You can’t choose your family; you can’t choose your inheritance!!!
Willoby was a friend of my fathers, and today they are both deceased, I promised my father when he was alive that I would never write this story until after his passing. So here we are.
Based on True Events
My father had a friend named Willoby, and he and my mother would mention him infrequently, so one day I asked who he was. My father explained that Willoby was a friend of his who was even smarter than he was.
Which was the highest compliment my dad could give another person as my father himself was recognized as a genius since childhood.
So where is he now, I would ask, but my father would just shrug his shoulders. It wasn’t until much later that I found out the truth.
Willoby his friend, was odd at best, and like most geniuses socially inept, I guess my dad felt sorry for him because he was always alone, and didn’t seem to have any friends. One day my father saw him reading by himself, and asked him what he was studying.
He said it was a book on Eastern Philosophies and varied disciplines. My father also studied Eastern Philosophies so the two of them became friends. After high-school they even attended the same University, and had a philosophy class together.
One time during an open debate in class, Willoby and the Professor started arguing. The two had taken an instant dislike to each other and during the heated discussion Willoby got so upset that he would start rocking in his desk until it squeaked like a rusty nail on a loose floorboard.
My dad’s nickname for Willoby from that day forward became Thrasher, because he would thrash around in his chair when he got upset, like an angry fish that had slipped thru the fisher-mans net onto the bottom of his boat. As the semester progressed the arguments became more and more frequent until finally the professor asked Willoby to leave.
He even tried to fail him during Winters break so he would not be able to return but Willoby was an A student, Straight A’s. He understood everything the first time, and rarely if ever studied. My father offered to go to the Dean with him to plead his case, but Willoby wasn’t interested. Not enough to fight for it.
Fucking fools, he would say, The blind leading the deaf.
Which my father translated to mean, The people who don’t really understand, can only teach because they can’t actual practice what they know in the real world. Incompetent. And they can only get away with it because they preach to “children” (of any age) who can’t think for themselves, and don’t know any better. So the students are complicit and silent.
No one had to tell Willoby how brilliant he was, He knew, and that was enough. He didn’t have the time or patience to explain it to anyone, If a person was smart enough they could see it for themselves, they didn’t need to be convinced.
Not by my father, or anybody else. Willoby didn’t have time for Politics, or Academic Fools. He knew how smart someone was after the first question he asked them. When you can process things at the speed of light, the side-effect is impatience with anyone who can’t keep up.
That was how geniuses rationalized.
My dad and Willoby remained friends even after my parents married, but he saw Willoby less and less frequently there-after. My mom a newlywed tolerated all of dad’s friends, but unlike most people, she was never put-off by Willoby, strange as he was.
She described him as a lost soul. Someone who could see things that others could not, but was unable to communicate it in a way that others could understand. She saw his genius as a curse, not a blessing. She was a nursing student who was assigned mentally ill patients as part of her clinical’s and she said that the similarities between troubled genius and the mentally ill were striking.
Willoby, would resurface again and again, but always unexpectedly. I was too young to remembered him, but my mother told me the details as best she could remember. My mother said that he and my father could philosophize until the early hours of the morning. Before he left he would promise my father that he would call first before arriving on his next visit, but he never did. Instead he just show up unannounced as he always had, and then he and my father would pick up the conversation exactly where they had left off previously.
Even thou, Willoby would intrude, my mother never got upset with him, she would get upset with father instead. My mom was an attractive woman who liked to dress only in a robe, when she wasn’t expecting company. When she was breast-feeding me, she didn’t wear a bra, so Willoby’s unannounced visits were an intrusion on the young couples intimacy. And they were still Newly Weds after-all.
My father would explain to my mother that Willoby, didn’t know any better, despite being a genius, but my mother knew better. It never became a major problem however, as Willoby showed up less and less frequently each time.
One time my mom mentioned that my dad seemed concerned about Willoby, after a recent visit because he seemed to be getting less and less coherent, until not even my father could understand him. Then he called out of the blue to tell my father that he had gotten an inheritance so he was able to support himself without having to work a regular job.
