Benjamin Dusk Knight remembers nothing of the past two years or why he is in a prison mental hospital. In an effort to restore Dusk's memory, Dr. Matthews takes him on a journey through the tragic events of his childhood. After the death of his family, Dusk is sent to live at his aunt's house, where he finds nothing but abuse and neglect. His first foster home is not much better and Dusk completely stops communicating. The foster dad, Pepe, at his second home provides him with the love and security he needs to begin the healing process. When Pepe offers to adopt Dusk, another death of a loved one convinces Dusk that he is cursed. He runs away and his life spirals out of control until a little girl gives him flowers. Inspired by her kindness, he gets his first job and a sense of normalcy.
While Dusk is complacent with this memory, Dr. Matthews forces him to dig deeper into his hidden past, pushing him to the edge of sanity, when at last, his darkest and most horrific secret is revealed.
It’s simple really. I was sleeping. A loud bang woke me from my dream. It smelled like the burnt end of one of my dad’s matches, but this was much stronger. So strong I coughed. For some unknown 4-year-old reason, I kept my eyes closed, tight. My skin was crawling and my stomach turned. I heard someone running towards the room and I still kept my eyes sealed. The person threw open the door and screamed. So loud. I covered my ears. I could still hear her. It was Mom. Another voice boomed behind her, “Oh my God.” They started yelling at each other, I tried pushing my hands harder against the sides of my head. There was a smack, skin on skin, and then another bang. The match smell became a whole matchbook. Silence. Crying. Another bang. The putrid smell of burning matches overwhelmed my nose but I couldn’t use my hands to plug my nose. They were frozen over my ears. I huddled into a ball and stayed like that, my hands blocking the screams and bangs, my eyes locked shut. I have no idea how long I was like that, but the next thing I remember was someone carrying me from the room telling me everything would be okay. Nothing was ever okay after that.
“Is that what you wanted to know?”
“It’s a start, yes. You said your mom and dad yelled at each other. What did they say?”
“This is your fault. I told you not to buy that fucking gun. Oh my little baby. You killed her.”
“Fuck you. I bought the gun to protect you and them. It’s not my fault you’re a bad mother. Annie was obviously, oh Annie. My little Annie. It’s your fucking fault. You should have been watching her. What kind of mother lets her child snoop around and play with things they’re not supposed to?”
“How can you say that? I told you not to get a gun.”
“That was the last thing I remember either of them saying.”
“Are you sure? Did your father say anything else before he shot your mother and himself?”
“I told you no!”
“Relax, Benjamin. I’m trying to help you.”
“I don’t need your fucking help. And don’t fucking call me Benjamin.”
“What should I call you?”
“Dusk. Everyone calls me Dusk.”
“Okay. Dusk, that’s your middle name, isn’t it?”
“That’s right. Why don’t you just leave me alone?”
“Well, Dusk, I’d be happy too. Unfortunately this is my job. I’m getting paid to talk to you and if I don’t do it, I wouldn’t be doing my job properly. Do you want me to not do my job?”
“I don’t give a shit about your job.”
“Dusk, since the two of us are stuck together, we might as well try and get along as best we can. I’ll make you a deal.”
I didn’t want to deal with his bullshit. Any kind of deal he was willing to make with me was for his own benefit. I wanted to punch him right between the eyes and make a run for it. The door was locked from the outside though and there were bars on the windows. Perhaps if I could get him on my good side, I could eventually get him to trust me and then sneak out of the place. “What kind of deal?”
“As you are a new arrival here, I’m supposed to give you five one-hour sessions every week. I have all of this paperwork I’m supposed to fill out in regards to your behavior and as much about your past as possible. Since you don’t want to cooperate how about I cut the number of sessions down to three a week?”
“Three?” I would have to put up with him two fewer days. Sounded good. But I hated answering questions. I’d been asked so many that I couldn’t remember what they were about. “Sounds okay. But, all of the questions you’ve already asked me and are going to ask, I have been asked a thousand times. I’m fucking tired of answering the same thing over and over. No questions.”
“If you agree to talk about your past, I can manage not to ask too many questions. You can set the agenda. You can talk about whatever you want. The only time I’ll ask any questions is to clarify a point or to ask you to talk about one thing a little bit more. If you don’t want to answer the question, you don’t have to.”
