The Last Handful of Clover

Chapter 3.31: The Possession Chair

Book Three — The Stone in the Stream

NOTE: This chapter is available in audiobook format on the TLHOC Podcast.
Access previous chapters of the book on the Table of Contents page.

June 16, 1:32 pm

This plan sucks, Howard thought.

Less than three hours ago, he had told Richard that nobody would ever possess him again. Not Justin, not him, not any of the thousands of ghosts that walked around Salt Lake as if it was some set for a horror movie. He had said it, and he had meant it. At the time, at least.

But something had changed in Howard in the past few hours. Perhaps it was seeing the serenity and touching pathos of Richard turning Pil into a medium. Perhaps it was finally learning to trust Richard himself—despite his own misgivings, and the fury with which Pil had ripped into Richard, before eventually agreeing to go along with his plan. Or perhaps it was finally accepting that without making some kind of contact with Justin, their plan to go to Dugway and kill George Drouillard was too big of a gamble.

But whatever it was, when Richard looked at him and told him they had work to do, he knew instantly what he meant. And he also knew that he would agree, despite whatever personal cost would be involved.

Too many people have already died. If we can stop this, don’t we have a responsibility to at least try? And isn’t that responsibility mine, more than anyone’s?

Still, this plan sucked. And when Richard had explained to him exactly what he wanted to do, Howard had at first just shaken his head, and said, “You have to be fucking kidding.”

But Richard wasn’t. And here Howard was—preparing to willingly let Richard do to him exactly what he had promised he would never let anyone do, ever again.

Richard’s instructions to him were not much different from what he had given to Pil. He assured him that this wouldn’t be like what he experienced with Justin; that possession in the way that Tuilla had taught him was very different from possession as taught by Drouillard.

“Don’t try to convince me, Richard,” he finally snapped at the man. “I told you’d I’d do it. At this point, I just want to get it over with. If we keep talking about it, one of us is going to lose our nerve.”

Richard simply nodded and placed a hand on his shoulder. Without any more conversation, Howard allowed Richard to lead him back to the dining room table, and he sank into the same chair where Pil had been.

The possession chair, Howard thought, and smirked.

Richard sat across from him, knee to knee, and the two shared a glance that helped Howard steady his nerves.

And then he closed his eyes and waited…

As Richard’s spirit overtook him, it was with words of kindness, with gentle persuasion, and with assurances that he would be safe, cared for, and protected. The man’s voice sounded very paternal, and Howard was surprised by how quickly, and how completely, he relinquished control of his mind and body to Richard’s will.

It wasn’t easy. But Howard was relieved that he allowed it to happen. Part of him thought he would react violently, that memories of Justin’s violation would flood through him, and he’d force Richard out with the same fury he had felt then. He even feared, in the worst-case scenario, that he would react violently and reset Richard the same way he had reset Justin. Twice.

Not that Richard would have had far to travel after being reset, of course, but it would have taken time for him to recover sufficiently to try again. And time was the one thing they really didn’t have. Not with the city dying quickly around them.

But he didn’t lose control, and he didn’t even react with fear or anxiety.

Richard was right. What he experienced in those moments was as different from what he had suffered under Justin as silk differed from sandpaper. The sensation as Richard entered him wasn’t exactly pleasant, but part of him actually felt safer with Richard in control of his body than he was with himself behind the wheel. He wondered if this was what it would feel like to be a submissive to a dominatrix—the sensation of willingly giving up control, paradoxically giving strange comfort and strength. That may have been close to what he was experiencing, but it wasn’t exactly right.

For the first time, Howard felt possession not as a violation, but as just warmth and comfort. In fact, Richard really was a fatherly presence—one like he had never known in his life. His own father had always been cold and distant, and Howard didn’t realize how much he longed for that masculine comfort and nurturing until the moment that he gave himself over to Richard Pratt. And instead of being afraid, he found he was calmer and more at peace than he had been since all this started. It was an intoxicating, sensual, and seductive feeling, and he allowed himself to sink into it, his awareness of the outside world dimming as if it was all being played out on a distant movie screen.

The drive-in theater of my life, he thought, pleasantly.

Only vaguely was he aware that they had left the house, and that his body was now standing in the street. He felt sleepy, as if he was nestled in a warm bed, and that feeling of calmness seduced and relaxed him. He knew that if he let himself, he could sink into it until it claimed him completely.

As if from far away, he heard his own voice. He was calling Justin’s name. It wasn’t him calling, of course. It was Richard. And the dreamlike quality of hearing his own voice being used by another was so surreal that he wondered if his voice had never really been his at all.

This is as different from Justin’s possession, as making love differs from rape, Howard thought, as the ecstasy caressed his mind. The kindness and compassion Richard radiated felt like a salve to every sore muscle and wounded part of what made up who he was. He felt himself slipping deeper and deeper into the comfort Richard symbolized. And before he allowed himself to sleep, his thoughts drifted…

Richard was so worried that, if he were to possess Keith, he would never leave him. But that wasn’t the danger. The danger would be to Keith, who would gladly let himself sink so deeply into Richard, to be covered by him so thoroughly that he would never have found his way to the surface again.

And what about him? Would he find his way to the surface again? Did he even want to? He didn’t love Richard the way that Keith did, of course, but this feeling… It could seduce anyone… He allowed the thought of it to carry him away, into the warmth and the darkness.

The last thing Howard felt, before allowing himself to sleep, was Richard with his arms spread wide. Again, he heard a single name, spoken by his own voice.

“Justin,” he heard himself say, and he knew the boy was there.

And then he slumbered.

But this isn’t the plan, he thought. Richard needs me. I can’t…

He knew Justin was there, and that Richard was calling… But none of it felt like anything to concern himself about, as he slipped away.

The Last Handful of Clover is a supernatural thriller by Wess Mongo Jolley. Thanks for reading! If you are enjoying this story, please consider supporting the author on Patreon.

For more information (including maps of the story’s world and a contact form) visit the author’s website.

To read previous chapters of this book, go to the Table of Contents page.

If you’re interested in listening to the book, rather than reading it, the audiobook is available at the Patreon link above, and also as a podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Anchor, and all other podcast platforms. Visit the podcast page for more details.

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Copyright 2021, Wess Mongo Jolley. All rights reserved.

Wess Mongo Jolley

Wess Mongo Jolley is Utah native, who is now an expatriate American novelist, editor, poet and poetry promoter, living in Montreal. He is Founder and Director of the Performance Poetry Preservation Project, and is most well known for hosting the IndieFeed Performance Poetry Channel podcast for more than ten years. His poems and short stories have appeared or journals such as Off The Coast, PANK, The New Verse News, and Danse Macabre, Apparition Literary Journal, Grain, and in collections such as the Write Bloody Press book The Good Things About America. He loves hearing from readers, and can be contacted through his website, at https://wessmongojolley.com. If you are enjoying this story, please drop him a line, and consider supporting his work as a novelist at http://patreon.com/wessmongojolley. All of the trilogy's over 207 chapters are available there for subscribers, and new poems, short stories, and other content is posted there every Friday.

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