Re-Killing Aunt Bessie
after Joe Bucciano's "The Green Room"
Copyright ©2018 by Christopher Conlon
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Ben was the first one of the family to kill Aunt Bessie. It was a normal, even banal murder: creeping up behind her as she sat watching television in her usual spot on the old sectional sofa in the living room, he raised an iron pipe he had brought along for the purpose and proceeded to brain her.
The family, disliking Aunt Bessie as much as Ben did, thought the young man's act somewhat lacking in good taste but not otherwise objectionable, and so they-father Oswald, mother Gertrude, sisters Helga and Helen-assisted cheerily enough with the burying of Aunt Bessie at a remote location in the back orchard. Leaves drifted in profusion down upon the impromptu work crew as they used a spade to finish their task and by the time they departed a fine carpet of multicolored foliage was already beginning to form over the burial site. All in all it was a satisfactory operation, and the family walked back to the house in a happy, even celebratory mood.
When the family rose the next morning they were all somewhat surprised to behold Aunt Bessie sitting watching television in her usual spot on the old sectional sofa in the living room. She seemed none the worse for wear. No evidence of a struggle was evident upon her; no bits of soil or foliage marred her hair or face or clothing. There was certainly no sign of the terrible head wound that should have, by all rights, been clearly present.
The family—the family, that is, minus Aunt Bessie—met in grim, whispered conclave at the back of the rear hallway. Acknowledging the failure of Ben's otherwise meritorious effort—Ben often failed at things, alas—father Oswald took matters into his own, as it were, hands. He walked into the living room and, without throat-clearing or other preamble, he strangled Aunt Bessie.
This time the family was careful indeed. Mother Gertrude had had some nursing training many years before, and she possessed the skills to determine definitively whether Aunt Bessie remained among the life-filled souls of our world or instead had crossed the shining river to the unknown land beyond. With perfect confidence Gertrude affirmed that the river in question had indeed unquestionably been crossed, and crossed permanently.
At this point—it was another fine fall day—the family transported Aunt Bessie to the orchard again. Where they had buried her before there was a large empty hole in the ground—a hole the family sought eagerly to fill with their spade, once they had again placed Aunt Bessie within it. This task they successfully completed and the family walked back to the house once more in a celebratory mood.
The perspicacious reader will have surmised who was sitting watching television in the living room the next morning.
Now this was truly intolerable. Again the family gathered in the back hallway, this time with their voices filled with anger and resentment. Surely any sensible person could see that Aunt Bessie was being completely unreasonable. She was dead—had in fact been killed twice—and for her unwanted presence to be taking up space in the family's living room, and indeed in their lives, was outrageous.
Daughters Helga and Helen conjured up what at first seemed the most promising plan of all. As it happened one of their hobbies was the collection of small hand-held explosives, and they offered to sacrifice a sample from their stock in order to dispatch Aunt Bessie in a more comprehensive way than had heretofore been attempted. This method was immediately effected, and while the process did result in some considerable damage to the living room, everyone in the family acknowledged that it had proved highly successful when they saw Aunt Bessie spattered into hundreds of multicolored splotches all over the living room walls. With great energy the family took to cleaning up the mess, dropping what pieces of her they could gather into a bucket. This bucket they took to the orchard, pouring its contents into the once again mysteriously empty hole. Upon finishing the work they walked back to the house in a happy and even celebratory mood.
When the next morning Aunt Bessie was found sitting watching television in her usual spot on the sectional sofa—admittedly the sofa was much the worse for wear, and it seemed a miracle indeed that the television not only still functioned but that its reception had actually improved—the family met one final time in indignant conclave. They were bereft of ideas; there was nothing else, it seemed to them, that they could do. Acknowledging their failure, they spoke defeatedly to Aunt Bessie and after a brief negotiation allowed her to walk all of them out to the orchard. One at a time each family member—other than Aunt Bessie—crawled into the open and gaping hole, lying one atop another. With a small smile on her face Aunt Bessie then used the spade to fill the hole. When she was finished she brushed her hands clean and returned to the house.
Every morning thereafter Aunt Bessie was to be found sitting watching television contentedly in the living room. The rest of the family was never seen again—which was a happy and even celebratory resolution for all.