Sarah and Nancy Hilbert stepped forward, a pair of raven-haired beauties that caught his eye. They spread red and white petals over the casket, relenting to his gaze, if only an instant. As his heart quickened, Terrance licked his dry lips.
A middle-aged man stepped forward, and took off his cap. “It’s hard to believe I stand here before you, burying the one who cared for us so deeply,” said Timothy Benton.
“I bet he did--hopefully no altar boys were damaged in the process,” Terrance amused himself; glad the whisper in his soul did not come out his mouth.
“Father Wickum was a pillar of this community,” Timothy raised his hands, “devoting every restless hour to those in need despite the personal cost to himself.”
“Really? I always thought of him as a drunk,” Terrance pondered. If only he could share what was on his mind without getting shot.
“Terrance Thatcher, I believe you were the last to see our beloved pastor before he passed away,” he said.
“Tis true, my friend.” Terrance nodded.
“Would you be kind enough to share a few words about how he spent his final hour?”
“That crusty bastard,” Terrance shook his head, careful to purse his lips. “I would be honored,” he said aloud.
He stepped forward, and scanned over the crowd, resting his eyes on the two twins peering at him with devilish intent. Terrance grinned as the wind swelled, carrying a sprinkle with it. “Ladies and gentlemen, Father Wickum was not the person you thought he was. There was another side to him behind that gruff, monotonous demeanor; a side he so graciously shared before he croaked…I mean, before he passed away. Father Wickum had an addiction, and that addiction was…” He strained to heave the word onto his lips. “…love.”
“Yes, love.” He stalked the crowd. “A passion that pervaded every pore of his body. If he could pour it in a glass, and share it with you, it would be the finest vintage your lips ever indulged. And every day his bottle filled with more…love…more of that sumptuous, unbridled, steamy passion.” He looked into each of the women’s eyes. “Until one day he found himself, a untapped vessel, ready to explode all over Southminster in one gigantic, frosty burst.”
The women squealed as lightening erupted, though not from the thunder overhead. As rain fell in sheets, the townspeople scattered.
“And if he were here right now, he would want to share that love with you, despite the cruel, relentless downpour,” said Terrance.
The graveyard emptied until only three remained.
“After years of faithful service, the only thing Father Wickum begged for was a magnificent, wondrous, mind-blowing release.”
Lightening stuck in the distance behind him.
Terrance traced his fingers through his dark, wet tangles, his drenched shirt revealing the chiseled outline of his chest and stomach. He approached the twins, lost in his icy gaze. “I am sorry for your loss.” He kissed each on the cheek. “How will I ever make it up to you?”
The black carriage creaked over the hill, its lone passenger cursing all the way. As it pulled in front of the Thatcher mansion, a portly man wobbled out, leaving his bags behind, and stomping down the walkway.
“Sir,” the coachman uttered, but the old rascal did not look back. He thundered through the front door, pushing aside his servants as they greeted him, and headed straight for his office. As he opened the door, a familiar sight greeted him.
“Father, what a pleasant surprise!” Terrance exclaimed, not a scrap of clothing on him. Two dark-haired visions pawed at him, their naked bodies draping either side. Sinful smiles fell from their faces; they jumped up, scooped up their clothing, and hurried off.
“Terrance, what are you doing? Where’s Tess?” William Thatcher asked.
“Father, she was a whore!” He stood, the family heirlooms dangling in the air. “Sorry to be the one to break it to you. I drew up the annulment papers myself, gave her a few pounds, a smack on the ass, and sent her on her merry way.” He took a sip of wine.
“What? How could you?” William looked about the room. “You need my signature to do such a thing.”
“Come now, father. You know I’m better at your signature than you are. Instead you should be thanking me; I’ve provided an invaluable service. She was just another mindless whore after the family fortune,” Terrance smiled.
“The only whore in this family is you!” The father grabbed the rifle from the wall and fired.
Terrance ducked as the window shattered behind him. “Are you mad? I’m your son…your true flesh and blood!”
The old man reloaded and fired again, shattering the bottle of wine.
“Not to mention your only son,” Terrance added.
“I’ll have another.” Mr. Thatcher put a large hole in the desk.
“Fine, take it out of my allowance.”
He fired again.
“All right, take it out of my harem. Oh, bloody hell!” Terrance jumped out the window.
Gunfire erupted again as William chased his son through the field. “I loved her! Doesn’t that mean anything to you?” He screamed. “You poisoned her, just like my wife before her!” He fired again.
Terrance gasped as three corpses stumbled out of the field, taking notice of the wagging meat before them. The miscreant stormed up the hill as the zombies limped after him.
