Goldfish on the Mountain Chapter 28

Chapter 28

The two men sat there by the river with their fishing gear, drinking their beers quietly waiting for a bite. The air was beginning to cool down. You could hear subtle sounds of animals running through the woods. Drake had become one with nature these past couple of years. George was still curious what it was his brother wanted to tell him. It had been two hours and they hadn’t a single bite.

Up till now they had hardly spoken, which was really getting on his nerves. Drake picked up a beer, took a very tiny sip and then set it back down. He looked so strange to George he couldn’t hardly believe that was his brother sitting there.

A fly landed on Drake’s nose. He didn’t even acknowledge it he just went about his business. How on Earth could he sit there with a fly on his face? He acted like it didn’t even bother him. It was just kind of walking in circles.

George had never seen anything like it a fly on his face and he didn’t even budge. Drake picked up the last of his joint he had been smoking and took a long drag. The fly was still sitting on his nose. This was really going to drive George crazy. He wanted to say something, do something but what? How would his brother react if he smacked a fly on his face?

Drake kept going on about how much he was in tune to nature, how was he going to react if George disrupted a harmless, albeit annoying, fly?

“Do you remember when we were kids, you and Brandon used to play down by the creek past the old baseball diamond?” Drake said.

George was stunned, for the past two hours neither had said a word and to lead off with a story about his long dead childhood friend was kind of out of the blue.

He answered reluctantly,

“Uh sure, yeah we used to go down there with Ashley and skip rocks in the water. Brandon used to catch frogs and then show them to Ashley, she would get so grossed out.”

“Oh year, I remember the frogs, Brandon was kind of obsessed with those suckers wasn’t he?”

He let out a mild chuckle. George did not like where this was going. The one thing he didn’t handle very well was death, and here they were talking about his friend that had died so casually. He really hadn’t even thought of Brandon in several years, decades even. He never dealt with death, just kind of buried it underneath.

“Well there is something you don’t know about the day Brandon died.” George suddenly was listening very intently.

“I never told you this, but I was there that day he had his accident.”

He didn’t turn his head he just kept starring at the water.

“Now wait a minute, what are telling me?”

George had a feeling in his stomach like he never felt before. His entire world changed the day Brandon died; it was when he learned that you can’t count on others you have to take care of yourself. Looking back on his life George realized he was wrong all along, he never learned that lesson, if he had then why had he spent his entire life letting others make all the decisions for him?

Drake continued.

“I was there with Jennifer; we were all playing out by the tire swing in his back yard. He had a secret crush on Jennifer and well earlier that day she had made out with the two of us, tongue and all. She made a comment about how she was into dangerous boys.

He took that as a challenge to do something dangerous. He told us he knew where his dad was storing up the fireworks, and asked if we wanted to sneak a peek. He wasn’t just trying to impress the girl you see, he was always trying to look cool for the older kids. Since I was two whole grades above him he felt like if he impressed me I would tell the other kids he was cool. Being the son of fire chief and best friends with, well the biggest nerd of them all didn’t really help his reputation much.”

George wanted to be offended by that last statement; he was still enthralled by what he was learning about his old friend.

“He took us out back to where they were storing up everything for the big display. His plan was to set off just one of the bottle rockets.” Drake said.

He was going to prove how dangerous he was by holding it up and shooting it from his hands instead of putting it on the ground. He lit the fuse and just as it was about to take off he was stung by a bee and he dropped the rocket, it well shot into the wall of the barn and that was when the beam fall and started that fire.”

He continued.

Jenny and I panicked and we ran as fast as we could. She wanted to go back to make sure he was okay, I told her no we needed to get out of there and let the authorities take care of it, I had said his dad was the fire chief and he would know what to do.”

We both ran back to her house and up to her bedroom. When we saw the fire truck fly by a couple minutes later we lost it. She was so scared for Brandon and I was just worried about her safety. If anyone knew we were there then they would question us, I was an honor student and her mom was a Sunday school teacher.”

George sat there listening intently to the story his brother was telling him. Befuddle at the details that were emerging.

I told her we couldn’t let there be any trail leading us to the incident. So we went out her back yard and took a long walk into the woods. We stayed out all night, I kept telling her how everything was going to be okay and she had nothing to worry about.”

George was in total shock, he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Surely his brother must be making this up, it was that stuff he was smoking it was making him hallucinate.

Drake sat there for a few moments, letting everything he had said sink in before he continued.

“We were so scared, we didn’t know what to expect. We decided to stay the night in the woods and just not tell anyone where we had been. We ended up sleeping together that night George. It was my first time, hers too.”

There is no way any of this is true.” George said. “Why are you making this stuff up?”

Drake continued his story ignoring his brothers interruption.

The next morning we heard about Brandon and it was like life just stopped. We thought for sure we was okay, we had no idea that the beam had blocked his path and that he was trapped in the barn. We just panicked and ran as fast as we could. Jenny didn’t even go to the funeral she was so devastated, in a way she felt responsible. The guilt was too much for her.

Drake leaned forward.

A few weeks went by and she came over to see me. She said they were moving, her parents discovered that she had gotten pregnant and at such a young age they didn’t want that news to get out. I kept in touch with her after she moved away.”

George spoke up softly, “So that is why she moved away suddenly. I always thought it was because she couldn’t stand losing the boy she had a crush on. I guess it must have been hard on her. I never did hear much about her after she left.

“Wait a second if she was pregnant did that mean you were…the father!?”

Drake finally looked at George out of the corner of his eye.