This was a good thing as Willoby could never keep one for very long. He was not wealthy by any means but with his inheritance he could afford a studio apartment in one of the more run-down areas of the city. Willoby became a writer and wrote frequently under a pseudonym and many of his articles appeared in both well published magazines and highly circulated newspapers.
He told my father that he had just returned to the United States from his travels in the East, and after his return, he said that he was on the Cusp of discovering, “The Meaning of Life?”
Apparently one night when he got his answer he called my father at 3:15 in the morning to tell him. My father answered the phone, which was in their bedroom and it woke my mother who looked at the clock to check the time. She said that the voice on the other end sounded loud and disturbing Incoherent.
My father let Willoby ramble on for a good five minutes, and then asked calmly,
What do you mean?
I don’t understand the context?
Okay, what is it then?
And then Willoby hung up on my father without saying Goodbye.
My mother asked him afterward, “Who was that?”
It was Willoby, my father answered.
Willoby, why was he yelling, he sounded angry?
I don’t know, he kept saying, I found it, I found it.
Found what, she asked?
The answer he said turning to her.
What answer, she asked.
To the Meaning of Life, he said, trying to get back to sleep.
Gus, maybe you better go and check on him, she said.
No, I’ll stop by his apartment tomorrow after work, he replied.
You know where he lives, she asked?
Yea, its on that letter that I told you to throw out, do you still have it.
She did, as my mother never thru out anything of my fathers; even after he told her to do so because he would always ask her for it again, after the fact.
Will you leave it for me, he answered.
Surly, she answered.
She herself had seen the letter and she said, before she put it away, that it looked more like scribble that words. The writing was so bad she couldn’t even read it, and this was from a woman who studied doctors signatures.
That night, over dinner, my father said that he had stopped by Willoby’s apartment to check on him, but there was no answer at the door after he knocked. He kept knocking louder and louder until several strange, and hostile looking neighbors peered out from their doorways. My father became so uncomfortable, he left.
About a Month later my father got a call from a relative of Willoby’s; an Aunt. And she told my father that Willoby had killed himself.
My father was shocked.
What? When, he asked?
About a month ago, she said.
How he asked, choking on the words?
Self-inflicted gunshot wound.
What, No, that’s impossible, Willoby dosen’t even own a gun, he said disbelievingly.
I found the body myself she confirmed.
My father said that he was sorry for her lose, he didn’t know what else to say except that he wished she had called him earlier, so that he could have paid his respects.
She told him that it was a closed casket, with no ceremony followed by a cremation, there was no funeral to speak of.
Closed casket, those were the worst, when the body was so mangled, and disfigured, they wouldn’t even allow the family to see it.
She said the reason that she was calling was because Willoby had left him a chair in his Will, thou my father doubted the his Will would have been an actual legal document.
A chair, he asked?
A rocking chair, she said and that if he wanted it, she would have it delivered right to the house.
My father was still in shock from the news, so he gave her his address.
When did he do it my mother asked.
The night of the phone call, my father said sadly, like he blamed himself.
After he told my mother the news she told him, she was not surprised, she didn’t say anything at the time, but after his call, she had a bad dream that night and couldn’t get back to sleep.
He left us a rocking chair, I think it was for you, since we have a baby, my father reasoned.
My mother just stared at him apprehensively.
About a week later the rocking-chair was delivered.
My mother looked at it as my father positioned it in the corner.
Do you want to try it out he asked encouragingly.
No, I do not, she said.
So my father sat in it instead, he could never get comfortable in it thou, and after a little while he got up. My mother later said that she couldn’t remember my father ever sitting in it again.
She said that when she was alone she would study the chair and it always left her with a strange feeling. She always felt like it had a presence about it, not unlike a person. And after the chairs removal she said that she never had the same feeling about any other object again.
A few days later, my mother said she heard the creaking of the Rocking Chair from the other room. She woke up my father.
“Gus, theirs a noise from the other room, go and check it out.”
My father woke up in a huff, “What noise, he stammered.
“It’s coming from the living room, she said.”
My father got up and opened the bedroom door. He walked into the darkness and stumbled into the living room, still half asleep, then fumbled for the light switch.
Instantly the chair that was rocking had stopped, but the movement of the chair kept going until the momentum dissipated. It was as if someone who was sitting in it, had suddenly gotten up but left it rocking.
