|Posted on September 21, 2010 at 3:28 PM|
Contains strong language and images. Please remember, I want to make you go 'ewww'.
From inside the closet I watched, biting my tongue to stay quiet and wishing I could close my eyes. I never wanted anything more than I wanted to close my eyes that night. I’d have pulled them out with my fingers if I’d not been too scared to move. I didn’t have to remember my mother’s words to know that I had to be quiet, fear was more than enough to let me know that.
This wasn’t a nightmare, some monster that would go away when I wet the bed and woke myself up, disgusted because I was old enough to have more control. It wasn’t something I could pour a cup of water on and pretend was an accident because I woke up in the night and got a drink whilst I read.
Reading’s always good, both my parents said. If you can’t sleep, read. You can’t read in a dark closet, looking out through slats and too terrified to breath. When you’re that scared you take short little breaths through your mouth, like reverse hiccoughs.
Years later I’d learn that breathing like that lessens the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain and stimulates the release of adrenalin and other fear related hormones. If you’re in a bad situation even your natural reflexes work against you, that’s how God likes it.
“Don’t cry, pretty thing,” the man wearing the surgical gloves and holding a knife said. “You’re a special one.”
My mother snivelled, a pathetic choking noise behind her gag and I hated her for not being stronger, for not being able to fight back. She had fought back, I’d seen her open the gashes down his face and cripple him with a blow to the balls when he first burst into the bedroom. I’d seen her break the bedside lamp over his head and seen him lay her out cold with a right hook, the splatters of her face sprayed against the walls. She hadn't fought hard enough.
I’d been hiding in the closet, with my flashlight. Reading the naughty books my father kept in a shoebox on the top shelf. I had, maybe, five pubic hairs but I knew from the boys at school that the shoebox was a treasure-trove I should explore.
Twelve years old, hiding in my mother’s closet to read softcore porn and still wetting the bed. There was never really much hope for me.
The man cut the roll of electrical tape he’d used to fix her wrists to the bedstead and punched her in the back of the head again. She whimpered a little but lay still, face down in the flowery pink pillows, as he moved to the foot of the bed and taped her legs to the rails there.
I’d seen my parents doing things like this, I knew all about the box of bondage gear they kept on the highest shelf, but this was different. My mother wasn’t wearing the special clothes she did for those games, she looked shapeless and fat in her sweatpants and RedSox sweater and for all the whips and paddles they’d used the last time I hid in here (I snuck in when I’d already been sent to bed and knew they were downstairs drinking wine) that had looked like fun, like it was consensual.
Mr.Cassidy, my English teacher, taught us that word the other day. Consensual; it seems meaningless to me today.
Consensual never had pools of blood forming on the bedsheets from the broken mass of my mother’s nose and dual split lips. It never had the warm trickle pooling in my crotch as I sat with an open Playboy in my hands, too scared to leave the centrefold in case he heard the rustling of the pages.
“Do you know who I am?” the man said, straddling my mother and using his knife to play with her hair. She’d just had it fixed; we were supposed to go to my cousin’s wedding the next day. “Little pretty thing? Do you?”
My mother tried to struggle. He laughed and bent down to nibble at her ear, for all the world like my father when he played the same game. I want to say he had an evil villain’s laugh, or some rodent’s snicker but he had a healthy sounding guffaw. If you heard it in a bar you’d think it belonged to someone happy and healthy, someone who might give you some business tips and be a buddy for that shooting trip.
He used the knife to cut away her sweater, opening the arms as well as the back so it lay like a towel underneath her. He twanged her bra-strap but didn’t cut it.
“I’ve something special for you to see,” he said, before rising and leaving the room.
I sat in the closet, glad to finally drop the porno mag and looked through the slats at my parents’ bedroom. This was my chance, this was when I could escape and go get help. This was my chance to be a hero.
Some piss soaked through the seat of my jeans and into my shoes as the man came back into the room, carrying my two year old brother – only now waking up and screaming for all he was worth. I went limp, my right hand falling against the empty box that had contained my father’s porn.
I thought about the secrets kept in the boxes on the top shelves, about the porn and the clothes and the gun he kept saying he had to buy a proper safe for. Keeping guns in shoeboxes in closets isn’t safe.
“I got your baby,” the man said, smiling and bouncing my howling brother. “Smells like he shat himself.”
My mother screamed, thrashed so hard against her bonds that she broke an ankle and dislocated a shoulder. I didn’t learn that until later, I was seizing my moment of bravery and never mind the piss running down my legs.
“He’s a noisy one,” the man said, bouncing my brother above his head like a friendly uncle. I’ve since learnt that the exact word is avuncular but I don’t fucking care. “I don’t like the noisy ones.”
My mother was still screaming as best she could, struggling against the tape as I reached the top shelf and grabbed for the gunbox, hoping the damn thing was loaded like it normally was.
“I don’t get a safe for my guns,” my father always said, “’cos I ain’t got time to open the thing if my home needs protecting. Keep it loaded for the same reason.”
“This your baby boy?” the man asked, peering at my mother’s frantic eyes as he held a knife to my brother’s throat. “Your special little man? I’m going to cut his throat and fuck you in the ass so hard you split in two.”
The gun in my hand, my mother screaming and my brother in danger I dropped to the floor, hit the safety button like I’d been taught and burst out the closet, squeezing away.
The first bullet took the man square in the chest – I know how to shoot.
I don’t know how not to panic.
The second bullet tore through my brother’s head as he was falling to the floor.
Who cares where the other three went?
I’m in my father’s house now, his second family. He’s old and out of jail. He owed the man money, a lot of money, and wouldn’t pay. My brother is dead; my mother killed herself six months later.
Revenge is as revenge does.
My father’s nailed to a chair; his new wife is tied face-down to her bed. I have their new-born in my arms and I already checked the closets.