Dark Shadow
(© 2009 by the author)

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"Who the hell asked you? No one gives a shit what you think." She spun around and I flinched.

It was a look I was used to. The only time my mother seemed to smile, was when she was on the phone, or watching some brainless comedy on television.

My world is a combination of constantly changing rules and regulations they revel in creating at their slightest whim. Another lesson learned. Don't compliment the chef. She's a fucking bitch.

My parents aren't exactly 'joiners'. Required school activities are at the very least an inconvenience. Optional and frivolous notions such as sports or band are completely out of the question. This interruption in their lives was greatly reduced when I turned seven and learned how to use the pay phone in the school lobby.

"After the Christmas program is over… call. If you lose this quarter, then you and your little brother have to walk. And when you get home, I'm going to beat your ass. Merry Fucking Christmas." My father chuckled as he handed me the coin, but we both knew he meant every word.

Needless to say, I kept close tabs on that quarter and my little brother.

What my father lacks in patience, he makes up for in creativity. Pans, boards, wooden spoons, a shotgun, or whatever else might be within reach serve as a veritable cornucopia of swift retribution for the latest infraction of the rules.

I can't say I remember the day my beatings stopped, but I couldn't recall one since I was fifteen. Maybe five months ago? My father's a construction worker. The resulting muscle made some occasions especially memorable, but for the most part, they blurred together over time. It's how they were raised, and how they raised us.

The few friends I 'used' to have spoke as if they were in the same boat, so it's the status quo. I suppose that is what makes sitcoms like 'Roseanne' so appealing. It's a fantasy world of family that no one ever experiences, but yearns for.

I couldn't count the times that I hoped during one beating or another, that he might accidentally kill me. 'Ha-Ha you son of a bitch, now you have to go to jail.' I never got my wish. There were plenty of bruises and broken bones, but no such luck when it came to a prison sentence. Instinctive reflex had us covering our backs and behinds with our hands, but the 2x4, which we referred to as 'the board', taught us otherwise. There was the occasional slip and broken finger, but for the most part we learned to keep our hands out of the path of destruction.

Last week my father broke his toe when he kicked the dog because it ate one of his chickens. I felt bad for her, but laughed silently at his pain in spite of it. Yes, he left the gate open, but Maisy shouldn't have done it. She made it almost six years before she broke the rules. The lucky bitch got off easy. He shot her in the head.

Our Lhaso Apso, Maisy, was the latest favorite in the race for survival. As was the case with so many before her, my brother and I had to dig the hole and bury her. Digging a hole was not so much a problem as finding a spot in our acre yard that wasn't already occupied. I learned more from this I suppose than the beatings. Don't invest your love in anything.

Last week was a busy one for me. I came out to a friend. Now I have none, and as soon as word gets back to my parents, the life-ending beat-down I've been wishing for is guaranteed. 'Fag' has never been a kind word in my family.

It seems I've shit the bed, as my grandmother would say. The only safe-haven that ever existed for me was school, and now that's gone. There's no possible way I can survive this existence for another two years. Graduation and an escape to college are not in my future.

Damn, the barrel tastes like shit! It almost reminds me of a giant metal straw.

"Sorry for the mess little brother, they'll probably make you clean it up."



Author's Note:

To those that have finished reading this very short story, please understand it is not my intention to condone or promote suicide.  What I hope to gain from this writing is for individuals to give their words a second thought before speaking them and consider how their actions impact others.  The protagonist in this story chose suicide because he saw no other conceivable solution.  Don't let unkind words and hate give someone else that same impression. 

To anyone out there considering suicide, please think again before you act.  Ask for help.  It's not easy, but it's so worth it when you encounter the many wonderful things life will bring in your future.


Posted: 08/04/09