Another slow news day brings me a chance to share a freebie. Ladies and gentlemen, here is…
Firstborn and Forgotten
Barney could hear the rocking chair in the living room from all the way down the hall.
Creak… creak… creak…
Barney drew his covers to his eyes, hands shaking. His eyes darted back and forth, hunting the gloom of his room and seeking movement in the shadows. He wanted to call out, to beg for Mommy and Daddy to come running, but he knew what trouble that would bring.
“You’re eight years old, for chrissakes, Barney!” Daddy would say, while Mommy stood beside his father, shaking her head in disappointment. “Betcha pissed the bed, too! Didn’t’cha?”
The bellowing would continue until the belt came out. Barney’s butt would be tender for a week, like that time he crapped his pants at the movies. Daddy hadn’t let him go to the restroom. “I paid good money for you to watch this movie, so you’re gonna sit and watch it. Thinks money grows on trees, this kid!” Mom had shaken her head. Some days it seemed as if his mother didn’t have a neck at all, only a swivel.
From the living room, a soft voice sang, “Rain, rain, go away… ”
The tone was female, childlike.
Creak… creak… creak…
Barney shivered. His teeth chattered. He hadn’t had a drop to drink since bedtime, but his bladder felt ready to give way. If he soiled his sheets, Daddy would be angry. Then the belt would come out. Eight across the ass; one lick for every year Barney had been a bed-wetting sissy-boy.
Across the hall, Barney could hear his father snoring. Daddy’s whistling hiss and accompanying snorts belied the depth of his sleep. Once the pads of Barney’s feet touched the hardwood floor of his bedroom Dad would be up, belt cutting air like a child writing his name on the Fourth with a sparkler.
“Come again… some other day…”
Barney glanced at the window on the far wall next to his Disney’s Planes and Monsters University posters but saw no moisture on the pane. Outside, the leaves in the trees were dry and still. Not a drop fell through the rays of the sodium vapor streetlights. All the saliva in Barney’s mouth dried up.
The rocking chair moved faster, the creaks coming quicker; the soft female voice rising in volume until Barney thought his head would cave in from the weight of the fear that had settled upon him. His heart trip-hammered in his chest. A warm wetness spread across his lap and ran down his pinched together legs like water on an amusement park slide.
He’d gone and done it. Not only was there some kid playing on the rocking chair, but now he had his own father to be scared of.
Praying he could be silent, channeling his inner mouse, he slithered out of his covers and swung his legs over the edge of the mattress. He placed warm feet on cold flooring and stood, intent on cleaning up before Daddy found him.
Creak. Not the rocking chair this time but him. Across the hall, his father’s snore stuttered then stopped all together. A new bolt of fright coursed through Barney.
His father had heard him.
Quick, heavy footsteps signaled his father’s approach. The bolt on his parents’ door snicked. The hinges squeaked. Three thunderous steps to Barney’s door. Then, there he was, bigger than a cat in a mouse hole; Daddy’s hand shot into the room, found the light switch and flipped it on. Daddy’s cheeks were red with anger, bright with rage, and Barney thought he could feel the heat coming off them from over ten feet away.
“Didja piss yourself again?”
Barney shook his head. His lie only enraged his father further. Daddy took a single step into Barney’s room and froze. Eyes widening, Daddy seemed to be having trouble breathing. His inhalations were quick and his exhalations long.
Something went “Shhhh…” behind Barney. His blood froze in his veins – popsicles wrapped in cellophane. The room dropped ten degrees. Barney’s breath was blue mist before him. He shivered. Daddy dropped to his knees, wetness collecting in his eyes then spilling onto his barreled-chest.
A girl floated by, feet pointed straight down, toes hovering two inches above the hardwood. She wore My Little Pony pajamas; had blonde hair just like Mommy’s. As she passed Barney he could see her forefinger placed across her cupid’s bow, shushing the big man as he dropped to his knees.
“Margie,” his father stammered. Daddy knew the floating girl; Barney thought that was the scariest thing of all.
“You’re not going to hurt him anymore, Daddy, not like you did me,” the girl whispered.
Daddy said, “I didn’t mean to, baby.”
The girl laid a hand upon Daddy’s forehead. The front of his briefs dampened and yellow puddled underneath him. Barney felt oddly good about watching his father wet himself. Daddy sobbed uncontrollably, sucking snot and begging forgiveness.
“Shhhh…” she repeated, her hand still upon his brow. Daddy twitched once and went to sleep.
The girl gave Barney a thin smile and was gone.
Barney crawled back into bed.
The next morning, Mommy found Daddy face down in a puddle of piss. She screamed hysterics into the phone as she tried to explain to the person on the other end that her husband had had a stroke or a heart attack and that he’d had bad blood pressure and diabetes and high cholesterol and hadn’t laid off the sodium and still ate bacon and the ambulance should hurry just fucking hurry because she felt faint and my God the boy saw the whole thing.
While she wailed into the phone, Barney tugged on his mother’s hand.
When she paused to breathe, Barney said, “Mommy, who’s Margie?”
His mother stared down at him, blinking. She dropped the phone. It splashed in the piss.
“Where… where’d you hear that name?”
Barney pointed to Daddy.
Barney didn’t think Mommy could have looked more scared than when she found Daddy dead, but she did. Oh, yes, she did.
In the living room, the rocking chair started up again.
Creak… creak… creak…
“Rain, rain, go away…”
(Note: This blog is not professionally edited. Because reasons.)