Saturday, August 22, 2015

Short Story: Why

A little something different this time around.

So back in May there was a contest run on the site Avalora is posted on. Basically authors got to submit a short story of any subject to win various levels of subscription to the site itself which was pretty cool. The only limitation was the short had to be under 4000 words.

I didn't place in the top 12 which is fine.

For kicks, here's my entry. Critiques welcome and please remember this has only been seen by two sets of eyes thus far: my own and whoever read it at Channillo. I don't have money for an editor, hardly enough to keep the billed paid so...yeah.

ANYWAY, here's the story:


Let me explain why I killed them.

My parents were great people. Dad was some kind of business man. I’m not sure who he worked for or what he was exactly. All I really remember is that he had to wear a suit all the time and he made a lot of money. This allowed us to live in a big house and go to Disney World every summer for as long as we wanted.

Mom stayed at home with me. I remember her smile the most. It was bright, loving, and always made me happy. She had a lot of friends who came and sat with us, always telling me what a cute little boy I was and saying I’d grow up to be a heart breaker. They had that right.

On the night my life changed it was dark. Rain sluiced against the windows of the white truck dad drove and he had to keep his high beams on. He guided the immense beast of machinery carefully, a little under the speed limit, and making sure to check around every corner for any kind of oncoming traffic.

Funny how it works, the one who’s always careful is the one who ends up at the mercy of someone not so careful. All I remember is one moment mom was smiling back at me and telling me we would be home soon. The next moment the truck had filled up with bright white light and the sound of a horn blew through my ear in a warning which was too late.

I woke up alone, scared, with tubes in my arms and a machine beeping beside me. It terrified me and I started screaming. I tried ripping out all the tubes but I had been four and not exactly dexterous enough to do as needed. It did not take many nurses to stop me and I remember I kept shouting for my mom and dad.

The looks on the nurses’ faces went from panic and worry to pity. I didn’t exactly recognize pity then as no one had looked down at me and thought “the poor child.” One of the nurses sat on my bed beside me and hugged me. She explained my dad’s truck had been hit in the driver’s side, dad’s side.

The impact had sent the truck spinning and the passenger side, mom’s side, had hit a light post so hard it snapped under the pressure, tore down electrical wires as it fell and crushed the hood of dad’s truck. The rain kept a fire from starting. The driver of the other vehicle had been rendered unconscious from the blow. A passerby in a white car had called the police. It had all happened a week ago. Dad and mom had not made it out of the truck alive.

Coincidences are strange. I remember at the time I had an intense infatuation with Batman, the superhero who had no parents. Now I was Batman. I had no parents.

The solace I was given by the nurse was the man in the other car had broken his spine and would never walk again. It did not provide me with comfort but gave me anger. Why should he live when both my parents, good people, had died? The little comfort I did get from the information was at least he could never make another Batman.

My stay at the hospital was boring and the anger left. The nurses tried to entertain me but not much could be done for a child barely out of toddler-hood who suffered such a devastating blow. Who barely understood why mom and dad were not coming back. Who kept asking why this had happened and received no answers.

No one had an appropriate answer to give.

A week went by and I was approached by a woman from the government. She said she had contacted my mother’s sister and the woman, my aunt, would be taking care of me. I did not know my mom had a sister. It would not take me long to find out why.

The woman looked like my mother. She had the same dark hair and dark eyes with the same lips. She did not have the same happy smile, not even for her two children. She did not have a husband but when I asked her why she slapped me. Later my older cousin told me it was better without daddy as he had hit harder.

My aunt moved me out of the nice house my parents had and sold it. She had saved nothing from my former life except a suitcase of clothes. I had managed to sneak a picture under my shirt before we left and I have it to this day. It remained on my night side table to remind me of the life I could have had.

My aunt was given all the money from the house and the money my parents had saved in the bank. As I was four I could not access this money and it was supposed to be saved for me for when I turned eighteen. I did not understand the concepts at the time but I knew because of Batman I would get some kind of compensation. The issue was Batman did not have an aunt who liked to yell, hit, and drink.

I grew up in a house that had a sagging front porch, yellow weedy grass in the front and back, and shutters which banged in storms. I had to share a room with my older cousin even when she grew up and started high school. She was five years older than me and my nine year old self was always kicked out of the shared room when she had friends over.

