The Machinery of Faith
by Oscar Deadwood
forum: The Machinery of Faith
speculative fiction for the internet generation.

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The Machinery of Faith


        God hates me.

        Anyone who tells you God is love is full of shit. God is full of wrath and revenge and justice, for sure justice. And I don't claim I don't deserve His hate; I do, I surely do.

        I murdered my Aunt Stella, my lonely and old maid Aunt Stella who was this close to dying two years ago when Fannie and I let her move in with us because she became too old and too feeble and too damn scatterbrained to take care of herself anymore.

        And you may say that sounds nice, that I'm a good nephew, a good family man, taking care of his dying aunt so she doesn't have to go to a home.


        Bullshit, I tell you. I had her move in because I was tired of being a loser and tired of bill collectors hounding me to death and tired of driving piece of crap cars that cost five hundred dollars to buy but thousands to keep on the road. I had her move in because she had a few bucks and she had no one else to give it to and if she went into a nursing home those few bucks would have disappeared and I would have been a loser still when she died.

        So Fannie and I insisted she moved in. We figured she'd only hang on for like six months or so. Her doctors told her she had to watch her diet because she was diabetic and her blood sugar was all screwed up and her heart was weak and she was bordering on emphysema. She was that screwed up and she had just turned eighty when she moved in with us and that kind of scared me because really, I wasn't that far behind at the age of fifty-five except I wasn't even close to thinking about retiring.

        I needed Aunt Stella to die so I could retire.

        Six months passed and Aunt Stella still hung on; she still hung on even when Fannie started sneaking a lot of sugar into her food.

        A year came and went and Aunt Stella was still living with us but she couldn't move so well and Fannie and I had to walk to her the bathroom and I had to practically carry her up the stairs to put her to bed at night and you might say to yourself that I can't be all bad if I did that. Well, I'll tell you, you're wrong. I was carrying her up the stairs one night and let me tell you, even though she was thin and everything about her was turning to yellow, and I do mean everything—her teeth, her skin, her hair, her nails, she was still a bit of a load because she was tall for a woman, especially an old woman.

        So I dropped her from the top of the stairs and she rolled like a rag doll and I thought maybe, just maybe, that that would be it.

        But it wasn't.

        She broke her hip and was in the hospital for a month or so but then she came home and she was bedridden from that point on.

        But that was okay because every old person I ever knew died shortly after breaking their hip. A broken hip is akin to the kiss of death and I thought Fannie and I would be sitting pretty in no time at all.

        But another six months passed and Fannie and I had to keep changing Stella's bed pan, we had to give her sponge baths and let me tell you, a middle aged man isn't meant to see his old aunt naked, no sir. Gravity does hell to an old body.

        We had to bring her food in bed and Fannie used as much sugar as she could but damn it all to hell if Stella didn't start to thrive under our care.

        So then we decided to stop caring for her. We decided to lock her in her room and wait for her to die and no one would know we murdered her, really. We decided to lock her in her room and let her pee all over herself and die, and when she did finally die we would change the sheets on her bed and throw the old ones away before we called the police.

        It seemed a sure fire thing to do, right?


        We locked her in her room, leaving her with her ever present revised King James Bible and these cheap ass headphones I had bought her when she first moved in. I bought them for her because she used to complain about the noise from the television and I have to have it turned up because my years on the loading dock have been hard on my ears.

        Not even sixty and broke and half deaf and a beer gut that damn near covers my balls; like I said, God hates me.

        "I can't pray with that TV blaring all the time," she used to complain, so I dipped into my beer money to buy these headphones that were supposed to shut out the world. I should've gotten the money from Aunt Stella, but I figured I'd let her money sit there and gather interest, you know, and it was a lot of money she had floating out there. Something in the neighborhood of half a million dollars, money she inherited from my grandparents and she never had children of her own to spend it on so the money just sat, and sat and sat save the large donations she made to that big ass church of hers on the highway leading out of town.

        "I got you these, Auntie Stella," I said one day.

        She looked at the headphones kind of funny, as if they were some sort of strange contraption.

        "It's a prayer machine," I lied, for no good reason. "I saw 'em advertised on TV. They're supposed to block out the outside world so you can be that much closer to God."

        She smiled and a tear of joy rolled down her cheek. "Thank you," she said and her smile made the lie seem worthwhile, somehow.

        So, Fannie and I locked her in her room with a latch and padlock that I had silently screwed into place. We locked her in one Friday as she went to bed with the headphones on her ear. She wore them all the time as she was one for praying a lot, especially since she couldn't make it to church anymore; she had begged Fannie and me to take her early on when she moved in, but we always managed to lie our way out of going.

        We got the hell out of the house; I knew it would be ugly when Aunt Stella figured out no one was going to come and get her out of bed or bring her any food to eat. I know what you're thinking, you're thinking a murderer wouldn't give a rat's ass about his victim's discomfort, but let me tell you, I didn't want to hear an old lady scream.

        I just wanted her to die; I needed her to die. My hours had been cut at the freight yard and Fannie had quit her job to take care of Aunt Stella; after all, we thought she was gonna die soon anyway.

        So we got the hell out of the house and we figured we go to some motel up in the northern part of the state for the weekend, some low-class place that we could spend two nights at without going broke.

        We figured two days should do it; she couldn't go without water or food for two days, we figured, or without her medication that we kept in the kitchen. Two days ought to do it and I hoped she would go quickly, for her sake. I didn't hate her; I just wanted her to die.

