The voice of a young boy as he discovers his parents may not be what he thinks.
| Father must have been angry with us. We went to bed so much earlier that night than usual. Dinner was one of my favorites though. Ms. Christine had made a tomato soup with a whole chicken for just my brothers and me. I love Ms. Christine’s cooking, but I wish mother and father would eat with us more often. Father especially, we never saw much of him anymore. I remember when he spent time with us, right after Titus, my youngest brother, was born. I loved pretending to go to the barber shop to get my pretend beard trimmed, inspired by father’s perfectly dark one and constantly done hair. Lucas, my other brother, says they don’t love us anymore. He says the kids at the academy are spreading rumors that our parents are bad people. That’s why we have such a nice house, good food every night, and that’s why we never see them anymore. They do bad things to get what they want. But why were we being punished?
“What do you think they’re talking about?” Lucas asked me. We had many rooms in our home, but we all slept in the same one now. We could hear our parents yelling at each other after we were told to go to bed. Their voices flowed through the house like ghosts, entering and exiting the rooms of the upper floor. Soon, they disappeared, and we heard the familiar sounds of greetings to guests. “Why do you think they’re angry with us?” He asked.
“Mother isn’t angry with us, father is.” I said, as Titus started to cry. “Titus, be quiet or else he’ll come up here.” We were all scared of father. We knew he loved us, but he was scary. Titus was sobbing louder.
“Shhh, it’s alright Titus.” Lucas said as he got up to comfort him. “They aren’t mad at us.” Titus looked to me for reassurance. I smiled at him. “They’re having a party tonight, right Davy?” Lucas said. I sat up.
“Yes, why?” I asked.
“We could go spy on them. Like Sherlock Holmes!” Lucas was excited and wanted to turn this into a game. “We could see if they’re mad at us or not, Davy. Come on, Titus, we’re going to play detective!” He silently pulled Titus out of bed, wiping his cheeks. “Do you want to play?” He asked him. Titus nodded his head, still sobbing a bit. “Then get up and get your detective clothes on.” They both rushed to the closet and pulled out a box that had our play things in it.
“Be quiet,” I whispered. “We have to be sneaky.” I got up out of bed and put on my detective clothes. Since I was the oldest, I got to have the pretend, wooden gun and the leather holster father got me from America. We always fought over it. Lucas got the glassless glasses, and Titus was allowed to only have a notebook, in which we put him in charge of scribbling down clues we found during murders and robing’s. We slipped our slippers on, to stay quiet. It was around nine in the evening, and Ms. Christine had gone home by now. We could hear many voices downstairs, but this was a regular sound. Father had guests over at night quite often. We opened our bedroom door slowly, it creaked a bit, but wasn’t loud enough for anyone to hear. I led my brothers to the top of the stairs and we looked over the banister to see so many people in the front room of our home.
“Whoa,” Titus said. “Look. A Moor.” He pointed to a dark skinned man with long hair in colorful robes.
“Shut up!” I told him. “You can’t call people Moor’s, it isn’t polite.” He rolled his eyes to me and continued to watch all the strange people. “These are all new faces though, I don’t see anyone we have met before.” I said. Lucas brought out his telescope father got him from Paris. “Do you see them?” I asked. They must be having an extra special party tonight.
“Not yet, there are so many people in the way.” We each looked around the room for clues as to where mother and father might be. I saw a woman with a large feather coming from her hat, standing taller than everyone in room. Lucas gasped and pointed to the front door where we saw mother, in one of her finest evening gowns, greeting a man in a top hat. She looked different. As if she had gotten new skin. Lucas looked to us and we nodded. Our secret hiding spot was the laundry chute. We loved going about the different floors on it. Lucas and Titus got in and I lowered them down to the middle floor, we never dared go lower than that. I could see them get out and I hoisted it up as fast as I could. I got in and lowered myself down quickly and got out. We snuck around the corner and towards the front door where we saw mother. None of the guests seemed to notice us. As we made it to the front door, around the large crowd, she was already gone. We decided to make our way to the kitchen. As we walked towards the swinging kitchen door, we could hear voices coming from the other side. Quickly we turned around and ran towards the basement door. I went to open it until Lucas stopped me. My hand was resting on the iron door handle, worn from being touched so much.
“No.” He whispered. “We can’t, mother says she doesn’t even go down there.” He looked very scared, Titus hid behind him. “We’ll get in trouble.” I stood in front of the door.
“What are you so afraid of? Scardey-cats! I’ll go myself.” I was determined to prove they weren’t angry with us. “Come on, they could be down here.” I opened the door and a cold wind blew through us. They followed me down the stone stairs.
“Does father have a dungeon?” Lucas asked, holding on to my shirt, and Titus onto his. Step by step, I made sure we were quiet. As we descended deeper, the smell was something awful. It reminded me of when I was younger and had a nasty habit of sucking on copper coins; that’s what the air smelled like, copper. The walls were wet, and the only light sources were torches. Father said we would be getting the new invention from America soon, that casted light in all directions. We could hear voices getting louder as we got closer to the bottom. We stopped and looked around the corner. Lite by a large fire in the back corner of the room, my father was with three other men. They cast long shadows that stretched across the room to our feet. My brothers looked with me.
“What are they talking about?” Lucas asked.