“George, please listen to me, this story is not going to be easy for you to hear. I couldn’t have that in my life. Jenny was too young, hell she was barely 12 George, it was too much for her. Her parents were religious so abortion was not an option. I did what had to be done. I told Jennifer that Brandon’s death was her fault and that he was in hell because of her. I said that if she didn’t atone for her sins, she was going to hell to be with him. I told her she had to sacrifice her child in order to save both of their souls. I meant it for her to get an abortion, she took it another way. That was when she broke into her mother’s medicine cabinet and swallowed every pill she could get her hands on.”

George sat there completely cold. He couldn’t believe what his brother was telling him. Not only was he responsible for the death of his best friend, he had also gotten a young girl pregnant, and then talked her into killing herself. Who was this man? He thought he had known his brother, the caring, and compassionate one who grew up to be a doctor for crying out loud. Drake just kept starring at the water, still wouldn’t turn to face his brother.

“I am at loss for words. I thought I knew you?” Drake narrowed his eyes into tiny slits, turned his head slowly, lowered his voice, and said

“You know nothing about me.” Drake said.

Goldfish on the Mountain Chapter 27

Chapter 27

It was her destiny. Her life had been plotted even before she was born. When she was just a girl her dream was to grow up and travel the world. When she was a teenager she thought that she would go to college, and become a businesswoman. After all she studied real hard and always put work before play. Saying that life had treated her unfairly was an understatement. She barely remembered anything about her life before the incident. All she could piece together were fragments. When she heard rumors that a man had come to visit her, it made her heart ache.

Ashley was in a very delicate state of mind, she had only pieces of her memories to hold her together. Most of what she remembered was the night she murdered her husband. She knew it was justified; it had to be otherwise she would not have done it. She couldn’t remember why she did it, in fact she didn’t even remember much before being brought here. She knew she killed him; those images were very vivid in her mind. She couldn’t piece together why it had to happen, she just sort of felt like it was necessary.

Her doctors would come in, give her a shot and talk to her. All the while she would sit and doodle on a piece of paper. It was all she knew to keep it together. She didn’t quite understand the significance of it but she kept drawing the same picture over and over. It was a goldfish swimming in a plastic bag. It was the kind you win at a carnival. Ashley didn’t even remember ever going to a carnival; she had no idea why this image was engraved in her mind. It was all she thought about when she wasn’t reliving the terrible moment of ending the life of the man she thought she was in love with.

When she heard rumors that a man had come to visit her it made her heart ache. She never loved anyone like she loved her husband, and he was now dead by her own hands. The thought of knowing she was responsible for taking a life of a loved one was overwhelming for her. It made her sick to her stomach to think about it. She would suppress the images by picking up another piece of paper and making another drawing of that damn goldfish.

What the hell was so damn special about a goldfish? She never even owned any fish as far as she could remember. It was the strangest thing. She knew they never had any pets, her kids were allergic. Kids, she thought to herself, did I have kids? She had only vague memories of her life before the incident.

What little she did remember was mostly fuzzy images from her very early childhood. She could not for the life of her remember ever having a stupid goldfish. What was it that made her so obsessed with that image?

There was a knock at her door. Is it time again? Why don’t they leave me alone? A young woman doctor came into the room. She was accompanied by a pair of security guards. They were large, burly men surely there was no need for them to be present; she was such a petite woman she couldn’t possibly pose any danger to them.

No! I killed my husband. I took a human life. I am dangerous, I must be otherwise what am I even doing here? The two men stood beside the doctor who pulled out her chart, looked Stephanie over and then sat down beside her.

“Hello there Ashley, how are we feeling today?” the doctor said.

She didn’t respond.

“I have to check some of your signs and then I need to give you some medication, is that alright with you?”

She sat there starring at the drawing she had completed.

What was she doing here? I want you to go away. Did I just say that out loud? No, what is wrong with me why can’t I speak did I lose my voice? Am I mute? Did I suffer any physical damage during the, oh God did he fight back? The doctor ran the usual tests, stabbed a needle into her arm and proceeded to write down something on her charts.

It was the same old routine, they would enter the room, give her a speech about what progress she was making, give her a shot and then the two men would leave and it would be just the two of them, Ashley and the Doctor.

Who was this doctor anyways? Why won’t she answer my questions? Damn, I know she can’t read minds. Hey doc, why can’t I talk!? Please God what is wrong with me, why can’t I remember anything? What happened to my children, wait did I have children? What kind of a mother was I if I can’t even remember having kids? Damn you goldfish I hate you, I hate you! It was at that moment that Ashley remembered why she drew the images of the goldfish, she hated the goldfish and she would draw the pictures and then rip them to shreds. It was how she dealt with her pain. Was that why she hated her husband, because he never gave her any children? Did the goldfish represent kids? It was the type of pet you have when you are a kid that much she knew. She still couldn’t make out why she hated this abstract concept.

Her doctor was telling her about the man who came to visit; she said he was asking about her. The doctor was talking about how much he must have really cared for her. Who the hell was she talking about? The only man I ever loved is DEAD. I killed him.

“I killed him.”

The doctor dropped her pen. It was the first time she had heard her voice, felt words form in her throat.


The doctor looked up excitedly at Ashley and made a motion towards her. She pulled back.

“Don’t touch me!” She yelled, she actually yelled.

“Oh my God, Ashley are you okay, I didn’t mean to startle you dear, it’s okay I am not here to hurt you.” the doctor said.

“I killed him. I killed him. I killed him. I killed him.”

She just kept repeating it over and over. Finally she slammed her fist on the table and raised her voice

“I. Killed. HIM!”