        So we came back Sunday night after sitting in a dumpy motel room for the weekend drinking beer and smoking cigarettes and watching a TV equipped with only rabbit ears. We came back and our house was really, really quiet and I half expected to see the police waiting for us because I felt guilty, real guilty.

        But there was no one at our house and the house was silent, so very, very silent and we crept up the stairs and quietly opened Stella's door. The moon was shining through the lone and dirty window and its light was shining on her face.

        She was lying so perfectly still with those damn headphones stuck to her head and I thought it was over, I thought it was done, the smell in the room told me it was done, the room smelled like shit and piss and I thought for sure she was gone.

        But I was wrong.

        Fannie I both saw her chest rise and fall in a gentle rhythm. We were disheartened but hopeful. It couldn't be long.

        We locked the door again and shoved a towel underneath the door so the smell wouldn't spread through the rest of the house. We couldn't go out of town again because I had to be at work on Monday and we didn't want to look to suspicious, what with nosy neighbors and all who were probably wondering about us taking off for the weekend to begin with.

        So we went to bed and I went to work on Monday and Stella was still alive.

        A week passed and Stella was still alive, a week passed without food or water or medication and she still was alive though her eyes were never open; it was like she was in some sort of coma or trance.

        Another week passed and we started to notice a change in Aunt Stella, but not the sort of change you would expect. Her yellow skin started to have a healthy glow and her nails were long but they looked firm and not so brittle. And her unwashed hair seemed to shine somehow, like it was healthier, like it was growing and thickening.

        Another week passed without food or water and medication and Stella looked even better and Fannie and I were starting to panic and I knew then and there that God was keeping her alive.

        Like I said, God hates me.

        I figured it had to have something to do with the headphones I gave her. I went into her room after drinking a six-pack and I tried to pry them off of her head but I couldn't; it was like her scalp had started to grow around the headphones and they were all but welded to her skull.

        Aunt Stella was praying herself alive.

        A month passed and it was like someone had poured a bucket of water from the fountain of youth on top of her. She still looked like an old woman, but she sure looked a fair sight better than she did when she first moved in.

        She looked heavier too.

        Another month passed and Fannie and I had given up practically. Fannie was forging Aunt Stella's signature and using her checks to pay our bills. We sprayed the room daily with Lysol to kill the odor in her room because she was still shitting and pissing even though we weren't feeding her anymore and the smell was starting to drift through the house.

        I knew we were screwed, but I started panicking after another month when Stella's stomach started to swell; it started to swell like she was pregnant.

        That's right, pregnant.

        Well, I figured it was all over by that point. I figured something had to give because I sure as hell couldn't have a comatose woman giving birth in a shit and piss infected room that would require the attention of a doctor or something, not to mention TV crews and all of that.

        After all, how many women past eighty do you know that are pregnant?
        So I panicked and I got my old .22 pistol that I had kept loaded underneath my mattress for something like fifteen years. I wasn't even sure if it would still work.

        I didn't tell Fannie what I planned on doing. I didn't even think about doing anything with Stella's body after I was done. I just wanted Aunt Stella dead, I wanted this freak of prayer out of my house and out of my life and I really didn't care about the consequences.

        I went into her room on a Tuesday morning before I was supposed to go to work and Fannie was downstairs in our bedroom still sleeping. I walked forcefully into that god-awful and smelly room and I put the pistol to her temple and I said a quick prayer before I pulled the trigger.

        I asked God to make sure it fired.

        And it did.

        Stella's eyes opened as the bullet entered her brain and it wasn't powerful enough to travel through to the other side. Blood started running out this messy hole on the right side of her forehead and I assumed she would die instantly.

        Again, I was wrong.

        Anyway, she smiled at me, that same sweet and teary-eyed smile she gave me when I bought her those damn headphones in the first place.

        "Bless you, Frank," she said and finally, finally her eyes closed and the room got really, really cold.

        She finally died.

        I knew I screwed up right then and there. I knew I screwed up when I heard Fannie come flying up the stairs. She came in wearing her pink and fuzzy bathrobe that had cigarette burns in the sleeves and she looked at me and all that blood pouring onto the bare wooden floor, blood swirling with all that piss and shit and she screamed, she screamed and suddenly I didn't want Stella's money anymore.

        I felt that guilty and you're probably wondering why I went through all that trouble just to throw in the towel before it was even over. Well, I'll tell you, it was Aunt Stella's last words and I knew I couldn't escape the power of God, especially since He hates me so much.

        I went downstairs and phoned the police and I heard the sirens off in the distance as soon as I hung up the phone.

        They were full of all sorts of questions.

        "Did you rape your aunt? Is that why you killed her?" I was asked by some young kid detective down at the station.

        "No," I said and I told them my pathetic story from the beginning for what seemed like the hundredth time.

        "I'm a murderer," I said, "not a rapist."

        And the medical examiner confirmed that point. I'd been in the city jail for about a week when my court-appointed lawyer came to see me with the prosecutor and that same kid detective.

        "Part of your story washes," the detective told me with a look of shock across his face.

        "Which part?" I asked and I was waiting for the electric chair.

        "Your aunt, the medical examiner said she died a virgin," and I could see him and my attorney and the prosecutor shake, just a little.

        "But she was definitely pregnant…"


copyright 2007 Oscar Deadwood.

Oscar Deadwood lives in Royal Oak, Michigan. His novel The Perfect Revolution was published this spring by Silverthought Press and his second release, The Trinity, will debut this fall.