Written by: Drake Morgan
John Paul Allen’s short story (free on Amazon) “Houseguest” is a strange and macabre love story of sorts. Our houseguest is Chastity Bream’s boyfriend, only Chastity isn’t herself anymore. Terribly injured in a car crash, Chastity lives on life support, round-the-clock nursing care, and is no longer aware of her surroundings. This “boyfriend” lives in the girl’s closet and roams her house without fear or hesitation at getting caught.
The story centers on this mysterious “boyfriend” and is a first-person narrative. The boyfriend sneaks around the house, revealing family secrets, hidden motivations, and dark emotions. Much of the narrative revolves around Chastity’s parents, Angie and Herb, and their relationship. An extremely cold and loveless marriage, it serves as a contrast to the seemingly “love” our mysterious boyfriend has for the young, injured girl. Chastity’s father is portrayed as so cold that he cannot even bear to spend time with his brain-dead daughter and prefers endless hours of work to family life. But as the story unfolds, we see a much more evil side to our boyfriend in the closet. What is this thing? What does he want? There are a number of suggestions woven into the subtext of the story, giving it a multi-layered texture. Even the sexual element of the story is complex and leaves more questions than answers.
This is a story of family dynamic gone horribly wrong. But the question remains as to why. Was the boyfriend the catalyst? Who or what was he before the story began? Who was Chastity before the accident? This is a fascinating premise and would make an excellent beginning to an intriguing novel. As a short story, it serves as great place for thought and discussion on the horrors of family and lovers.