“What’s this all about? He’s mine!” the father bellowed. Finding his range, he blasted each of the cadavers as Terrance scaled the hill, baring his buttocks to all Southminster.
William squeezed off his final round, splattering the zombie’s noodle over the cabbage patch. As its body rolled down the hill, Terrance staggered, and then fell to the ground.
“Goodness gracious, what have I done?” William gasped. “Terrance?” He tossed the gun aside, and charged up the hill.
“Damn you, father,” Terrance moaned. “Better to shoot my bum clean off than to tear to shreds like you did.” He lay face down in his bed while housekeepers hovered over his throbbing rump.
“Hold still,” Old Man Wiggins mumbled as he wrenched a fragment from his cheek. “I’m low on supplies, so this will have to do.” He poured wine over the wound.
Terrance grunted as vintage flowed over his pale rear. “Give me that!” He reached around and grabbed the bottle. He took a swig, and then offered it to his father.
William seized the bottle, and gave it back to Wiggins. “You’ve really done it now, Terrance.” He shook his head.
“I merely exposed her for what she is, father,” Terrance groaned as Wiggins fished another scrap of metal from his rear. “I even managed to purge her from the will.”
“Is that all you care about, Terrance? Your bloody inheritance?” William exclaimed.
“Course not, father. I want you to be happy, not raped by a band of witless waifs,” Terrance replied.
“You of all people should know that marriage is not built on love alone. Perhaps I wanted to indulge a fantasy a bit, however fleeting. So be it. Clearly I knew she did not love me, but that did not change how I felt in her presence. Tess had a tender heart, and would have made a fine wife if you hadn’t dug your claws into her.”
The father scanned over the enamored faces around him. “What are all of you doing here?”
“It’s all right, father. I wanted the staff to be on hand to lick the excess wine from my crotch once the handyman patched me up,” Terrance grinned.
Wiggins dug deep, pulling out the last shard of metal. “That should do it.” He smacked the rogue on the ass.
Terrance grimaced, and then snatched the bottle back. He swallowed a mouthful and looked up. “You really should have a taste, father; it’s some of your best work.”
“You are impossible, Terrance.” William crossed his arms. Slowly his eyes wandered back to the bottle.
“Do you remember the last time I shot you?” William chuckled, slamming his hand on the dinner table.
“How could I forget? I still have the scar.” Terrance pulled back his brown mane, exposing a short white line across his forehead.
“Turns out I was aiming for the wrong head,” he cackled, and drained his glass.
“Indeed.” Terrance took a sip of wine. “You could have saved several bullets, not to mention years of your life, if you would have just put a bullet in Old Willy.”
“Nah, I’m saving that for the woman who will bite it off one day.” William poured himself another glass. “So what’s the story with those hideous creatures in the garden?”
“Those were the gardeners. I buried them in the field the other day.” Terrance gestured.
“They attacked poor Tess; what was I supposed to do? I smashed one over the head with a shovel until I wizened up and grabbed my sword.” Terrance inferred the saber on the wall behind him.
“What possessed you to bury them in the field?” William asked.
“I don’t know; it seemed convenient at the time.” Terrance rubbed his backside. “Oh, my tush.”
“You big oaf, that’s what graveyards are for! Why would you bury them in the very soil that we plant our crops?” The old man shook his head. “Did Tess say anything before she left?”
“No. I just asked why she never inquired about the sausage. She smacked my face, and galloped away.”
“How rotten of you.” William sipped his wine. “The truth is, I have not yet wrapped up my affairs, and must leave again in the morning.”
“That is most unfortunate,” Terrance droned.
“Believe me, I’d rather be here with you, but I’ve just received word that a plague has broken out near Canterbury. I hope to reach her before the plague does, for this might be the last opportunity to visit for a while.” He finished his glass. “But the trouble is I never know what to expect when I journey home; I find myself worrying about you constantly.”
“Come now, father, I must have some wits about me; otherwise, I would have fathered half of Southminster by now,” said Terrance.
“Perhaps that’s the half I haven’t met.” William raised an eyebrow.
“Touché.” Terrance toasted, and polished off his glass as well.
“Terrance, if I am to catch a wink of sleep while away, I must be sure that you are well attended. That’s why I’ve enlisted the aid of your sister.”
“Lizzie? Are you serious?” Terrance balked.
“Dead serious.” The father made a gun with his fingers and shot. “She’ll be here by morning. Since she’s studying to be a nun, perhaps she can relay some of her virtue.”
Terrance’s face darkened. He put his glass aside, and leaned forward. “I’ll show her a thing or two about virtue,” he vowed.