Confidential Tales A Father Might Tell His Son: A Short Story
The little boy's name was Jonas Clark. His surname was Clark due to his father. His father came by that name due to.... well, how he got it has always been unclear. But nevertheless the three of them were legally known as the Clark family. Him, his father, Michael Clark, and his mother, Stephanie Anna-Marie Johnson Clark.
This is how they had been known before the divorce. Jonas had not been traumatized. His mother and father had done everything right. They had made it clear that they loved him and that their separation was not, in any way his fault.
They had made it clear to Jonas that although mother would have full custody, his father would continue to be very much integral to his upbringing. They made it clear to Jonas that they still had respect for one another and even remained something like friends.
Jonas was not happy about this, of course, but he was coping okay. There were worse things. It seemed to him that most of his friends and classmates had parents who were on their second or even third marriages. And as an only child he was spared some of the complications most of his friends had to deal with -- that is living in situations called "blended" families.
As the sole issue of his mother and father, Jonas gets all the goodies for himself. Perhaps even more so in this situation. More so in this situation, surely!
His father, Michael Clark, a veternarian, bougt a small practice in New Mexico, where he relocated to. Jonas, having completed a so-so school year in Kansas, was spending the summer with his father.
Jonas was too young to be left on his own. So when he wasn't spending the day at his father's office, he spent his time with a junior science club that devoted itself to the study of bugs and insects of all kinds. Jonas, a lifelong arachnophile, was intrigued to "expand his horizons," as it were.
One day after work, they went to see the movie Avatar, had pizza and ice cream for dinner, went home and played checkers, and then Jonas was off to bed. His father looked in on him to say Good Night. As he was leaving Jonas said from bed, "Dad?"
"What's up, coach?" His father called him 'coach' somethimes, which was funny since Jonas was utterly hopeless at sports.
"Tell me a story."
His father turned to face him. "Aren't you too old for that? For me or anyone else to read you a story?"
"I don't want you to read me a story. I want you to tell me one. About you. About the real you."
"Now, Jonas, you're mother doesn't want me sharing such things with you. You know that. She's afraid you'll get nightmares."
"Aw, that was years ago when I was a little kid." Uh, dear reader, that was two years ago when Jonas was six. He's eight years old now. "Eight and a half," Jonas invariably corrected.
Of course, eight and a half!
Michael Clark grabbed and chair and sat on it backwards on the side of the bed. "You're sure you won't get nightmares?"
"Yeah," Jonas said.
Michael fidgeted and sighed, edging a little closer. "You know about the bullet that creased my skull?' he said, fingering the long chasm on top of his cranium, mercifully hidden by Rogaine-generated growth.
"You know about the car accident and my amnesia?"
"You know about my homeless period, the desperation of my youth?"
"You know about the death of the police officer and the unfortunate death of the girl -- the one thing, that death, the death of the girl.... that's the one thing I'm truly sorry about? You understand that, do you?"
Jonas did. He was a precocious young man. Always had an understanding beyond his years.
"You know about the assassinations in New York, Los Angeles, San Franscisco, Toledo, Kansas City, Denver, Chicago, Atlanta, New Haven, and other places?"
Jonas did. He also understood that 'assassinations' was his dad's fancy word for mob hits.
"Why don't I tell you about how it all started? How would you like to hear about your grandmother?"
Jonas said that he would like that.
"Your grandmother was no Marie Curie but she was interesting. Tell me, Jonas, do you know what the word 'rape' means?"
"What does it mean?"
Jonas could not meet his father's eye as he said, "It's when a man... has sex with a woman... by force."
"That's right. Its when a man has sex with a woman by force. That is how I came into the world, my son. Its the only reason I exist. The only reason I'm sitting here before you, because a man had sex with a woman by force. That woman was my mother, your grandmother."
Michael Clark's mother had been the daughter of a mentally disturbed mother, and was mentally disturbed herself. In addition to being bipolar, she also had multiple personality disorder. She had been written up in some psychiatric journal as having two hundred forty seven documented, distinct "personalities."
Michael Clark's mother, Jonas Clark's grandmother had been called Wilma Reed. Wilma Reed had been one in a long line of victims of a psychopathic serial rapist. This had happened when Ms. Reed was a resident of a psyhciatric facility. She was there for having bludgeoned her husband to death with a heavy iron skillet, after he said that the meatloaf she had prepared for him was a little dry.
Wilma Reed had gone through with the pregnancy, but was desperate to get the baby away from her after he was born.
"I don't understand," Jonas said.
"From what I could learn she thought that if she tried to keep me, Alaxana Mareshku would either eat me, sacrifice me to her gods, or both."
"Who's Alaxana Mareshku?"
"Apparently, one of my mother's personalities -- a homicidal vodoo priestess."
Jonas looked incredulous. Michael shrugged.
"The state woudln't have let her keep you," Jonas said.
"True," Michael said. "Parts of the story are not clear. I don't know how or who gave her help. But it's clear that she escaped the facility and roamed at large for more than a year. A lot of the story is fuzzy though."
"What happened to you?" Jonas asked.
"I was left at a church."
The Alaxana Mareshku persona seemed to have taken over full time after the baby was delivered and safely disposed of. She found the man who had raped her. It was a man called Stephen Richfield. He had come under suspicion of police but they hadn't been able to put a case together against him yet.
"My mother saved them the trouble and the tax payers the expense of a trial. They found the two of them at his apartment. There was a circular saw nearby and Richfield's body was split in two from groin to throat across the kitchen table. Classical music was blaring. She was calmly seated, eating his internal organs with a knife and fork.
"The police got there and it must have been a shocking scene for them. I don't think they even considered taking her alive. They didn't try very hard. They shot her down like a dog, Jonas. They shot her three hundred and fifty seven times."
"Jesus," Jonas said.
"You won't have nightmares, will you?" Michael Clark said, rising and putting the chair back in its place.
"Let me know if you have any problems," his father said.
"Who took you in?"
"Some survivalist family up north," his father mumbled, exiting the room.
After his father left, turning out the light, Jonas stared at the door for a long time. Then he got up and took a tiny box from the inside lining of one of his suitcases. He went over to the desk, sat down, and turned on the reading lamp.
He opened the box and studied the human toe that was inside. It was the little toe, barely missed by its owner, he was sure. It looked somewhat like a snail. It was starting to shrivel and wear a bit.
He wondered if he wasn't the least bit abnormal for keeping it.