Maybe he didn’t like his job and his family life sucked. He probably had a wife and teenage daughter. The wife was a bank teller or some other boring job and the daughter hated both of them. After having to put up with their crap all the time, he had to come here and deal with crazy people. His nerves had to be shot. As long as he didn’t ask any questions, I could deal with him three times a week. “Okay, you got yourself a deal, uh…” I had forgotten his name.
“Dr. Matthews. But you can call me Ben. My first name’s Benjamin too.”
“Alright Ben. You want to know about my life? Here it is, in a nutshell.”
After my sister accidentally killed herself and then my dad killed my mom and then himself, I was shipped off to my aunt’s house. My uncle hated me and treated me like shit. They had two kids. My cousin Jenny wouldn’t come near me because she thought I would kill her. My cousin Andy bullied me and beat me up. No one could understand why I refused to talk and Aunt Susie tried to give me some love, but she was more worried about pissing Uncle Jack off then taking care of me. I had begun to talk a bit and well, one day, when I was about seven, Andy threatened to kill me. I was just a kid; I didn’t know how to take care of myself. I completely broke down and couldn’t even see him without crying, so they decided to get rid of me.
They sent me to my first foster home. There were three other boys at the home. The boys changed a couple times. Right before I left there was another boy whose name was also Ben. I spent about two years there. I was pretty much on my own; the Duncans didn’t pay any attention to us kids. Turned out one boy, Trevor, was a fucking homo. He was paying Ben $1.00 to suck him off. I walked in on them one day and Trevor told me that if I ever told anyone he’d kill me. After that, I couldn’t even look at either of them. Shit, I was too young to really understand it, but how Ben could have accepted the dollar was a big mystery to me. Who knows how long it had been going on and how long it even continued after I caught them. Grosses me out to think about it now.
I had been so relieved to be away from Uncle Jack and Andy that I had actually begun to talk. After I saw that thing with Ben and Trevor I stopped talking again. So, I was shipped off to another home. At the next home, people started calling me Dusk. Not sure I even remember why. Anyway, when I first got there, there weren’t any other kids. I was Pepe’s first one. I stayed at that home until I was 16. I actually had some pretty good times there. Yeah, Pepe was real good to us. When I was about 12, Damien moved in. We hit it off real quick. We were best friends for four years. He was the only friend I’ve ever had. He killed himself. I found him hanging naked in the middle of his room.
I changed foster homes and never saw Pepe again. The next two years were kind of a blur. I went through five or six foster homes, spent some time on the streets, and did some crazy shit. Since I was a fuck-up, they gave me my high school diploma to get rid of me. They even helped me get a job as a doorman for an apartment building, the Saint Leon. I worked the late shift. It wasn’t too fancy a place, but them uppity assholes that lived there sure did think they were the shit. They looked down on me because I was opening the door for them. I didn’t let it get to me. I knew I just had to keep my job for a while and save up some money before I could get me a decent job. Shit, turned out that the building manager was a thief. The bastard was actually stealing from people’s apartments. It didn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out it was someone from the staff. This real asshole, one of the tenants, Bernard Perkins had it in for me, so they blamed me. They even arrested me and searched my apartment. When they didn’t find shit, they didn’t have any proof and had to let me go. Of course I was fired even though I had never done a damned thing. I have no idea if they ever proved it was the manager. I told them a thousand times it was him.
After that I got pretty damned depressed for about two years. I often thought about shooting myself. I was on welfare and most of my time and money was spent getting high. I never did any of that hard shit like dope or crack, well, not much anyway.
This time I was saved by a little black girl. She was probably about five years old. I was sitting on the lawn in Patton Park stoned off my ass. She had the biggest roundest eyes I’d ever seen, and she smiled real big at me and said, “Hi. My name’s Princess, I picked these for you.” She handed me a bunch of those little yellow flowers that grow from weeds.
I looked at her right in those eyes. “Thank you so much.” It was my first genuine smile in as long as I could remember. Was Princess a nickname or her real name? Didn’t matter. She was my real princess. Still is.
After that I got a job in the mailroom at The Drake Building. I had no idea so much fucking mail could go through one building. It was a cool job. My manager was this old Chinese dude, Frank. He was unreal. He had this horrible jet-black died comb-over. But the strangest damned thing was that only his comb-over was died black. The sides of his hair were white and they were fuzzy as hell and stuck straight out. His comb-over was really thin and didn’t cover any baldness at all. Shit, we all gave him crap about it, but he always kept it just like that. Well, not the last time I saw him. His accent came and went depending on how nervous he was. Anyway, he always claimed he was born here, but I’ve known a lot of Asians and the ones born here ain’t got no kind of accent. It got really bad when he was talking to Connie. Old bastard had a thing about fat chicks. When no one else could hear, he was always telling me about how badly he wanted to come on her tits. Connie was about 300 pounds and probably never showered cause she always smelled like stale piss. Nice lady though.
