Trigger Warning

“Bad Parents” – Chuck Wendig’s Weekly Flash Fiction Challenge. TRIGGER WARNING

Just in under the deadline, here is my story for Chuck Wendig’s challenge from this past week. A story about “Bad Parents”, 1000 words or less.

This is not the story I originally intended to tell. That one I wrote, rewrote, rewrote again, and then finally deleted. I’m not ready to tell that one yet.

This one is dark, very dark. I give you fair warning now that it is about child abuse, murder, and such like things. If this is the kind of thing that upsets you, skip this one.

No one ever tells you about the smell. The movies, the shows, they make it look almost…glamorous, when you shoot someone. A bang, a puff of smoke, a bright light, a splatter of pretty crimson that paints the wall like that abstract painter guy…Jackson-something. Mom always liked his stuff. I didn’t get it. The smell is terrible. Like copper and shit and sewage. Maybe it’s different if you shoot them somewhere other than the balls and lower stomach?

Christ. I can hear him still. I wish he’d die but I don’t have the stomach or the will to shoot him again. And maybe…maybe I kind of want him to suffer, even if each groan that escapes his lips makes me feel like vomiting. Even through the door, I can hear him dragging himself across the floor croaking a strange, strangled, gurgling noise like some sort of sick frog. Disgusting. Bleeding and shitting all over the floor, no doubt. Mom is going to be so pissed off.

After all, he is…was…her husband.

I look down at the gun in my hand and I wonder how many bullets I have left. I never really learned about them. I mean, I knew the basics, but I didn’t even know how to load or reload or whatever you are supposed to do with them. I do know you point the dangerous end and you flip the safety thing and you pull the trigger. And not the button that makes the bullet-thingy fall out. I guess TV is good for something after all, huh? There’s always that ditzy girl who points the gun and presses the wrong button. Or gets reminded the safety is on. Dumb!

I wonder if I should shoot her too. Mom, I mean. Part of me screams at the idea, revolts. Another…not so much.

She let it happen, after all. She had to have known. No…she did know. I can’t make excuses for her. She knew. I told her. I told her what he was doing, how he was touching me…there. I feel sick again, just thinking about it. Have to force myself to stop. She knew, but she didn’t do anything about it. He was husband number three, after all, and she wasn’t getting any younger. She said that all the time.

So she put up with the shit. The laziness. The yelling. The name calling. The slaps, the punches, the bruises. The way he looked at me, her daughter. She listened when he lied and when he locked himself in my room she bought that the door must have “accidently” locked itself. When I would find any excuse I could to be with her, she said I was just too clingy. Seperation Anxiety? Really Mom?

I didn’t tell her at first. I was scared. Scared that he’d hurt me worse, hurt her worse. He threatened that he would. Said that if I told he would beat the shit out of her, break her, make sure no other man would ever want to be with her again. Did I want that? Huh, sweetie? You want your mom to have to earn her living lying on her back for ten dollars a pop, cause she sure as hell wouldn’t make more than that when he got finished with her.

But then one day she found me. Crying. Rocking. She took me in her arms and she rocked with me and she asked me.

“Cass, sweety? Is there something wrong?”
And I felt warm. Safe. I told her.

I still feel the sting of her hand. The bruises have faded but I still feel each punch. My hair still hurts when it remembers her dragging me through the hall, screaming and calling me a liar, a whore, a filthy little tempter. It was my fault, see. I shouldn’t dress like such a slut. She burned my makeup and my music and most of my heart that day.

“Casssss.”

What’s left of my heart plummets. He moans out again.

“Casssssss…c…c…call…..9…”

He stops, coughing. I hear something thick and wet splatter against the wood floor, and something in me snaps.

I open the door.

He’s right there. The smell is even worse now. The floor doesn’t look like a pretty painting. It looks horrible. Dark. Brownish. I gag. He looks up at me. Kind of looks like one of those monsters, zombies. I don’t know…I don’t like those shows. Too gory. He reaches out his hand.

“Cass…sw…sweetie…”

There is a pop, a shockingly loud pop and a ringing in my ears before I even realize I’ve shot him. There is a strange, gurgling rattle, and then he’s quiet. The only sound is the ringing in my ears.

I close the door. I cry. I can’t help it. God, what am I going to do? I sit there, at the door. I sit there for a long time.

