Prologue 
 

Billy, everything is always about him.

 

She makes airplane noises as she feeds the little fucker, it's so annoying, I never got those growing up. Was never a spoon swirling about in front of my face? 'Shut up and chew your damn food,' is what I was told. I'm firstborn, yet they name him William. Who'd want to be named after that prick-face? Perhaps if I cared for him, I would emote something for the little bastard, but I don't.

 

"Come up here," she hollers in her raspy voice from the kitchen, "your supper is out!"

 

My feet screech and I stop on a dime, the bulge in my leg hut reminds me, I can't go yet. I take the shank I stole from the shed and shove it in between the mattress and base. Should he find this on me, he'll take my head, and my escape concoct is fucked -- I don't need this now.

 

Now I head above. Wow, my turn to nosh? She's been making that cacophony for half an hour -- any food left for me?

 

"Come on, dinner is getting cold," she squawks again.

 

My feet embed into the floor, one foot in front of the other as quickly as possible -- I run upstairs. Should she shout for me a third time, he will be down in no time, belt in hand.

 

Stale air hangs in the kitchen and 96.3 Country AM whispers from the radio -- the only music the Grinch allows in the house. He says nothing is better, once I tried to check out another kind, the type kids at my school like, and he snapped the CD. Shards went flying everywhere, what an asshole.

 

One splinter flew off and cut me under my eye and another stuck in my classmates' arm, his mother wasn't too happy. Told me I couldn't be chums with the boys, but I'm not. He also told the mother off, threatening to give her a smack for interfering. I'm surprised she didn't charge him, but she was more scared than anything and was probably worried about what he'd do if she did.

 

Motes of dust dance in the brilliant sunlight streaming through the window. They sparkle like glitter -- like polluted fucking glitter. Nothing to do a jig about in this house -- and besides, dancing measures glee. You don't often see sad people dancing, unless they've met lunacy that is. This home doesn't house any happiness. At the table, my father is his unremarkable, charming self -- he spills his brew because he's drunk.

 

"Now look what you went and made me do, you dumb cunt!"

 

She jumps up, nimble to clean up the disarray, because if she's not sharp, he would cuff her again. He pounds her a lot and says you're supposed to. Agreed -- when someone pisses you off enough times, repeatedly, I say they got something coming. She put his food back into the pan, evidently, it isn't cooked. I try my best to be quiet, as I bit by bit glide a chair away from the table -- but the feet still screech across the floor, shit.

 

"Don't be scratching up them floors boy, your mama scrubs those, and you're making more work for her."

 

Says the donkey-piss drinker who made her cook twice. The chicken is almost black, most definitely cooked. The audacity, him telling me not to give more duties to her. Of course, I say this in my head, any of these speculations leave my lips, my mouth would be no longer.

 

She doesn't say anything, nods and continues to feed the brat. At least the turbulence noises stop. She takes a nibble of her dinner but doesn't ever sit down and consume a warm meal to herself.

 

"Who's this young boy coming round these parts?" he asked.

 

When he asks a question, he knows, he reviews if you're going to tell the truth. My guess is whatever she does say is going to be wrong.

 

"He's new to the community and is going around seeing if people need assistance with their crops and rubbish, is all."

 

"Is all?" he asked, again, not a question.

 

"We don't be needing no help around here. Who does this boy think he is? Like we can't do things for ourselves!"

 

"I'm sure he's only being ni-"

 

"Nice? What's so sweet about making people out of sorts and useless? Why are you defending this boy? You fuckin' him, aren't you?"

 

He stands and slams his hand down on the kitchen table. "You better never let me find him in this house, trying to help out, or someone is going to be needing to assist him!"

 

"H-he did come by t-today, the boy took out some garbage, the mountain piling up at the side of the house."

 

She could've lied. Or she could say nothing about him coming at all -- same thing, right? To lie is nothing, something I do on the regular. Why doesn't she keep quiet? -- because she's not ill-advised. He finds out, and she didn't tell him, he'll cut out her tongue and say she isn't using it. He threatens wimpy a lot. My family is so predictable. His face turns redder by the second, I beg the universe for his head to explode.

 

"What the fuck do you mean he came by today? Nobody comes by this house unless I say! What am I here for if you're getting this young one to do all my jobs?"

I'm sure she asked him a ton of times to clean up beside the house. If you did your shit when she asks, she wouldn't let someone else do your work for you.

 

He grabs her by the back of the head, here we go. He yanks her down to the floor. The pussy-hole hides under the kitchen table, normally, I would be too, but not this time. So, you're aware, I don't hold up under the cover because I'm fearful like this little dumbass is, I don't want a smack upside my head for looking. This time I put my steer in motion and I don't drop from sight like a crybaby.

 

I run downstairs to my bed and slip my hand between the mattress and box spring. She is wailing, louder than typical. I take the blade I stashed from its resting niche, I conceal my weapon in my pants compartment and dart back overhead.

 

"What are you looking at, you little retard?" he whooped.

 

He smacks him in the back of his head, understand now? This is what I'm saying. I slip back into the kitchen; little quivering bastard is still under the table. He is not sobbing now, but he's rocking quicker -- little wimp. Pa's so irate he doesn't grasp I leave the room. My mother isn't looking so well, he isn't going to be much better in a minute.

 

He doesn't spot me climbing up behind him, he's too occupied punting her in the head. One exact stab is all I need. She isn't making any commotion now -- she isn't moving either.

