I didn’t know my Daddy very well but that’s not to say I didn’t know plenty about him. None of what I knew was good.
Oftentimes there wasn’t enough to eat. He made damn sure though that he always had enough to drink. He would come home after I was in bed. He would be drunken mean and fight with my mother.
Laughter was never heard in that house. Instead, the sounds I heard were screaming, things breaking, his fists striking flesh and my mother crying softly after he passed out.
We rented a ramshackle farmhouse a few miles outside of Buckeye. When my father worked, he did construction or farm labor. I guess he wasn’t good at either. When he got paid, he drank. He sure was good at that.
Somehow, he got in trouble with bad men. He started sticking around home more, doing his drinking there. He seemed to grow even meaner. I awoke one night to the sound of the front door being kicked in. There were muffled voices. Curios, I looked down into the kitchen from the top of the stairs. There were two men. One of them behind my father. All I could see was the back of him. I got a good look at the other one, the right side of his face was badly scarred like it had been burned. They both had guns pointed at him. As I turned away there were gunshots, four of them. I didn’t look back.
There was an attic in the old house full of junk and dust. There was nothing of interest to a nine-year-old boy except for a trunk in the furthest, darkest corner. The trunk was full of old clothes that smelled of must and age. The scent somehow comforted me. I used it as a hiding place when my parents fought.
At the sound of the shots, I crept up the stairs and burrowed deep under the clothing. It wasn’t long before I heard footsteps. They came closer and the lid opened. I held my breath for what seemed like an eternity before the lid dropped. I stayed in the trunk for a long time.
My parents were in the kitchen. They lay face up on the floor with their eyes open. There was a hole in the center of Daddy’s forehead. My mother had three holes in her chest. There was a lot of blood. My father didn’t look mean anymore and my mother just looked sad.
That was the last time I felt anything.
I went through the foster system, never staying long anywhere. It was a constant parade of men who drank too much and women who didn’t care -except for the check the state gave them for taking in kids like me.
I don’t know if it was that environment or genetics. Whatever it was, I turned out more like Daddy then I would have liked. I drank hard and fell in with the wrong crowd. At nineteen I robbed a liquor store in Casa Grande. I was driving on a reservation backroad when they caught me.
They gave me a nickel in the state pen in Florence. That’s where I saw him. Prison had aged him, but he still looked just as hard as he had when he held a gun on my Daddy all those years ago. I was told he was doing life without possibility. He murdered a man and his family in Prescott. When he exited the house, a ten-year-old boy was riding by on his bicycle and identified him.
After about three months I walked beside him on the way to the yard.
“You remember killing a couple in Buckeye some time ago?” I asked.
He gave me a blank look.
“There was a kid in that house. He was hiding in a trunk in the attic.”
The blank look was replaced by recognition, not fear.
My shiv sank into his liver.
After pulling it out I buried it in the back of his neck.
“I was that kid. You should have looked harder.”
He fell face down, strangling on his own blood.
I walked away. I felt nothing.