Dent’s Madness (Short Story)

Dent madness
Image copyright (C) 2015 by Tony Held, all rights reserved.


The door opened and chaos ensued; chaos sparked by a line of friends and relatives as they streamed out into the dining room and slammed pies into the face of the bride-to-be.  Roars of laughter swept through the room as each pie found its mark.

Dent stood in the kitchen with a pie in his hand, holding it as if he were a waiter about to deliver it.

Dent’s younger brother Ned and his bride-to-be, Joyce, were getting married after a whirlwind courtship.  Both families of the bride and groom were having their rehearsal dinner, which was to be climaxed by a jolly farce involving pies that was a silly tradition passed down from generation to generation in Dent’s family.

The placement of a pie in his hand had only snapped the fragile threads keeping Dent bound to reality, plunging him into a subconscious stream that began to carry him into his past.

The laughter in the dining room subsided.  “Where is my best man?” his brother Ned cried.  “Where are you, Dent?”

Dent’s eyes glazed over.

“Dent!” his brother began to chant. A smattering of voices joined in.  Dent still did not move.

The door to the kitchen crashed open.  Elthea, Dent’s short, gray haired mom, stormed in. Her eyes were hard as coals as she looked at her eldest son.  “There you are!” she exclaimed.  “What are you still doing here?”

Dent did not respond, stared past his mother’s shoulder at something only he could see: a photo of himself which had been taken when he was fourteen.  He was sitting on the top deck of a boat out on a cruise, staring dully into the camera.

“Dent!” his mother said, striding forward.  “Get out there!”

Dent remained in his trance as the memory of the photo faded, replaced by memories of a chill breeze caressing his cheeks and a burning pain from where he had been punched in the arm.

Laughter wafted into his ears from below decks as pies were slammed into the face of a bride-to-be.

“Dent!” Elthea shouted, now standing inches from him.

A strange glow appeared in Dent’s eyes.  “Mom?   I thought you were below decks.”

Elthea’s brow furrowed.  “What?”

Dent scowled.  “Why the fuck are you in my face? Where’s dad?  Where is that motherfucker?  He punched me, mom.  Want me to roll up my sleeve and show you the bruise?  He took me back to the car and punched me, said I was acting like a ‘pussy’ about being around the family again and that he needed to ‘man me up’.  That’s why we boarded last.”

Elthea looked at him closely, her expression softening.  “Dent?”

Dent scowled at her.  “Get out of my way! Where’s dad? I’ve got something for that prick.”

He shoved Elthea aside and stormed out into the dining room.

“Finally!” a guest shouted from a table near the kitchen entrance as Dent appeared.  “What kind of best man are you?”

Dent locked his eyes on the man.  He was fat with a round face and gray hair and a beard.

‘Dad!” he roared.  “There you are, you bastard!”

The man gave Ned a hard look.  “Hey buddy, settle down.  What were you doing back there, sipping vanil…”

Dent let out a feral roar, stormed forward.

“Stop him!” Elthea shouted as she burst out the door.  Nobody moved, so transfixed were they by the sight.

“This pie is for you, motherfucker!” Dent screamed as he drew closer.  The man’s eyes widened and his mouth fell open. “Listen!” he shouted, but Dent ignored him.  “You think you can beat me, huh?  I’m gonna embarrass you in front of the whole family, you prick!”

Dent hurled the pie right into the fat man’s face.

“Fuck yeah!” Dent howled.  “Now I got this for you.”

He raised his fist.

The man cowered in his seat.

Ned appeared, slapped his brother hard across the face.   “Dent! Snap out of it.  Our father is dead!”  Dent looked at his brother, the mad light in his eyes suddenly replaced by a milky fog.  “What…?”