpselike at every turn in the road. "Like everybody else."

"No, this is somebody important. Someone we’d give to one of our more experienced boys if they were available. They're not, which is why we gave him your junky ass."

He looked out the window, too high to get insulted.

"He likes them skinny and boyish. Meek. Submissive. Choir boy or some shit like that. Can you be meek and submissive? Without being high?"

"I can be anything you want me to be."

"No, I'm serious, Simon. This guy, he's loaded. Got money to blow on sluts like it was pocket change. And nobody, nobody, nobody," I tapped my hand on the steering wheel for emphasis, "can know that he fucked you. He's a minister."

Simon depressed his eyes to slits. I'm not sure he could be surprised when he's this high.

"Look, maybe he fucks you, he doesn't fuck some altar boy. I don't know. I do know that he doesn't want anybody to know what happened. Even more than our other clients. Just so you know."

"I don't think I'll remember him any more than the others." He opened his mouth, about to say something, then his head lolled forward. He'd fallen asleep, or was on the other side of nodding off. A thin stream of drool ran down his carefully maintained hasn't-shaved-for-a-day stubble and onto his impossibly thin boy's t-shirt that showed the sharp angles of his ribcage.

"You fuck this up, you'll be sorry."

He didn't hear me. Or he did hear me, but didn't care to answer.

####

Simon walked very slowly to the car. He stopped midway down the front walk, peering at the car as if he didn't recognize it. I rolled down the window, turned on my dashboard light long enough so that he could see my face.

He recognized it, but still walked to the car agonizingly slow. I was in a good part of town. People like me don't drive people like Simon to a minister's house in this part of town. It just doesn’t happen, and people don't look for it. Still, I am a good enough businessman to be paranoid on principle. Simon opened the door. I dragged him in the car.

"You'd better not be high," I said.

He didn't answer.

"You get fucked up afterwards, you hear?"

He didn't answer. He looked at the dashboard. His seatbelt hung loosely around his bony frame.

"Listen, Simon," my voice softened. "This guy didn't choke you, did he? No pain shit like that?"

I couldn't see any bruises around his neck. Our clients were told explicitly: no pain stuff. Nothing that leaves a mark.

"She."

He said it very quietly, and I thought he was simply slurring his words. He said it again, louder this time. "She."

"She?" I passed a police car parked in a parking lot, kept my eyes directly forward, hoping the cop hadn't noticed Simon's unbuckled seatbelt.

"She. He gave me to the mother."

As soon as I got on the highway I reached over and buckled his seatbelt. His eyes were unclouded, pupils reacting normally to the lights of the interstate.

"She was huge. Huge."

"The minister let you fuck his wife?" Simon doesn’t like me enough to joke with me. "Some kind of threesome shit with the pastor's wife? That's fucked up."

"No, the mother," he said.

"I've seen a lot of fucked up shit on this job, but that's impossible."

He didn't answer. I got worried then. Simon is one of our best boys, and if his junk fantasies started running over into reality we couldn't let him near our clients.

I reached into the glove compartment and got out a small plastic bag. I picked out a vial and held it out to Simon. He took it without the normal famished clawing of a man staving off withdrawal. He tapped out the contents into his hand, held his hand to his nostril and inhaled. He sat rigid for almost a minute.

"Don't OD on me," I said.

He looked at me then, eyes staring directly into my own, something he only does when he's high. "Not his mother. The Mother. He worships Her." He squinted at the empty area on his hand that had contained the powder. "I need more."

"Fuck you, Simon."

"I need more."

I exited the highway. "Simon, look, if he hit you, or he tried to strangle you..."

He said something, his voice so quiet that I could barely make out the words "...she held me. She held me. Even though it hurt it was better than junk."

"Simon, you need to go to sleep. Look, just go home and take a shower, okay? Take a shower, snort another half-bump, and go to sleep."

"I need more."

I reached into the plastic bag again and gave him another vial. "I want to see only half this shit gone tomorrow, you understand?"

He nodded. I waited at a red light.

