In an old house in the Ozarks there lived an old woman and her dead son. Every night the old woman would make dinner and the two would dine. And every night the old woman asked her dead son, â€śHow was your day?â€ť
And her dead son would tell her whatever she wanted to hear. â€śGood. I watched the birds outside my window.â€ť
And the old woman would smile and remark, â€śYou always loved birds.â€ť And the two were happy. Mostly. For at the very back of the old womanâ€™s old mind there was always this crafty little doubt. Like a demon it would whisper to her, youâ€™re crazy.
Or worseâ€”your son is dead.
And at the worst of times it would say even darker things. Things no old woman should hear.
Until one night as they sat eating, the old woman no longer wanted to hear that her son had a good day. For the little doubt told her that real sons have bad days sometimes. That living sons need friends. And so this night her dead son said, â€śI am bored here. I want a wife.â€ť
To which the old woman replied, â€śNo. Absolutely not.â€ť And she hurried into the kitchen, angry.
From the dining room her dead son called to her, â€śWeâ€™ll live here with you.â€ť
â€śYouâ€™ll leave me again.â€ť
â€śNo, I wonâ€™t. Momâ€¦ please. Donâ€™t you want grandkids?â€ť
The old woman did want grandkids. Even though her dead son lived with her, she still sometimes felt alone. â€śYou still love me, Simon?â€ť the old woman asked.
â€śYes,â€ť her dead son laughed. â€śOf course.â€ť
The old woman walked back into the dining room and kissed her dead son. â€śIâ€™ll go into town tomorrow. See what I can do.â€ť
The next day the old woman sat on the side of a busy highway. She had a flat tire and looked very sad and helpless. Soon a truck pulled up and the driver asked the old woman, â€śCan I help you?â€ť But the driver was a man and that would not do.
â€śNo,â€ť said the old woman. And off he drove.
Soon after a car pulled up and the driver asked the old woman, â€śCan I help you?â€ť The driver was a woman. But she had dark skin and tattoos and that would not do.
â€śNo,â€ť said the old woman. And off she drove.
Finally, a van pulled up and the driver asked the old woman, â€śCan we help you?â€ť And although the driver was a man there were five youngsters in the backâ€”two males, three attractive females. Simon can have his pick, thought the old woman.
â€śYes,â€ť she said.
As the youngsters changed the old womanâ€™s tires, the driver introduced himself as Tommy. Proudly he told the old woman, â€śIâ€™m the youth pastor at Red Oaks Christian Church. This is our youth groupâ€”Kirsten, Monica, Andrea, Chris and Aaron. Theyâ€™re great kids.â€ť
â€śSure are,â€ť agreed the old woman. Kirstenâ€™s the prettiest. â€śThank you so much.â€ť
â€śHappy to help,â€ť said Tommy.
â€śCome back to my place. Let me make yâ€™all dinner.â€ť
â€śYou donâ€™t need to do that.â€ť
â€śNo, please. Iâ€™d love to.â€ť
â€śActually, we probably ought to keep going. Weâ€™re doing what we call a Destination Unknown trip. We draw a distance and a direction out of a hat, go there and see how the Lord can use us in that community.â€ť
Well, ainâ€™t that something, thought the old woman. She had not made it to church in a long time, but she knew about God and heaven and how when you die you go there to sing praise songs unto God forever and ever.
â€śJust trying to share His loveâ€ť said Tommy.
â€śBless your heart. I donâ€™t suppose– ? Noâ€¦â€ť
â€śMy yardâ€™s a mess. My son just doesnâ€™t help out around the house anymore.â€ť
â€śYeah, we can help you with your yard work.â€ť
This made the old woman smile.
Soon the youngsters and Tommy were hard at work in the old womanâ€™s yard, mowing and weeding, weeding and mowing. The old woman busied herself making poisoned lemonade. Her dead son sat in his room, watching the volunteers through his window. Iâ€™m sure heâ€™ll choose Kirsten, thought the old woman. He certainly should.
â€śEveryone,â€ť she called, carrying a tray of cups and lemonade outside. The youngsters hurried over to get a drink. Except for Tommy, who continued to pull weeds. â€śYou too, Tommy.â€ť
â€śCanâ€™t. Iâ€™m actually diabetic.â€ť
The old woman frowned. This wasnâ€™t good. This wasnâ€™t good at all. She would have to act quickly. She hurried back inside to get a knife. But Tommy would be stronger than her. â€śSimon,â€ť the old woman called. But her dead son did not emerge from his room.
The old woman hurried back outside. Several of the youngsters had already collapsed to the ground. Kirsten was coughing. Luckily, Tommy had his back turned, still weeding. The old woman walked as quickly as she could over to him. Kirsten tried to call out to warn him, but she couldnâ€™t stop coughing. She grabbed the lemonade tray and slammed it against the old womanâ€™s old house. It made a loud clang. Tommy turned.
He looked at the old woman, standing before him with the knife.
Fear filled Tommyâ€™s face. The old woman swung at him. The knife hit Tommyâ€™s shoulder, cutting deep. He got to his feet, running away from the old woman, running toward his youth group.
â€śSimon!â€ť the old woman yelled.
Tommy looked at his kids, all collapsed on the ground, and hurried into the house.
Tommy pulled out his cell phone. It had no signal. He ran to the other end of the house then stopped, seeing the old womanâ€™s dead son standing at his bedroom window. â€śPlease, you have to help us,â€ť Tommy pleaded with the dead son.
