Family Reunion

My Flash .

Family Reunion

6 Years Old –

When Martin and Caroline Clayton gave birth to their first child Henry while out of the country, they proudly made arrangements for extended family to visit him.

“This year Henry is meeting our family at my grandfather’s house here in the US,” she affirmed. Caroline’s study of ancient Egyptian spirits in Cairo caused her to miss several family events.

“He’s old enough to remember our family now,” Martin declared happily to friends and family at the gathering. With a smirk, Henry picked up his little plastic bowl filled with beans and a hotdog, cut bite size. He poured it onto the hair of Lucy the 5-year-old, daughter of Caroline’s best friend. “Oh, I’m so sorry…. Gladys. My Henry is still learning not to play with food,” was all Caroline could muster up to say. Her face was beet red, as she helped clean up the mess with trembling hands.

‘What an embarrassing accident,’ she tried to make herself believe.

9 Years Old –

The next Clayton reunion was at the Newport Green Swing Park in New Jersey. Henry, playing without supervision, watched the other children with predator eyes. At the first opportunity, Henry violently pushed his cousin Loretta off her swing. She flew face-first onto a concrete path. Her hair-raising screams alerted the adults that came running only to view the aftermath. Loretta had a missing front tooth. The yellow dress she hand-picked to wear was spattered with blood.

“Oh My God! Martin exclaimed. I saw the whole thing! It was an accident!” he lied. “Don’t worry. My homeowner’s insurance will pay for her dental, and any medical bills,” he assured family members attending Loretta.

“I’ll get her a new dress too. That one was her favorite,” Caroline chimed in with the only thing she could think of to say. She watched Henry swinging slowly on the same swing he pushed Loretta off of. Caroline’s face turned beet red, this time from anger. Henry smiled at his mother as he chewed bubble gum. Its sweet smell turned Caroline’s stomach.

‘Something’s got to be done about Henry,’ she concluded.

12 Years Old –

Martin and Caroline were invited but had been asked to leave Henry at home for the latest Clayton reunion, as word got around Henry could not be trusted alone, or around other children. The couple regretted conceding but were also relieved Henry wouldn’t be there. They were tired of watching their own child every second. He was old enough to stay indoors while they had a peaceful night out for a change.

Two hours after they left, Henry dashed out of his bedroom. He ran two blocks to the light rail station that ran every 10 minutes. He used his school pass to take a short rail ride to the Renaissance Square Hotel in Union Square.

Walking through the hotel parking lot, Henry slashed every car tire that had a Clayton family reunion sticker in the window. On his way back to the light rail, he set a car on fire by lighting paper in an unlocked vehicle with matches found in another. The Clayton clan danced to reggae music, and ate barbecue and apple pie in the hotel ballroom, unaware of the selective vandalism. When arriving back at the station, Henry ran home as fast as he could to validate an alibi. His parents would check on him soon.

Lights and the sounds of emergency vehicles overpowered the festivities in the spacious reunion room. Air horns blasting at ear-splitting volume and police directing traffic caused enough curiosity for everyone to look at what the commotion was.

“My car is on fire!” Screamed Sheila, Martin’s sister. “Damn! That’s my car!” Hysterical, she ran from the hotel room, passing under the yellow tape blocking access to the parking lot. Police held her back as firemen battled a blaze in her new Mercedes-Benz. Family eyes turned their attention from Sheila to Martin, accusing silently. He decided to call home.

After three rings Henry picked up the phone. Martin turned to face his family. “He’s at home everybody. In the kitchen on the home phone,” Martin sneered at his angry family. “You can’t blame my Henry this time,” Caroline chimed in defensively. She held her husband tightly. Looking into his eye’s she mentally confessed,

‘I know somehow, Henry did this.’