My father studied the chair for several moments. Then he checked the rest of the house, and the windows and the doors to make sure everything was locked. He stared at the chair again before turning off the lights and walked back to the bedroom; to my frightened mother holding the covers up to her chin.
What was it, she asked?
I don’t know, I checked the doors and windows, but I didn’t hear anything. But he sounded like he wasn’t sure. My father figured that my mother just wanted to get rid of the chair because of the circumstances of them acquiring it.
But a week later my mom had to work the late shift as a student nurse, and my father worked days. He was alone that night when the creaking of the rocking chair woke him up. He got up to investigate the noise, and he saw the chair rocking itself again, but when he turned on the light, the chair that had been moving so violently suddenly stopped. This time it stopped on a dime. My father said it felt like he had disturbed the chair with his presence, when he inspected the chair he could find no reason for it to move, least of all by itself.
One time before the chairs arrival my mother used to study and she had her papers all over the room, one of them was lying on a heater vent and when the furnace kicked on, the paper flew into the air.
My father left the lights on walked backwards to his bedroom checking to see if the chair would start moving again as he left.
He asked my mother the next morning, Did you ever see the chair move in the house while I was at work.
No, never she asked, Why?
I heard it creaking again last night he said.
You did, she asked?
Yea, It seemed to be moving by itself but when I walked in it stopped.
That’s weird, my mom agreed, but she was distracted about my fathers job, he was having problems with his boss.
I have never seen it move by myself, I only heard the creaking noise that one night when I woke you up, she said.
Almost a month went by; until the next incident, my father had a small lamp that he bought for my mother when she studied in the living room, prior to the chairs arrival. He left it on and they went to bed, after midnight they heard a loud noise, like something had toppled over in the living room. Something had crashed on the floor, and it was loud.
Both my parents got up this time, and they investigated the noise together. When they entered the living room the rocking chair was lying on the floor, it looked like it had been thrown down by force. The light that was still on started to flicker.
That week-end my father had to do some work for a small shop and next to it was a psychic who did readings. My father had always been fascinated with psychics so he walked in and told her that he had the opportunity to take a new job, but it meant a move out-of-state and he wasn’t sure is he should take it because his wife would be away from her immediate family.
The Psychic asked him if he had recently received an inheritance?
He said he had received a rocking-chair from a friend that had committed suicide. He was amazed that she would know this, because he didn’t mention the chair first.
She said that anything received from the dead who died violently rarely made good gifts, and she said that if he decided to take the other job, to leave the chair behind it, otherwise his journey would be met with tragedy.
He asked her to elaborate, but she refused. And then told him abruptly that she didn’t want to answer more of his questions because she was closing. He tried to offer her money, although she hadn’t really told him anything, but she refused to accept it, and he stared at her for a moment on the other side of the door, until he saw her flip the plastic sign over from open to close, and heard her lock the door.
That night my father got rid of the chair and bought by mother another one instead the following week. He thought a rocking chair seemed like a good idea, after they actually had one in the house. This one she used until they moved it into the same corner that the old one was in. Everything was fine at first, until one night that chair started rocking by itself too.
My father did take the job, and they took all the furnishings that belonged to them. They took the drapes, but left the blinds open so when they left the apartment, they could wash the windows with the best light.
They took all the furniture with him, everything except for the rocking chair, they left that behind in the same corner the first one had stood. My father looked at it one last time, as my mother waited for him in the car. It was a very lonely and depressing scene.
Goodbye Motherfucker, he said to the chair as it stood by itself in the empty room, and then he locked the door from the inside and shut it tightly. As he was out of the driveway my mother noticed that he had left the blind open in the living room and the chair was visible for the outside.
She asked him if he should go back in and shut it as it was getting dark and people had a tendency to break in to empty houses.
My father refused, he did not want to see that chair again. He did not want to enter the house again. Then he turned around to back the car into the street, to leave the house forever.
Then he said he heard my mother scream, and turned around to see her pointing. She grabbed his arm, as he looked to see the chair facing them, and it was rocking. It looked like it was glaring at them from the window.
My father floored the accelerator and neither one said a word to each other until they were well outside the city limits; they couldn’t before as they were still in shock.
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