What is a Mother? A Hellboy Tale

Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense
Adjunct Headquarters
Boston, Massachusetts

May 14, 1961—Mother’s Day

Martha Wilson, the head nurse of the Bureau Medical Facility in Boston, couldn’t help feeling a little lonely on this particular Sunday in May. Many of the nurses who worked under her had gone that day to be with their families—to spend time with their mothers or to be with their husbands and children.

Martha, herself, had never married and never had any children of her own. Yet, for the last decade, she had become close enough to the Bureau Director’s adopted son to more than make up for this lack of children to care for and to care for her.

‘H.B.’, as she had always called him, had been just short of his seventh birthday when Martha came to work for the Bureau and was now sixteen years old. However, the entire Bureau Headquarters had shifted to Newark, New Jersey toward the beginning of 1961. This was the first Mother’s Day in almost ten years when Martha Wilson found that she was alone again.

Robert Patterson, director of the Medical Facility and its Chief Surgeon, flouted a long-standing federal non-fraternization rule and had taken Martha out for a special lunch on this particular Sunday in 1961. He was dressed in his best dark three-piece suit and she in her favorite black lace dress, with her long dark hair pulled up into a loose chignon.

Yet, even this rare chance to spend time together didn’t make her feel much better. She still missed Hellboy and wondered if he missed her as much as she missed him. Somehow, she doubted this; assuming he had little time to think of her, now that he was working as a fully independent agent.

The day was a fine one, warm and sunny. Robert, noting that Martha seemed a little distracted, decided after lunch to drive to a secluded park not far from the Boston Commons. Holding hands in a way they seldom dared, they strolled for a long time among the tree-lined, meandering pathways.

At length, they came to an out-of-the-way bench and sat for a long while in a companionable silence. Robert was first to break that silence. “I know how much you miss H.B., Martha. Believe me, so do I; but I hope I managed to cheer you up today, just a little.”

“More than just a little, Bob,” Martha leaned her head on his shoulder; wishing, as she felt his arm come around her waist and draw her closer, that their respective positions did not prohibit them from being more open about their feelings for one another.

After another long silence, Robert tilted Martha’s head up and availed himself of the chance to snatch one of those kisses they sometimes managed to sneak in during their infrequent moments of privacy. Just as Robert was pulling Martha closer for another kiss, a muffled beeping sound came from the inside breast pocket of his jacket.

“Damn new-fangled things,” Robert muttered, as he withdrew the boxy black device from his pocket and switched it off. They made their reluctant way back to Robert’s car, where he placed a call to the Boston Bureau headquarters on the radiotelephone that was installed there.

“Well, Martha,” Robert said, as he hung up, “It seems that we need to get back.”

After they climbed into the front seat, Robert didn’t start the engine right away; instead, he again pulled Martha close and kissed her soundly, hands thoroughly caressing her in a way he seldom had a chance to do. “There’s no emergency,” he whispered, “I don’t think we need to hurry all that much.”

When they finally arrived within a few blocks of the secret location of the Boston Bureau facility, Robert pulled the car over and, after bestowing one more kiss, allowed Martha to straighten up her dress and re-pin her now mussed hair. Martha knew Robert well enough to realize that he was hiding something from her and wondered what it was; from his manner, she knew that it was not bad news.

As they entered past the second security desk, Martha was rendered speechless by beholding the hugest bouquet of flowers any woman had ever received on Mother’s Day. Yet, it wasn’t the flowers that made her eyes finally fill with the tears she had been holding back all day, but the seven-foot-tall sixteen-year-old boy who was holding them.

Somehow, Hellboy managed, huge bouquet and all, to pull Martha into a tight hug.

“I thought you sounded just a little down the last time we spoke together on the phone, Marty,” Hellboy said, as he, Trevor Broom, Martha, and Robert all sat down later for supper, “So, I talked Pop into bringing me to visit you today.”

“You don’t know how glad I am that you did, H.B.,” Martha, who was sitting close to him, stretched up and kissed his cheek. “I’ve been missing so much having you around.”

“Yeah, I missed you, too,” Hellboy nodded, “You know, Marty, the other day one of the guys in Newark said something ‘bout Mother’s Day and then said it was too bad that I didn’t really have a mother to spend it with. Well, I really told that guy off. If by a ‘mother’ he means someone who cares for a guy day in and day out, takes care of him when he’s not feeling so great, sits with him when he needs someone to talk to, well, I’ve been a really lucky guy. ‘Cause between you and Pop, I’ve got two people like that.”

Hellboy pulled Martha into another tight hug, “And I couldn’t think of a better way to spend this day than with the two greatest ‘mothers’ a guy could ever have.”

Over later decades, Hellboy seldom had the chance to visit Boston on Mother’s Day; but, until the end of Martha’s life, he never failed to send her the hugest bouquet of flowers he could afford to buy.

Author’s afterword: Nurse Martha Wilson and Doctor Robert Patterson are original characters of mine first developed for my fic A Tale of Demon Rights. Martha was also a central character in my Hellboy Thanksgiving story Flowers for Mother. Martha and Robert also turn up in Hellboy’s Family, where Martha’s post-retirement engagement to Robert Patterson is detailed.

The first Hellboy story I wrote was entitled Father’s Day Gifts and I’ve always wanted to write a story for Mother’s Day. I hope this story works and that everyone here has had a happy and healthy Mother’s Day. Thanks for reading my little contribution, all feedback welcome.

Beth Palladino

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