Homebred: Chapter 2, Section 1
Steve Morris took a handful of keys from his pocket and fished through them. Jiggling one in the lock, he turned the door handle of the old mansion where his aunt lived. He stood in the hallway for a few minutes and looked about. A musty smell filled his nostrils. Flipping the light switch, he crossed the huge living room to a field-stone fireplace and stared at an oil painting that hung above the mantle. The painting was of his Aunt Agnes’s classic stern face when she was in her early womanhood. The mass of auburn curls reminded him of the prosecuting attorney he’d talked to on Saturday. He shouldn’t have lost his temper with her. Katie’s disappearance wasn’t her fault. He’d have to make a point to tell her he was sorry. He shook his head. What was it about his aunt’s face that cut through his very soul to some untouchable part of his life? He didn’t want to think about it right now. He had more important things to do, and he might as well get on with them. He moved like a man in a trance toward the long winding stairway.
Upstairs, he rapped on the nearest door, waited, and then knocked again. “Aunt Agnes? Aunt Agnes?” No answer, he rapped louder and almost shouted, “Aunt Agnes? Aunt Ag . . .”
The door cracked. The grayish face of Agnes Tillman appeared. Her faded blue eyes looked straight through Steve. Her lips formed unspoken words.
The thoughts that Steve had blotted out downstairs came full; once again he was ten years old, and Aunt Agnes stood over him pointing her long bony finger. “Now, I’m telling you boy. You ain’t going bad. I’m gonna see to it. Gonna keep you on the straight and narrow. Ain’t no woman gonna lead you down the primrose path like they done your pa. He’d be here today if it weren’t for that woman.”
Aunt Agnes stepped out into the hall and covered her face with her hands. “I won’t do it again, Pa. Please! Please, don’t use your stick!”
Steve shrugged. There was no doubt that his decision to put her in a nursing home was the right thing. “Don’t worry, Aunt Agnes. No one is going to hurt you. I’ll see to it.” As he helped her back into her room, he knew part of her problem was the loss of Katie.
Tune in next Tuesday for the next episode of Homebred!