"I've never seen that kind of minister before," he said to the windshield.

"Look, it doesn't matter, okay? He just wants a boy; he can't get a boy because he's a minister, so he calls us. Okay? End of story."

"No, I mean, ministers are supposed to be clean. His house wasn't clean."

"Simon, what the fuck does it matter? You can give him something his wife can never give him, he pays you, okay? Doesn't stick his dick up some altar boy's ass, everyone's happy."

He got quiet, stared at the streetlights like a baby attracted to shiny toys. He started mumbling again, his words too quiet to hear over the engine.

"...down there. Too big to leave. She wants it all the time. She wants it all the time. She wants it..."

In my line of work I've seen amphetamine psychosis. I've seen delirium tremens. Simon was not going through either of these. He sat very calmly, spoke very softly.

"Listen, Simon, the second I think you're bugging out on me, you're off the job. Understand? Out."

Simon nodded. I pulled up to his apartment building. He looked at the face of the building, slowly got out of the car. "Oh, I’m as good as I'll ever be." He gave me the smile his clients always liked, the smile of an unspoiled child receiving praise. Before he closed the car door, I heard him mutter to himself. "...pregnant. Always pregnant."

####

I knocked. No response. I knocked again, harder. I put my ear to the door, heard no footsteps coming to the door. I've seen OD's before. Lying in bed, marble white and very still. Very statuesque in repose, the whole effect ruined by the septic smell of sweat, urine and feces that had accompanied their last high. My mind created this image against my will, and this scene superimposed itself over what I might find inside. I fished out the copy of the key I had made to Simon's apartment and let myself in.

No smell of feces. Simon lay in bed, almost invisible under a jumble of sheets. I stood over the bed for a minute, until I was certain that the covers still rose and fell over his chest.

"Simon," I said. "Simon!" I held his chin in my hand and jerked his face left and right. He mumbled something so quietly I had to place my ear right by his lips to make out the words. "Inside her, always want to be inside her."

I clamped shut his nostrils until he gasped. He sat up then, covers falling from his body.

"Stupid fucker, I thought you OD'd."

"I'm not that dumb," he said. He gathered the fallen covers over his frail body.

"Get up. It's five-thirty. The minister wants you back at his house by 8. Understand?"

"I'm not going."

I slapped him. I shouldn't have. I really shouldn't have. If my boss found out that I'd left a mark on Simon, I'd have been fired.

I retreated back, holding my stinging hand. I said, "I'm sorry, Simon. I just thought you were fucking dead. Boss probably thought you were dead, too. Listen, you need to go there tonight. We told him you were unavailable today, but he was insistent. Very insistent. He said he'd pay four hundred an hour. He wants you for 3 hours. Understand? Do you have any idea how much you'll make tonight?"

"I'm not going."

I stood quiet. Simon lay in bed, unwilling to move. He's usually not bashful, and I've seen him naked several times. "Why you hiding, Simon? Did he hurt you? You don't want me to see the bruises? Or are you shooting up again? You know what we said about that."

"I'm not going."

If he was woman I'd pull his hair. Instead I locked his neck in the crook of my arm, stood him up and threw him against his dresser. The thin white sheet billowed behind him as he landed on it and supported himself on his elbows, making no move stand up.

"Simon, I'll tell you this one last time. You are going. You are fucking going. Or you're out, Simon. You can go back to sucking dicks for twenty bucks a pop outside Dunkin Donuts. Understand, little faggot?"

He started crying then, little shoulders buckling convulsively. The thin white sheet slid from his shoulders, and I saw the large dark mass of bruises on his back. Starting over his left buttock, running to the point where his skinny ribcage met his protruding spine. Not normal bruises. Perfect circles of purple scar tissue around healthy skin. Shooting straight out from the circles ran red lacerations. The other side of his back was uniformly macerated, little purple and brown splotches of burst blood vessels visible just under the skin.

"Simon, is this what you didn't want me to see? Did he beat you?"

He didn't answer, just snuffled and tried to collect his sheet back around him.