She said that last part with her teeth gritted. And suddenly it all came back to her, her daughters, the boys, her sons she had sons. And then there it was buried deep underneath it all, the fuzziest of the fuzzy memories. She could barely make it out but she managed to utter a shocking revelation that worried her doctor.

“Molly Goldfish is a dish. Molly Goldfish is a bitch. If I could have me just one wish, it would be Molly in a ditch.”

She began chanting it over and over. It was the chant her and her girlfriends made up in high school because Molly had a reputation of stealing boyfriends away. She stole my boyfriend away. She then broke down into tears.

Goldfish on the Mountain Chapter 26

Chapter 26

It was later that day; Drake had talked George into going up on the mountain to this old hiking trail Drake rather fond of. George didn’t mind the hiking trail all that much; he didn’t care for the damn mosquitoes. The two had been walking for a good while before Drake came to a nice clearing in the trees where there was a fallen down tree stump and fire put that had already been prepared.

Drake sat down on the log and began fiddling with a match and shortly after he had a camp fire going. It wasn’t all that late and the temperature hadn’t really dropped quite enough to justify a fire, however George wasn’t much of an outdoors man so he didn’t question his brother he just sat down on the log next to his brother.

“Keeps the mosquitoes away,” Drake said as he motioned towards the fire. George nodded in agreement.

The two men sat in silence just soaking up their closeness to nature. Drake was especially relaxed out here in the wild. George was a little tense and Drake handed him a small join, George had been off the pot for a good six months now so he was a little reluctant to take the hit, but his brother held it out inviting him, so he partook. It was a funny feeling he chocked for a few seconds and then handed it back, that was not pot, what the hell was it?

“It’s an old Native American herb; it’s not a mind altering substance it’s just supposed to help you become one with nature.”

This was not the Drake that George knew, and it was beginning to worry him. The two men sat and smoked the, whatever it was, and after a few minutes George was beginning to feel sick to his stomach.

“How about we set up down by the river and see if we can catch ourselves a couple of fish for supper, what do you say?”

George replied, “I can’t say no to that.”

Drake walked over to a fallen log where he had apparently been keeping his fishing gear and gathered up his fishing supplies. He turned to George with a very dry smile and said,

“George, I am so glad you came up here to see me. I have so much to tell you.”

Goldfish on the Mountain Chapter 25

Chapter 25

George was sitting in a coffee shop across the street from the bus station. He had finally gotten in touch with his estranged brother Drake who had agreed to meet him all of a sudden. George knew that if Drake was interested in talking to him then he was going to have to take this opportunity to get right with his brother. He hadn’t even spoken to him since that night in the hospital. He tried to call him a few times but was always cut off.

He wasn’t comfortable with where his brother had chosen to relocate. All their lives they lived in big towns, it was just their way of life. Drake had been a surgeon and a damn good one at that. He was very wealthy, and respected member of the medical community.

For him to walk away because of his wife’s death was a big blow to everyone. It was not like Drake. Drake was the guy who lived up to his responsibilities. He did what he was told to do. He lived the life his parents had chosen for him, just as George and Daryl had done.

George sat there waiting for his brother to walk through that door, sit down and tell him everything that he was sorry and they would have a few drinks at the bar then life would finally start to get back to normal. He was taken aback by this terrible stench that had arisen from this homeless man who was standing next to his table. He was not fond of bums so he pretended not to notice him for fear that the guy would ask him for some money.

The smelly, raggedy man sat down across from George. His stomach turned inside out at the smell coming from this man.

“I am sorry sir, you can’t sit there I am waiting for someone and that seat is taken so move along.”

“George it’s me Drake.”

George looked up to see a hairy face with long shaggy hair looking down at him. His clothes were rags, his face was dirty and the awful smell was unbearable, but he looked into those eyes and it hit him, it was his brother!

“My God man what the hell happened to you?” George asked. “I mean, sorry man it’s been too long. Holy shit how you doing?”

The words were barely out of his mouth before the two were together in a brotherly embrace. It had been far too long. Emotions were running high but the two were grown men, they sat down, George ordered a coffee for his brother.

“Wow man it has been too long hasn’t it.” Drake reluctantly took a slow sip from his cup,

“aw there it is. I haven’t had a cup of coffee in year’s man.”

George sat in bewilderment at what had become of his once respectable brother.

He was thinking to himself about how this was not his brother. This man sitting before him looked vaguely like Drake but there was something off about him, something George couldn’t quite put his finger on. George wasn’t even sure how to proceed; it was obvious that Drake had changed, but he wasn’t sure what to make of it just yet.

“It’s been so long Drake; I was begging to worry about you. I know I left that night kind of in hurry but I just thought…”

Drake cut him off just then,

“Hey don’t worry about it man it wasn’t you, it wasn’t anybody else it was just me. I needed to get away for a while, you know to find myself.” Drake said.

George wasn’t sure how to respond, it was a relief to hear his brother wasn’t mad at him but he still had a feeling something wasn’t quite right.

“Hey waitress, can we get a couple of pieces of pie over here.”

The waitress nodded in agreement.

It had been just a few moments later when the young woman had brought them their pie. Just then a couple of police officers walked in and sat down at the counter across from where the two men had been sitting.

The waitress walked up to one of the men,

“Howdy Sheriff, be right with you boy.”

Drake’s attention went straight to the officers from the moment they entered the diner. He had stopped listening to his brother and was intently focusing on what the police were discussing. He could only make out a few fragments, terrible shame, poor kids, foul play, no suspects, possible double homicide. He began to get nervous and suddenly he turned to his brother and stood up,

Hey George how about we go for a little walk shall we?” Drake said. “I’m more of an outdoor person these days I need to be close to nature in order to think straight.”