One day this guy Gregory Simmons, maybe you remember him. Made all the news. He was working in the maintenance department. And they fired his ass. Said he was lazy. Shit, maybe he was. He lost it. He was a gun fanatic, had all sorts of stuff, an AK 47, a Wilson KZ45, a Beretta 96, and an Uzi. He unloaded all that stuff downstairs on us. Frank had dressed up and even had bought a toupee. He had decided to ask Connie out. Frank got a round right in the head. Connie got one in the spine, lost all movement below her neck. Simmons killed seven of us that day and wounded another 10. Not sure how the hell I lucked out, not even a scratch. Don’t get me wrong, he should have never shot nobody, but why was he shooting at us? If he was so pissed off why didn’t he take it out on the people who fired him?
The building management was pretty freaked out and was either afraid we’d all sue them or they were genuinely concerned about us. My bet is the first choice. Some charity got us some free therapy and when I told the building manager that I wanted to become a security guard to stop this kind of thing from happening in the future, she seemed real pleased. They paid for me to get security guard training. After my training was finished they even paid for me to move out to Phoenix and work in the Ranchero Building.
I worked there for about ten years I guess. I had a pretty normal life really. I kept to myself, did my job and didn’t cause trouble. From what everybody’s been telling me, I got fired from that job two years ago. I don’t remember anything about it. Hell, I can’t remember anything else except for being asked a million questions. All I know is that I want to go home.
“Dusk, I told you the last time we met I wouldn’t ask you any questions if you agreed to talk. You can talk about anything you want. Is there anything in particular you want to talk about today?”
“No. I didn’t even want to tell you anything about my life in the first place. But we made a deal, so I did.”
“Well, if you don’t have anything you want to say in particular, would you mind telling me more about Annie and your parents? What do you remember about them?” I glanced around the room looking for the camera or a microphone. “Are you looking for something?”
“Yeah, where’s the camera? I don’t want to be taped. Isn’t it illegal to tape me without my permission?”
“I’m not taping you and I don’t have any secret cameras or microphones. What makes you think I would record you without your permission?”
“How’d you remember Annie’s name like that? I didn’t see you take any notes while I was talking.”
“It’s my practice not to take notes. Most doctors in my situation do take notes, but it distracts me from really listening. After every session, I write up a report about everything I remember from it. I’ve been doing this a long time now so my recall for names has gotten very good.”
“Oh.” Damn smart college boy.
“And, it is legal for me to video tape you without your permission.”
“Shit. Do I have any rights at all?”
“A few. But not many. Do you mind telling me about Annie?”
“Hold still Benji – uh, I mean Ashley, you’re making me mess up. There, now you’re ready to go to the ball with me. We’ll both find our Prince Charmings.”
“I don’t want to find a Prince Charming, I want to marry Cinderella.”
“Ashley, a woman can’t marry a woman. You have to marry a man.”
“But I’m not a woman…”
“Benji, it’s only pretend.”
“But I want to marry Mom.”
“That’s stupid, you can’t marry Mom, she’s already married to Dad. Besides, you can’t marry your own mother. And please Benji, let’s just pretend we’re sisters going to a ball, okay? Please? I’ll play whatever you want next.”
“I wanna play Barney.”
“Barney? Barney’s for babies.”
She looked at me and giggled, “Okay, you look so pretty.”
“Let me see.”
She handed me a mirror. Half of my face was a bright red. My lips were smeared even a redder red. Smudges of blue were smeared across my eyebrows. “I look like a clown, not a princess.”
“You’re not a princess, not yet! You have to marry Prince Charming first.”
“Hey kids, what… oh my. Annie, are you playing with my make up?” Mom tried to sound angry, but she laughed, “Oh Benji, look at you. You’re beautiful. Are you going on a date?”
“I’m Ashley and I’m going to marry Prince Charming. I want to play Barney.”
Mom yelled down the hall, “Carl, come here, you’ve got to see how pretty Benji looks.”
“I’m watching TV.”
“It’ll just take a second, you don’t want to miss this. I’ll be right back. Miss Ashley, I want to take your picture before you meet your prince.” She disappeared back down the hall.
