Archive for family

Mission to Murder

Posted in short story with tags , , , , on 2010/09/30 by R L Burns

Robin pulled the gun from underneath her grandfather’s mattress with shaking hands. It was an old German Reuger 22. Not well-kept, the barrel a bit rusty looking. She was sure it still worked, though. Well, pretty sure. Placing the gun on her grandfather’s night stand she reached back under the mattress and pulled out the magazine. It was full of bullets.

Good! she thought. At least I don’t have to look for ammunition.

Now that she had what she’d been after she paused. Was she really going to do this – really go kill her step-father? Really? Why not? I’m a pretty decent shot..That may well be, Rob, but do you have the courage to do this?

She sat down on the edge of her grandfather’s bed, staring at the gun and the bullets, and thought over everything that had happened…

The names he had called her mother. Horrible names, so horrible that her mind shied away from repeating them.

The times he had beat her mother – at least the ones about which she was aware. Beating her head into the floor. Kicking her when she was pregnant, causing a miscarriage. Breaking her finger, her ribs, her spirit. Knocking her down the stairs. Demeaning her, slapping her, stealing from her…Destroying what little bit of peace there had been in their home.  Breaking them all down emotionally.

The times he had hit her, Robin…times when she, overwhelmed by the violence going on in front of her, had pulled on him or hit him in an attempt to divert his attention. It had worked all too well. The first time, he had punched her in the face with his open fist, knocking her into the closet door against which she had crumpled like an accordion. Another time, exhausted from lack of sleep due to the constant tension and fighting, she had run up the stairs only to find him beating her mother’s head against the wooden floor of the bedroom while simultaneously punching her in the face. Robin stood in the doorway, horrified, knowing she had to do something but not sure what that something was. Until she saw the 2×2 lying there, miraculously, it seemed. She picked it up and swung it like a baseball bat, hitting him across the shoulder blades. It didn’t even faze him. So she did it again, and again, and again, using the flat side of the piece of wood to beat repeatedly on his back. Finally he dropped her mother to the floor and turned on her. She raised the wood again but he snatched it from her — he was over six feet tall, by the way — and advanced on her. Robin didn’t care as long as he left her mother alone.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing, you little bitch???” he screamed at her, spittle shooting out of his mouth with each word.

“Leave my fucking mother alone!” she screamed.

He swung the 2×2 in her direction, laughing. “Shut the fuck up you little whore! You bitch!” He kept moving towards her and she continued to back away – in her mind leading him away from her mother. She was also afraid, though, if she was honest.

He laughed, a creepy, wheezy, evil-accented laugh as he swung at her again. “Oh, I’ll leave her alone until I am done with you, you bitch!”

Robin moved back further then realized she was at the top of the stairs with nowhere to go but down. He realized that, too, and smiled at her wickedly.

From inside the bedroom she heard her mom call pleadingly, “Go downstairs, Robin. Just GO!”

“Listen to your momma, little girl. Get the fuck outta here!!!” He screamed the last words as he lunged at her one more time. Robin tried to turn away but the corner of the 2×2 caught her shoulder and she fell down the stairs. For a moment she thought her leg was broken…he stood at the top of the stairs laughing at her then threw the piece of wood down on top of her, where it bounced off her shoulder. She lay there crying as she heard the bedroom door slam shut and the fighting begin anew.

Too many times she had failed her mother. And if he had hit them, soon enough he would move on to her little sister. She couldn’t be there to protect them every minute of every day; couldn’t stand to see her mother kicked across the front yard like a futbol by this horrible man; couldn’t stand the thought of him harming her little sister. One day, she just knew it, he would kill her mother and then it would be too late.

No one helped them. Not any of the so-called “men” who were their friends. When things happened they all somehow just disappeared and when they returned they pretended nothing had occurred. Her mother wouldn’t call the police. Robin had tried, had spoken to a detective. But when he came to the house her mother told him that Robin was just having a difficult time adjusting to the new marriage, and, “Oh, of course he never hits me!”

The police believed her. No one believed Robin – or her sister – and even if they knew the truth, they pretended not to. Well, Robin could no longer pretend. She just couldn’t. Besides, she had just turned seventeen. If she did this she would probably be prosecuted as a minor and then be done with it all by the time she turned eighteen. She could live with that if it meant they would all be safe from the man made of sticks…Could live with it even if it meant a life-time in jail. As long as he was dead and her mother and sister were safe…

Nodding, she picked up the gun and the magazine, ensuring that the safety was on. She picked up her purse and found the extra set of keys to her grandmother’s old car. Her grandfather was out of town for the weekend visiting his youngest daughter. Her grandmother, well, she was dead now. Had she still been alive she would have taken care of them, Robin knew it; but since she was not, it was up to her now.