And then I hear it. Keys in the lock. Mom is home. I look down. How many bullets are left?

I don’t know.

Maybe just one.

My hands tremble. I am so fucked. So, so fucked. The door begins to open. For a moment, it really is just like the movies. Everything is slow, deliberate. I look at the gun and I think, yes, maybe there’s just one more bullet left.

I raise my arm. The gun is so, so heavy. Heavier than I thought it would be. The door swings wider. I sit straighter. Proper. Ladylike. She walks in all fake smiles and empty cheer and an arm full of crap. She looks at me.

“Cass, sweetie? Is there something wrong?”

I smile. I press the gun beneath my chin, and I wonder.

Will she believe me now?

Advertisements

There are some things I can no longer excuse… (TRIGGER WARNING: Child Abuse)

Alright, folks. Time for a more serious posting. This one is about someone that I never met, but who has, regardless, had a tremendous impact on my life. She was one of the founders of the living history/medieval group that I am part of, and an incredibly influential writer of science fiction and fantasy. Her name was Marion Zimmer Bradley.

And she was a child molester.

I have known for a long time that MZB was surrounded by controversy. Her husband, Walter Breen, was a reprehensible man who fairly openly molested young boys, a fact that Marion was both aware of and covered for, countless times. As a survivor of sexual abuse myself, I found her excuses to be despicable…but I always found a way to empathize with, if not accept, her position. She said in one of the depositions for his trials to one of the prosecutors, “Clearly, you have never been in love.” That spoke to me. I know too well what it is like to love someone enough to excuse their wickedness, to want to make believe it didn’t happen and to, no matter how wrong it is to do so, want to brush that part of them under a rug and pretend it doesn’t exist.

Then, a couple weeks ago, something happened. Moira Greyland, MZB’s daughter with her monster of a husband, spoke up. She told the world that, horrible as he was…MZB was worse. She had abused Moira since she was three years old, up until she was twelve. She beat her, strangled her, and attempted to drown her for refusing to be her own mother’s lover. It is a horrid, sickening thing to read about, but I read it because the truth is more important than my discomfort. Now, I have to question all that time I spent silently excusing MZB’s actions. I have to gag at how often I mentioned, almost proudly, that she had named and helped found my medieval group.

There are those who will say that we should separate the art from the artist. That these terrible crimes in no way taint the artistic works of the person who committed them. Alas, I am not so able to separate my emotions on this matter. When I was a young boy, I was sexually abused by a teenage cousin. The memories of that stick with me to this day, and it took many years to get over the feelings of anxiety they caused in me. So maybe I am just too emotionally swayed by this to forgive the art of the artist. Thing is, a monster may make beautiful art, but I still wouldn’t have it hanging in my living room.

So tonight, I am going to throw out the books I own that are by MZB. Granted, I wasn’t a huge fan, but I do have some of her anthologies. I will also never buy anything that her estate profits from; her children were disowned, and the money from her estate supports her life-partner/secretary, who also had a hand in covering up the abuses of Breen and MZB. I don’t expect everyone I know will do this. I’m not asking them to. But it’s something I must do.

Here are some links for those who want to read more about this mess.

http://deirdre.net/marion-zimmer-bradley-its-worse-than-i-knew/

http://www.sff.net/people/stephen.goldin/mzb/

#FFC52 – 2014 Flash Fiction Challenge Week 24 – “Big Trouble”

Image

It’s that time again kiddos! This week, the lovely Thain in Vain challenges us with a prompt that took me a while to play with. However, I’m very happy with the following, a tale of big trouble, coming in at a neat 500 words on the nose.

SMACK!

My slap caught Little Bob square on his face, and for a second, his gibbering ceased.

“Calm yourself,” I growled, wiping my hand across my shirt. Little Bob about as greasy as a guy could get without qualifying for an EPA cleanup. His eyes darted back towards the basement door, which moments before, he’d crashed through and slammed in a panic.

So unprofessional. His pappy, Big Bob, was gonna be pissed. That was him, on the back of our jumpsuits, smiling with two cartoonish thumbs thrust in the air, surrounded by the words “Big Bob’s Big Bug Busters.” I’d been with the five B’s for around five years, which was about four years (and 9/10’s) longer than I had intended. But the pay was alright, and Big B was a pretty laid back guy to work for. Plus, I like killing bugs. Creepy little bastards. I turned my attention back on the Little B, Big B’s near-worthless man-child of a son. I had the pleasure of training him in the old man’s footsteps. It was going to take work. A lot of it.