"Simon, listen. Get high. I'll throw in some ice to keep an edge on. Work tonight, make six hundred dollars and then take a few nights off. Got that? I promise you, I'll say this guy beat you tonight and not last night. We'll tell boss about the bruises after we work tonight. Boss won't know any better. Then take a vacation after tonight."

I looked at his bedside table, saw the vial I had given him last night. It was half full, as I had instructed. I took out my wallet, rolled a one-dollar bill into a thin tube. He looked at me through his dresser mirror, slowly rotating his head in my direction as he comprehended what I was doing. I poured out a line on a CD jewel case, left the rolled up dollar bill next to it. "Listen, Simon, I'll come back at seven. Shave, take a shower, think about it. I'll have some ice in the car, okay? That way you can still get your dick up if you need to. Okay? Then, like I said, take a vacation. Have a week off."

I didn't give him time to answer. He knew I had no lack of vials in my car. He knew he could no longer live on his own. He knew he couldn't afford this apartment on the money he'd make working the streets. He knew that without me and Boss, he could probably not even have afforded enough junk to stave off withdrawal. I left by the front door, Simon still leaning over the dresser.

####

11:11 PM. I drove around the block again, lit another cigarette. Looked through my rear view mirror. Nobody following me. I drove to a gas station, bought a cup of coffee. Drove around the block again, looking in driveways to see if unmarked police cars were parked in the darkness. Drove around the block again, saw a man walking his dog. Drove five blocks north, three blocks east, over a railroad track and back to the minister's house.

11:25 PM. Turned off the radio, threw the cigarette butt out the window. The man walking his dog had gone. To call the police, because he saw me circling the block so many times? I looked in my rear view mirror again, saw no car following me. Drove slowly to the minister's house, but saw no Simon standing out front. I waited out front in neutral for exactly 30 seconds, second hand slowly crawling it's way halfway across the watch face, then drove back to the gas station to take a piss in the public bathroom.

11:31 PM. Back to the house. Waited by the curb. Took out my cell phone, selected Boss's number from the directory. My finger hovered over the Send button for a full minute, then I Canceled Boss's number and put the phone back in my pocket. I drove around the block again. No Simon waiting out front.

11:40 PM. I parked my car in an empty church parking lot a block and a half away from the minister's house. A tall hedge stood between the parking lot and the street, blocking a direct view of the lot from the street. I could only hope that the police didn't investigate an empty car in an empty church parking lot this close to midnight.

11:43 PM. I walked up to the minister's house. Kept my face straight ahead to the door. The street was empty. I would have noticed movement or car headlights, and looking around would look too suspicious. I mounted the three steps to the front porch, walked purposefully up to the front door. I reached out my hand towards the doorbell. My finger hovered over the doorbell for ten seconds, the heartbeats loud in my temples. Then I turned towards the right, where a screen of shrubs partially blocked the view from the street. I hopped down to the overgrown area between the shrubs and the house. I walked towards the nearest basement window.

I looked into the window. Empty glass jars sat stacked in this particular window. I saw a feint sheen of electric light refracted through them from some other room, but nothing in this room. I walked towards the next basement window, pausing for ten seconds between each step to listen for footsteps. I knelt and looked in the window.

The blinds were closed, but I could see tiny pieces of the scene through the horizontal slats. Arms and legs sprawled over each other, pulsating in the yellow light from a single hanging incandescent bulb. An orgy. Not as common as you think it'd be in this job, but it could be nothing else. I couldn't see Simon. I couldn't see anybody's faces. I couldn't even tell if these limbs tangled on the concrete floor belonged to men or women. Somebody stepped in front of the window, an oval blob of darkness in front of the yellow scene. I froze. It took me a minute to realize that the figure was looking down at the floor, not looking outside. He didn't move, obviously enthralled with what was happening on the floor. I slowly got to my feet, left the window as silently as possible.