George looked over at the police sitting at the counter. He noticed how tense Drake had become since they entered the premises and had suspected there might be something Drake was hiding from his brother.

“Sure brother, whatever makes you comfortable. Let me take care of this real quick and I will meet you out front okay?”

He put the money on the table and walked out the door where he brother was pacing back and forth.

Goldfish on the Mountain Chapter 24

Chapter Twenty Four

Sheriff Hobbs was on the scene along with two of his best deputies. Bob was found hanging from a tree nearby, Cindy’s bloody cell phone was laid down at his feet smashed against a rock. Cindy was stabbed and beaten to death.

“Alright what do we know so far boys?” the Sheriff asked.

“Well there appears to be signs of a struggle near the water,” Deputy Johnson said. “From the looks of it the woman was dragged out of the water kicking and flailing her arms about. The killer stabbed her in the chest first, puncturing her left lung, then her body began to go limp and he began to stab her, from our count about twenty-seven times. He then tossed her naked, lifeless body here, at this log, and then went back to the camp site, grabbed her cell phone and with her blood on his hands.”

The Sheriff picked up the cell phone with his gloved hands, read the text messages and shook his head.

It was a sad ordeal; here was a young couple in love whose lives were cut short because of a single drunken mistake.

The deputy went on.

After he killed the girl he must have realized what he done as he sent off a single text from her phone saying

“I’m sorry, please forgive me” to the number in the conversation.

“Alright then find out who was the recipient of those messages and get them in for questioning.” Hobbs said.

This was going to be a long day he thought to himself. His deputy continued to describe the crime that had taken place.

“Apparently stricken with grief he then tied a rope up there to that branch, climbed up to this spot, presumably with the girl’s cell phone in his hands, and fell to his death, dropping the phone beneath his body.”

They were still gathering up evidence when one of the deputies noticed something strange. “Sheriff sir, the young man appears to have a head injury to the back of the skull; it looks like someone hit him with a blunt instrument.”

The Hobbs went over to investigate. Sure enough it did look as though he had been struck by something.

“Are there any signs he have hit his head on that fallen tree over there where we found the girl? It’s possible she might have pushed him back during the struggle.”

The cops continued their investigation. The Sheriff was not buying into it, all signs pointed to a jealous boyfriend killing his girlfriend in a fit of rage and then taking his own life in a bout of remorse. There was certainly physical evidence that suggested that was in fact the case. Still the Sheriff had a gut instinct telling him there was more to this case than that.

He hated that feeling, as a police officer he knew you can’t always trust your instincts, there has to be facts, evidence, things have to add up. What he hated about the murder-suicide thing was it was too neat, and crimes were rarely neat. Still he was hoping he was wrong and the investigation would turn up that it was in fact simple case of jealousy.

Goldfish on the Mountain Chapter 23

Chapter 23

It was a quiet and cloudless summer night, the stars were in full view. It was the perfect time of year for camping; the cool mountain air had driven away the summer heat from earlier. There was a tall cedar tree standing up in the center of the camp site they had chosen. There wasn’t much out here except a red pick-up truck with a camp shell on the back, a sleeping bag thrown on the ground and a few camp site cooking utensils. They didn’t even bother pitching the tent as the stars in the sky were too beautiful to waste.

The campers were Bob Myers and his girlfriend Cindy Epstein, they had been dating for two years and this was the anniversary of their first date. This was the very same camp site they got together at when they first met. It was a special night for the couple as Bob just got a promotion at his job and was now confident enough to ask Cindy to be his bride. Bob wasn’t much of a camper himself. Cindy on the other hand was a mountain girl, having been raised in the wilderness; she loved nothing more than to be outdoors close to nature.

Cindy had been keeping a secret from Bob. She had a little too much fun at her office party celebrating her boss’s birthday and ended up sleeping with one of her co-workers. It had just happened couple of weeks ago and she already was showing signs of being pregnant. She had been putting pressure on Bob’s friends to talk him into proposing to her, thinking if they got married she could say it was his and avoid an awkward conversation.

She felt terrible about what she was doing to him, but he was in love and she made a mistake she didn’t know how to deal with. That was the whole reason she planned the camping trip to where they met, she figured if she got him in a really romantic mood and dropped hints at how ready she was to settle down and start a family, he would surely take notice.

Things so far had been going according to plan, they had a romantic evening under the stars, and he pulled out a cheap looking diamond ring and asked her to marry him. Of course she had to accept and they had the most romantic time of their lives. Not wanting to harm the unborn baby she was very careful not to drink too much tonight.

This left Bob with the task of consuming her share of the bottle of wine that he brought to celebrate. Being a light drinker was one trait she admired about her man and so it didn’t come as much of a surprise that he would pass out from the booze. She felt a little bad but she was just friendly enough in her part that she knew it would make it up to him. But the guilt was eating at her and she was having trouble sleeping.

Being raised as a mountain girl Cindy knew how to get around in these woods. She had no problem navigating her way down to the stream they had chosen to camp near. All she wanted was to take a nice little dip in the cool water to see if she could wash her worries away.

Cindy was not even sure if she really was ready to get married, but she damn sure wasn’t ready to break Bob’s heart by telling him she cheated and was going to have another man’s child instead of his. It wasn’t like she was against marriage, but her parents were the only couple she knew who stayed together for any significant length of time and even they were separated at the moment. Cindy looked around to make sure nobody was looking, quietly removed her clothing and dove into the water.