“Now, why’d you come running up those stairs like that and slamming the door?” I asked.

“I saw one, Chuck.”

“Saw one?”

“A roach. A roach!”

My eyes could not have rolled faster.

“Well no shit, Sherlock. We’re fucking exterminators. That’s what we’re here for.”

“This one was different,” he whimpered, “Huge.”

I sighed. Every fucking bug was huge to Little B. Last week, it was the Case of the Monster Roly-Poly. That thing had to have been, what, 3/4 of an inch? The week before, the Case of the Enormous Mosquito. Maybe a quarter of an inch. I was getting the impression that Little B just wasn’t cut out for the family business.

“Look, you stay up here, ok? Spray the cabinets or something. I’ll hit the basement.”

His skin turned an ashy white, but he just nodded. Whatever. I opened the door, and descended the steps.

The lights were out. Great. I reached up, flipped on my head lamp, and looked around for the telltale scurry of the common german cockroach.

Then I saw it.

It was a good thing I was wearing a headlamp, or I’d have dropped the light. As it was, I stood, paralyzed.

Little B was right. I’d seen some big ones in my time, but this one…..this one was huge. It had to be the size of a good sized dog, though all flat and low to the ground. I swear I heard its antennae creak as they waved about in the air. My breath, which had fled the moment I’d caught it in the light, finally came back, and I began to slowly back towards the stairs.

That’s when I heard the scream. Little B.

Oh, shit.

Big B’s first rule of cockroaches popped into my head.

For every roach you see, there’s a hundred more in the walls, waiting for dinner.

The walls began to creak.

Fuck

This one may be rough for some of you to read (Triggers: Cancer, kids, life)

Before I begin this post, I want to make it clear that I don’t want this blog to seem to have taken a sudden turn for sadness. It has been a rough few days, but I am, truly, doing quite well despite of it. Sometimes, though, a touch of sadder memories is a good thing, that helps us appreciate the things we have. I’ve got a story I have been thinking of writing for here for a while, and though it has its harder moments, I hope you’ll read it through to the end. Unlike most of my work here, this piece is absolutely non-fiction.

I remember it clearly, the day my son was diagnosed with cancer.

I was working two jobs at the time, trying to make ends meet while paying a ridiculously high amount of child support; don’t get me wrong, I begrudge my children nothing, and would give every cent to see them well-cared for, but even the judge who passed the support balance commented that he thought it was ludicrously high and did not know how I was going to live on the remainder. Well, truth be told, I couldn’t. So I found myself, a career professional, in need of a second job, one that would be flexible with hours and let me bring in just enought to ensure that me and my wife and step-kids kept a roof over our heads, while ensuring my bio-kids kept one over theirs.

So I took a job delivering pizzas. It wasn’t a bad job, but it was rough, hot work in the middle of summer, and when I wasn’t hurrying about town dropping off pies, I was in the back room, washing dishes in scalding hot water and sweating like mad. I was in the washroom when my phone buzzed. The manager did NOT allow calls while at work, but I glanced down, saw it was my ex, and due to our rather combatative divorce, we never called each other unless it was something to do with the boys. I went to my manager, explained the situation, and he was unusually understanding in giving me the time to step outside and return her call.

I apologized for missing her call, and asked what was up. She explained that Riley, our then five year old, was running a fever again, and that she was taking him to the med stop, as it was Sunday and our normal pediatrician wasn’t open. Riley’s regular illnesses had been a point of contention for several months at that point. My ex invariably blamed me, saying he always came back from my house sick, and I invariably blamed her, saying he always came to my house sick. It was always passed off as a cold or allergies or whatever the bug of the week was that was going around. I told her that was fine, and to call and let me know when she found out what was going on. She agreed, and I returned to the dish pit.

A couple hours passed. I was scheduled that night to work from 5:30 till midnight, though that typically meant I’d actually be there till 1 or later with post-evening clean up. She had called right as I had started my shift, and I was beginning to get a bit irked that she hadn’t called back yet. Finally, though, my phone rang, and again I cleared a break and went outside to take it.

