Rory Holcombe & Andre McIntosh Present

Family Dynamics:
A Tragedy in Four Parts

Pt. 1 The idea came to Patrick when he dropped his pencil in class one morning. The towheaded boy of nine reached down, with his newly fractured wrist, to pick up the fallen utensil. He winced in an obvious sign of pain that was both caught and ignored by his teacher, Mrs. Gunderson. She’d continued to turn a blind eye to Patrick’s numerous plights throughout his career in her classroom and thought often to herself that his father’s influence more than outweighed her pitiful presence in their community. Even so, there was no way she could have missed his most recent injury, for if the apple-sized swelling was no indicator, then the inkcolored bruise that adorned his forearm had to be some clue. Having retrieved his pencil Patrick returned his gaze to his current mathematics assignment. Yet multiplication was the furthest thing from his mind, replaced by his father, Adam’s, most recent violent outburst. He was a prominent businessman, his mother, Evelyn would often say, and because he was so busy he needed his home to be “ship-shape”. Patrick’s negligence to push his chair in, or his sister’s inattention to the condition of her place mat during breakfast were often the cause of conflict in his home. Yet nothing vexed his father more than noise, or the lack thereof. Adam had a particular mode of thinking when it came to noise. There could neither be too much nor too little, and Patrick’s playful commotion two nights before had driven Adam livid. It began with an excess of noise during Adam’s nightly newspaper reading session, and as Evelyn scrubbed dishes and Catherine, their pretty, pre-teen daughter, listened to music in her room the first outpouring of frustration came. “Will you all PLEASE be QUIET?!” Adam roared. He hadn’t been home for more than an hour and was already in a foul mood. Catherine their meek, dark-haired, daughter with an IQ

of 155, lowered her music volume, having learned long ago that there must still be some sort of sound in order for Adam to remain pacified. She returned to her book, silently hoping that her brother would catch on to their father’s disposition. He did not which prompted Adam to tear his paper in half and storm up the stairs leading to the children’s bedrooms. Patrick, who was in the middle of a daring rescue looked up at his father who stood a towering six and a half feet tall. Adam lifted his foot and crushed his son’s toy cars. He snatched the action figure from Patrick’s hand and smashed it repeatedly against a dresser, again, and again until the once great hero was naught more than crumbs. As the coup de grace to this meltdown, he kicked his son at the base of his chest and forced the boy to the ground. His eyes were little more than slits when he growled out his command. “Keep. It. Down.” Patrick could barely squeak out a reply. Angry tears invaded his nose and mouth and smeared the three problems he’d managed to complete. As the bell rang to signal the end of the school day, he gathered his things, he knew that his only option now would be to murder his father. He also knew that Catherine would have been thinking the same thing.

Pt. 2 Catherine, upon leaving her 12th grade Physics class, proceeded to wait at the bus stop for her brother. She rubbed her neck, feeling the soreness from the night before. She’d accidentally left the faucet dripping as she prepared for bed and was snatched out of her slumber by an enraged Adam. “You think I’m just MADE of money don’t you?! DON’T YOU”, Adam spat. Even though she had been in a great amount of pain she never cried out or made any noise, which always seemed to antagonize Adam further. He dragged her, by the scruff of her neck, to the bathroom that she and Patrick shared and forced her to turn the faucet off. Nearly tearing her nightgown, Adam threw the girl into her room, shut off her light and slammed the door. Catherine rubbed her neck as she climbed into bed and took a fresh notebook from the stack beneath her mattress. Inside she wrote, in a code she’d picked up from a book of WWII secret messages, Pros and Cons of Killing Adam. She had decided to go through with the plan during her Chemistry elective. She realized very early on that the quickest way to get where she wanted to go was to go through her obstacles, not around, above, or in any other direction. Adam, being the largest obstacle in her life required much thought. Even the consequences of his death would prove easier to deal with, as their state’s policies concerning crimes committed by minors were extremely (almost comically) lenient. At the very worst she would be tried as a minor and forced to remain in jail until her 18th birthday. She almost hoped for the alone time, as she’d collected a long list of books to read and theories to explore. The girl was bright, and inquisitive, but her creative talents left much to be desired. This was why she decided to enlist the aid of her younger, yet equally frustrated brother. They’d plotted before, bouncing ideas off of one another until an

