Chapter 5: Dad

John pulled into his own driveway for the first time in days. The house was dark. He climbed the stairs to his brother's room and turned on the light.

"John! John! I miss you, John! Hello! I got some gum! Want some gum?"

"Shhh, don't wake up Mom or she'll take your gum. Come with me. It's really neat outside. There's lightning."

"Oh, no. I don't like lightning. It scares me. Let's stay here, John. We can play army guys."

"Army guys are shit, Ken. Come with me, or I'll be really mad."

"Don't get mad, John. You're my brother. You're my only brother. Mom says a guy has to look up to his big brother. I love you, John. Why did you go away? Dad went away, too. I was sad. Mom was cryin'."

"Shut up, Ken, and come with me. Dad's outside. He wants to see you, Ken."

"He is? Dad! Let's get Mom! She said he wasn't ever coming back! He was in a box! I saw him! It was scary."

"No, don't get Mom. Just come with me. And hurry up, he can only stay a few minutes."

"Geezola, OK!" Ken hurried down the stairs after his older brother.

The two boys walked out into the pouring rain. "Where is he, John? Where's Dad?"

"I lied, Ken. There's no one here but me. I came back to show you something important. This is the last chance I have. I need to tell you." John took Ken's smaller hand in his own and slapped him viciously across the face over and over until the little boy was bleeding and sobbing piteously.

John got back into his car and drove away. Ken crawled on his hands and knees toward the retreating taillights, whimpering. Blood, mud and snot covered his face. "John?" he called. "Where's Dad?"