Hide & Seek

04 Dec
By Douglas Kolakowski

 

It always ended up that way, her on the floor and my fists being the cause of it. I never predicted I’d be this kind of person, or that we would
have this kind of marriage and though we were once united with love, we fought often. Our issues by morning would be “resolved” and nothing would have
appeared to have happened, but her face would still show the truth. Every day our marriage would fall a tiny bit more and by the end of each night we’d be
back in the same place, the only hope for a happy life was just an image to appease our son: Daren.

Ten years old, strong and healthy– Daren was certainly a daddy’s boy, always wanting to go on adventures, take naps and come to work with me. He
was certainly the perfect son and certainly my pride and joy.

The night had started off bland. I had returned home from work, sat myself down on the couch and went about my evening. My son, sitting in the
front of me; It wasn’t until my wife entered the room that I could sense something was wrong.

“Honey, Daren decided to go through our closet again– not only that but I saw him near your office! I don’t want him anywhere near there! Where you keep all your police officer crap!” her voice bringing an uproar to my ears.

“Listen, when I’m not home, all I can do is lock the doo–”

“That’s not good enough!”

Anger filled me and within moms I was up, standing in front of her and she was on the floor. Her voice was quieted and my rage was powering
through my every pore and pounding through my veins, but then I stood, looked around and my eyes met my sons. I hated how this was for him, he didn’t need to be subjected to my anger or my irresponsibility.

“Son, it’s time for bed…” was all I could mutter out as I picked him up and carried him to his room. Tucking him in, kissing his forehead and walking out was all this failure of a father could do.

The next few days were quiet, my wife and I held no conversation and Daren’s attention was primarily focused on the television.

“Son, I think it’s time we went out.”

The smile across his face was the only response I needed before scooping him up and taking him to the car. Driving for a few minutes under an
uncomfortable silence was new to the two of us, often he was tinkering with the radio or I was lecturing, but now, it was just unsettlingly quiet.

I, so, wanted to bring to his attention that nothing was his fault, that our failing family was primarily my issue and nothing more– but
bringing that to the attention of a child could be no easy feat and I wasn’t completely sure he could handle it.

“Daren, I need you to listen– this whole thing at home, it has nothing to do with yo–”

My sentence was cut short by his words.

“Daddy, what’s it like to kill someone?”

I stopped speaking, shocked and overwhelmed to the point where I pulled over. I turned towards him with a nervous smile.

“Well, I haven’t really killed anyo–”

“You shot that robber and he died that one time, Daddy.”

“Well, that’s true Daren, but he was a bad man. He was only bringing bad things. I guess, the point is, killing someone is wrong and shouldn’t be done, unless absolutely necessary… He tried to kill Daddy… so Daddy killed him.”

My eyes never left his and in return the same smile he always had never left his face.

That evening I found myself contemplating the earlier conversation I had with him. He was a happy child, but lately he seemed distant. There were
no games to be played, there was just Daren, his t.v and the fights that would sometimes overpower it. I wasn’t even paying enough attention to realize my boy had grown and changed. My mind wandered and before the night was over, he and my wife were asleep in their rooms and I was resting on the couch.

Sleep took me slowly, my thoughts pulled me into an abyss that could only be shown as true relaxation in my current stage of life, all at this time, finally felt right.

That’s when I heard the bang.

My eyes opened quickly, fear hit me as the blood rushed to my head from the quick motion of jumping off the couch.

It was a gunshot.

I ran down the hall towards the sound heading in the direction of the room my wife slept in; only to find her on the bed and my son standing
beside it.

The smell of gunpowder and shellings were still in the air as I noticed the bloodily and broken cranium that was once my wifes face. Her torso
was twisted in such a way that could only be part of some hellish nightmare and the tool and person responsible for this was– my gun and Daren.

I ran to her side ignoring the cause of her death as I tried to revive her from the state she had quickly and unknowingly been thrown into, my
full concentration was on her, my wife– the mother of my child. It was his laugh that snapped me out of my state.

“Oh Daddy, silly, silly Daddy. You just don’t get it do you?” my face was filled with horror as I saw his cute smile twist into a grin I had never seen bestowed on him.

“She was a bad guy, Daddy. She was in the way, always was and always would’ve been– but now she’s
gone, Daddy! She’s gone!”

Anger filled me as I ran over to him, grabbing his shoulder and shaking, his face surprised and for a moment scared.

“No! No Daren! You can’t just– You can’t just kill people! When I killed that man, he was bad! Your mother wasn’t bad! She was your mother! Your fucking mother!” I let him go dropping to my knees as my own pride and joy had taken our problems into his own hands.

“We can live happily ever after without her… We can! We can! We can!” a tantorum coming into place as he swung his arms, the gun going off firing into the ceiling.

“I did this for you, you ungrateful bastard! I did this for us! We can be happy!” his words of pent up aggression thrust into me like the venom of a snake. As tears filled my eyes, the only thing I could think of was her. I stood up and rushed towards the bed again, bringing my arms around the limp broken corpse.

“You still pick that deranged bitch over me!? How could you!? You think you’d appreciate it! This is so unfair! Unfair! Unfair! Un–” His speech stopped as he took a step towards the bed, anger aside and a grin forming on his face yet again.

“Everyone knew of your fighting, Daddy. They all knew how you and Mommy didn’t get along. They would never know it was me– they could think that you killed Mommy and then yourself!” the moment those words hit my ears I turned to face him, my lip quivered, my mind raced and in that moment, I knew that anything I did was futile.

“I’d be the victim, Daddy. The victim of a crazed man and a mean woman– I’d be the little boy who got away.” The end of his sentence was influenced by a slight laugh.

I was a failure to my wife, a failure of a Police officer and as the father of this young boy, an even bigger failure. My own child, my son, he
had changed and been affected by me, his own father, this whole time and what could I had done to stop him? Probably nothing. My fate had been sealed and my love for him unconditional as he lifted the cold barrelled weapon that I had respectively used to enforce the law towards my head and pulled the trigger.

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