interesting (and more often than not successful) plan had been reached. Yet nothing they’d done had ever reached the scale of murder. Ranging mostly from childish pranks, petty theft, and blackmail, the two children had often wondered (separately of course) if they were capable of more. As they boarded the bus home Catherine wrote her brother the tiniest of notes. Patrick read the two words she’d written and feigned a cough that masked his consumption of the note. As the words Kill Adam made their way through his esophagus his stomach churned with both excitement and apprehension. He hadn’t actually been prepared for his sister to pitch him the idea. This meant that she’d clearly given the idea great amounts of thought and while he couldn’t wait to hear what she’d come up with, he knew from first-hand experience the horrors that she could plot if she put her talents to such a task.

Pt. 3 Safely hidden within Catherine’s room, the two children arranged their snack of crackers, juice boxes, and finger sandwiches into a simple diagram of their home. They worked quickly because although they had three hours before their mother completed her errands and arrived home, they wanted to be sure they understood the plan well before then. There was never a fear of capture in Catherine’s mind, but when Patrick brought up the question of an exit strategy she only shrugged and said, “I’ll think of something. I always do.” When Evelyn arrived home she found her children sitting on the couch watching reality television. “Hey, guys. Is there anything else on?” She asked, with arms full of bags. Catherine rushed over to help her while Patrick changed the channel. “So did you guys do anything interesting in school today?” Evelyn queried as she and her daughter took the week’s groceries to the kitchen. “Not really. I learned to write with my other hand a little bit.” Patrick waved his good arm back and forth over his head. Evelyn sighed, a gesture that wasn’t lost on Catherine. “We’ll see if your father will let us get it checked out at the doctor, okay sweetie?” As they put the food away, Catherine began to think about her parents’ situation. They’d gotten married out of high school and she’d been there before Adam had the tiniest fraction of the money and influence that he had today. He’d always been a hard man but it wasn’t until they’d had Patrick that he actually began to show the stress he was under. Adam began to emotionally abuse Evelyn very early on and while he could never bring himself to hit his wife, he made up for it by making her feel as inferior as possible. She hadn’t ever been a brave woman but she was smart. Smart enough, at least, to understand a way out when she saw one. Catherine cleared

her throat softly before speaking. “Mom, Patrick and I have been talking. We’re going to do something very important tonight and I want to protect you.” Catherine focused intently on her mother’s eyes, scanning for any indication of Evelyn’s alliance. Evelyn stared at her young daughter, knowing almost immediately what she was referring to. The children hadn’t been happy for years and it was only a matter of time before their genius daughter realized the solution to their problems. This realization took her to a place shortly after they’d gotten married when Adam had used his ruthlessness and intellect to gain power and prestige in his field. Evelyn looked at her daughter and no more words were necessary. Catherine hugged her mother and followed her into her bedroom. Catherine walked into the living room and switched off the TV. She took a deep breath and spoke. “Mom’s on board. She won’t be a problem.” “Good,” replied Patrick. “We should get started.”