“See Ashley, I told you that you look beautiful,” Annie said.
Dad came into the room and shouted, “Annie, what the hell did you do to your brother?” Dad wasn’t trying to pretend to be angry. He was.
“I just put some make up on him so he can find Prince Charming so they can get married.”
Dad grabbed me by the arm, digging his fingers into my flesh. “Annie, don’t ever do this again! Boys do not wear makeup and they absolutely do not marry princes. Never make your brother be a girl again. Do you understand me?”
“I didn’t ask for an argument. Do you understand me, young lady?”
She looked down with tears forming in her eyes. “Yes, Daddy.”
“Good. And you,” he looked down at me, no longer furious, but his voice still forceful, “don’t ever let her dress you up like a girl again? Do you understand?”
He hadn’t released my arm. Maybe if I said I didn’t understand he would break it. I nodded yes.
Mom came back into the room. “Carl, hold him up won’t you, I want…”
“What the hell do you think you’re doing with that camera? You are not taking his picture looking like this.” He marched me past Mom towards the bathroom.
“Jesus, Carl, relax. He’s four years old. They’re just being children. Enjoy it for once in your life.”
“No son of mine is going to dress up like a girl.” He held up his hand to cut off Mom’s next argument. “Patty, I let you raise the kids like you want because women are better at it, but one thing women don’t understand is that men do not dress up like women no matter how old they are. If you don’t understand, tough shit.” He didn’t wait for any more arguments. He pushed me into the bathroom to remove the evidence. Tears burst from my eyes and Dad said softly, “Don’t cry, Benji. It’s okay. I didn’t mean to scare you.” He wiped my face with an old dishtowel and looked at me in the face. “Listen kiddo, I’m not angry at you, I was just surprised to see you like that. Maybe you can’t understand now, but you and me, we’re men. And well, men and women are different. We don’t wear dresses and we don’t wear makeup. Maybe it’s hard to understand, but trust me on this okay?”
Had I been scared of him? His eyes were shining and I knew I could trust him. I shook my head yes.
“After we wash this off, I’ll take you to Baskin Robin’s for some ice cream.”
My tears vanished. “Really?”
“Of course. I didn’t mean to make you upset. In fact, I’ll buy both you and Annie triple scoops! Do you think you can eat a triple scoop cone?”
“Yes!” I shouted.
“Okay then, I have to scrub a little harder. Close your eyes.”
Mom came into the bathroom. “What on earth did you say to poor Annie? She’s sobbing.”
“Tell her to cheer up because we’re going out for ice cream.” He paused in his washing. “I’m sorry, Patty. I didn’t mean to snap at you or the kids. I’ll apologize to Annie too as soon as I finish here. I was just shocked to see Benji looking like a girl, that’s all.”
She kissed his forehead. “You’re a good father, Carl. I still don’t understand why Benji can’t play princess if he wants to, but maybe you’re right. It’s a man thing that I can’t understand.” She opened up the mirror and grabbed a pink bottle. “Here, use this makeup remover. I’ll go tell Annie we’re going out for ice cream.”
It was a strong smell, kind of like the weeds in the backyard. The weeds grew as tall as me. Me and Annie would run through them like we were on an adventure. Sometimes I would lie down so no one could find me. The thickness of the jungle would work its way into my nose. When Mom and her friend, Patience, smoked, they babbled about weird crap. Me and Annie sometimes listened from the hall so Mom wouldn’t shoo us away.
“Patty, I can’t believe you allow him to have a gun. There’s enough violence in the world without my best friend supporting it. How can you say you’re for peace when your own husband has that thing in the house?”
“I know, Patience. I’ve pleaded with him to get rid of it, but he says he needs it because the world is a violent place. He would die if something bad happened to me and the kids and didn’t have a way to protect us.”
“Patty, that’s such a load of bullshit. It’s a macho manly thing to make up for the fear of a small prick. Even though you say you love Carl so his size doesn’t matter, you know he still knows it’s small. He needs the gun to make him feel more manly.”
“I think that’s reading way too much into it. You’re trying to tell me that all men that have guns have small dicks?”
“I don’t buy it for a second. I’ll agree that it’s some kind of strange macho thing, but I don’t think it has anything to do with his size.”
“Aren’t you worried about Annie and Benji? All young kids snoop around. They’ll find it if they haven’t already.”
“The kids don’t know that it’s in the top of our closet locked in a metal file cabinet.”
