6 Years Old –
Martin and Caroline Clayton gave birth to their first child, Henry. “We’ll bring him to the family reunion at my grandfather’s house” Caroline said, sorry they missed the last one which occurred three years ago.
“He’s old enough to remember this” Martin said, happily to friends and family at the gathering. Without warning, Henry grabbed his little plastic bowl filled with pork and beans and little hotdogs cut small to prevent choking. He poured it in the hair of Lucy, a 5 year old, daughter of Caroline’s best friend. “Oh, so sorry…. Gladys. My Henry didn’t mean it,” was all Caroline could muster up to say.
9 Years Old –
The reunion was in the park. Henry was now old enough play by the swings with children his age. At first opportunity, Henry violently pushed Loretta, his cousin on his mother’s side of the family. The push caused her to fly off the swing face first onto the concrete ground. Her screams alerted the adults that came running only to view the aftermath. Her beautiful yellow dress was marred with blood. Ugly skin abrasions and a missing front tooth had Loretta inconsolable.
“Good God! Martin exclaimed. I saw the whole thing! It was an accident!” he lied. “Our home owner’s insurance will pay for her dental, and any medical bills,” he franticly bellowed to the family members attending to Loretta.
“I’ll get her a new dress too,” Caroline said, the only thing she could think of while watching Henry rocking slowly on the swing he pushed Loretta, chewing bubble gum.
12 Years Old –
Martin and Caroline were invited, but had been asked to leave Henry home for the reunion, as word was getting around that Henry could not be trusted alone, or around other children. With regret, they left Henry home to fend for himself for the day. Henry dashed out of his bedroom two hours after his parents left him. He ran two blocks to the light rail that ran every 10 minutes. His school transit pass provided the means to take a short ride to the hotel where the reunion was taking place. Near the hotel, Henry slashed parked car tires with any Clayton family reunion stickers on the windows. On his way back to the light rail, he set one car on fire by lighting papers left in the unlocked vehicle. As everyone danced to Reggie music and ate Barbecue, Henry run back home as fast as he could to answer the wired house phone he knew his parents would call to check on him.
After three rings Henry picked up the phone. “He’s at home everybody,” Martin told his angry family. “You can’t blame my Henry this time,” Caroline chimed in defensively. “He’s not responsible.”
15 Years Old –
Martin, Caroline, and Henry were not invited to the reunion so they decided to go to a sweet sixteen party. After doing some research, Caroline felt taking Henry to an unfamiliar place would work in her favor. It would be all girls there, but the party was for Patty, a coming of age brunette that Henry knew well and had some classes with, before he had to repeat a grade. Martin was close to Patty’s father Jim, so the whole thing would work out somehow. Caroline brought a large leather bag to the party filled with things suggested from websites she surfed on the dark web. Before she settled in among the adults, she took a mild sedative with alcohol, while clutching her possessions tightly.
“What do you want to do when you graduate school?” Martin asked Patty, to divert attention from Caroline, as she instructed him to do nonverbally.
“I want to be a politician, and be a Republican like my dad,” she said with a smile.
“Very nice, very nice indeed,” Martin said, returning the smile but losing track of his wife’s whereabouts. Henry, in the guest bathroom, deliberately stopped up the toilet and was about to cause an overflow when a note was slipped under the door. Reading what he thought was from Patty, Henry followed the instructions to meet in the basement. Patty would turn off the lights and let Henry feel her up as he had once done in school, but was sent home to his parents.
“Hey Patty, come out before they start looking for me,” he whispered in the dark, his hormones raging with anticipation. In one swift movement, Caroline covered Henrys mouth and nose with a cloth saturated with homemade chloroform. As Henry started to struggle, the chemical wafting through the cloth had more effect on Caroline than him. I’m not really good at this she thought. Henry bucked and stomped at her feet, laughing at his mother’s effort to hold him. Determined to keep control, Caroline replaced the cloth with her fingers over his mouth, then placed a silver dagger tightly against Henry’s throat.
Through her fingers, Caroline felt his mouth relax into what felt like a smile. The sound of a giggle came from Henry as he stood motionless now, hands dropping down to his waist.
“Release him now or die in his adolescent form.” Caroline’s stern voice gave her the strength to face whatever the outcome would be, if something went wrong. She knew she crossed the line in caring for and disciplining her disruptive son. There was no turning back now.
Martin, sipping on a martini with Barbara, the host of the party, continued small talk until he spotted his wife, with their son coming from an off-limits part of the house. “Go have fun with the other kids,” Caroline told Henry, who was already making his way over to Patty and her friend Susan.
“Did it work?” Martin asked when his son and Barbara were out of ear shot.
“Yes. It thought I would really hurt my son. It left his body to go into this unfamiliar house, to save itself. It tried to read my mind, but the pills I took clouded my thoughts. The chloroform confused it a little,” she said, knowing the fumes almost caused her to pass out instead. “It thought best to get out of a live host than be trapped in a dead teen corpse.” Caroline continued, “The dagger was sharp, but it was only a prop. I pretended to stab him in the back and it fled scared, thank god.”
“God had nothing to do with that thing,” Martin said, holding his wife’s hand. Are you hungry?
“Starved,” she said, relieved the 9-year ordeal was over. They watched Henry as he socialized with the teen girls without the dark cloud that seemed to be over his head most of the time.
The house was filled with the smell of southern cooking, which made the Claytons feel as if they were at another family reunion. After eating, Caroline tossed the contents of her bag out with the piles of paper plates, plastic cups and half eaten desserts.
Henry sat next to Patty and thanked her for inviting him to her party. He was the only boy there, but he liked Patty enough, in an appropriate way, not to feel out of place. “Im having so much fun, I’m going to ask my dad if we can have a pool party when it gets a little warmer,” he said, smiling at her.
Just then Susan, Patty’s best friend, poured juice on her new laptop. Susan then tried to scratch Patty’s face too, but Henry made her stop. Through tears Patty tried to get the computer working again, but the damage was done. All adult eyes focused on Henry as the culprit, until a tearful Patty told everyone that Susan was the one that caused the damage.
“What brought that on?” Martin asked his wife, hoping she wouldn’t say what he thought.
“It’s too early to tell,” Caroline answered. But I’ll be ready to have the talk with her mother if need be,” she said to Martin.
“Yes,” Martin agreed. “If need be.”
Copyright © 2018 Darnell Cureton. All Rights Reserved