Bob had been lying quietly in bed, waiting for Cindy to get up. He watched her walked away out of the corner of his eye and as soon as she was gone he got up, went to her bag and dug out her cell phone. He had heard a rumor from one of his friends that was dating one of her friends that she had cheated on him.

He didn’t believe it, he didn’t want to believe it but there was no denying it. The problem was Bob loved Cindy, had ever since the first time he laid eyes on her. He also knew she didn’t want to get married or have kids until after college so for her to be putting the pressure on him now all of a sudden, that meant something had changed. He scrolled down the list of text messages and there it was.

Bob wasn’t exactly reading this for the first time; he got the other half from his friend who was dating the recipient of those text messages. It was a known fact Bob was a jealous guy but he was in love with Cindy, he wanted to tell her he knew and that he was okay with it he understood it was a mistake and he could forgive her. But he wanted her to confess it to him.

He didn’t like having to pretend like he didn’t know anything when it was killing him inside. Still he did love her and that all that mattered. He knew why she was going down to the river, it was her think whenever she felt guilty or stressed she would take a swim in the cold water, she said it cleansed her or something. He never understood her mountain girl ways, he was from the city after all but he was in love and love blinds you.

He thought he was going to have to win her heart; he would go down there, dive into the water and surprise her. Then he would tell her how he already knew but he didn’t care he loved her and that love was all that mattered. Problem was he was a jealous guy and it was still eating at him. Could he really live with this? He decided to put that aside for now and focus on winning his girlfriend, no fiance’s, heart back so they could get married and be happy together.

He was making his way down to the river when he noticed something unusual, he could not hear the sounds of her slashing in the water. He came to a bush where she had hanged her clothes on and knew he was at the stop where she must have dove in. His gaze turned to the water and his eyes widened in horror, her bloody body was lying there on a tree trunk that had fallen down.

He ran over to her as fast as he could, it looked like she must have fallen and hit her head or something, oh God he thought that is too much blood, Cindy be okay please be okay. Just as he got to where she was his heart stopped, she had not fallen, there was a knife sticking out of her leg and she had been cut up all to hell. He turned and suddenly a shovel hit him in the head.

It would be three days before the police would find the crime scene.

Goldfish on the Mountain Chapter 22

Chapter 22

George had returned to the diner where he had just weeks ago came to the decision to hunt down Ashley Taylor in an attempt to salvage what was left of his life. He sat there this time drinking his coffee wondering where he went wrong. How was he going to fix this? Ashley was insane and it was his fault.

If he hadn’t dumped her to go out with Molly the two of them would have been married and Bruce never would have turned into a monster. Hell he thought life would have been truly fair if Molly had ended up with that sick son of a bitch instead, at least then she would have gotten what she deserved. She certainly didn’t deserve to live in the house he bought with his money, raising the child he fathered from his loins, living off his alimony.

The more he thought about it the more he felt like life had gotten it wrong, he should have been with Ashley and Molly should be in a mental hospital. It was sad what happened to Ashley, having to witness her daughters get assaulted like that and then to kill her husband. It really messed her up in the head. He couldn’t get past that thought, it should have been Molly in there.

As George began to ponder that he had a thought enter his mind. If he had married Ashley, Linda might still be alive too. Linda was best friends with Ashely and the two were like sisters. Molly on the other hand was the new girl in town and she had taken Ashley’s boyfriend away. Because Linda married George’s brother Drake, the two became sisters-in-law. But the two never became good friends, in fact that very night Drake and Linda had invited Molly and George to an opera in the city.

Linda and Molly had gotten into a big fight months prior and were not speaking to each other. Drake and George bought the opera tickets as a way to get the two women together on good terms. Molly refused to go to the opera with Drake and Linda. The plan was to all meet at their favorite restaurant and then head to the opera together. Because Molly refused to attend, Drake and Linda decided to skip dinner and head to the opera house later on their own. It was on the freeway that their accident had happened.

George thought to himself, if they had met at the restaurant as planned then they would have taken a cab to the opera house and never would have been on the freeway. If he had been married to Ashley the two would not have been fighting and Linda would still be alive today. Then he would be happily married to his dream woman, Drake would still be a respected doctor and life would have been perfect.

As he sat there in his seat eating a piece of pie, contemplating his life’s mistakes he began to realize his problems were not his fault. He managed to shift his thinking so that he could now fully blame Molly for everything that had gone wrong. He began to really hate her now more than ever. The problem was, there was nothing he could do about it his life was ruined, and she was living it up. If only there was a way he could get even, do to her what Bruce had done to Ashley.

He thought how unfair it was that poor Ashley had to lose her sanity and give up her good life, all because Molly was such a selfish and manipulative bitch. There had to be some way he could make her suffer as much as he felt she deserved.

The way George figured Molly was not only responsible for his pain, she was responsible for the suffering of everyone involved, Bruce and Ashley, their kids, Drake and Linda, even Melody who had to grow up without a dad in her life. He thought of all the different lives that were ruined because of Molly. For the first time in his life everything finally made sense, he was going to find a way to make things right. There was a problem, he know he couldn’t do it on his own. George paid for his supper and quietly called for a cab to drive him to his brother’s cabin up on the mountain.

Goldfish on the Mountain Chapter 21

Chapter 21

Suddenly her eyes widened in shock, she wasn’t sure what was going on. Her entire body felt like it was on fire. Her heart was pounding in her chest and she was sweating like she never had before. The smell of burnt flesh finally jolted Molly back to reality, she had been dreaming. He was standing there with a small candle placed on her belly button. He lit the candle and used the light from it to read her poems from her childhood.

