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Mummy's boy

What happens when a son loves his mother a little too much?

The knife dripped its last drop of blood onto the carpet, and Paul Campbell stood in a state of confusion and panic. His mother lay motionless on her bed, blood glistening in the daylight from the windows. That was it, he thought. In a brief moment of madness, or was it sanity? He had stabbed his mother 46 times in her chest and neck. Blood had soaked the whole double-bed and was currently saturating the mattress. It also stained the carpet in crimson wet patches that glistened, even though they were in shadow. He dropped the blade and took a few steps back. He was breathing heavily. Despite her being 58 years of age, small and frail, the act of murder was exhausting. He was surprised that he didn’t feel regret, but he was sure he would. He had loved his dear old mother, without doubt the bedrock of his life.

Without her, he was sure his world would collapse. Paul was 36 years of age, worked in a bank, had never left home, had never married, and thwarted the attentions of women who had tried to make him fly the nest. In his own perspective, they were trying to sever the bond he had with his mother, and that was simply not going to happen, so intentionally single he had stayed, mothered by a devoted parent to their only child.

His father had died of smoke inhalation three years after he was born in a fire where he had worked for a clothing manufacturer. So the bond between mother and son had never truly passed the childhood stage. She cooked for him, cleaned for him, bought his clothes, told him when it was bedtime. Basically, she had mothered him to such a state where he did not wish for outside influence.

He did not want friends, not when he had his mother. He didn’t want to be subjected to their bad influences, their desires, their persuasions. He had to block it out in the workplace. All of his wages went to his mother so she could look after them both and the house. He found he didn’t need money. He hardly went out to spend it. Occasionally he ventured with her to the supermarket to help with the shopping, but his world consisted of his workplace, which was mostly a humid office, the supermarket, and the house. He did not wish for anything else.

His mother was his world, but now there she was, on her death bed. Now, what am I going to do? He thought. The very act of causing harm to her usually abhorred him. He would never dream of hurting her. It had only happened once before when he had kindly offered to do the dishes. He had been washing a saucer when she had come into the kitchen and discovered that the milk had gone. She had accused him of drinking it, which he had, but her nagging had caused him to throw the saucer at her. It had missed, but he had immediately felt remorse and sorrow.

Later, he had wondered what had caused that to happen, and remembered that earlier on that day, in his office, he had overheard one of his colleagues on a telephone engaging in a social call. The colleague had recently taken up exercise and had been discussing health foods. Of the snatches of one-sided conversation he had heard, one of them had been: “….and drink plenty of milk”. This, he had guessed had probably caused a subconscious influence on him, which, therefore, had led to the milk bottle being empty. It was one major factor in why he did not like to mingle with other people, as they were dangerous.

Tears for his mother would come. They would come as the base of a waterfall, but the shock of what he had done, and the surprise he felt in the realisation that he was capable of murder, would take a while to be replaced by emotion.

Again, he remembered a snatch of a conversation he had overheard on the way back to the house from his work. Two women had been chatting on the pavement, one holding the hand of a bored looking boy of around eight years old. As Paul had passed by, he had heard: “….he stayed up till ten o’clock last night, didn’t you?”. He wondered if this was another factor in the influence the outside world had over him. His mother had never let him stay up past eleven o’clock. It was a discipline he appreciated. He knew he was susceptible to influences, but his mother kept him in check, kept him balanced. Without her, he didn’t know what would become of him, how he would cope.

At work, he was not the most popular employee. In fact, nobody liked him. He was the office loner, talking to colleagues always on a professional level. He liked it that way. If somebody tried to speak to him about anything other than work, then he would become tetchy and irritable, so nobody bothered. New employees soon learned his mannerism.

Yet, bad influences had infiltrated his mind again and resulted in his mother lying on the bed, staring up at nothing. Not my fault, he thought. I’m not responsible. Yet, his conscience wouldn’t let him think that way. Wouldn’t ease the burden he’d brought upon himself. Yes, it was my fault. If I hadn’t been manipulated, maybe mum would still be here.

Upon hearing the mother of the child mention that the boy had stayed up late, he decided he could do the same himself. He was simply watching television. It was a wildlife documentary about venomous snakes. She decided that that programme was decent enough for him to watch. She would vet his programming, and not let him watch anything too violent, or too risqué. Again, he appreciated this.