Patience snorted. “Like they can’t find the key?”
“The key is on Carl’s key ring, so they’ll never get it.”
“Patty, wake up, this is your children’s lives we’re talking about, not whether to give them Flintstones vitamins or stick with sugarless ones.”
Annie pulled me down the hall into Mom and Dad’s room. She opened the closet door and climbed up the shelves. Balancing herself against the door frame, she pulled the file cabinet to the edge of the shelf. “Look Benji, here it is. I wonder what the gun looks like. I bet it’s real scary. You want to see it?”
I shook my head yes. “Won’t Daddy get mad?”
“He’ll only get mad if he finds out. It’ll be our secret, okay?”
“Okay. How can we open it?”
“We’ll take Dad’s keys when he’s sleeping.”
“We’ll get caught and then they won’t let us watch Barney.”
She climbed down from the closet. “God, why do you love Barney so much? He’s stupid.”
“He is not.”
Mom shouted from the kitchen, “Hey kids, I’m making popcorn, you want some?”
We both smiled and ran into the other room, the gun already forgotten.
My eyes bolted open. It was Annie. Before I could even sit up to see if Annie was okay, Mom and Dad were in the room, Dad was first, “Annie, Sweetie, are you okay?”
Annie was sobbing hysterically. Dad scooped her up in his arms and held her tight, “There, there, my little angel, Daddy’s here, you’re safe now.” He kissed her forehead and massaged her hair.
Mom hugged her and said, “We’re both here, sweetie, you only had a nightmare. It wasn’t real.” Annie’s sobs subsided a little. Mom looked over at me and said, “Benji, Annie just had a nightmare, everything’s okay. Come here honey.” I ran over and she lifted me up.
“Looks like we’re all sleeping together tonight.” Dad carried Annie and Mom carried me into their bedroom. Mom and Dad slept on the outside, with me and Annie between them. I fell asleep looking at Dad hold Annie tight. Her tears had stopped and she fell back asleep. The warmth of Mom’s breath blew against the back of my head. Dad’s eyes began to droop and his hand stopped massaging Annie and his breathing matched Mom’s.
“That’s it. That’s pretty much all I remember about all three of them. I was only four when they died.”
“After Annie had that nightmare, how long was it until your family died?”
I paused for a moment. I really couldn’t remember. “I don’t know, a week, a month. It was soon though.”
“What was Annie’s nightmare about?”
“Her nightmare? I don’t know. She fell back asleep without explaining it.”
“Didn’t she tell you the next day?”
“Maybe she told Mom and Dad. I never found out.”
“Was that the same day that Annie found your dad’s gun?”
“Shit, what’s the point in all of this? What fucking difference does it make?”
“I’ve always been fascinated by dreams. If her nightmare happened the same night that she found the gun, it’s likely that her dream was about that gun.”
“Who cares? You still haven’t told me what difference it makes.”
“To be honest with you, Dusk, it makes a lot of difference. Sometimes when really bad things happen to us, we block out the memories. We build these blocks because we don’t want to remember. When we don’t remember, the memories stay locked inside our heads and they can cause us a great deal of pain without even knowing it.”
“Ah, shit, Ben. I was four years old. I’ve forgotten about my family. Sure, not a damned day goes by that I don’t wonder what my life would have been like if they hadn’t died, but they did and that’s that. I ain’t got no secrets locked inside me.”
“Perhaps you don’t, Dusk. But don’t you want to find out if you do?”
“I couldn’t care less.”
“Alright, then will you humor me?”
“I just want you to think really hard. How long was it after Annie’s nightmare that your family died?”
“I told you… Okay, I’ll try to think harder.” Anything to shut him up. It was all a black haze.
“Shit, just let me think for a moment.”
“Why don’t you try to close your eyes?”
“Fine, I don’t see how it will help. I could probably concentrate better if you’d shut your yap.”
Silence. Shit, it worked. I would have to tell him to shut up more often. I tried to place events in order. Was the nightmare before or after Annie found the gun? When did we get the ice cream? How soon after the nightmare did they die? I heard him light a match. I didn’t think doctors were allowed to smoke while they were at work. I didn’t let him distract me. I focused on Annie’s eyes.
“Shhh.” She had her finger pressed to her lips. I waited for a second for my eyes to adjust. She was waving for me to follow her. Mom had rolled over and was sleeping facing away from me. Dad was snoring lightly. There was excitement in her eyes. I didn’t want to wake Mom and Dad so I slowly lifted my body up and crawled out from the foot of the bed. When I got to my feet, my heart began to race. I saw a kitchen chair placed next to the closet and the file cabinet at the top of the closet was open. Annie waved for me to follow.