“Shhh! I’m listening.” I snapped quietly. The shadows flickered.
“Please, have mercy,” one of the men said. My father was facing him. ”Please, Master Tepes, I said nothing. I said nothing.” My father suddenly kicked the man in the knee, we heard a sharp snap, and he dropped hard to his broken leg, crying out in pain. We all gasped, I couldn’t breathe for a whole minute. My brothers were pulling at me to go back upstairs.
“Stop,” I hissed, and pushed them away. The other two men held the man on his knees and stuffed, what looked like, a handkerchief in his mouth. His screams were muffled now, but he sounded like he was in pain, still. My father put his hand around this man’s neck, and didn’t let go until the other two stopped him. We need him alive Gabriel. I thought I heard one say. But that didn’t stop my father, we heard another snap. My brothers were sobbing, still pulling on my shirt. Lucas was almost hysterical.
“The other children at school were right! Father’s a murderer!” he screamed. I looked back to hush him, but by then we had been caught. Father was right in front of us, horrified. Something dark was smudged on his face and around his mouth, though it was too dim to see. It seemed the rumors about mother and father were true.
“What are you doing down here?” he said in a low voice. He always started low and got louder. “What have we spoken about?” He sounded like a monster, growling at us. Lucas was crying, hunched behind me. Little Titus was already running upstairs. “Get him.” My father said to one of the men. ”Get rid of the body.” He said to the other. The two men went their separate ways and did as my father told them. He looked at my brother and me. “Get upstairs,” he said through his teeth. We ran upstairs as fast as we could. Lucas and I held each other’s hands as father pushed us. When we reached the top, Titus was being held by the back of his pants, like a ladies purse, by one of the men who was with father. He was crying for Mother.
“Mummy, mummy!” he yelled. Mother was the one who always saved us, got us out of trouble and gave us sweets when father was angry. She came from within the crowd, looking like a golden bird in her sparkly dress.
“What, what, what is it? Boys, what’s the matter? You’re supposed to be in bed.” Her eyes never left fathers. “What did they see?” She asked him. She looked at father as if he could answer any question she were ever to have. Everyone at the party stopped what they were doing and crowded over us. There was only a second of silence before they were all shouting over each other. They saw? Saw what? Are they mortal? Gabriel, these are your children? What a mistake you have made. You know what must be done. They can’t keep secrets.
“Enough!” Father shouted, his voice echoing off the house walls. The crowd hushed immediately. I suppose he had influence over these people. “My children have nothing to do with tonight’s events,” he said calmly. “They will go back upstairs, to bed, and will not be seen again until morning,” he stared down at us. “Isn’t that right boys?” He said. We were trembling.
“Yes, father,” we all said quietly. One voice came out from the crowd. He was timid and scared.
“Gabriel! Master,” he corrected himself. “We cannot-”
“Cannot what?” Father said with an evil grin on his face, still red with what I could now see as blood. “We cannot what, Marco? Let them live?” Father slid through the crowd, slightly pushing others out of his way. Mother started to guide us to the stairs. Father stopped in front of this Marco. “You question me?” he spat and smiled, his teeth stained. “Am I not the leader we were all just praising? Thanking!” Drips of red flicked onto Marcos face. “I suggest you reevaluate your thoughts, and keep them until I ask for them.” He walked back to us, and motioned for us to go.
We started up the stairs when the crowd became loud again, angered by my father’s actions. They’ve seen too much! They cannot live! They’ll lead us to our own deaths! If you don’t take care of this Gabriel, we will. The crowd became more like a mob and threatened to push past father and mother. Lucas and I grabbed Titus and made our way quickly up the stairs as our parents argued with them. I glanced back to see if mother was following us and as I did I saw another woman strike her. We reached the top and kneeled behind the railing to watch, neither of us able to move.
“Take Titus into our room,” I said to Lucas, still staring at the action below. “I’ll be there in a minute.” Lucas didn’t move, he was much too scared. “Go, now.” I pushed him down the hall and followed them slowly. Once they were inside, I shut the door and stood guard. I grasped the wooden gun, still in its holster. Suddenly, the party-goers were in front of me and on all sides, snarling like wolves.
“Where are your brothers, boy?” A bald man with sharp teeth said. He looked as if he had been hiding in caves all his life. I held the gun up to the man’s face with no idea of what else to do. He laughed at me. It was a low, dark laugh, like the beasts’ Titus imagined to be under his bed, like fathers. As I backed up against our bedroom door, tears swelling in my eyes, they surrounded me, out stretching their long fingernails. Then, like magic, mother was in front of me, guarding me from the drooling mouths of these strangers. Her dress was tore in many places, leaving a trail of glitter down the hall. She still looked so pretty.
“Mummy!” Titus shouted from behind the bedroom door. “Don’t let them eat Davy!” Father was suddenly beside her. My father’s usually manicured hair was messy and wild. One of his suspenders had snapped and his coat was missing all together. His white shirt had been turned red. I wondered if it were his red, or someone else’s.
“Get them out of here!” he yelled at her.
“I’m not leaving you,” she said to him. Mother pushed the bedroom door open and shoved me inside. “Do not open this door.” She said. Father turned to look at me as she locked the three of us inside, his eyes harsh, full of panic and rage. And it was the last time I saw him.