She told me they were on their way to the Children’s Hospital.

Instantly, my nerves were on end. I asked her why, my voice slightly a tremble. She said that the med stop had taken some blood samples and that they didn’t think their equipment was reading it right, but to be on the safe side, they wanted her to take him to the Children’s Hospital and have them check him out. She was irritated at how vague they had been, and I was worried about it, but there wasn’t much to do. She promised to keep me updated, and I went back to work.

Worry consumed me for the rest of the evening. My stomach knotted up, my heartbeat pounded furiously. I made a few mistakes, got chewed out. I apologized profusely, and though he was irritated, my manager was fairly understanding. Unfortunately, we’d already had another driver call out, so he couldn’t afford to send me home. I worked the rest of the night in a mood of underlying doubt and worry. At 1:30AM, I was finally off. I called my ex immediately, and she told me that they had taken blood, but that the lab wouldn’t be able to process it for a while and that for now, they were just waiting in a hospital room. I asked if she needed anything, and she said no.

I remember, clearly, the difference in her voice at that moment. Her normal tone of underlying anger was absent, replaced by worry, stress. For a moment, we were no longer a messily divorced couple – we were parents, sharing mutual concern for our child together. She promised to call me as soon as anything came up. I thanked her, sincerely, absent of paranoia or anger or doubt at her word. I went home and went to bed, as I had to be up in about five hours for my day job.

I’d been asleep for two and half hours when my phone rang. I had barely been able to get to sleep, and the sleep I did get was fitful and unsettled. The buzz of my phone had me up with a start. I answered it.

The line was silent.

I said my ex’s name, afraid we’d lost the connection. Faintly, I heard sobbing. I said her name again, panicked.

“What’s going on? Are you there?”

“Well,” she said, her voice wavering between sob and sound, “they know it’s not a virus. They’re just trying to figure out what kind of cancer her has.”

I don’t know that words can fully capture the absolute devastation that those words can deliver to a parent. The best I can manage seems clumsy and no where near strong enough to convey the feeling, but I will try. Initially, it felt very much like someone had just slammed me in the chest with a sledgehammer. Pain, actual physical pain, wracked my body, and the wind was knocked out of me. I had trouble breathing.

“What?”

“Cancer,” she said, and then broke into unbridled sobs of anguish. Unwanted, unbidden, mine joined hers. My wife woke with the sound, and joined us.

The week following was a roller-coaster of emotions. Tests upon tests were performed, and finally, they came to us with the “good” news. Riley had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, type Pre B. Of all the cancers that strike in childhood, it was considered the “best” to have. At his age, it was highly treatable, with a large chance of being beaten back permanently. It didn’t make the process easier, the emotions less painful, but it was a glimmer of hope. He had a great team of doctors, who explained that treatment for leukemia had come so far in the last ten years, and that it was going to be tough and he couldn’t promise anything but there was hope.

***

It has been three years now since we found Riley’s cancer. The stuff that was hardest in the beginning became strangely routine. The monthly lumbar punctures, the chemo, the regular bouts of neutropenia where we had to scrub everything in the house with Lysol, wear masks, and keep away even the most well meaning friends and family. It all became part of normal, daily life. We had some stumbles, some real scares. Once, his liver began to go into failure, but we caught it quickly and changed the course of his treatment. Another time, his brain began swelling, but again, the docs caught it and we changed paths again. Now, we are only six months away from being done with his treatment, hopefully forever.

There have been blessings and losses along the way. Some of the children we got to know during his treatment weren’t so lucky. Some didn’t respond as well as he did. Others did wonderfully, like Riley. My ex and I became more understanding with each other, work a little bit better with each other.

So there it is. I don’t know why I felt I needed to tell it here, but I did. I think, perhaps, because Riley is one of the many reasons I need to write. I don’t want to leave him a legacy of his father being bitter at his mom, who never tried to live up to his potential, his dreams. I want Riley to see in me an example, a man who dreams and reaches to accomplish them. I want him to see that, just like his cancer, he can overcome the obstacles that life places in his path, and do what truly makes him happy.

And so, I’ll write. For Riley. For all my children.

For me.

