by Bob'n Around
Invisible matters of the mind turned real into the written word.
|It shocked Henry Adams. There he was, freaking out inside. His rage-aholic father had him quaking against a wall, one of his elder brothers to either side. “Arlo? You’re old enough to know better. Henry? You’re too young to have done this and almost gotten away with it. Paul? Come here and take your medicine. I may not kill you, but you’ll wish I had.”
It thrilled Henry Adams, watching his older brother get torn apart, pleading for forgiveness for something he hadn’t done. It was Henry who was at fault. It was he who had fed the family indoor cat to the neighbor’s outdoor watchdog.
This was much more satisfying. The flash in his father’s eyes, killer’s eyes, the brutal smash of fists against Paul’s bruised body, splash of blood fountaining from the nose. Henry was no dummy. He slumped against the wall as his father raged, shouted “Let this be a lesson to you and your brothers.”
Henry exchanged the slightest of shrugs and eye glances with his brother Arlo. Their mom stood weeping for the cat as this bizarre form of misplaced justice was served. The lesson had been learned, embraced, and would be put into place the very next chance Henry got.
Always set up a fall guy everytime something bad was planned. Twice the reward, ten times the excitement, but never ever enough to still the need for more. The cat had been a simple experiment to prove they didn’t really have nine lives.
“I bet that really hurt,” Henry broached the topic, sitting on the edge of Paul’s bed.
“Dad’s a hair trigger. I could kill Arlo for not telling he done it, not me,” Paul groaned.
So his one older brother was blaming his other. This had possabilities. Paul was too sore to move when Henry speared a bruise on his brother’s arm with a finger. “That one looks like it really hurts.”
“You try stopping dad once he gets started,” Paul flinched, swatted Henry’s hand away.
Henry looked interested. A new experiment took form inside his brain. Could he direct his father in one of the man’s rages? “Next time he might murder somebody,” Henry heard Paul say.
It was like walking on eggshells living in his father’s house. The weather could change instantly. On Sunday, the family was herded to church with ol’ dad bragging up the family, boasting how the kids never missed a Sunday school meeting, earned stars on their attendance sheets for the whole year.
On Monday, their father would come home from working two jobs, hunting for trouble. “Who left their bike out in the driveway?” The boys shared so there was only the one. This time it was Henry’s turn to get the back of his dad’s hand across the face. It sent him half flying towards the open front door. “Sorry, Dad. I won’t let it happen again. I’ll go put it up right now. I’m the dumbest kid in the neighborhood. I don’t deserve living here. I wish I was dead.”
When there was no-one else to blame, Henry found it useful to become his own fall guy, start hammering himself with his fists, banging his head against a handy wall before his dad got going. Sometimes it worked. The glittering insanity in his father’s eyes would dull. Startled by his son’s reaction, the lord of the manor’s scar stained fists would uncurl. “Go to your room without supper, you stupid numbnut. I hate looking at you.”
“Wow. You got off easy.” It was Arlo, headed out for another one of his lawn jobs. Anything to get away from the family home when dad was there. Paul’s escape was going to the library to study where he read science fiction and fantasy instead. Henry, alone, had nowhere to hide. He had to be more inventive.
“What are you doing in my closet? Stealing my shoebox of emergency cash? Wait until your father comes home.” Lila Adams, Henry’s mom, used her husband for the family enforcer. Henry should have been quaking in his boots. Caught red handed, he was sure to feel the full force of his father’s wrath.
Nothing was so sacred to mom than her escape fund, used in dribblets when her nerves were close to shattering. Henry would get farmed off at the neighbors house with the dog while she got her hair done and a manicure before taking in one of her romance movies.
Henry had been pilfering a little escape of his own, time to time. Desperation had been his downfall. She knew it, was waiting for him when he got caught. Lesson learned. Where was the fall guy this time?
It was like puzzle pieces falling into place. Henry was staring right at the fall guy, disguised as his mom. “I’ll go to my room. I know I been bad,” Henry whined. He was pretty good at disguises, himself.
Out the bedroom window, over to the neighbors’ house. The couple was used to Henry wandering in and out, sorry for him, offering sanctuary at random times when they could. Nothing to count on, but today it would do.
He’d learned the mister of the house kept old love letters in a drawer. There were other things too, like what he’d learned was a dildo. There were snapshots of Henry’s mom sunbathing in their backyard.
It took little enough time, asking to use their bathroom while the missus prepared some cookies and milk. Henry stuffed the evidence for his mom’s made up love affair inside the front of his underwear and covered it up with his shirt.
Just in time, too. There was his mom, checking, finding him not in his room, calling out for double jeopardy. “You get to get away,” Henry sobbed, starting to hit himself as he was dragged back home.
“And that’s just what I’m going to do. You are going to get locked up in the master bedroom where you can’t escape your punishment.” It happened. The final piece of the puzzle settled into place when his mother was gone.
Letters and photos under the mattress on her side of the bed. Dildo in the closet, inside an empty shoebox. Sexy panties from the neighbors placed alongside as if they were his mom’s. Nice touch. Almost professional. Henry couldn’t wait for his mom and dad to get home.
There was the sound of crunching gravel in the driveway. Dad was home early. A door slammed open. “Honey? I’m home.”
She wasn’t. Henry heard the slap of leather from his father’s shoes marching room to room. Henry’s heart thudded in syncopated time. Sweat drenched the boy’s face. “In here, dad.”
There were curses when the man found the room’s door locked. “What the hell? What are you doing in my bedroom? You know it is out of bounds.” The sound of a key being inserted. His dad launched himself like a wild beast inside.
“Look, dad?” Henry held up the dildo like a wiggling droopy sword. “There’s more.” Letters erupted from the lady of the house’s side of bed, scattering photos on the floor.
“What on earth?”
Henry found himself grabbed by the neck, slammed and held off the ground. “She was going to kill me when I said I’d tell. There’s sexy panties, too, Dad. I bet she’s got some explaining to do.”
Henry felt himself lowered. “Where?” His dad exploded. “Where is she?”
“At the neighbors. She always goes over there when you’re gone. She and that mister goes off somewhere together. Mom comes back prettied up.” The words bounced off the red pulsing face of Henry’s dad, almost unheard.
The flash of anger in the man’s eyes seemed drug enhanced. Henry’s practice of trying out Arlo’s stash of white powder, staring at himself in the bathroom mirror came to mind. “There she is, dad. I hear her coming.”
“We need to talk,” Henry’s mother called from the opening front door.
What happened next was indescribably delicious. "I'll clean up, dad. You better get lost. It's not your fault what she did." Later on, Henry's dad gave himself up.
Sometimes, Henry liked visiting his father in prison for murdering his mom. It reminded him never to take things too far. Lesson learned. He’d slowed down his secretive acting out episodes while moving from one foster home to another, not from lack of opportunity.
The next one was devilishly well planned, It would be twice as rewarding, ten times as exciting. Never without a fall guy dangled out in the open, surprised, innocent, unnerved, with no escape at all.