Pt. 4

Adam had had a terrible day. His vice-presidency was up for grabs because the company was under new management. There wasn’t much he could do, as he’d gotten to his position through blackmail and threats, and not on actual hard work. He’d spilled his coffee shortly after leaving home, and his car was making a funny clinking sound. Upon arriving at work, the woman he’d been having an affair with announced to the office that she would be leaving for a job on the coast. His boss chewed him out for an issue he’d delegated to a co-worker and he’d forgotten to pick up his dry cleaning. It didn’t matter though. The anticipation of taking it out on his family was more than enough to put him in a better mood. As he pulled into his driveway and turned down his music, he noticed that the lights in the kitchen were on. It wasn’t a big deal, they could more than afford the electricity, but it was reason enough to begin his nightly session with the family. He kicked the door to the kitchen open and roared inside. “WHO THE HELL HAS THE LIGHTS ON IN THE KITCHEN?!” Adam stormed through the house, squeaking on the freshly mopped floor. When there was no answer, he became enraged. When he walked from the kitchen to the living room he became absolutely livid. It was a mess. Almost intentionally done. The pillows were off of the couch, there were DVD cases strewn about the floor and the television was turned at an odd angle. He roared at the mess and stormed through the house. Catherine watched her father from outside and as he climbed the stairs and entered the hallway where their mother’s room was, she hit the master switch that controlled the power to the house. Their home was adorned with complete darkness and Adam roared again. It wasn’t long before he noticed that all of the white noise that he normally associated with being home

had long since disappeared. He took another step as a small hand slid a skateboard under his feet. “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON IN HERE,” Adam asked to no one as his entire view of the world inverted itself. He tumbled down the stairs landing firmly on his back. The form of his son wielding a slender blunt object entered his left periphery and as the boy rose the instrument Adam could see a terrifying grin. The bat came down hard on Adam’s knees again and again until the bones were little more than crumbs. Adam could do little more than scream. He reached for the boy, hoping to strangle the life out of his bloodline when his daughter entered the front door and stood securely on his hands, pinning them to the ground. Broken knees, injured back, and the loss of his hands meant Adam was little more than paralyzed. He coughed heavily as he tried not to vomit from the pain, and growled inside himself. His children spoke no words and as Patrick tossed the bat in favor of a heavier utensil, (namely the award Adam had won on the day of Patrick’s most recent birthday) he could see the focus in their faces. With cold calculation Catherine tossed a bath towel over Adam’s face, braced herself against a nearby wall, and dug her heels into Adam’s hands. Patrick brought the star shaped award down into Adam’s face ten times, letting the weight of the thing pulverize the visage of the boy’s worst enemy. Through a hellish grin he spoke to his sister. “I think I’m done.” He dropped the award as Catherine walked down the stairs to the kitchen. Evelyn walked out of the bedroom that she’d once shared with her husband with the cold weight of Smith & Wesson in her hands. Through tears and spit and sweat she addressed her daughter. “Pat, honey? Could you come here for a sec?” She brought the gun to her stomach and aimed it at her son. He’d managed to avoid splattering his clothes with the towel but she could still see the blood on her son’s heart. But what frightened her the most was the lack of remorse

or any inclination of a conscience. It was almost as if Adam had shrunk himself down to the size of a ten year-old boy. Her husband’s frightening expressions were copied in Patrick’s face and she knew that he would never be the same to her again. The shot rang out and Catherine knew immediately what had happened. As she fled her home she realized that she’d been exactly right about how things would turn out. It was unfortunate that Patrick had to pay the price for her future, but it was worth the risk. She would miss him, but she would not allow it to ruin her.

Epilogue

Evelyn (or prisoner 81567903) had just finished working out with her friend from Block A and was heading back to her cell. She hadn’t gotten a visitor since she was convicted eighteen years ago and wasn’t prepared for Lucille, the handsome female security guard to name her in the list of in-mates with visiting family. She threw the towel around her neck and headed down to the visitation room. The other inmates had already been seated and she looked around for anyone without an orange jumpsuit. Her stomach lurched as she glanced upon a beautiful darkhaired woman standing professionally near one of the tables. Evelyn slowly approached her daughter, and Catherine’s steely expression only accentuated her attractiveness. Catherine had become a top forensic analyst in just a few years and although she would never admit it, she dedicated her career to her brother and mother. As she looked at the woman who’d given her life, she was filled with an uneasy fear that she would be hated and despised by her. But as the mother gently hugged her daughter and they both cried softly Catherine knew that all had been forgiven. It wasn’t until she felt the paper-clip shank pierce her temple that she even had an inkling of how upset her mother really was.

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