Tears began streaming down her cheek as she remembered where she was. She hated herself for falling in love with that man all those years ago. After he finished reading the poems he let the candle burn down until the wax melted to her flesh. She cried out in pain but it was no use, she still had the feeding tube crammed in her throat.

All this time he stood there doing this to her, he showed no emotion, guilt, pain, or pleasure. He pulled out another poem and began to read it to her; his words were cold as ice. They were like sharp, stabbing pains in her chest. Those poems that had once lifted her spirits, blessing her with the gift of love, joy, and happiness, were now being used as tools to bring her nothing but pain and suffering.

The heat from the candles was becoming unbearable. The hot wax began to burn into her flesh she began to jolt in pain, trying desperately to shake the burning candle from her skin to no avail. He tightened the belts that he used to tie her to the bed to limit her mobility. He then took a wooden spoon and began tapper her thigh lightly at first, and then with increased intensity the more she struggled. He finished reading a second poem and taped it to her chest, burning it as he had done with the first one. This went on for another half an hour.

This was the longest Molly had been awake during any of her torture sessions. Ever since she resolved to fight back, she had gotten better at subduing the pain and staying awake. She tried not to bring too much attention to herself, as she feared if he noticed her being awake he might increase the intensity of the brutal acts he was so fond of. After he was finished with this batch of poems he began rubbing some sort of cream on her burns. This was the most humiliation part to her, after he would inflict the damage to her body he would then proceed to dress her wounds and nurse her back to full health.

During the torture phase he was cold, distant it was almost as if he wasn’t even in the same room. He changed when he slipped into his doctor role. He was programmed to be a caring and nurturing individual. As he would treat her wounds he would quietly sing her lullabies, gently stroking her hair and comforting her as you would a sick child.

Then he would bandage her up, cover her naked body with a wool blanket and kiss her gently on the cheek. Then he would whisper in her ear how much he missed her and would always cherish his fond memories of his loving wife. Then he would leave the room, it might be days before he returned with a new routine.

Molly was beginning to wonder if her ex-husband was ever going to amount to anything. She divorced the bastard because he hit her and then told her how much he hated her. She never understood how he could be so distant and keep all that hate bottled up inside for so long.

She always knew eventually it would bubble over but she never suspected he would take it this far. She knew this man who was inflicting such brutal suffering upon her was not her husband, but she also knew he was still responsible for her current situation. Molly knew the moment he stood on her door step that there was going to be trouble.

It had been nearly six years after the divorce that he just showed up one day, unannounced asking if he could talk to his daughter. It was just days before Melodies fifteenth birthday and he claimed he wanted to spend some time with this daughter before it was too late.

Molly had her reservations right from the start, after all he had shown no interest in his offspring for so long she hardly believed he had suddenly developed into a dad. Yet Molly was once a teenage girl herself and she knew that if there was one thing Melody wanted more than anything, it was a meaningful relationship with her father. Looking back on it now Molly knew there were warning signs and her gut instinct told her to just slam the door shut on him and be done with it.

As a mother she wanted nothing more than to know her daughter was still alive and had been spared from the life she feared had befallen her. Molly hated even thinking about what had become of her cherished child, having vivid memories of seeing the video tape her husband showed her that night he kidnapped her.

The video tape clearly showed a bunch of Venezuelan smugglers handing George a suit case full of money and escorting Melody, hands tied behind her back, bound and gagged they shoved her into the trunk of a very large car and drove off into the distance.

The video tape then cut away to a shack where a woman had been bound and had her face covered by a gunny sack. This was the part where her memories began to fade. She watched the woman covered in blood, beaten and torn sitting on a chair she was tied to struggling for her life. There was a quick cut and then there was Molly sitting in the same chair, tears streaming down her cheeks, her eyes wide in fear as she was looking into a video camera where her husband was telling her that her life was about to end. He then cut Molly up and tore pieces of her bloody clothes and tossed the shreds all over the room.

She was drugged and dragged out of the room. She would not remember the next part as all she remembered next was waking up here, tied to this bed, her bones broken and bruises all over her body. They showed her the video tape her first day of regaining consciousness, which apparently had been nearly two weeks later. In the video she watched the woman whose face was covered, be fed head first into a wood chipper.

What came out on the other side was a bloody pulp that was in no way recognizable as human remains. Then there was a cut away to another scene that brought total terror to Molly when she first witnessed it. These two men had conspired against her for crimes she had never committed. In their warped, twisted minds they came to blame her for atrocities she had nothing to do with. They felt that somehow she didn’t deserve the life she was living.

As she looked back on that night he husband came to her doorstep all she could do was replay those images over and over in her head, hating herself for not listening to her gut instinct.

Goldfish on the Mountain Chapter 20

Chapter 20

It was a quiet fall afternoon. All you could hear was the sounds of leaves rustling in the wind. The clock on her night stand chimed twice, reminding her it was now two hours past noon. School had been so very rough this past week, starting a new school always was.

She hadn’t made any friends yet. Already her parents were putting pressure on her to go out with a certain boy. She knew nothing about him just that his mom worked at the school and so did her dad so they must have figured the two would make a perfect match. If there was one thing Molly hated more than anything was how her parents always had to pick her friends.

Just once she wanted to start a new school and be friends with people she actually got along with, instead of the people that boosted her parent’s social status. She sat on her bed brushing the hair on her stuffed pony as she listened to the sound of the leaves outside. She wished she could be outside playing in the leaves, not going on a date with a boy she hardly knew, a boy she honestly had no interest in at all.

