Getting Old. Short Story.

Becky grabbed a napkin and used it to carefully pick up the knife, she didn’t want any blood getting onto her. The knife was speckled with drops of blood. Usually her father wasn’t this sloppy, but he was starting to slip in his old age. She brought the knife to the sink and covered it with bleach, then she washed it thoroughly. Once that was done she put it back onto the knife rack. She suspected her father was downstairs, she wouldn’t disturb him now but she would have to talk to him about his habits soon. Last week he had tried to grab one of the neighbours, they thought he was just starting to go a bit senile and that he wasn’t dangerous. Becky knew the truth. She had spent her whole life helping her father clean up after himself. She never indulged in his particular hobby herself, killing people just wasn’t for her, but she never really judged her father too harshly for it. He never made her do anything she was uncomfortable with and she was just fine with helping dispose of everything. Actually murdering someone was just a step too far for her. Her father told her that that softness had come from her mother.

Becky had never met her mother, her father was reluctant to talk about her. Any time Becky brought her up her father’s face would drop and he would become morose and distant for a few days afterwards. Sometimes he would bring her up himself, share a few titbits, mostly it was to tell Becky how much she looked like her mother.

Becky sat in the kitchen, waiting. Her father would be up soon for dinner, she would have the talk to him then. They’d have to figure out what to do. He couldn’t be sent to a home, that would be dangerous for everyone involved, but Becky didn’t have the time or money to look after him herself. That left the option of home help, an option that also wasn’t safe. Her father wasn’t quite gone yet, but what if he attacked the carer? It had been a few years since he had killed anyone, mostly it was just animals. Then again, that streak may have been broken today, she still wasn’t sure what was down in the basement with him.

Her father walked into the kitchen, he was smiling and using a blood soaked rag to wipe at his hands. “Hey love, how was your day?”
“It was ok, how was yours?”
“Oh just excellent. I started a new project downstairs, you can come see if you like?”
“No, that’s ok. Maybe after dinner.”
Her father nodded, he went to the kitchen sink and turned on the water, “It’s a lively one, man, you should have seen the struggles.”
He washed his hands slowly and when he was done he walked away from the sink to grab a towel.
“Dad? The tap?”
“Oh. Sorry love, I’m just distracted is all, planning. You know how my brain is always whizzing around.”
Becky nodded and smiled, she didn’t have the heart bring up his other little mistakes. She took a sip of her coffee, she would have to do it sooner or later. She sighed, “Dad, I wanted to talk to you about something.”
“Oh?” he sat down across from her.

“Yeah. I’ve noticed a few things lately and it’s making me worry.”
“About me?”
“Yeah, about you.”
“There’s no need to fret, I’m as healthy as I’ve ever been.”
“It’s not your physical health that’s worrying me. I’ve noticed stuff, like leaving the tap on.”
“Everyone has moments like that though.”
“I know, but you’ve been doing it a lot and it isn’t the only thing either. There’s half eaten foods left about the place because you forgot about them, you left a pan on the stove the other day. Luckily I caught it, it could have burned the house down.”
“I already told you I only left it for a second because I had to use the bathroom.”
Becky shook her head, “Look, it’s just for my piece of mind, we need to figure something out. Everyone gets a bit forgetful when they get older and there’s no shame in that, but I worry about you. I think we need to do something, maybe get someone in?”
Her father frowned, “What? Have someone in the house? Pawing through my things, poking their nose in my business? I don’t think so. I won’t allow it.”
“We have to do something dad, I can’t be here all the time, I have to work. We can set rules up, that they won’t be allowed into the basement, or they’ll just pop in to check up on you a few times a day.”
“No. It’s too dangerous.”

“Well something has to be done, I can’t stay here forever dad, Tony asked me about moving in with him, I want to start a family in the next few years. I can’t keep looking after you forever and I know you don’t want to move somewhere new with me.”
“Well what about-”

“No, Tony can’t move in here. He needs a space for his work, he’ll want to see the whole place, including the basement. It’s easier for me to go.”
“I’ll be fine by myself if you do. I’m not too old to look after myself.”
“I know dad, but I’d feel better if there was someone else checking in too.”
He sat for a moment, looking at her. The kind of look that always made her feel uncomfortable, like he was trying to gaze into her soul. He shook his head, “Fine. You win. We’ll figure something out. Maybe set up interviews with a few different people, see how we all get along.”
Becky smiled, “Thank you dad, I’ll find someone great, I promise.”
“I know you will love.”
Becky stood from the table, “Dinner’s just about done, I put on one of those oven meals you like.”
“Thanks love.”

Becky opened the oven and grabbed out the foil tray, being careful not to burn herself. She turned and gasped, dropping it as her father swung the frying pan at her head. Her eyes widened, she didn’t feel the burns on her legs, she opened her mouth to speak just as he hit her in the side of the head. She crumpled, whimpering, before she could regain her senses her father swung the pan again and again.

When he was finally done he was gasping for breath, his old body wasn’t used to such exertion. That was one of the benefits of being older, people tended to underestimate you. He put the frying pan into the sink and bent over his daughter, “There. Now you can stay and look after me and we won’t have to get anyone else involved. Trust me, you’ll be happier here with me than you’d ever had been with Tony.” He grabbed her under the arms and started to drag her towards the basement. He had a lot of work to do and it needed to be done quickly, but it would be worth it, she’d be as good as new in no time.


About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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2 Responses to Getting Old. Short Story.

  1. Wonderful story. Glad I stumbled upon your work.

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