All things considered, it wasn't as bad as I thought. The minister didn't get anyone else from our agency. That particular night all the boys and girls had work at other places. I'm not sure what agency he went through. Maybe picked up some whores off the street. Maybe the same street where I first found Simon. I didn't care. The minister simply lost track of time. I would too, with that many people on the floor. When he'd finally let Simon out of the house, I'd politely explain to him that Simon was only supposed to be there for three hours, and my agency was very concerned about keeping up proper schedules. The minister would nod emphatically, afraid to look in my eye for the great sin he had just committed, and would give me an enormous tip to keep this slight breach of etiquette from my boss.

I looked both ways down the sidewalk, saw nobody out for a walk. I left the screen of evergreen bushes. Time to go back to my car, pull up in on the curb and act like I've been waiting there for almost an hour. I'm halfway down the front walk when I heard the deadbolt sliding out of the front door. I spun around on reflex, start walking back up the walk like I had been meaning to do this all along. I hoped he couldn't see my white face, or hear the pounding of blood in my temples.

He just stood there for a minute, dark silhouette in the doorway. If he was surprised to see me standing on the front walk he gave no impression. "There's been a problem."

My heart sank. The list of possibilities ran through my head. He'd OD'd. Or this minister has beaten him too hard, or strangled him too long and now Simon could not regain consciousness. Or Simon was detoxing, Simon had not fed his addiction with the line I had left him back in the apartment. Or the pastor gave Simon too much coke or heroin or ice, and Simon OD'd on drugs that were not mine.

"Ah, sir, can you come inside for a minute?"

Yes, I was still in control here. I could explain to my boss that Simon has been acting increasingly erratic these past few weeks. Boss knows his boys are all users; boss eventually has to accept the fact. If boss wants all boys who don't snort, he'd have no boys at all. I supply Simon's drugs, but only because I can make sure Simon is using clean drugs, nothing cut with rat poison or baking soda. So Simon won't get raped or mugged or killed buying heroin on his own. Boss can no longer expect me to take the blame for his employees' habits. He does not even know them by face anymore.

I stepped inside. The house is as dirty as Simon said it was. Dirty with books. Not books in bookshelves. Books piled on top of each other. All the walls were obscured stacks of books. Floors covered with spilled books from piles that collapsed and never got reassembled. From what I can read on the covers, these are not written in English. I've taken enough CCD classes to know that some are written in Latin. A page lay open. I saw a diagram written in ink, vaguely human outline superimposed over it. The minister ushered me past it before I could take a long look at it. The front room smelled of moldy books and something organic. I looked briefly into each room. A kitchen that had never been used to prepare food. A bathroom with shower curtains over the dusty shower unit, no toothbrushes or toothpaste over the wash basin and no soap in the soap holder. I took this in, wondering if the pastor used this house only for his rendezvous with our boys.

"...never thought this would happen," he said. He had started babbling by then. "...looked fine when he got here..." He seemed very nervous, walking behind me as if blocking me from leaving the house. "...if this could all be sorted out quietly..."

And I was still in control. The pastor said all of the things he was supposed to say, he said the things that would make me take Simon away and not be a problem for him anymore.

We walked down to the basement. More books sat in piles down here. I steadied my hand on a tall pile of books, as there was no handrail for the stairs. I still heard nothing from the next room. No music, no smell of marijuana or cigars or whiskey. Perhaps the party stopped when Simon OD'd. Perhaps all of the naked people hid from me in the other room, waiting for me to take Simon away before climbing all over each other again.

The basement looked even less permanent than the rest of the house. Wooden slats showed where walls would go if anybody had bothered to put them in. Bare plastic wires and naked lead pipes tangled with each other, disappearing through holes in the ceiling. I did some mental calculations, determined the room with the orgy was in front of me.

It's the only completed part of the basement. It takes up one corner of the basement. As I thought, the room is totally sealed off. White fiberglass insulation pokes out from the wooden frame, no doubt to keep his neighbors from hearing the noise of his parties. A single door accesses the room, and this door was sealed with a large metal strongbar. Through the door a small square window offered a view on the room, closed now by a piece of cardboard. A window for a voyeur. The minister stood by the door, talking very fast.

