The Faith Healer - Horror Short Story

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Walter suffered from all manner of afflictions. The middle of the night found him wheezing in his living room as he sat on the recliner, illuminated only by the fish tank. Sleep, as always, was out of the question. He was startled by the knock on the door, even though he had been shaking with anticipation.

"Come in," he said. He had to say it again before his grandson entered the house.

"Did anyone see you?" Walter asked. Phlegm gurgled in his throat as he spoke.

"Nah, it was easy." As a luxury assisted-living townhouse complex, Oakview Terraces required visitors to check in at the gatehouse but, as Walter suspected, security was more for show when it came to truly determined intruders. It was imperative that no one knew Brandon was here.

He motioned for Brandon to have a seat on the couch nearby.

"So. . ." said the young man, brushing a long brown forelock away from his face, "how was your day?" Removed from the glare of the porch light, his eyes strained in the darkness to look at his host.

"Do you have it?" said Walter.

Brandon took the backpack from around his shoulders and dropped it to the floor. He drew out a small Ziploc bag filled with weed.

"It ain't called the God Bud for nothing. Enough for a month at least. Even brought you some rolling papers."

Walter smiled. He held out his hand, but Brandon kept the bag in the air for a moment.

"You want your money." Walter reached into his shirt pocket and handed Brandon a hundred dollar bill. There was a slight flinch as he felt the icy cold of his grandfather's hand. Brandon wavered, then focused on the money.

"That's way too much, gramps." Walter wondered if the epithet was affectionate or his way of referring to all old people. This was only the third time he'd seen Brandon his entire life.

"Take it." There was no argument.

Brandon shifted in his seat. "Can we get more light in here?"

Walter opened the bag to sniff.

"Here," said Brandon, "let me roll you one."


"You want to sleep, right?"

Walter knew it was not a question of what he wanted. He watched Brandon's handiwork. "No, no, start from the middle. Now it's too loose. It'll burn too fast."

"I think I know how to do this." Brandon sparked it up with his lighter and took a drag, passing it to Walter's frail grip. He scanned the tastefully inoffensive décor of the room. Some painting of an English pastoral scene and an emergency call button were the only things on the flat beige wall.

"Well. . ." he said, putting the straps of his backpack on again.

"Stay for a drink." Walter creaked out of the recliner, going circuitously by the fish tank to the kitchen. He came back with two glasses of Glenfiddich.

"Aw, no, gramps, you don't have to. I mean, at least let me give you some change first."

"What? Because I'm pouring you a drink? We're family, aren't we?"

As Walter sat down, they briefly raised their glasses. Brandon choked back the first sip. He slid the tumbler onto a side table and turned to roll a joint from his own stash.

They both looked into their glasses as a cloud of blue haze drifted around their heads.

"How's this place treating you?" Brandon finally said.

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