James knew there was something up with his father. Rory was increasingly more eccentric in his behavior. Delighting, in fact, at how he treated his co-workers, as he would laugh about how he’d made Kai the Laboratory “maid”, and caused the others to change, at his will, into non-work attire, or to sit or to eat whenever suited him at the moment. He and his bevy of Ray Guns. Casting judgments upon them for their notion of “formal wear” if it didn’t match his own ideals. The son just shook his head. And some called James a snob. Now, he, at least, knew where he got that trait.
Certainly, Rory had achieved the level of Mad Scientist. Truly astonishing, he wasn’t the father James had known growing up. Something had twisted in his old brain. Simnility? Now, that was a worry.
Rory spent nearly his whole weekend off going from one neighborhood to the next, collecting Chrysanthemums, and a various other flora. Looking for metals, crystals and collectibles, almost with a vengeance — or as if he knew his time remaining was short. This was after the whole family, as it existed, went out to breakfast at Millie’s just down the road. Even Jaron and Johnny were there, as well as Aubrey. They had a great time together, laughing, talking and just enjoying themselves. Again, it left James wondering if Rory knew something the rest did not.
Come Monday morning, Rory was up, had breakfasted, and even made himself that Pre-Work cup of coffee. James noted, as he cooked up breakfast for the rest of the family, that Rory’s cup was to-go. “Well, I’m out of here,” Rory said, paper cup in hand. “Let’s see what madness I’m up to today, eh?”
“Madness, Dad?” James turned around too slowly. He heard the front door close, and Rory was gone.
Regret filled his throat as he answered his cell phone, “Hello?”
“James, this is Kai. I’m down at the lab. I’m afraid I have some bad news for you.”
“B-b-bad news? What’s happened? Is Dad all right?”
“Are you sitting down?”
“You better take a seat.”
“No, just tell me what’s up, and stop playing word games.”
“Suit yourself. Your Dad has been acting quirky, lately. Today, he did something really dumb, too. Something only a first level techie might do. He decided to hit the Red Button.”
“The red — what?”
“Button, not once but three times. He ignored that fact that the first time made him dazed. Same with the second try. Third time, well, I’m sorry, son, but he electrocuted himself. He’s gone.”
With that, James all but fell into a chair. His ears refused to hear the words Kai spoke. This was unbelievable to him and the last words his father uttered as he left for work, now danced through his brain. 'What madness he'd be up to …' How was he to tell the family? Their father and grandfather, and brother had toasted himself to a crisp — quite possibly by his own doing? James couldn’t accept this. His father had a high regard for life. He most certainly had to be mad, totally insane, to have done such a thing.
He wondered, too, just how to go about getting his father’s urn. He knew Rory’s co-workers would likely leave it at the lab. But, he belonged right here, in the family cemetery in the far north corner of their property. With all of the others. Then it dawned on him. Maybe he could entice his wife, Carley, to take a job in the Science career, just long enough to grab the urn and bring it home? Rory needed to be home.