Fiction Copyright © 2016 by Sara Jacobelli
Jim didn’t want to come see the cabin where they found him. Said he’d rather keep his memories. But I had to. One of those things you have to do in life. I figured once I see it, it’ll be like closing a door. Time to move on.
This place is smaller than I expected. Never been in a place in the woods like this before. Never seen nothing like it. There’s a few things left here that are his. I’m not going to take nothing.
I never knew why he did it. Killed all those people. He was a happy, fat baby. Dark wavy hair. When he was born Mama said, “I don’t like the eyes.’ But she always said stuff like that. We just laughed it off. When he was born, I just remember feeling tired. When you have your fourth baby it’s not that exciting, believe you me. It might be exciting for those cute movie stars with nannies, they have all these babies and keep their slim and trim figures and the nannies do all the work while they run around skiing and sailboating and going to parties. Sounds nice. But for me, one baby after another was no big thrill. I’d get a few beers in me and tell Jim, “Hey, call Father Riley and tell him to come babysit these brats. It’s cuz a him we got all these kids.”
He seemed OK as a little boy. Quiet. Different from his brothers and sisters, that’s for sure. Dr. Goulash said I never bonded with him. Bonded. That’s the word he used. Everything nowadays is about bonding to your child or bonding to your husband or bonding to your God Damn pet. Seems like when we were kids our parents never worried about stuff like that. They just had kids. Fed em, clothed em, raised em. Seems like stuff wasn’t so complicated. Sure, they loved us in their way, but Mama said they didn’t make a Federal Case outta being a parent.
Jim and I never saw nothing different about him, til he was about ten or eleven. The kid started having nightmares. Kept to himself more. Didn’t want to be around the rest of us. Jim called him a Lone Wolf. I’m sure the other kids called him much worse. But I was working at the dry cleaners and Jim was working at the plastics factory. We had seven kids in a third floor walk-up and a grouchy landlord and a crummy car and no money and no time. Dad died and Mama moved in with us and then Jim’s mom too, and of course they couldn’t stand each other. Their drinking and fighting and swearing and card playing wasn’t too good a influence on the kids, but hey. You do the best you can. You go to work and you come home from work and you cook dinner and you watch TV and you spend your God-damn day off at the laundromat and you hope your kids turn out OK.
Your eleven year old’s moody, that’s normal, right? We didn’t have no money for psychiatrists and all. Jim always said that boy just needed to get the belt more. Jim always said kids nowadays are spoiled.
One day his teacher Mrs. Popovich, calls. She says, “Your boy’s stealing things from the other kids’ desks, he’s drawing strange pictures, he’s scaring the other kids, he chased after the Tarinelli twins with a pair of scissors.” She wanted me to come in for a parent-teacher conference. Like I have time for that. Like I can afford to take the morning off of work and take the bus over to the school for nonsense.
One day he’s sitting at the kitchen table, drawing dragons or something. I’m at the sink washing dishes. I look at him and think, well, that’s not so bad. He’s acting pretty normal. Maybe he’ll grow out of this phase. That’s what they called it when we were kids, a phase. You’re going through a phase. He touches my shoulder, leans in close. I never liked it when he touched me. His skin was clammy. “Guess what I want to be when I grow up?”
“Oh, what do boys want to be nowadays? When I was a kid, they wanted to be astronauts, ball players, cowboys, race car drivers, movie stars.”
“I want to be,” he pressed his mouth against my ear and attempted a rough whisper. “A serial killer or a mass murderer. Don’t know which one yet.”