INDEPENDENCE DAY EXCERPT FROM ORIGIN OF A SERIAL KILLER
It was July 4th, 2004. The day started poorly with my father screaming at me to make breakfast to soothe his hangover. He drank more than usual the previous night due to having the 4th off. He seemed as if he was intent on making me suffer every minute. He consumed a copious amount of whiskey with his eggs. When I thought I couldn’t take it for another minute, he finally passed out on the couch. I got dressed and ran from the house as fast as possible before he could wake up. I wanted to see Ray. I didn’t know if he’d be working, but I had nothing else to do and nowhere to go. The heat made sweat pour down my face. When I reached the store, I mopped my forehead with my T-shirt, revealing my stomach. No, I never cared much for being modest.
Pushing my way inside, I scanned for Ray but only saw a lady I didn’t recognize behind the counter. She watched me curiously. I assumed it was because of the lack of customers.
“Is Ray working?”
“No, not today.”
I felt like someone punched me in the stomach. So much for my hopes, I muttered under my breath. Was I doomed to spend the day with Father? The lady asked if I needed anything, but I simply shook my head and left. Sitting on the bench for a while, I let the sun cook my skin. I dreaded the thought of going home. I didn’t even have enough money for an ice cream cone from the shop a block away. As I thought about what I could do other than go home, I saw Ray’s blue Firebird pull into the parking lot.
My heart leapt with joy and relief. I ran to meet him, nearly tripping on the grooved cement near the gas pumps. I skidded into the door and put my elbows on the window.
“Getting ice,” he said, opening the door. It forced me back a few feet. He seemed distant. I waited by his car while he went inside and came back out with two bags of ice in each hand. Dropping them on the pavement, he opened the trunk, pulled out a cooler, and began packing ice around the food and drink. He didn’t look at me, as if he were purposely ignoring me.
“What’s wrong?” My brows lifted.
“Nothing’s wrong. You can’t be talking to me like this. I’m not working, so we have no reason to speak.”
I suddenly understood he was afraid to get in trouble. Leaning against his car, I looked around and didn’t see a soul. Not a car or anyone walking. “Nobody is watching us, Ray. You have nothing to worry about.”
He looked around and shrugged.
“Where are you going?”
“To see my father.”
“Can I come with you?” I asked cheerfully.
His eyes finally met mine. I felt the no in his eyes, but on that day, I didn’t plan on taking no for an answer. Without permission, I walked around to the other side of the car and got into the passenger’s seat. If he wanted me out, he’d have to make a big effort. He put the driver’s seat up, eyeing me before stowing the cooler in the back seat.
“You’re going to get me in a lot of trouble,” he said.
Still, despite his objection, he got in the car, shut the door, and started the engine. I kept quiet as he pulled the car onto a highway heading south. I curled my legs under me, watching him and hoping he liked my new tan, knee-length shorts, and pink t-shirt. He turned on the radio to a rock station I like, which made me smile and content to watch him drive.
“I promise I won’t be any trouble, unless you want—” I started after some time as he exited the turnpike and navigated the twisting farm town roads of central Connecticut.
Without looking at me, he interrupted. “Enough of that talk. You’re several years too young to be going on like that in front of a man my age. Wait until you’re twenty-one.”
“I’ll be an adult at eighteen.”
“Yes, but I don’t find myself in the company of anyone that isn’t of drinking age very often. So, as I said, come back to me at twenty-one with that sort of talk.”
I considered his comment for a moment, letting the music fill the void. “Is that a promise?” “Sure,” he said.
“I’ll hold you to that, sir.”
He smiled as he eased the car to a stop outside the gates of a very large white mansion, which sprawled up and around a hill. A multitude of buildings surrounded the main structure. Shutting off the engine, he opened the door and approached the guard house attached to the gate. He pressed a button, and a voice sounded through the metal box.
“Who lives here?” I whispered. “Father,” he said.
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