When she turned sixteen my cousin was gone. No note but a suitcase of her clothing had gone missing and she had taken a couple thousand dollars from her mother’s bank account. My eleven year old self had been happy to finally have my own room but a small part of me wondered how my aunt who never worked had thousands of dollars in the bank.

My younger cousin, nine at the time and female had been upset her sister left. She began yelling at her mother a lot so I took to closing myself in my room to read. It had become a habit for me to look over at the empty bed and wonder how my older cousin was doing.

Life keeps going no matter what you do and I grew up. The women my mother used to speak with were right. I did grow into a heart-breaker. I had dark hair; dark “puppy dog” eyes with my father’s strong jaw and my mother’s high cheek bones. I had the good fortune to have clear skin and gain my father’s height gene. As I did not like my aunt or her home, I spent a lot of time after school in the gym so my body became toned. In the summer I ran, likely much more than any teenager should be.

Tall, dark, and handsome: every woman’s wet dream and I was it in real life. They swooned over me, the mysterious boy who hid in the library during lunch reading in one of the back corners and sat in the back of the class. I had all the answers for tests and did not act like the others boys:

The jocks with their minds full of sports, the nerds who to high school girls were funny looking and weird, the druggies who stunk of weed or booze, and the loners who were too creepy. I was part of the loner group but I had the benefit of being good looking. No one thought it entirely odd I had no friends. They assumed because of my outer shell I could do no harm and I used this outer shell as a sort of buffer.

When I was sixteen I spent the twenty dollars my aunt gave me weekly on some Batman comics. I read them with a passion during the evening hours after my homework was done and my aunt had left to go out with one of her boyfriends. I stayed away from the later issues when Batman had grown up and focused more on his early life as Bruce Wayne.

Nowhere in the comics did it ever say what exactly happened to his parents’ money. It had been left to him of course and in the end he had access to it. This was because he did not have an aunt whose name was on all the accounts until he turned eighteen and could be responsible enough to handle his money.

When I asked my aunt about the money she said I would get it and not to worry. This came in a shout and she almost hit me but I stopped her. For the first time in my life I saw what fear was in another person’s eyes. It made me let go of her hand and get a twisting feeling in my stomach. She avoided me for a week after that incident and I did not ask again because I did not want to see the fear.

The concept of someone being afraid of me was foreign. Everyone loved me at school or they were jealous of me. Some outright hated me but no one ever showed me fear. It made me feel like I had become the Joker instead of Batman and I did not like it.

Life kept moving on as it does. I graduated High School with honors and a scholarship to go to whatever school I wanted. I did not know what I wanted. My aunt had told me nothing of my parents so even if I wanted to follow in my father’s path I had no idea what it was. The scholarship would not expire so I decided to take a year off and travel wherever my beat up sedan would take me. First though, I had to get access to my money.

After graduation I did not leave on my trip. I waited until the day I turned eighteen two months later then approached my aunt in her dim kitchen. I had startled her and she showed the fear again. This time I would not let it overwhelm me. I wanted my parents’ money as now it was legally mine.

“It’s gone.”

Two words, one contracted. She said them in a low whisper and bit her lower lip after, eyes downcast and hands clenching hard at the counter behind her. The light from the window behind her shone off her messy dark hair and emphasized the bags under her dark eyes. She could have been pretty like my dead mother but cigarettes, booze, and a myriad of other bad habits had taken her youth and beauty from her.

“What do you mean it’s gone?”

She shook her head and kept her eyes down, not wanting to meet mine. The shirt she wore was skimpy and clung to her body like a sort of second skin. Her jeans were the same way and she did not wear shoes on her feet. I remember looking down at the floor to see the red nail polish on her toes and wondering if she was looking for chips in it to avoid looking me in the face.

“Gone where?”

“I spent it.”

Fourteen years of bill payments, booze, cigarettes, not working, expensive clothes for herself, holidays to Las Vegas with her boyfriends, and holidays to the beach had depleted the money my parents had left for me.

I had nothing. No mementoes to remember them. No memories or stories to know them. And now because of my aunt’s greed: no money to start my life with.

