He had kept their mother alive in their thoughts. Too alive, perhaps.
Ron had always been a mother’s boy. As her first child, Lily always had a soft spot for her “little soldier”. Of course she loved her other children, two more sons and a daughter, but everyone assumed that she was that more affectionate with Ron because not only was it a complicated pregnancy but he was a sickly child. As the years passed, with the need for families of their own, the others had flown the nest with little more than a glance back but Ron was always there. He did meet a good woman, but she gave up on being second choice and left him. Ron seemed remarkably calm about the whole thing, signing the divorce agreement maybe a little-known too enthusiastically but it was doomed from the start.
Lilys husband had died a few years after Debbie was born, the black ice on the motorway flipping his lorry over several times. So Ron set himself up as the man of the house. To be fair, as strange as it was for a middle-aged man to still be living at home, his mother wanted for nothing. So everyone was happy really, up until Lilys heart attack.
It had been sudden and without warning. Old age had set in but Lily was quite healthy for her age. The children immediately came together but Ron seemed, naturally, inconsolable. The others thought it best to take Ron straight home from the crematorium and stay for a while. Cups of tea and sandwiches were made and, after about an hour, Ron’s sobbing began to ebb away. An almost benign smile came across his face and his eyes lit up when his siblings got comfortable so he could talk.
“I don’t know where to start”, he mumbled before clearing his throat. He paused. “It’s been a very sad time, but everything will be ok”. This drew confused looks. Was he handling this? “You see, it struck me one night that I could fix everything and….”, here he paused again but his eyes almost blazed now. “Once I’d realized they were almost alike it seemed so obvious”.
The temperature seemed to have frozen instantly as they tried to comprehend if he was saying what they thought he meant. With Ron’s soft giggling becoming increasingly louder and more grim, Terry ran upstairs.
“I never liked her”,.he enthused, sitting forward in his chair. “And when she upset Mother, there was no choice!”. He had become manic now. “So, I killed her! I killed that dirty woman for her!!! But…..oh God why???…..Mother walked in. She saw it all and the shock killed her!!” So while the coffin was here I switched bodies. Now all the evidence is gone!”.
Ron was now doubled over with hysteria, shrieking and howling crazily. James kneeled down next to him.
“Where is she Ron?”, he whispered.
Ron stopped laughing to point, wide eyed, at the ceiling, to the bedroom where Terry now let out a scream, and burst into tears of joy.