We went into the hallway and I whispered, “Did you get it?”
She pressed her fingers on her lips again, smiled and shook her head yes. She led me into our bedroom and closed the door behind us. It was laying on her bed. Our bedroom light was already on. She ran over and scooped it up, “It’s so heavy and cold. Here, you want to hold it?”
I shook my head yes. She placed it in my hands. The silver sparkled in the light and I almost dropped it. It was heavy. My hands felt numb against the hardness. I wanted to throw it away. I wanted to bury it deep. “Annie, I’m scared.” I handed it back to her. “Please put it back.” A single tear fell down my cheek.
“Don’t be such a baby, Benji.” I wasn’t a baby. I’d show her. I bit back my tears. “Sit down and I’ll show you some tricks. Then you won’t be scared anymore.” I obeyed and climbed onto my bed. She went over to our closet and opened it up. She grabbed my red cowboy hat and stuck it on her head. “Look, Benji, I’m a cowgirl.” She smiled big at me, her eyes so round. She held the gun with one hand and spun it around her finger like they do in the movies.
Bang. The gun went off half way through her spin. The bullet went straight into her right eye. Blood splattered out the back of her head. Her body collapsed like a doll. I froze. My eyes locked open. Her left eye was still open and was staring back at me. The sulfur smell was gagging me, working its way up into my brain, suffocating me.
The door slammed open. It was Mom. Her face was terrified, her mouth opened and she screamed. The sound pounded against my ears, trying to tear off my head. Even though her scream raced through my head, she moved so slowly to Annie. Her arms looked so heavy like she was trying to lift Dad’s barbells as she strode towards Annie. Dad came in right behind her. He yelled, “Oh, my sweet little Annie.” Mom scooped up Annie in her arms and held her close, “Call 911, call 911.” Dad was already headed out of the room, but his feet were dragging like he had cement shoes. Mom continued to wail, screaming over and over. She held Annie next to her, blood smearing all over her nightgown. Dad came back into the room, moving like the slugs that oozed their way along the porch at night. Mom’s head turned up to meet him. “Annie’s dead! This is all your fault. I told you not to buy that fucking gun. Oh, my little baby. You killed her.” With her right hand, she lifted up the gun and threw it at Dad. “You killed my little angel.” The gun hit Dad in the chest. I watched the gun bounce off him and fall to the floor.
Dad stared at it a second and then looked back at Mom, “Fuck you! I bought the gun to protect you and them. It’s not my fault you’re a bad mother. How the hell did she find the gun? Oh Annie. My little Annie. It’s your fucking fault. You should have been watching her. What kind of mother lets her child snoop around and play with things they’re not supposed to? You fucking do nothing but smoke that damned pot. What kind of mother smokes pot with her own children in the house?”
Mom continued to sit and hold Annie tight against her. “How can you say that? You smoke it too, you fucking ass hole. I told you not to get a gun. You brought this violence into my home and now my little angel’s dead. You’re going to jail for this, you monster. You killed our little baby. You got that damned thing just because you’re fucking prick is so small. You got it to make yourself feel like a real man and now look, my baby’s dead.”
Dad had leaned over and picked up the gun. “What the fuck are you talking about? You’re a goddamned druggie. You were probably so fucking stoned that you told Annie exactly where the fucking gun was and how to get it.” He started waving the gun around like he was leading an orchestra. “If you weren’t so fucking stoned all the time…” Bang. Dad’s arm fell to his side, the gun still attached. The bullet had entered Mom’s head through her left temple. She collapsed on top of Annie. Annie’s body propped Mom’s head up; her eyes were still open and stared right at me. Their blueness so vast and empty, like the ocean on a winter’s day. “It was an accident. Oh my God, what? How?” He looked down at his arm hanging loose at his side. He held the gun up with both hands as if it suddenly had become too heavy to lift with one hand. He stared at it. “This is your fault. Oh Annie, oh Patty, I’m sorry. I…” Slowly, the gun lifted itself up until it was sticking straight at Dad. The gun slid itself slowly into his mouth and as the triggered was pulled, Dad’s eyes met mine. He let out a muffled scream, “Benji.” Bang. The blood splattered out the back of his head and he fell over backwards, his eyes facing away from me.
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