The next day was Sunday and my mother had planned an informal yet twatty brunch for a gathering of friends and neighbors. It was destined to be another highfalutin affair as they always are. From the top of the stairs where I perched like a looming owl and looked down upon them, neck twisting to perfectly position the ears, eyes wide in a pretend dream of love set to be unwheeled by my devious plan. But I did not feel guilty as I listened to the clinking of sangria glasses and the pretentious chortles while the vibrating hive chatted down in the foyer, some of the rich bodies floating off into other rooms and spaces of the house, dropping crumbs and sloshing drinks along the way without a shred of concern.
I could hear my father drunkenly laugh out loud as he talked with Frost and his own father, the rich and bloated Mr. Claude Bennington, the infamous balding, icy-hearted architect, about the depravity of the working-class poor and their blue-collar, fast-food lifestyles, along with their lack of appreciation for the finer details found in the engineering of buildings.
“Their eyes just can’t comprehend it,” the elder Bennington began, his stuffy and snobby voice, like a pretentious professor, rising like black smoke to scrape against and discolor the ceilings. “It just doesn’t reach their polluted brains. They don’t get that it takes a very great man, such as me, to envision the bending of steel and the precise placement of glass and to breathe life into the soul of a space. You could almost say I’m responsible for creating life itself, in an ethereal sense, of course. I take an empty place, a voided realm, and I plant a seed and a complex structure grows like a magical beanstalk. Do you see what I’m getting at…?”
His voice trailed off and I couldn’t stand the taste of the factual moment, this slice of time where my father was carrying on with this architect Bennington and his gross offspring, the one begotten in thrusting grunts upon a drafting table, this young man, the ever-prickish Frost Bennington, standing right there beside him like he was as Jesus is to God, my holy father touching his sweatered, collegiate back with one time-worn hand, holding a glass of strong drink in the other. My father treated Frost as if he were his own flesh and blood, but little did he realize it was that very same flesh, younger, meatier flesh, that had been pressed to his wife’s lust-tingled skin the two nights before, and it was the very same blood that had pumped through his veins and rushed to his rocketing organ that he continually rammed into my mother’s begging body until he shot off like a plasmatic light storm locked in a glass ball. My poor blind fool of a father, I thought.
Yes, I am guilty of envy. Yes, it hurts my insides. Yes, I am capable of revenge. I was extremely jealous that Frost Bennington basked in the drunken glow of my father’s attention and love. That should be me beside him I stomped aloud in my own spinning head. I should be the son he is proud of. I should be the son he admires. But I am not, I am the ever-alert owl at the top of the stairs looking down on this charade of fools, cleaning my feathers with precision, and knowing this is the day they will all become cognizant of the lies of their loves. This is the day they will be shocked and disheartened. Even my sweet sister Emily will be, as she twirls about the crowd with my bastard baby Maine, showing him off, making up some lie about who he is and where he came from so suddenly… “Babysitting for a friend,” she tells them as she spins around like Mary Poppins suffering through an aching period.
And then there’s my mother, the victorious Queen Victoria of the room, head so high in the air her chin scrapes against the soles of God’s sore feet. She dressed herself in long sleeves, not for fashion sense but merely to hide the fingerprint bruises of climax Frost left indented in her arms when she went down on him. She wore too much makeup on her face, her brassy hair was too twirled and high, she over smiled, and she over laughed in her showtime presentation to the bubbling leeching crowd. It’s all about the look of it for her, like I already mentioned a long time ago. It’s all about the presentation and appearance. It’s all about the vigorously buffed outside to hide the scratches, and never to reveal the blackened, tarnished inside. Little does she know of the patina that is about to be unveiled as she sips and smiles so sourly among her guests.
And then my father happily appeared from somewhere invisible, and he went to my mother and he just up and kissed her right there in front of everyone, dipping her a bit, nearly causing the spill of a drink, and they all cheered and laughed and some whistled and I wanted to swoop down from my perch atop the stairs and rip both of their eyes out with my razor-sharp talons. And then I’d pick them up from the fluid floor and carry them over the entire scene and show them, yes, with their very own eyes clutched in my beak and talons, how void of life their lives really were, and then I would drop their screaming stretched-wide eyes in the crystal punch bowl and the last thing they would see would be their own selves drowning in a sangria blood pool alongside bobbing orange slices and edible pink flowers.