There was a knock on her door and she could hear her mother’s voice calling to her,

“Oh Molly dear, your date is here,” her mother said.

She placed her pony on her bed and grabbed her purse, and opened the door.

“Hello mother, I’m all ready to go,” Molly said.

She was led down the stairs where her date was waiting for her, dressed in his finest clothes for attending a carnival. He looked handsome enough, his hair was neat, and he even smelled nice. Molly didn’t even remember his name, she met him just barely this morning at lunch when her father and his mother introduced the two and suggested they go to the carnival together. She grabbed her jacket and walked out the door arm in arm with her date.

He was a very distant boy, all night he just ran around playing the games rambling on about how much his parents liked to run his life. He hadn’t even told her how nice she looked or anything. She just followed him around like a lost puppy, not knowing what to make of the evening. She finally worked up the courage to ask him a question.

So, George how long have you lived here,” Molly asked.

Just all my life,” George said. “It’s not such a bad place to grow up I guess. You are new in town aren’t you, where’d you move her from?”

Molly wasn’t interested in that topic, so she just replied

“Oh someplace I bet you never heard of, besides it’s not important I live here now.”

All of a sudden his face lit up and he told her to wait there for a second. She watched as he ran up to some other, girl and began talking to her. She looked a little upset at him and Molly could tell he was trying to calm her down. He pointed over in her direction, made some kind of gesture, she nodded her head and he walked back over to where she had stood, watching the whole ordeal.

“Who is that girl?” Molly asked with a little scorn in her voice.

“Oh her that’s just Ashley, she and I were going out, but we broke up this morning and she just wanted to ask me if I wanted to get back together and I told her I was here with you.”

The two continued to wander around aimlessly, he was rambling on about things boys like to talk about, nothing that was interesting to Molly. She had been feeling awkward since he talked to that other girl. If they had broken up just this morning, was she his rebound date? Or did he dump her to go out with him? Either way she didn’t exactly feel comfortable with the situation. He stopped in front of a haunted house and he asked

“Hey so you want to go in there, it’s supposed to be pretty scary?”

Molly was not in the mood for a haunted house so she declined saying,

“actually I am starting to get a little hungry. I was thinking maybe we could stop and get some corn dogs here shortly?”

He looked at her with a sad look.

Well sure in a bit,” George said. “My friends are all waiting for me inside the haunted house so I thought I would go in and see if I can find them. If you don’t feel like going that is okay with me you don’t have to. I won’t be long. When I get back I promise I will go with you to get a corn dog, is that alright?”

She nodded in agreement and sat down on the bench nearest to her. She was not having a good time.

Molly sat there waiting for her date to come back. Finally after a few minutes she noticed him coming out of the door on the other side, and he was with that other girl from before.

Suddenly she became angry and felt like going home entirely. He ran over to where Molly was sitting and took her by the hand.

“Hey sorry it took so long, I ran into Ashley in there and she wanted to hash things out. I told her I was on a date with a prettier girl than her and it was over she needed to accept it.”

Molly wasn’t convinced, something in his voice made her think he was lying, but she had no proof and wasn’t going to press the matter. After all it was only their first date it wasn’t like this was the man she was going to marry.

“How about we go get those corn dogs shall we?”

He reached out and took her hand. She wasn’t expecting to hold hands on the first date, that wasn’t her style, but she decided to go with it. His hand was so warm and strong, she kind of felt safe him holding hers like that. It was the first time she began to warm up to him.

A few minutes later the two finished eating their corn dogs. Molly decided to ask him a question that had been on her mind all evening,

“George,” she said, “can I ask you a personal question?”

He looked at her with a very blank look.

“Uh, sure I suppose why not.”

“You had said earlier that you broke up with your girlfriend this morning, and I was wondering did you break up with her to go out with me, or did you agree to go out with me because you broke up with her?”

“Molly, my break up with Ashley had nothing to do with you, we just weren’t getting along. Besides I heard she was fooling around with one of the football jocks anyways.”

She didn’t exactly know what to make of that last statement, so she just dropped the subject altogether. The two came to a booth were a little girl was holding a bunch of red balloons. It was one of those booths were you pop a balloon and win a prize. The prize was a small baggie filled with water and inside the bag was a tiny little goldfish. George had mumbled to himself,

Ashley likes goldfish, she had one once but she went out of town for the weekend and left it with me and I killed it. I didn’t mean to kill it, I just left the desk lamp too close to the bowl and it fried the little guy.”

Molly was not really interested in hearing him tell stories of his ex-girlfriend. She kind of sighed and just looked at him. He didn’t even hesitate he pulled out a couple of bills, handed them to the man and began throwing darts, popping the balloons one at a time. Molly was furious at how determined he was to win that goldfish for a girl he had broken up with. She was standing right there and he acted like he didn’t even notice. He kept muttering to himself if he won that goldfish he could win her back.

Molly pretended not to hear what he was saying, as it was only making her even angrier for getting herself into this. He won the prize and just as the man was about to hand it to George, Molly snatched it from him and put on the biggest, most fake smile she could and said gleefully.

“oh George you won this for me, how sweet of you.”

He just looked at her with a nervous look on his face, he started to say something, just then he looked over across the way and Stephanie was staring at him. She saw Molly take the goldfish he obviously meant to win for her, then turned and stormed off. George didn’t know if he should chase after Stephanie or not, but he decided Molly was pretty enough he would go along with it for now and try to win Ashley back on Monday. He leaned in and planted a kiss right on her lips.