 

No more mind masturbation, not for another second -- been dreaming about this my whole life. Time for doing -- life is a jungle, and even the smallest being can take down the biggest one if given a chance. Like on National Geographic, the show I follow with my bro. A spider can take down a lion, the king of the jungle -- make one wrong move, and you're jumped.

 

My little carp of a brother peeks out from under the tablecloth, looking like a terrified nun, as I upsurge on daddio from the kitchen table. His eyes widen, the closest thing to 'speaking' the little shit ever came to doing.

 

You got the room with a view, fuckface. The beautiful one, staring out to the pond, with the ducks, the tree and the garden. My old room before you came along -- because you're 'Mr. Issues,' and you need mental stimulation. I'll stimulate your mental, give me a hammer.

 

All while they ship me to the basement like a Troll or a Gremlin. The only window is little and faces the broken wood at the side of the garage. Well, how do you like this now, you wimp? Does this fucking tickle your noggin? Stimulate your pickle? Red drizzle showers the kitchen.

 

Father leers at me as he plunges to the cracked linoleum, blood spurting from his neck. The exclamation on his face is priceless, he's calling me every name he ever called me. I'll keep the expression eternally in my mind -- he collapses next to her; she still isn't moving.

 

You would think I would own some sort of emotion for her, anything, but I don't. Curious if the bitch ever felt any feelings for me while he was beating me to a bloody pulp? If she did covet any love for me, the guilt of me being beat didn't affect her as much as the terror she felt toward his maltreatment of her.

 

Sorry, you die to save us. You should've helped us sooner, instead, you were shining his fucking shoes every night and making airplane sounds for dip shit. If you had aided us, I wouldn't need to help us now.

 

It’s so satisfying to see them like this on the floor. I apply my pullover to wipe off the knife's handle, while the dagger is still standing out of him -- I leave the knife inside. More blood spits out of the side of the gaping cavity in his neck. She would study programs on TV like this a lot, and so did I.

 

Again, adopting my sleeve, I collected Ma's bloody hand and pressed her fingertips hard on the grip.

 

Now, time to win an acting award -- I run to the phone and call 9 1 1. The flatfoot is called on them so much, this isn't out of the ordinary. People are waiting for this; they're shocked this hasn't happened by now. Heard people muttering under their breath at the market. 'Oh, those indigent children.'

 

Other ten-year-old kids are not as smart as me. My parents are worthless as rocks, so I could've gone one way or the other. I went one way, and well, my brother went the other.

 

"My house is the farmhouse on forty-eight, help, please!" Sorrowing, as rehearsed. "My parents are fighting, again. Things are so awful this time. She stabbed him, and he is kicking her in the head! Move fast, my little brother is panicking, and everything is a disaster!"

 

Not like every other time isn't dreadful, too.

 

"He's bleeding all around, and she's not moving!"

 

They're on their way now, they're such pigs -- laughable fucking swine, they came when you called by error. They fit into my design perfectly, so damn predictable. Curiosity doesn't kill the cat, predictability does. My eyes squeeze out the water works I can on the phone, but I'm reserving most of this fluid gold for the police shop.

 

This will be worth the stress, is the thought gets me through the long night. Billy's fortuitous, the lucky shit. People are mindful he doesn't say shit, so they aren't going to be querying him any.

 

My sibling is still rocking -- maybe this is difficult for him because she did things for him. This isn't hard for me. She hasn't moved yet, and Pa is on the floor twitching and staring at Ma -- vacant eyes open, looking right at her. Like he still wishes to annihilate her even though she's already dead.

 

The sirens are getting close, they're here. Mega irritating but I need to hold my excitement, I must. The front door bursts open. This house is so old and crumbling a part of the door comes off the hinges. The melody of their arrival is a herd of elephants collapsing in our corridor. Riversides finest, ladies and gents, and fattest.

 

"SAPD!" shouted one man.

 

"Excuse me, anyone home?" bellowed another.

 

They draw their guns and come in, and their expressions discharge when they comprehend the entirety of the blood. No one notices we're here. The draping yellow dinner accessory with the flowers mother loved so much -- now covers us. The tablecloth is now sprayed red and is drenched in them and what I think is a little piece of Pa's neck.

 

I perched next to my little brother, my arms tightly around him, tearful. He continues to rock and reward me with a baffled wince. Never do I embrace him, but I need to make this real and I must do what any normal ten-year-old would do. I'm anything but ordinary, so this part is extraordinarily hard. Officers are now running all over.

 

"Where are the children?" A tall, ancient person asked.

 

He seemed to be the one in charge. Paramedics scramble into the kitchen, they don't regard us yet. They start checking Ma and Pa, to diagnose if they're still alive. One shakes their head no, the other follows suit.

 

"Call the coroner."

 

"James, investigate the upper floor. These two are the parents to two boys, ages ten and four. These people quarrel a lot, this incident isn't surprising."

 

I sneer at my younger kin who is still looking at me, and I put a hand on each of his shoulders. I stare straight in his cold dead eyes and whisper.

 

"You never said a single word your whole stinking life, you little retard, so don't you start yapping now!"

 

"No need, they're over here." Officer James concluded.

 

"The murder weapon is still in the neck of the male victim."

 

The other deputies put their guns away. "Call Eastdale, this incident is a homicide."  

 

"We're going to take you boys down to the station while some people take a peek around your house." Not like we could opt-out, I'm squeezing out tears harder now.

 

"You're out of harm's way, and everything is going to be better -- the bad stuff is all over." he said. Little does he know the bad is only beginning.