You have to realize I had never been an angry person. I took what life threw at me because I knew with time I would be okay. I had the brains, the looks, and the will to leave my aunt’s home and start my life once I could get what I had been promised. I had been driven by this fact so it curbed my anger and the worst off all my emotions and kept me level, cool, calm, and collected. Now the chain keeping the beast from rising was no more.

I cannot remember what I hit her with first though I assume since I was unarmed at the time it was a punch. I do not remember what area of the body I hit her in or when exactly I picked up the knife. I do not remember when my younger cousin had come home and began beating on my back to stop hurting her mom.

I’m not entirely sure when I pushed her to the floor and how I hurt her. The next memory I do have is of me standing in the kitchen with a steak knife in my hand. The blood dripped off the knife the same way the taps would drip into the sinks. There was a lot of blood.

It seeped into my shoes and slid under the refrigerator. It soaked into the cracks on the floor and turned the stained yellow floor deep red, the same red as my aunt’s toe nails. The blood stained my aunt and my cousin’s clothing, making my cousin’s dyed yellow hair turn a sort of orange-red color.

There were spatters of blood up the counters, across the tables and walls, even across the window and some on the ceiling. It had rained over the exposed flesh I did not cut through on both of them, marring it with little red freckles. Both lay at awkward angles and their eyes had no light in them. Neither took a breath. For some reason this did not bother me as much as it likely should have.

I walked out of the kitchen but do not remember dropping the knife. I do remember going into the bathroom and washing my hands. I stripped out of my clothes, realizing how bloody I was all over then took a shower. I dried. I dressed. I took the expensive jewellery my aunt had bought with my money and her purse.

I picked up my luggage bag and packed away all my clothes. I used my aunt’s luggage to pack away more of the belongings I wanted to take with me. Both went into the trunk of my beat up sedan. One of the neighbours asked if I was taking a holiday and I said I was. He waved to me as I pulled out of the driveway and turned away from my aunt’s home. It was probably him who called the police after a few days of not seeing my cousin or my aunt.

You know I lived free for a month. You caught up to me in Florida where I simply sat on the beach sipping a soda and watching the girls my age giggle over me. You know I went with you without argument. You know I did not change my name or appearance or attempt to hide in any way. I am a little disappointed it took you so long to find me.

Now you know why I did it. Why I stabbed my aunt sixty-eight times after beating her with my fists for so long she was hardly identifiable. Good thing for dental records, hm? You know why I stabbed my cousin three times, enough to kill her and in places which would incapacitate her and let her bleed out. I never would have hurt her if she had not hit me but this is not much of an excuse.

Now you can understand why the neighbours were so stunned to find the scene. Why they are crying because I had been a good kid. Why all those people I graduated with and my teachers seemed shock to hear about why you were looking for. Why all the lives I touched on my way to Florida were suspicious as to why you were looking for me.

I am not a horrible person. Circumstances made me this way. If I had not had a greedy aunt maybe I would have become Batman. But what is Batman except a vigilante who beats up the bad guys and lets them get away to wreak havoc again and again? If Batman actually dealt with the villains like I had then he would not have to keep chasing the same ones.

But heroes are not allowed to kill. Killing makes them villains. Funny isn’t it? The bad guys are allowed to deal with their problems with a sort of finality the heroes are never allowed to have. The heroes must toil again and again while people get hurt, their city gets destroyed, and the people they want to protect get killed. Yet they are still looked upon to save the city.

I saved no one but myself in killing my aunt and cousin. Perhaps I saved society a little because on less person living on booze and government checks might help overall. But she deserved her death like the Joker would deserve his if Batman would ever be allowed to kill the crazy bastard.

The regret I do have is killing my cousin. She is the reason I allowed you to catch me. She is why I did not try to hide. You can thank her later.

Now I supposed you have to finish processing me. I assume I get a lawyer and there will be a trial. If my lawyer is any good I will get a sentence of twenty-five years as in this state the death penalty is illegal and who can argue with snap rage especially when I showed no sign of it? Given the circumstances, I am as much of a victim as my aunt.

But I will take whatever punishment I am given because of my cousin. I deserve that. So. Let’s start the process, hm? No point in sitting here talking anymore. I will see you later, detective.

Have a nice day.

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