“People F#cking Suck” – from 1,000 Awesome Writing Prompts by Ryan Andrew Kinder… (NSFW, AC, TRIGGER WARNING)

It’s time once more for a prompt from 1,000 Awesome Writing Prompts by Ryan Andrew Kinder…

This week’s prompt is a darker one, indeed.

#814. Write from the perspective of a people trafficker.

 I’m giving myself 20 minutes to write this. Wish me luck.

**Done with 8 seconds to spare. Thank God. I feel more than a little slimy after writing this.**

***WARNING!!! TRIGGER WARNING FOR THE FOLLOWING FICTION!!! DARK SHIT AHEAD!!! THE AUTHOR WAS ATTEMPTING WRITING FROM A DISTASTEFUL PERSPECTIVE BUT DOES NOT ENDORSE THE BELIEFS FOUND HEREIN.***

Don’t say you weren’t warned.

“People F#cking Suck”

Most people would call me a monster. I don’t know, though. I’ve seen monsters. Real ones. Guys that do things that make even the most hardened badass in some Central American backwater prison have nightmares about. Heavy shit, man. Fucking crazy shit. Me? I just traffic people. Move em from point A to point B, pick up a little green (both the spending kind and the smoking kind) and that’s that.

Yeah, yeah, oh my god, don’t I realize they’re people? Yeah, of course the fuck I realize they’re people. That’s why the job pays so well, isn’t it? Thing is, you live long enough in this world, long enough in my world, and you begin to realize something. People fucking suck. They do. All of them. You, me, and the trembling little girls in the back of my van. We all suck.

I won’t lie, I used to have empathy for them. Most of them. But a lot of these girls? They come from places that would make you vomit just to walk a hundred yards from, let alone live in. These girls aren’t random kidnap victims, enslaved brutally like the movies would have you believe. Ok, well, most of them aren’t. Most of the girls I move were sold to us by their own families. Their own fucking families. You get that? Their own mothers or fathers or siblings or aunts or uncles or fucking grandparents brought them to my employer, who paid a ridiculously small amount of money, and then gave them to me. To move.

You know why they sold them? Two things, usually. One, simple greed. People fucking suck, remember? And greed runs the world, buddy. Greed runs the world. You wouldn’t believe it, but the highest call for these little packages are to some of the richest bastards in the wealthiest, most “civilized” countries. They fucking suck too. So much god damned money they sometimes literally wipe their ass with it. They get bored. They can have anything, so the get anything. Including fresh young girls to play with, till they get bored with them too, and then bam, back in the van, and off to the next dude who can’t quite afford first pick. Sick, sucky people.

Reason two? The place they came from was such a god awful hell hole that there literally was nothing better in the world for them than being sold into slavery for sex. Their families believed, no, fuck that, knew that the only chance they had for a better life was one spent on their back in some foreign city, carted around by some fuckwad like me and staying just a step ahead of the authorities. Sure, some girls get scared. Some find ways to get loose, escape, get to the cops wherever the fuck we are. They ruin things for the rest of em. We have to pack up quick then. Get em on the van and move before we all get fucking hung.

Thing is, that one girl, that one stupid selfish girl who had to run off? You know what she did for her “sisters”? She fucked em, royally. See, when we set up someplace new, when there’s no feds or government types sniffing up our asses, we have the time to vet some of the customers. Not all of them, mind you – go back to reason one if you want to know why – but a lot of em. Enough that the girls we set up don’t have it all that bad. Sure, they gotta spread their legs at someone else’s whim, but fuck, how’s that any different from marriage in the fucking warzone they came from? At least with us, they get cleaned up. They see docs. Gotta keep the good healthy, after all.

But when a girl gets loose, we gotta pull stakes. Yank the other girls from whatever situation they are in, some of them pretty cozy. We gotta hit the road, and more often than not, ditch the merchandise at the first chance we get. That can go one of two ways too. Either we sell them to some cheap fucking pimp who’s gonna use em, abuse em, and then ditch them when they are too broken, bruised, or diseased to be of use. Or we kill them. Simple as that. Take them out in a desert and just leave them in a locked van. It’s easier that way.

So that girl, the one that got away? She fucking sucks. The pimps? Fucking suck. The johns? Fucking suck. The families? Fucking suck?

But me? I’m just a guy who drives a van.

And yeah. I fucking suck.