Once the boy came home it was inevitable. Sherman left most even the sane folk jumpy, some just plain dangerous. Hot as it was with people hungry and wandering about, he had to see his mama. Make things right.
Through glassy eyes the bottle blurred in her sticky hands. Opium dreams waved in and out of Hollis-her husband, blood dripping from his temple of Lucas-her doctor of Hollie-her honest, good, upright only child/wounded soldier-all as lovers.
The doctor gazed at her from the other side of the bed, remembering how he had loved her at seventeen, at twenty-one and at thirty-before the war, before Hollis, before the opium. He hated himself for not loving her now, for all that had happened in this room.
Honor and right told Hollie he had to see to his mama now that his daddy was gone. He would not believe what they said about his daddy or would he? He sent him to Military school at twelve and he had learned right from wrong. He came from good people-a great southern family. He was a proud Confederate officer, unlike Lucas.
Hearing footsteps, Lucas turned his gaze away from the woman. Her sticky hands got the bottle to her lips and she swallowed. She heard the door shut as Lucas left. From somewhere far away she heard a sound like thunder. A voice from far away was calling, “Mama”.
The boy/soldier/proud/man got no answer. He stood gazing down at his mama, still and staring, smoking pistol in his hand. Lightening flashed and it began to rain.