I wanted to run down and tell my father to spit her kiss from his mouth. I wanted to tell him that she had Frost’s seed lingering beyond her lips, still dripping from her dangling uvula, and that she would eventually kill him with her betrayal. And it would be just the same with his polished protégé — Frost creeping up behind him to thrust a knife in his back while huffing my mother’s silky French deshabille like gasoline in a rag. But now I was destined to make all that reveal itself quickly, and in consequence my position in this place, this so-called family would be forever altered — I would be exiled to the big, big city of glittery and soiled solitude to live out my days broke and alone with no place to really call home, at least not a home built by Kings.
When it came time for me to make my appearance to trigger the utter derailment, I felt little nervousness. I was quite calm as I began to slowly descend the stairs toward the gyrating pond of scum and gloss. I hoisted my old boombox high above my head and I must have looked like Lloyd Dobler expressing his love and desires for Diane Court outside her house in that movie Say Anything. But instead of a Peter Gabriel love song pouring out of the speakers, it was a song of human sex. It was lustful noises that cascaded down those stairs and into the air above their bobbleheads. What blurped out, at the highest volume allowed and for all to clearly hear, were the sounds of my mother breathlessly moaning as Frost worked himself in and out of her. Then came her dirty utterances, filthy things she probably never had said to my father in all their years together. Then came the sounds of her crying out Frost’s stupid name as he slapped himself harder against her, and even that could be heard, that whap whap of flesh smacking against flesh. And then it was sounds of their sloppy and heated kissing, the biting, the clawing, the gnawing of the static air itself. And then came Frost’s divine and ultimate thrust that forced his very own DNA inside her worked-up guts, and he howled like a wounded animal, his joyful release dripping through clenched fangs reminiscent of that exuberant feeling one got on that last day of school before summer vacation, and Frost let out a high as a tidal wave wet crashing rip and boom of “Oh Evelyn! Evelyn! My God, Evelyn!”
The next thing I knew, I was standing on the third step from the bottom and the crowd before me was aghast and with glazed over shocked eyes that stared right at me in horrid disbelief. I looked over at my mother, her jaw dropped first, followed by her glass of iced sangria punch that shattered on the angelic tile of the foyer. A misshapen circle of reddish orange liquid spread. “Everett!” she screamed out. Then she suddenly fell to the floor and people surrounded her and then it was my sister, handing Maine off to another set of arms and then rushing to my mother, her face cocking in my direction for just a moment, and she had a look of dead grimace and horrible pain upon her.
Then I saw him through the small but frantic crowd, and he was coming at me in seemingly slow motion. Frost, like a raging bull. And he quickly got on me and he pulled me down with his claws like a lion on a gazelle. He went for the boombox and did everything he could to turn it off, but it was relentless in it’s spilling of the songs of his sins he himself had birthed, and he had to struggle with it before finding the right thing to do, which was to dismantle it by smashing it upon me. And that’s exactly what he did. I can see a perfect picture of it when I look back on it, Frost Bennington howling crazy above me like Alex DeLarge in a Clockwork rage as he brought it down hard, the sounds of their sex becoming eerily warbled and finally dislodged and then shredded by his menacing anger. I remember how my face got caved in, my nose broken, and my mouth bloodied despite my efforts to shield myself from the blows. Then it was my father who came to my rescue, and he pulled Frost off me and tossed him to the side and there was insane screaming all around me, a distorted roar like an unrestful ocean, but then the sounds all began to fade, and my vision got bloody and blurry, like I was walking around cloudy red Heaven or something. And I recall people saying my name over and over and over again, and the last thing I heard was, “What have you done!?”
The next thing I remember is I woke up in the hospital and my sister was in the room sitting in a chair.
Her head was hung low like she was sleeping or very sad. “Emily?” I managed to say. I smacked at my own mouth. It tasted like old blood. “Emily? Are you dreaming?”
She wasn’t dreaming because her head slowly came up and her eyes were open to look at me. She blinked slowly. Her face was red, puffy, and wet with tears. “How are you feeling?” was the first thing she said to me, sniffling.
“Torturous,” I answered.
“Seems about right.”
“And what of mother?” I asked, quickly wanting the news.
“Mortified but resting.”
“Dark. Brooding. Deep inside himself… They’re talking about divorce, Everett.”
