Chapter 3 Mary

Finally, after a long, wet walk, Lanky got home. The closing of the door brought a boatload of comfort to him, as he was effectively shutting everyone out. All the bratty children who wanted to trash talk about his dead father, all the people who wanted to wish him condolences. All of those people; everyone who would rub in his face the fact that his father was, in fact, dead.

Lanky rubbed his eyes and made his way to the dining room. He yawned, considering changing his mind and going up to the bedroom. Ultimately, he just took a seat on the couch as the family cat, Twinkie, came up and sat on his lap. Twinkie meowed and rubbed her head against his chest, practically demanding that the inferior being Lanky satisfy her need for attention. Lanky relented and scratched her head.

He sighed. His mom would probably be home soon. He figured he should spend some time with her. But after he did, he would need to sort through some of his problems. For example, he needed to decide where to go. Within the next week or so, he planned on getting out of this town. Again. He hoped beyond all hope that he could put the past behind him and start anew. And, of course, the only true way that he could do that was by buying a house somewhere far away from here. It didn't even have to be a house; it could be an apartment or a condo… heck, it could even be a trailer. It just had to be something, and it had to be far, far away.

Lanky pulled himself up, causing Twinkie to jump off his lap and bounce onto the floor. Lanky put his hands in his pockets and made his way over to the computer room. If he was going to bolt out of town as soon as humanly possible, he needed to look for housing. He lowered himself into the computer chair and went to a realtor website. He scrolled through the different places for lodging, his eyes particularly fascinated by the options present. The only problem was that the rent was particularly steep for a lot of these places, and that was before the cost for utilities was taken into account.

This prompted Lanky to think. He wondered if there were any places that he could work. He didn't care where they were; he could always commute. He just needed to find a job, and find it quickly.

"Lanky?"

Lanky let out a breath and turned away from the computer screen. His mother came into the computer room, still wearing her dripping wet clothes from the funeral. "What are you doing? Why did you leave?"

Lanky ran his hands through his lime green hair. "I just...I had to get away Mom. It wasn't anything personal, it was just...I couldn't exactly stay."

Mary nodded, her eyes shining with concern. She approached and held Lanky's head to her chest in an embrace. Lanky returned it, for not only was it proper etiquette, it would also comfort Mary. She was clearly crying, if her sniffles were any indication. She stroked Lanky's back, sniffling and whimpering up a storm. Lanky felt his heart break all over again.

Curse you Dad. Curse you for leaving such a beautiful woman alone in this world. Curse you for turning Mary Sykes into a widow.

Mary pulled away, allowing Lanky some time to collect his thoughts. His mother was already dealing with a boatload of stress after the funeral. She would have to deal with the incessant problems brought upon by relatives, paperwork, and the like. She would obviously be way in over her head.

Maybe it would be best if he didn't leave her so soon after the funeral. Discounting all the other stuff, she was also an older woman; turning 60 next month. It would be darn near heartless of him to put his mother through the emotional hell of having to say goodbye to her son.

"Do you...want me to fix supper tonight, Mom?" Lanky asked.

Mary shook her head. "No. I want to do that myself." She turned and made her way to the kitchen. Lanky followed her.

"Do you want me to help or…"

Mary sighed. "No. I just...I need to do this by myself."

Lanky took notice of the dark circles under his mother's eyes. There was also a...sleepy quality to her voice. She sounded like she would drop to the floor any minute. He couldn't leave her.

"Okay. Can I at least watch?"

Mary at least relented on that. She got started on dinner; meatloaf, a dish that Marvin had particularly enjoyed. Lanky always joked to his father that if his inventions didn't take him out, then his love for red meat would.

Looking back, he wished he kept his mouth shut about that.

Mary worked with the skill and finesse that any cook would. She chopped the onions in a very particular way, making sure that the pieces were square and uniform. She hand tossed the ingredients together, getting eggy, meaty gunk all over her palms. Lanky made sure to keep his eyes on her at all times. Her exhaustion was present in every one of her features, tainting the air around them.

Finally, the meatloaf was in the oven, and Lanky was able to take his mother to the couch after promising her that he would take it out of the oven when the timer went off. Mary sat down on the couch with a glum exterior; understandable. She rubbed her eyes and yawned, appearing to fight back tears. Again. Understandable.

"I can't believe it's been two years."

Lanky nodded. "Yeah." He snickered. "Time flies when you're having fun."

Mary rolled her eyes. "Yeah, that's it." She put her head in her hands. "Are you planning on going somewhere now that the funeral is over?"

Lanky sighed and sat down next to her. "No."

Mary blinked. "No? But...but didn't you…"

"Mom, I know what I said in the past. But you're not getting any younger. I need to stay with you."

Mary, despite herself, laughed. "Getting old? Please. Lanky, I'm only 59. I have a lot of life in me yet."

"You're 59 going on 60."

Mary waved her hand to dismiss the statement. "Age is just a number."

Lanky narrowed his eyes. "You've been stressed out over the past few weeks, with everyone coming to the funeral. You need at least someone to help you through it."

Mary sighed. "Joseph…." She paused before rubbing her eyes again and laid back. "I want you...to live your life…"

Lanky got a blanket and draped it over her. "I will Mom." He kissed her on the forehead. "But I want you to live the best possible life first."

Mary, too tired to object to this, closed her eyes and went to sleep. Maybe there was some truth to her request. But Lanky wanted to stay with her. If there was one thing Lanky Sykes was not, it was heartless.

Knock knock knock.

He was also not social. As his relatives filtered into the Sykes home, he decided that he had better bolt. His original destination was his bedroom; his nice, cozy bedroom.

But that wasn't where his feet led him.