Goldfish on the Mountain Chapter 19

Chapter 19

This was it. George was finally going to see the woman he had been in love with all those years ago. He had it all planned out. He was going to walk in there, she was going to light up and seeing him as her knight to the rescue, she would be cured and the two would go live their new, happy lives together. He figured that sure, she been through a trauma but so had he, and the two were meant to be together so the way he figured it, things would just work out. He hadn’t felt so good about anything in so long; he had forgotten what it felt like to have hope.

Even still there was this sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, obviously if she was here it meant something terrible had happened. He just hoped that seeing him again would bring a spark of joy to her life. He stood there looking at the front lawn of this building she was supposedly staying at. It looked nice enough, like a nursing home so he figured she must be well taken care of.

The lawn was well kept; the windows and doors were spotless. This place had the look of a very professional medical facility and that made his fears subside considerably. He walked to the front door and was stopped by the receptionist. He looked around amazed at how clean the place looked. He always imagined a mental health facility would look like a dungeon with people crammed in padded cells. This was not like that at all, which gave him high hopes that Stephanie would be okay when she saw he came for her.

“Can I help you?” the nice receptionist asked in a shockingly polite manner.

“Why yes, I am here to visit an old friend of mine, I was told she was staying here, her name is Ashley Taylor, um sorry I mean Erickson”

The receptionist began typing into a computer and she found the name and looked up at him.

“I am not showing that she is expecting any visitors today, do you have an appointment?”

He pulled the note that the old lady gave him and handed it to her, his hands were shaking. He was sweating furiously now, his heart was racing; he hadn’t realized how nervous he was. She looked over the note and pressed a button on her desk and spoke into a headset. A few moments latter a very well dressed doctor approached him.

“Hello there, my name is Doctor Samuel Whitfield, how can I help you today?”

“uh, yes my name is George Thompson and I am a friend of Ashley Erickson and I uh, was hoping to get a chance to maybe see her?”

“I see, you do understand she is in a delicate place right now, why don’t come with me.” the doctor said.

He led George down the hall into a mid-sized office. He looked around and saw that the walls were fairly plain, nothing really grabbed his attention.

The doctor sat down at his desk and waved his arm at the chair in front and said to him.

“Why don’t you have seat?”

George pulled out the chair and sat down, he was even more nervous than before.

“Why don’t you tell me a little about yourself, let’s start with how do you know the patient. What is your relationship to her. What your intentions are, and we will kind of evaluate your situation from there.”

“I guess I don’t understand, I gave you the note saying I had permission from a family member to see her.”

The doctor looked at George, showing a hint of suspicion on his face.

“Here at the Nelly Bly Mental Health Institute we take great care of our patient’s well-being,’ the doctor said. “Ashley is one of our more delicate patients and so we like to screen all of her visitors, especially the male ones that aren’t family members. Think of it as for her protection. It’s nothing against you personally we just have to make sure that our patients receive the best possible care we can provide them.”

George sat there for just moment thinking about what he was going to say, and then he realized his nervousness must be what is making the doctor uncomfortable, so he took a deep breath and tried to calm his nerves by reminding himself he was here to rescue her. With his confidence restored he sat up straight, looked the doctor square in the eye and began.

“Well I am an old friend of Ashley from high school,” George said. “We kind of dated for a while and then went our separate ways when we went off to college. I guess she married Bruce Erickson, he was on the football team, and I kind of lost track of her over the years. I recently went through a very grueling divorce a few years ago. I took some time to do some soul searching. I remembered how much the two of us had been in love back then. I figured I would look her up see how she was doing. When I found out what had happened to her, it broke my heart so I just thought maybe if she saw a familiar, friendly face it might touch her, you know warm her heart.”

The doctor looked at George with a somewhat disbelieving look, waiting patiently for George to tell his story. He asked some questions about the divorce, he asked him if he felt good about striking his wife, told him that with Ashley in as delicate as a place she was it might not be good for her to have a man who hit his wife be the one to cheer her up. The two spent nearly a full hour talking about everything the doctor felt would be important to his decision.

He would nod occasionally as if he understood where George was coming from, yet his arms remained crossed the entire interview. Finally the doctor had heard enough to make up his mind.

“Well Mr. Thompson I am sure the two you of you were great friends at some point in time,” the doctor said. “However you have to keep in mind this is not high school, she might not have the same fond memories of you that you have of her. There was more to the abuse than what her aunt had told you.

“Ashley was tied to a chair and forced to watcher her husband sexually abuse the children. He would hit her, he would starve her and the last few years of their marriage he basically kept her a prisoner in that house”

The doctor told the story how finally one day she had enough. How she got loose from her chains and killed her husband who was in the middle of a gruesome act with the youngest daughter. The kids are not in protective custody because their father abused them, they are in protective custody because their mother killed their father in front of them.

“The boys had no clue what was going on,” the doc said. “They were allowed to leave the house, but they were not allowed to have company over because the dad acted over protective of the girls in the house. Ashley is in a state of mental shock that is very delicate right now.”

He told George was the technical diagnosis was, but all he remembered about it was she was basically a zombie from the description the doctor had given him.

George asked if he would be allowed to see her at least, and the doctor said he would not do that, he said it was for her protection as well as for his own mental well-being.

“Does she ever bring up the past?” George asked.

“All she does is sits in a corner drawing pictures of goldfish,” the doctor said. “Sometimes we catch her uttering to herself how much she hates goldfish.”

With that George was escorted off the property and returned to his car to contemplate what he had learned.