He was losing blood. The old woman had hit an artery. Tommy stumbled toward the dead son. â€śPlease, Simon.â€ť He touched the dead sonâ€™s arm. No reaction. He touched the dead sonâ€™s head. Still nothing. He turned the dead son around to face him. The dead son was expressionless. His unblinking eyes stared at Tommy. And then Tommy collapsed, all out of blood.
The old woman walked in. â€śThank you, Simon,â€ť she said.
One by one, the five youngsters awoke. They were lying in a row in the basement, their hands and feet tied behind their backs. The old woman and her dead son stood looking at them. â€śWhich one do you want?â€ť she asked.
â€śThat one,â€ť her dead son replied, pointing at Kirsten.
â€śI knew it. Sheâ€™s the prettiest.â€ť
The other youngsters turned to look at Kirsten, who began to weep. â€śDonâ€™t worry, dear,â€ť said the old woman. â€śYouâ€™ll love Simon.â€ť
But Kirsten did not stop weeping until the old woman sliced open her throat.
Soon Kirsten lay naked on the old womanâ€™s work bench. Now, the other youngsters were weeping. They wept as the old woman removed Kirstenâ€™s guts. They wept as the old woman attached fake clay muscle to Kirstenâ€™s bones. They wept as the old woman reconnected Kirstenâ€™s bones with metal wires. They wept as the old woman reattached Kirstenâ€™s flesh. And they wept as the old woman gave Kirsten new, shiny glass eyes.
â€śWe will be very happy together,â€ť the dead son told the old woman.
This made the old woman smile.
Every night the old woman would enter the basement to bring the four youngsters a plate of noodles and a dish of water. Then she would make dinner and dine with her dead son and his dead wife. And every night the old woman asked them, â€śHow was your day?â€ť
And they would tell her whatever she wanted to hear. â€śGood. You can expect grandkids soon.â€ť
And the three were happy. Mostly. For at the very back of the old womanâ€™s old mind there was always this crafty little doubt. Like a demon it would whisper to her, heâ€™ll leave you.
It would whipserâ€”real couples donâ€™t want to live with their mother-in-law. Living couples need space.
And now, more frequently than before, it whispered even darker things.
This has happened before.
Until one night, the old womanâ€™s dead son said, â€śMom. We need to talk.â€ť And the old woman was very afraid.
This has happened before.
â€śKirsten and I feel our children would be happier in a more urban setting. Where thereâ€™d be other kids around.â€ť
Heâ€™ll leave you. Heâ€™ll leave you again.
â€śWhat are you saying?â€ť asked the old woman, trying to stay calm.
Heâ€™s got a new bitch and he doesnâ€™t love you and heâ€™ll leave you again.
â€śWeâ€™re moving out,â€ť said her dead son.
And youâ€™ll be alone.
â€śNo,â€ť said the old woman. â€śYou said youâ€™d live here with me.â€ť
This has happened before. You are alone.
â€śYou can come visit us whenever you want,â€ť said the dead son.
Lies. He lies.
â€śYou lied to me!â€ť yelled the old woman.
You know what you have to do.
The old woman hurried into the kitchen and grabbed her knife.
Youâ€™ve done this before.
â€śMom,â€ť said the dead son, scared.
You killed him.
â€śWhat are you doing?â€ť asked Kirsten, scared.
You killed your own son.
â€śYou canâ€™t leave me!â€ť yelled the old woman. She plunged her knife into her dead son. But he did not react. It was as if he wasâ€”
Your son is dead.
She stabbed him again. His body fell over stiffly.
Your son is dead and you killed him.
The old woman stabbed her dead daughter-in-law and her body fell over too. She then got on the floor, stabbing her dead son again and againâ€”
Your son is dead and you killed him and now youâ€™re alone.
The old woman stumbled into the basement, weeping, carrying her knife. She grabbed onto one of the youngsters and wept on his shoulder. The youngsters were confused. They could not understand.
â€śIâ€™m alone,â€ť said the old woman. â€śIâ€™m alone.â€ť
â€śIf you let us go, weâ€™ll keep you company,â€ť replied one of the youngsters.
The old woman stopped weeping for a moment. And she thought to herself, theyâ€™ll be my grandkids. And this made her happy. But the crafty little doubt whisperedâ€”
Theyâ€™ll leave you. Just like Simon did.
â€śWould you leave me?â€ť asked the old woman.
â€śNo,â€ť agreed the youngsters.
Lies. They lie.
â€śYes you will,â€ť said the old woman. She put her knife to the first youngsterâ€™s throat and fear filled his face.
â€śDonâ€™t,â€ť pleaded the youngster.
The old woman hesitated. The youngster shut his eyes. Trying to calm himself, he began to sing a praise song unto God, â€śWhat can wash away my sin?â€ť
And slowly the other youngsters joined in– â€śNothing but the blood of Jesus.â€ť
The old woman sliced the first youngsterâ€™s throat. But the others kept singing.
â€śWhat can make me whole again?â€ť
The old woman sliced the second youngsterâ€™s throat. But the others kept singing.
â€śNothing but the blood of Jesus.â€ť
The old woman sliced the third youngsterâ€™s throat. But the others kept singing.
â€śOh precious is the flowâ€¦â€ť
The old woman sliced the last youngsterâ€™s throat.
In an old house in the Ozarks there lives an old woman and her dead grandchildren. Every night after dinner, they sing praise songs unto God.
â€śNow by this Iâ€™ll overcome. Nothing but the blood of Jesus.â€ť
Forever and ever.
â€śNow by this Iâ€™ll reach my home. Nothing but the blood of Jesus.â€ť
And the old woman is very happy.