Private Voices: Part 21

Updated on February 6, 2020
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Mike is an amateur writer working on building a hopefully compelling story. He lives in The Village of Lakemore, Summit Country, Ohio.

A Note from Me, A Name I Call Myself

Parts 21, 22, 23, and 24 all happen three years in the past, starting a few weeks after Brandon's death.

The Relevant Parts to the Story So Far

Janice James is a Private Detective haunted by her troubled past and the death of her son and a fractured psyche, forcing her to see her son Brandon as well as others. With the help of her late son and her mentor, a former police officer named Sean, she runs her service, helping people in trouble.

After a ceremony to honor their late son, Janice and her ex-husband Bill prepare to live together again. Janice's assistant, a young woman, named Jennifer Gordon, known as JG, while happy to see them together now must find a way to work around the new awkwardness. Janice's brother-in-law Mike and his son Scott come for a quick visit before taking a long trip. Janice's estranged father sent a letter hoping to put their past behind them before he died.

Part Twenty-One

Janice lay in bed alone, wondering what life was all about. Two days ago, she had her son cremated after a heart defect killed him on a soccer field. Just a few hours ago, she told Bill she didn't want to see him again. She knew he wasn't to blame, and she was harsh when she kicked him out, but she also couldn't look at him and not think about their dead son. All this came together to find herself alone. The house was silent, and she knew she was alone.

The Voice said, "Dad will understand if you just call him and say you are sorry."

Janice's eyes went wide with the sound of her son's Voice. She sat up and looked around, but she was alone.

The Voice said, "Mommy, you shouldn't be alone."

Janice sat back up and saw something in the corner of her room. At first, it was just a shape, then the shape took the form of her son Brandon. Janice looked to the door then back to her son. Brandon just smiled and waved. She jumped out of bed and went into the living room only to see Brandon again. This time he wasn't the twelve-year-old that just died; he was a toddler.

Brandon waived again just like he did back in the bedroom.

Janice asked, "How can you be here?"

He just shrugged his shoulders in an "I don't know" motion. Off in the corner was Top Hat Panda. Bill was worried about Brandon not manning up, so he took the bear away. They had fought about it, but the deed was done, and the bear was gone. Almost like he was reading her mind, Brandon went to the bear and picked him up. He hugged the bear and then ran from the room. Janice followed him up the stairs and into his bedroom. Inside the room, she found the nine-year-old Brandon. He had just broken his arm, trying to climb a tree. He had later told her that he was trying to see into Jessie Mayes's bedroom. She was a fifteen-year-old girl that lived next door. Janice made Brandon apologize, and she had signed his cast with a heart over the "I" in her name. Janice heard a sound downstairs, and when she looked back, Brandon was gone.

The next day Bill was back angry and smelling like alcohol and maybe vomit. After the fight, he had gone to a bar and started to drink. When the bar closed, he found his way to his Aztec and climbed into the back to sleep it off. He didn't say a word; he just went into their bedroom and took a shower. After the shower, he packed a bag. While he was in the shower, she thought about how she could say what she saw. She also tried to find a way to ask him to stay, but every time she would feel about him, her mind went back to the soccer game, then the hospital where he told her Brandon was dead. On the way out, Bill tried to kiss her, but she pulled away.

Bill said, "This isn't right; we should be together."

Janice said, "I am never alone, Brandon is with me."

He would try and talk to her every day for the next two months before she hit him with divorce papers. He tried to call one last time only to find his number was blocked. It was about this time Janice started to worry about seeing Brandon and what it meant. She also didn't want it to end.

A month later and the papers were signed. Bill came to the house to collect the things he wanted. In the divorce proceedings, they had agreed to sell the house even though it was clear that Bill didn't really want to sell. Over the last two nights, the toddler Brandon was keeping her up screaming. It was something he would do when he was upset and not getting his way.

The tween Brandon asked, "But why are you divorcing daddy? It wasn't his fault."

Brandon was with her whenever she was in the house. His age reflected the memory she would have about him in each room, from the screaming toddler to the ten-year-old, putting a puzzle together in the dining room. When Bill walked into the house, Brandon vanished. Janice started to scream, but she held it in not wanting Bill to know what she was seeing. Bill took his diploma off the wall, and that was the last thing he would take.

He started to put his key on the counter, but Janice stopped him saying, "This is your house too, so keep the key until it sells."

When Bill left, Janice saw the twelve-year-old Brandon staring at him by a window.

Two weeks went by, and Janice had very little sleep. The screaming Brandon would wake her up at all hours, belting out a yell that could break glass. When she would be in her office, she would hear the scream coming from the urn with Brandon's ashes. Janice would be with a client or JG, but all she could hear was the screaming. Janice didn't want to lose her son again, but she also didn't want to lose whatever was left of her sanity. It was in that pit of despair that she remembered how Brandon went away whenever Bill was around. She called him and asked if he would come over. In the time it took for him to drive over, she thought about what she would say. At first, it was a full confession about seeing Brandon, then it was a need not to be alone, but finally, she came back to his desire not to sell the house. Bill knocked, then he came in. The second he stepped into the house, the screaming stopped. It was like a weight was lifted off her. They sat on the couch, and Janice tried to talk to him, but instead of her calculated planned out nuanced discourse, she kissed him. Bill pushed her back and looked into her eyes. He thought he saw just how lost she was, and he decided he would be whatever she needed for now. He kissed her back, and soon clothing was tossed, and they made love for the first time since Brandon died.


Bill woke up, wondering what just happened. She had said that all she could see when she saw him was their dead son, but then there was last night. Janice felt the peace and quiet of a missing screaming Brandon, then she felt guilty about just how much she wasn't missing him. Bill left so he could go back to his new place and get ready for school. As soon as he was gone, Brandon was back. Luckily for her, it was the tween Brandon in the tan slacks, multi pastel plaid shirt with a bow tie. She had made a deal with Bill that when Brandon had to come to her office, he would dress for it with a tie and everything. She didn't say what kind of tie, so the bow tie was a surprise, but she liked the old fashion look of it as well as how handsome her son was becoming. She hadn't known at the time that he wouldn't age much more than the Brandon in the bow tie. For the next year, when he would appear in her office, he would be dressed in this outfit at this age.

© 2019 Michael Collins aka Lakemoron

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