"...we didn't dare move him. Understand? We don't dare move him."

He's rambling, and I said, "It's alright. These things are never as bad as you think they are." He nodded and opened the door.

Something snaked out of the room and grabbed me by my ankles. I saw fingers around my legs, too many fingers to possibly fit on one hand. A mass of flesh brushed across my back and grabbed me behind my arms. More fingers grabbed my arms, clasped my hands and forced me to look directly at the thing in the center of the room.

Simon called her Mother, and that is what she is. The Mother.

Mother had enough arms, legs and genitals to satisfy many. Simon was there, Mother embracing him with several arms and pinning him to herself with many legs. He had his eyes closed, focusing on satisfying Mother, which he did with lazy rhythmic thrusts that coincided with the slow breathing of Mother.

He had a huge smile on his face. Even when he got high he didn't smile that wide. He hugged an arm and a leg that lay across his face, and sucked from a large nipple that lay in Mother's giant flank. A scaly tail embraced Simon around the small of his back, and I saw its flesh fusing with Simon. An intestine-like tube protruded from her flank and lay buried in Simon's navel.

Several large semi-opaque pink bags bulged out of Mother's belly. Inside lay Mother's children. Some had four legs, some had four arms. Some had two heads, some had no eyes, some had several eyes. Other boys worked beside Simon. They stood inside of her, their flesh forming a continuous seam with hers so that I couldn't tell where she ended and they began. They all had the same look of bliss on their faces. One boy I could only see by a head poking out of the mound of flesh. Looking closer, I saw empty places on her flank through which the ill-defined white lines of skeletons were barely visible through her mass.

She drew me to her. A large teat appeared in her mottled side, and several hands forced my head close to it. I shook my head left and right, but could not get it out of my face. I was dimly aware of unseen hands undressing me, caressing my body and forcing me into her flank. Fingers pried my lips open. I held my breath until my vision grew dark. I gasped involuntarily, and a spurt of her milk gushed down my throat.

It burned like brandy all the way down to my stomach. I never touched junk, but this feeling was what Simon said drew him back to heroin again and again. I felt warmth radiate from my belly all the way to my fingers and toes. Motion at the bottom of my vision. Flesh rearranging itself to suit her own needs. A vaginal slit appeared crotch-level, and I was powerless to keep myself from entering her. I looked at Simon. His eyes were still closed and still focused on pleasuring Mother.

The hands lessened their grip on me, and I looked behind me. The minister poked through my discarded clothes. He came up with my cell phone, and I saw him put the phone to his ear.

"Yes. Hello. I'm afraid there has been a problem with Simon and his driver. I hate to bother you, sir, but I'm afraid this is something only you can fix."

He listened, nodding, said, "Yes, I hope we can avoid the police too. You will, of course, be well rewarded for your punctuality."

Simon is almost totally inside of her by now. Boss is to my right. There was a struggle. Two days ago? Five days ago? I'm having trouble keeping track of the days. I looked up from my work long enough to see boss fire a revolver into Mother's side before several of her arms drew him close to her. The bullet holes leaked blood and yellow puss for a few seconds, then the fluids stopped as if a faucet was turned off. He's quiescent now, enjoying his work as much as Simon and myself. Daylight comes and goes, seen through the closed blinds of the single window when I bother to open up my eyes. Mother cannot see this, as she has no eyes. I do not stop what I'm doing. She's pregnant again, my child developing very rapidly in its translucent womb. She moved me to her opposite side, and I'm making her pregnant again. Sometime soon -- maybe when the sunlight comes and goes again -- I will be inside of mother completely, the way Simon almost is. I don't care. My children growing inside of Mother will survive me.

THE END


© 2009 Brian Douglas Graham

Bio: Brian Graham is an author based in Chicago, IL. He has been published in the April 2008 issue of "The Harrow" magazine with his story "The Gladys Report, by Doctor Howard Tilman." He believes that the greatest horror authors who ever lived are Arthur Machen and William Faulkner.

E-mail: Brian Douglas Graham

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