I had the strange idea to write one-hundred flash fictions based on the deaths of various flawed characters. I got no further than chapter four, but I might return to this project some day.
Wesley Willis died during the middle of a Tuesday, a massive heart attack being his cause of death. Poor Wesley was only thirty-three, yet he'd lived a strange, unhealthy life of booze, altercations, and unsafe sexual activity. His mother, who found him, will take a certain secret to her grave, the aforementioned secret being that Wesley was stark naked in front of a computer screen at his time of death, his right hand clasped firmly around his flaccid penis, a pornographic video looping on his computer, his eyes fixated on that eternal image, his tongue lolling out of the corner of his mouth like something poisoned and discovered on the side of the road. Mrs. Willis watched that video many times in an effort to comprehend her son. The pornography was pretty banal by Wesley's standards, and although we cannot exactly call him lucky, we can be thankful that he was not watching Japanese scat-porn or anything involving bestiality, two genres that Wesley did indulge in from time to time. The video featured a disarmingly pretty (disarming in that wholesomely-pretty girl-next-door way) brunette being anally fisted by an emaciated young man clad in a pair of red-checkered boxer shorts. The brunette has a bob haircut; her face is oval, her lips crimson and opened. They do not shut but for a few seconds during the course of the video. Her moans and wordless exclamations of pleasure are genuine; this sex is intimate, it is not manufactured, it is true and authentic. Even Mrs. Willis cannot deny this fact, though she wishes she could, for these people do not look like porn stars, and somehow that makes her son's voyeuristic interest in them more disturbing.
The video was only one of many discoveries that Mrs. Willis made regarding Wesley's life. In his closet behind a broken piece of plasterboard, she found a large black safe, which she took to a specialist and had opened. Inside were fifty disks containing footage of sexual encounters between her son and other people. Most of Wesley's companions were women; they ranged in age from uncomfortably (and possibly illegally) young to disturbingly ancient (a septuagenarian grandmother being the oldest), and consist of varying ethnicities and nationalities. Some of the encounters seemed to be nonconsensual. These women were not aware of being filmed, that is clear as well. Some are beauties, though most are simply average-looking people, the kind of people you pass at the grocery store without giving them a second look.
"What do I do with all this?" Mrs. Willis asked her husband after showing him the disks.
"Burn them," responded Mr. Willis.
But she could not. Every film was viewed. His house was examined further and a journal detailing Wesley's extensive sex life was found. The things she read convinced her that her son was something worse than a deviant. She doesn't know what to call him or how to remember him. She looks to herself and her husband, searching for the cause of the sickness that rooted itself deep within Wesley's fragile heart.
"He was just a man," says Mr. Willis.
Mrs. Willis cannot accept this. She thinks of her baby, her little boy crawling on the floor, pushing his toy trains and dinosaurs around. She thinks of driving him to basketball practice as a teen and of staying up late, waiting for him to arrive home from a party. She thinks of college, of his success in the business world. He never brought a girl home, she realizes. This bothers her, weighs heavy in her stomach like a ball of acid. Maybe he hated me, she thinks.
She looks at Mr. Willis, sees him as bald, heavy jowled, grizzled, implacable, stern. He is distant, far from her, and he was that way with Wesley. Maybe it was your fault, she thinks before going back to the diary, the disks, and that last video.
"He was just a man," says Mr. Willis.
"He was my baby once," she responds. There is nothing left to talk about.