15 Years Old –

Martin, Caroline, and Henry were not invited to the next Clayton family reunion so they decided to go to a sweet sixteen party. After doing some research, Caroline decided keeping Henry away from their family would work in her favor with what she had planned. The party was for Patty, a coming-of-age brunette that Henry liked very much. He had some classes with her before his bad behavior required him to repeat a grade. Martin, friends with Patty’s father Jim, would keep the dad distracted. Amanda, Patty’s mom, would have her hands full keeping teen girls busy. That left Caroline to handle Henry when she got him alone in this new environment. Caroline carried a leather handbag filled with liquids and the divination tools she bought after Googling Egyptian spirits. While watching Henry sneak off to the bathroom, she took a bite from a chocolate weed brownie from the bag. After several bites of the edible, she headed towards the bathroom door, clutching her bag tightly.

“What do you want to do when you graduate school?” Martin asked Patty, to divert attention from Caroline.

“I want to be a politician, and a Republican like my dad,” she said smiling at her father. Martin gave Jim an approving nod, as they sipped 30-year-old Scotch whisky.

“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. Holding what he thought was from Patty, Henry read the instructions to meet in the basement. Patty would turn off the lights and let him feel her up and kiss her, but no tongue. Henry made his way to the basement with his heart pounding.

“Hey Patty, come out before they start looking for me,” he whispered in the dark, his hormones raging with anticipation. Acting quickly, Caroline covered Henry’s mouth and nose with a cloth saturated with homemade chloroform. As Henry started to struggle, the chemical wafting through the fabric made Caroline lightheaded.

‘I shouldn’t have eaten the brownie,’ she thought struggling with her son.

Henry tried to pull away and stomped at her feet. The chloroform wasn’t working on him. Determined to keep control, Caroline held the cloth tighter over his mouth, then placed a silver dagger tightly against Henry’s throat.

Through her fingers, Caroline felt his mouth relax. The sound of a giggle came from Henry as he stood motionless now, hands dropping down to his waist.

She remembered a website room discussion about Egyptian adolescent spirits that stalk parents until they possess their children, to be in a family again. The poltergeist inside Henry must have followed her from Cairo. It was a bratty teen spirit, and she had to trick it out of her son. The chloroform didn’t knock him out. Exorcism only worked in movies. Fear was her only hope.

“Release him now or die in his adolescent form.” Caroline’s stern voice gave her the courage to face whatever the outcome would be if something went wrong. She could never explain why she crossed the line in caring for and then killing her disruptive son. But there was no turning back now.

Martin, sipping more whiskey with Amanda, the party’s host, 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 best friend Susan.

“Did it work?” Martin asked when his son and Amanda were out of earshot.

“Yes. The poltergeist thought I would kill my son to trap it. It left his body to go into this unfamiliar house, to save itself. That evil spirit tried to read my mind, but I ate a weed brownie that clouded my thoughts.”

‘as the chloroform did,’ she thought but did not mention.

“The spirit thought it best to get out of a live host than be trapped in a dead teen.” Caroline continued, “The dagger I used to convince him was sharp, but it was only a prop. It was afraid I was going to stab him in the back and it fled terrified, thank god.”

“God had nothing to do with that teen demon,” Martin said, hugging his wife. “Are you hungry?”

“Starved,” she said, relieved the ordeal was over after many years. They watched Henry as he socialized with teen girls without incident.

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.

“I’m having a good time even though I’m the only boy here,” Henry confessed while helping Patty open presents. Susan looked at Patty and Henry with disgust but said nothing.

“I’m going to ask my dad if we can have a pool party when it gets a little warmer,” Henry promised, smiling at Patty.

Just then Susan poured a bottle of water on Patty’s new laptop. Then she tried to scratch Patty’s face, but Henry made her stop. Patty tried to get the computer working again, but the water damage was done. Martin and Caroline’s eyes focused on Henry until a tearful Patty told everyone that Susan was the one that caused the damage.

“What on earth brought that on? Teen jealousy?” Martin asked his wife, hoping she wouldn’t say what he really thought.

“It’s too early to tell,” Caroline answered. But I’ll be ready to talk with Susans’ parents if need be,” she assured Martin.

“Yes,” Martin agreed. “If need be.”

Copyright © Darnell Cureton. *All Rights Reserved *

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