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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Tragedy · #1310708
Eight year old Larry fulfills his family obligation so they can all return to normal.
It was happening again; it was inevitable.  Although he was only eight Larry had lived this night dozens of times in his young life.  Dad had not uttered a word since he came home from work at 5:15.  All through supper the house was deathly quiet with only the sound of silverware tapping the plates as people ate, and the occasional murmur requesting the potatoes or a slice of bread.  Now at 7:00 dad sat drinking beer in his favorite chair and Larry felt an urgent need to go pee, although he had already gone seven or eight times since supper ended at 5:45.  Despite feeling like his bladder was ready to burst only a couple of drops came out, again, and he flushed and went back to the living room with the rest of the family.

He could tell it would be soon because dad had just folded his hands and placed his steepled index fingers over his mouth with the tips barely touching his nose.  Oh God, where are you, Larry thought, oh God, oh God.  Oh, it’s any time now.  God why don’t you stop him?  Then his brother bumped into the end table knocking over a lamp and it was show time.

Dad came out of his chair, his face disfigured with hatred and rage, and headed towards brother ready to kill.  Mom leaped to her feet and screamed, “Ralph, don’t, he’s so small”, as she pulled him out of the way with one hand while she grabbed Larry and shoved him into dad’s way with the other.  It did not matter to dad; one child was as good as another.  Mom grabbed his brother and sister and retreated into the dining room of their tiny two-bedroom home and tucked the two children safely behind her in the corner.  Larry was not so lucky. 

Dad had his hands on Larry’s shoulders and was shaking him violently, and he reached out with his foot and tripped Larry with it while he threw him to the ground.  He hit the floor with a thud which knocked most of the wind out of him and dazed him.  Before he could recover dad bellowed, “Get up, goddammit”.  When Larry did not respond fast enough dad reached down and grabbed two hands full of his shirt.  Three of dad’s fingernails gouged deeply into Larry’s chest and he began to bleed profusely from the scratches.  “You son-of-a-bitch, I said get up!”

After half a dozen trips to the floor Larry was no longer getting up fast enough for dad, and he knew it.  The next time he went down he scrambled to all fours and began desperately to crawl away, but not fast enough.  Dad kicked him in the buttocks with his heavy winged tip shoes sending a searing pain through Larry’s hip.  Larry fought back tears and struggled to his feet.  His dad grabbed him and threw him against the plaster walls.  Before he could collapse from the force of the blow dad grabbed him again and threw him off another wall.  Larry knew it would soon be over, but he dreaded the finale.  God, not the end table; not again; not tonight.

After about four more trips off the wall Larry knew that dad was lining him up.  His back was to the end table and Larry braced himself and him dad threw him so his back hit the corner.  Even though he had sworn he would not Larry began to sob uncontrollably it hurt so badly.  This was like waving a red flag in front of dad and he grabbed Larry’s shirt again and drew back his fist.  Finally mom came out of the corner to protect her son.  “Ralph don’t, you’ll leave a mark”, she yelled.  Not you’ll kill him, which I think once he got started that is where it would have ended.  You’ll leave a mark.

Dad grabbed his beer and stormed out of the house and the brainwashing began.  She pulled Larry onto the couch with her arms around him and softly whispered, “Now that wasn’t so bad, was it?”  He did not bother to answer; he’d answered her before and had come to realize that though it was spoken like a question it was a statement of fact not to be disputed.  Then she told him it was his responsibility to take the beating because he was the only one strong enough to handle it.  She closed by telling him that he could not tell anyone about it, because if the state people ever found out they would take Larry away and he would not get to live with her anymore more.  And he didn’t want that, did he?  It was 8:30 and time to put Larry to bed.

As he lay in bed he thought how his mother had told him that God caused everything in the world to happen and if bad things happened to you it was probably because you were a bad person who deserved it.  He vowed not to waste any more time asking God for help.  Then he imagined that one day his REAL parents would come and take him away someplace safe and love him and do only nice things for him.  His last thought was, “I’ll kill myself, that’ll show them” as his eyes closed and he lost consciousness.

The next morning Larry went out into the dining room quietly to judge the mood, and when mom saw him she said cheerily, “Well good morning, sleepyhead.  Are you hungry?  I made your favorites; sausage and pancakes”.  His dad looked up from the newspaper and said, “Good morning, Larry” and went back to reading.  Mom put a plate of funny faced pancakes with patty sausage in front of him and a big glass of milk and asked him if there was anything else she could get for him. 

As he ate Larry thought that maybe it really WASN’T as bad as he thought.  And the way that everyone was acting maybe it wouldn’t happen again.  After all, he really did love his parents and did not want the state to take him away.  As he finished his glass of milk he thought maybe I’ll give them one more chance…

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