Slowly she drove to her mother’s house in the dark winter night. In the silence of the blue Volvo she contemplated what she was about to do. A part of her mind knew that to kill anyone, no matter how foul, was wrong; wrong as could be – and the thought of what she was planning to do made her shudder in fear and in shame. A larger part of her, however, saw this as the only way to protect her family, to ensure that they escaped this monster. Still an argument raged on in her brain, almost causing her to miss a red light. Slamming on the brakes to avoid hitting a black pick-up truck with out of state plates, she gripped the wheel and tried to calm herself. Wait, out of state plates, could it be…? No, her angel had abandoned her – if he ever existed at all – and no one, no one, was coming to save them. By the time she turned onto the dark country road that lead to her mother’s house, she had convinced herself that she no longer had any options. Protecting her family was, as always, her prime directive, and she would do it.

As she approached the house she turned off the headlights. The moon was full and she didn’t need them to guide her through the familiar yard. Despite her resolve, by the time she parked the car in front of the house, she was shaking again.

Get hold of yourself, girl! She said to herself. You know you are doing the right thing!

Nodding to herself, she picked up the gun where it lay on the passenger seat and exited the car. The house was quiet, it seemed. She wondered how she would kill him. Would she wait until he came down the stairs in the morning? She knew she needed to avoid her mother because she would stop her from completing this mission. This thought caused her to pause for a moment on the front porch. Why would her mother stop her? To protect him? To protect her? Robin no longer knew – nor cared. She knew what was best for her family: to end the nightmare their lives had become.

Very quietly she unlocked and opened the front door. Stepping inside she listened for a moment. Ah, there was a noise in the kitchen. Slowly she made her way to that room, gun loaded, cocked, and ready. She peered around the corner of the door jamb and saw her mother at the kitchen stove, her right arm in a sling, multiple bruises on her arms, one on her face. That did it. A radio was playing softly in the kitchen as her mother attempted to make food for the monster – a common occurrence after a beating. Anything to placate him. Robin’s stomach did somersaults as she turned towards the stairs, towards the lair of the monster.

Carefully she climbed those stairs and approached the closed door to her mother’s room, knowing he was there.

She was never exactly sure how the events of the next minute or so actually unfolded, could only remember opening the door and seeing him lying back in the bed, one arm folded behind his head, the other holding a cigarette to his lips, his eyes fixed on the television. Hearing the door he turned, saw Robin, laughed, then turned back to the television, his cigarette moving back towards his mouth.

Robin called his name and raised the gun. The next thing she knew, her ears were ringing and he was slumped over in the bed, cigarette on the floor, blood covering his chest. She was amazed at how calm she felt as she went to pick up the cigarette before it could burn a hole in the rug. She was also surprised to realize that the gun was totally empty – she would have sworn she had only fired once. She leaned over and poked him to be sure he was dead, called him an asshole and a dick. No response, so she must have been successful.

Then she heard the screams coming up the stairs. She moved away from the bed to make room for her mother. She entered the room, eyes wild, screeching, “Robin!?? What have you done??? Oh my God!!” She cried out his name and flung herself on top of him. But it was too late.

Robin reached into her own pocket and pulled out a cigarette. She lit it then picked up the phone. She dialed zero for the operator, and over the sound of her mother’s screams, she said, “Please connect me to the police. I’d like to report a murder.” As she waited and smoked, she smiled. It was done. They were safe.

Mission complete.

Hellstarr – Today

Posted in Poetry, Ramblings with tags , , on 2010/02/01 by R L Burns

Sitting in the snow I sniffed the air                                                              

It smelled like October –

Not January –

I lay down on my snowy bed

And stared at the night sky above

I saw the stars – our stars –

Twinkling in the sky,

The magic three…

In simpler times we thought

They represented our home –

The darkness on the edge of the storm

That spawned us.

Now I know better.

Those stars are the boys

One, two, three,

Two for you and one for me.

I’ve dreamed them together so many times

Heard them laugh, fight and sing,

Play music late into the night.

So sad that will never be…


photo: PM Heden

An Unexpected, Beautiful Gift

Posted in life story, Ramblings with tags , , , on 2009/12/25 by R L Burns

Lately there has been an incredible amount of talk in my vicinity about the importance of families “staying together” for the kids…How that is the responsibility of every parent.  How a death is easier on kids than divorce – which is very logical since death isn’t someone’s choice to leave you (unless it’s suicide), it is forced on them.  Actually death is easier to deal with than any personal rejection because it is in fact, so NOT a personal rejection.  Know what I mean?  But as usual, I digress.  The talking has been swirling and eddying around me for quite some time — from family members, friends, characters in movies (have you seen “Funny People”?  it’s not funny), people on the street…Somehow this subject keeps coming up.  It is a difficult one for me for many reasons, not the least of which is my own guilt over depriving my son of a life with his father, him and I together.  Add to that my own abandonment issues and the reasoning behind the loss of the person I have always believed to be the love of my life, and it becomes a touchy and defensive subject for me.