There were bad influences everywhere, and she did a good job of keeping him sane, keeping him pure. Most people had good and bad elements of varying degrees, and Paul liked to think he had no negativity within him. He was a good son, who made his mother proud, and by doing that, he made himself proud.

Yet, in suppressing his bad elements to such a degree, it was like a spring, pressed down. His overwhelming goodness kept the coil at bay, but when negative influences crept in, it would spring up, until his positivity pressed it down again. It wasn’t pressed now, though. It had sprung up and caused him to get so angry, that the only reason he had stopped stabbing was through sheer exhaustion. He simply physically could do it no longer, but the desire to keep stabbing had subsided, and he realised what he had done.

His purity had vanished in that act. Perhaps he was not simply ‘bad’, but evil. It was an evil act, but he still liked to think of himself as a good person. The very fact that his mother lay dead before him was testament to the fact that he could become bad could be susceptible to outside influences, which in turn, could change his behaviour, could make him perform an evil act. He was right to shun other people’s company if this was what they could make him do, he thought. They had taken his mother, had caused his negativity to spring up and turn him into a rage-filled individual, who had simply said to his mother:

‘Can I stay up another fifteen minutes to watch the end of this programme?’

‘No, you can’t,’ she had said. ‘You know it’s past your bedtime. Get up those stairs, and I want the light off by the time I get up there."

Paul had angrily stormed up the stairs, changed into his pyjamas, and was about to follow his mother’s orders when she came in to reprimand him for angrily walking away. With a wagging finger, and a stern expression, she was going to give him a severe scolding, but Paul was still angry and picked up her husband’s fishing knife that she had kept for sentimental and aesthetic purposes on a sideboard, and sent it into her neck without hesitation.

He looked at the other side of the bed. It was glistening crimson. I can’t sleep there tonight, he thought. Maybe never again. No more tucking in. Sometimes he regretted the fact that she never read to him anymore before he went to sleep. She had stopped reading, not a children’s book, but a fantasy novella aimed at teenagers. It had reached its conclusion three years ago, and she had never read to him since. Perhaps, he thought, he was a little old for that kind of thing. Mother knows best.

He turned and walked out onto the landing, and descended the stairs, his blood-soaked pyjamas cold against his skin. He slowly made his way into the living room, and sat in her favourite armchair. The television was still on. He saw that the credits were rolling at the end of the programme he had wanted to watch. He was tired, and his eyelids began to droop slightly.

He was suddenly jolted awake by his mobile telephone ringing. It was in his coat in the hall. He slowly made his way towards it, rummaged through his pockets until he found it and saw that the screen read: ‘Anonymous call’. He answered it.

“Hello,” he said, “Who’s that?”

“I know what you’ve done,” came a hoarse voice. “I know. Someone’s been a very bad boy, and don’t think that…” Suddenly there seemed to be a disturbance on the other end of the line, as though the person had been distracted.

“I’ll speak to you later,” the voice said, “Keep your phone on.” The call was ended, and Paul heard nothing.

That was it, he thought. I’m caught. Perhaps prison might not be such a bad place. With mother gone, I’m going to find it very difficult to look after myself. Yet, he wanted to stay to feel her presence. The house would surround him in a loving mother’s embrace. Who knew? He thought, who was it? And how did they know? The police will find me anyway when the man tells them. I might as well hand myself in. Perhaps I’ll get a lighter sentence that way, and if I do that, then the sooner I’ll be back here.

He walked out of the house, slowly making the one-mile trek to a police station. People stared in fascination at him as he walked, but he ignored them, just like he would have done if it had been a normal day. The place was quiet. A policeman who appeared to be in his late fifties sat reading a newspaper. Paul ambled in and fell to his knees. The man stared at him with trepidation.

“I’ve killed my mother,” Paul said, loudly. “I’ve killed her.”

Suddenly, the mobile telephone in his hand rang. He’d forgotten he was carrying it. The policeman didn’t move. Paul answered after a few moments hesitation. He was breathing heavily.

“Yes,” he said, quietly.

“I know,” the voice said again. “I know who you are, and what you’ve done, what you’re doing. I know you’re stealing from the bank you work at. Well, cut me in, and I won’t say anything.” Paul dropped the telephone and put his bloodied hands to his bloodied face.

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