“I suppose they should be.”
“I doubt they will go through with it,” Emily decided for herself. “The financial implications would be too much for them at this point.”
“So, I suppose they will continue to live together in the shadows like jackals?”
“Most likely,” Emily said, and she stretched herself in the chair. “Just darker, junglier shadows.”
I paused and reached for some water in a plastic cup that sat on the bedside table on wheels. I sipped. I looked at Emily and she was far away. “What about you and Frost?”
She quickly snapped out of her self-imposed trance. “I broke it off, of course. He didn’t take it well. He didn’t take any of this well.”
“They only have themselves to blame, Emily. They brought this avalanche to the mountain. It was the noise that finally buried them.”
She looked at me like I was evil. “You set a lot of fires yourself. The neighborhood is abuzz with uncontrollable gossip and brimstone. Mother is convinced they will have to move now. Why such a show?”
“I tried to tell you. You didn’t believe me.”
“It seemed so fucking preposterous at the time,” Emily said, and she got out of the chair and went to the window to look out at nothing but our own reflections in the hospital room. It was the way the light was. “I’m sorry I slapped you.”
“I probably deserved it… What do you plan to do now?”
“Get my own place. Carry on with school.”
“You can come live with me, if you want.”
She laughed a little. “No thanks.” She turned from the window and came to the side of the bed and looked at my busted-up face. She reached out to touch me. “Does it hurt?”
“Yes. It hurts.”
She smiled. “I may not be seeing much of you anymore,” she said.
I thought that was a strange way to put it, and then she pulled away from me and left the room.
It was a few weeks later I suppose, and I was sitting in my lonely apartment in the city eating a bowl of cereal and looking out a window. The world was a dirty white and it was Valentine’s Day and I had no heart to share.
It was funny what happened next because there was a knock on my door and when I went to open it, there was my mother standing there holding a big cardboard heart of chocolates wrapped in shiny plastic. She looked cold and sad. “Hello, Everett,” she said, and she sounded like how a radish tastes. “May I come in?”
I stepped away from the doorway to allow her space to come inside. She handed me the heart of chocolates. “I got you this. I figured you’d be alone today. I suppose I just didn’t want you to go without… Something.” She shed her coat, played with her hair, and sat down on my couch. She looked around my ill apartment. “I really wish you’d try to better your living conditions.”
I sat down in my chair across from her. I tore the plastic off the heart-shaped box and lifted the lid off. It smelled like a fancy candy store inside. I reached in for a round one with a delicate swirl etched across the top of it. I bit into it, closed my eyes, savored every little part of it. “Maple cream,” I said with a dreamy satisfaction.
“I’m glad you like it,” my mother said with a forced smile. “Have another.”
I looked around at the different shapes and colors and plucked a rectangular dark chocolate one out. I popped that in my mouth. I tried to decipher the flavor as I chewed it, my mother strangely staring at me. “Some kind of caramel,” I said.
“Caramel is caramel,” my mother replied with a disappointed scoff.
“I suppose you’re right,” I answered. “I still like the maple cream the best. Thank you. You didn’t have to. I know that what you really think is that I don’t deserve it.”
We just sat there and looked at each other in an awkward silence for a while. “Mother?” I finally said.
She looked at me achingly, coldly. “We’re not going to talk about it,” she sternly said. “We’re never going to talk about it.”
And that’s when she stood up and reached for the gun she had hidden away in her coat. She raised the small silver pistol out in front of her and then she put it to her head, wide-eyed and like she was saluting someone grand and mighty. I saw her fragile finger move against the trigger and then there was a bang and a flash and the wall behind her was suddenly dappled red and gray, and I could feel the warmth of my own mother’s blood against my face. The gun dropped. Her body dropped. The entire world dropped.
I crawled over to her body, and I tried to hold her deadness aloft in my arms but I just couldn’t do it so I let her back down so she could just rest on the floor; that floor now stained crimson and with the smell of human iron coming up from it like summer steam after a rainstorm. And I just sat there beside her for the rest of that Valentine’s Day, even into the darkness of night, and when I slowly moved my head toward the unshaded window, I saw that great ivory eye the moon and the man living there in his blue suit was screaming out to me, “Look what you have done! Look what you have done!”
You can read the previous part of this story HERE.