I used to believe that staying together was the most important thing parents can do for their children.  No matter what.  But something else became even more apparent to me as time wore on:  children know when mom and dad aren’t happy.  Even if you think they don’t, they do.  And if you continue to live in that way — even when there is no overt fighting or drinking or anything like that — what are you teaching your child?  Ultimately I believed that I was teaching my son to be submissive and to take whatever someone dishes out.  I also felt that I was teaching him that living a lie is a good/acceptable way to go through life.  He knew I wasn’t happy, yet I stayed.  I knew I wasn’t making his father or me happy, yet I stayed.  I knew my son was confused and worried about our unhappiness and what role, he perhaps was playing in it.  He worried that most of our disagreements were about him – really they were about his father’s inability to accept Alex as he was and my over-doing for Alex. 

Example:  Once when Alex was about ten, his dad was giving him a hard time about not doing his homework as soon as he got home and about his disorganization.  I came into the living room in time to hear him say,

“Alex, I know you have ADHD or whatever, but you are going to be organized and on time with or without your medicine!  This is unacceptable!”

Alex was just staring at him, lower jaw jutting out stubbornly.

I asked my husband to come outside with me onto the porch. We really did attempt to appear united and not put our differences on Alex.  He followed me outside.

“Um, you can’t say things like that to Alex, honey.”

“Like what?” he asked.

“Like I know you have ADHD but you’re going to control it with or without your medicine!  Do you get it that when you say something like that what it means to Al is that you think his disorder is an excuse he uses?”

“Well?  Isn’t it?  Not always, but…”

“Maybe sometimes he does use it, but that’s beside the point.  The problem here is that…look, would you tell someone with diabetes that they had to control their blood sugar without their insulin?”

“Of course not!” he replied scornfully.

“Well, that’s what you are saying to Alex when you do that. Can you see that?”

He thought about it a little then said he guessed he could and he’d try not to do that anymore. 

I felt better then and he turned to go back into the house. 

“Wait a minute,” I said.  He stopped and turned back to me.

“I’m disorganized.  I’m late.  I procrastinate like crazy.  Why don’t you yell at me about any of those things?”  I really was curious.

He shrugged and replied, “You’re a grown-up, I can’t do anything about you.  But Alex, I can save Alex.”  Then he walked into the house leaving me with my mouth wide-open…

Finally, after therapy (for everyone) and years of trying to fix it, I just couldn’t anymore.  He swore he wanted me to stay, no matter what, and that he would do anything to keep me.  I told him that the only way I could see for us to fix it would be to start over, in a sense, and build a friendship — something we had never really had and something whose importance I had vastly underestimated.  He looked at me and after a brief discussion of what I meant by being friends, his answer to me was

“I married you to be your husband, Robin, not your friend.”

So, I decided that was that.  And he deserved better than he was getting from me and I frankly deserved better – I’ve still never got it but he has and is much happier now with his beautiful, less complicated wife.

 The point of all of this is to explain my worry about families staying together and did I do the right thing – well, I KNOW I did the right thing for him and for me, but did I sacrifice Alex in the process???  I mean, the kid not only has a dad, a mom and a stepmom but also like nine grandparents (my family has been married a lot)…

Tonight, and it was after midnight, so it counts as Christmas, I was snuggling next to him for a few minutes before I left my mom’s to come home.

I kissed him and said, “Merry Christmas, mon petit lapin – I love you, bunny.”

He said he loved me, too. 

Then I asked the dreaded question:  “Are you angry with me for not staying with your dad so that we were all together?”

He snorted and replied, “No.”

“Allie, it’s important that you tell me the truth – I know you, you will say what you think I want to hear.  Is that true that you aren’t angry or do you secretly hate me for it?  I really need to know so I can figure out how to fix my relationship with you.”

He turned to me and looked at me with his left eyebrow raised.  “Why are you asking me this?  Because of Michael and all that?”

“No.  I mean, maybe a little, but really because everyone says kids secretly hate the parent who broke things up and that if you don’t hate me now you will later because now you are from a broken home.  And really, it’s okay to tell me the truth.  Actually, it’s Christmas and you’re not supposed to lie or Santa won’t come.”  I tried to smile, scared of his answer.

He turned all the way over on the couch and looked me in the eyes.  “Let me think a minute, Mom.”

I waited.

“Mom, I may come from a broken home, I guess that’s what they’d say, but…Mom, we’re not broken.  We are fine.  You did the right thing.  Lying doesn’t work and I think you are both happier now than you were together – I mean, you’re sad right now because of other stuff, but…so, no, I don’t hate you and I don’t think we’re broken.  Merry Christmas, Mommy, and now go home so I can go to sleep.”

I kissed him on his forehead, told him I loved him and left for home thinking that maybe tonight I’d finally be able to sleep myself.

Merry Christmas.  I am so lucky to have him for my son.