"Mr Morgan." the doctor said coming out of his mother's room. "You can go in now."
the boy pulled on the cigarette he held between his teeth before subbing it out on the wall of the old rundown shack they lived in.
His heavy footfalls carried him across the room, pausing at the door as the doctor spoke again. "I'm afraid she doesn't have much time. I've tried to make her as comfortable as possible but well, there is nothing more I can do."
The boy turned to the doctor, a fit of simmering anger threatened to explode in his face but the man seemed unaware of the possible threat.
"I have other patients to see today, paying ones. I will need to be on my way." He clipped his bag closed and turned towards the door to leave. "I'll send someone by tomorrow morning to collect the body."
The door creaked open, the door creaked closed.
The boy slowly gathered himself before pressing his open palm to his mother's room door and pushed it open.
She lay on the bed, pale and thin. Her familiar warm eyes were closed and for a moment he feared she was already gone.
"Momma?" he whispered and she forced her eyes open. It looked to be a real struggle.
"My boy." she whispered, raising a hand to beckon him forward. "My beautiful baby boy."
"Momma," Kneeling down next to the bed he grasped his mothers bony hand in his. "I'm hardly a boy anymore." He protested weakly, he couldn't let his mother die thinking he wasn't prepared to be alone in this world. He had to let her know he would be alright but the tremble in his lips couldn't be suppressed and a few teardrops fell, despite how much he blinked them back.
"Oh, it's alright son." she consoled reaching up to try and brush the tears away but she didn't have the strength.
"I'll, I'll be a-alright momma, I want you to know." he looked down at the quilted blanket across her. "I'll be strong, I'll get by."
"I know you will." she said fondly. "You're a lot like your father," she whispered and the boy blanched at the comparison.
"Your father was a good man. And despite what your uncle convinced me of, he loved us both very very much." her words were surprisingly warm.
His mother had been telling him more and more stories about this father since she found out she didn't have much time left.
At first he was angry at the man being constantly mentioned but the more stories she told the more he realized, she was purging herself of some kind of guilt. Some kind of death bed confession.
She sighed deeply, eyes sliding closed as she spoke again. "He and I were so young. Not much older than you are now, when we had you. Tho at first he was shocked when I told him he was the father, he really surprised me by how excited he became." she rolled her head to to side and continued with a soft breathy laugh. "He kept bringing me things every few months. A crib, blankets, food and money. He'd stay for a few days and be gone again. Then he'd come back and bring more money, food and a better crib." she laughed, a motion that sent a shockwave of painful spasms through her body.
As she settled again she opened her eyes. Sad and tearful. "I am so sorry, I took someone away from you who loved you so much." she said.
"It wasn't you." the boy replied, soothingly patting the back of her hand. He reached his other arm up to brush her hair gently as they shared a moment of silence. Her eyes were wet and pleading, begging him to understand something she hadn't ever said before. He could feel the reveal building and he braced himself for some devastating surprise.
"I have lied to you, and I hope someday you will forgive me... but your father never left us." she whispered "He didn't get bored and he wasn't some useless drunk like your uncle says. He was a good man who ran with a man named Dutch Van Der Linde. I want you to remember that name."
She swallowed, turning her head as a racking cough cascaded through her body. A rattling breath filled the room and for a moment the boy thought he was witnessing her last breath.
"Isaac, I need you to promise me you won't stay here with your uncle once I'm gone. Promise me." she spoke around a gasping breath, tho her eyes brightened as he nodded his compliance. "
"A course mama." he whispered not trusting himself to say much more.
"You are, remarkably a lot like your father, you look so much like him. You should have had him in your life, but instead, I allowed your uncle to convince me he was dangerous, that he didn't really love either of us. I, I thought I was protecting you when I agreed to fake our deaths... to put two fake graves in our back yard." She began to cry at the memory passed through her mind. "then he told those in town we were killed for 10 dollars and we moved to live with him... It didn't take long for me to find out it was the worst thing I have ever done and I've regretted it ever since. But seeing the man my brother has become, I won't let you say here with him. Look under the dresser, son. Please, quickly."
He rushed over to the old withered furniture and reached under. He was about to say nothing was there when his hand bumped into some sort of bulky cloth. He pulled it out to find a bag coins.
"I want you to take that and go. GO far away and find your father. Please, promise me."
"Mom!" he shouted, devastation fogging his mind. "We could have used this money for medicine, we could save you!"
"No!" she tried sitting up but without any strength, she just lay flat. "Promise me you'll take the money and RUN!"
"You useless whore." a slurred voice boomed as the door to the room was shoved open. "I knew you had money, you lazy bitch!"
The boy shrunk back against the wall, clutching the bag as his uncle slunk forward. The uncoordinated gate of an alcoholic.
"Gimme, that you little shit." his hand flapped expecting the purse to be handed over immediately.
But this was his mothers, "No," he said firmly.
"Don't you dare hurt my boy!" His mother screamed as his uncle lunged for him. His inebriated reflexes sharper than the boy expected. he found himself on the ground the bag torn open, as his uncle pulled out his pistol and began beating him with the handle.
"NOO!" He heard his mother sobbing as he curled up on the floor. A bloody gash dripping into his eyes and more blows plowed into him. He couldn't prepare for the next onslaught, just coiled protectively in on himself like he always did.
"I said, don't touch HIM!" His mother roared. Somehow she had managed to get out of bed and threw herself at her brother.
He shoved her off and she hit the floor heavily. Her head smacking especially hard. "You thief!" he accused lumbering over to her and Isaac saw white.
He lunged at his uncle with a strength he didn't know he possessed.
He had often imagined a time where he could get his revenge for the many beatings he'd received from this man but at this moment there was no joy or relief like he expected. It was all raw animalistic furry. His fists collided rapidly till a well of blood dripped from the man's mouth and nose, his eyes were beginning to swell shut but still, the boy didn't stop. This was years of not being able to defend himself or his mother against this monster.
The man lay still and Isaac wasn't finished. His arms grew tired as he continued to bash the man's head in. It wasn't until he heard the movements of his mother that he stopped. Fists dripping red as he sat in a pool of blood.
She was crying.
And Isaac realized what he must look like. A mad man, a murderer.
Slowly he climbed off his uncle, keeping his movements slow and non-threatening. He cautiously approached, pulling his mother into a hug. She sagged against him quivering, clutching him as tightly as her frail broken body was capable.
"I am so sorry momma." He whispered against her hair as he began to gently rock back and forth, attempting to soothe her.
She clutched him tighter. "Look for a man named Dutch Van Der Linde... find him and you will find your father, Arthur Morgan... I, I just know he loves you very, veryy.."