writing chapter 8.7
Damn. Which was more dangerous? Dad murderous, or in the throes of avarice? It was a very dangerous situation. He only hoped Mom had denied all knowledge of the badge, so he could deflect the blame onto himself, so dad wouldn’t send Mom to the hospital. But if Mom had already confessed, trying to save her son, then Nathan would only make it worse trying to lie his way out of it.
Because Dad was really mad. Nathan could see it in his eyes, his ragged breathing, the tension in his arms and neck. If he said the wrong thing – and most everything was wrong – if he displayed the least bit of defiance or independence – if he didn’t look scared enough – then Dad would use it as an enragement aid, get all boiled up inside, and then explode, focusing mainly on the object of his rage. It had been Mom earlier. Now it was Nathan’s turn.
“Maybe he can print me a new license,” Sis suggested.
Mom looked sharply at her. “Did you lose it?” she asked casually.
Sis giggled. “No, they took it when they gave me the ticket.”
DUI drugs, as it happened. Dad had to leave work early to bail her out of jail. But if Dad was upset about her transgression, he must have already dealt with it, because at the moment all his ire was focused on Nathan.
Nathan tried to stand easy. “Yes, I downloaded last year’s badge and photoshopped it a little, put some glitter on and laminated it.” He laughed uneasily. “It wouldn’t fool anybody. I just made it as a joke. Mom didn’t even know I was doing it,” he finished, shooting an anxious look at Mom, who still looked scared for him, even tho he thought he was doing pretty well.
“Then how do you explain this?” Dad insisted, angrily trusting the front page of the Journal Constitution at him.
Nathan took the paper. There was a big photo of Saturday’s parade. He looked confused. “I know it was yesterday,” he said. “But we went to the clothing store…” Sis was wearing a huge grin. Dad snapped forward and snatched the paper away. Nathan jerked back reflexively, putting his arms up in a defensive posture. Dad watched him steadily and passed the paper to Sis, who searched among the crowd for a moment, and then pointed at two very small figures on a balcony – Spiderman and a gypsy.
Nathan looked at it without comprehension. They weren’t on a balcony when they stopped to watch the parade. Then it hit him. They were on the parking deck and had stopped for maybe six minutes to watch. Several dozen Spidermen came marching down the street, some on stilts almost as high off the ground as he was. Nathan put his mask on and really enjoyed feeling part of the crowd for a few moments. One of the really tall Spidermen stalked over to the edge of the street and leaned over to give Nathan a high five, which is when the staff photographer snapped his cover shot. “That’s not me!” he exclaimed as Sis pointed him out, “And that doesn’t even look like Mom.” Tho it kind of did, with her hair mussed and her makeup smudged. “We were nowhere near there!”
Dad just nodded. “I thought you’d say that. So what’s this, then?” and held up Nathan’s homemade Spidey mask. Sis bounced up and down on her seat, clapping her hands with pleasure.
Nathan gulped. His bowels quivered. He felt faint. “I … I,” he stammered. Dad stood up with the mask in one hand, and a nearly empty beer can in the other. He approached Nathan in two lumbering steps that shook the floor. Nathan couldn’t back away; his legs were against the coffee table. If he tried to move to the side Dad was close enough to reach him before he could get away.
“Well?” Dad asked menacingly, raising both hands. The beer was in his punching hand.
Nathan tried to think. He didn’t dare try to laugh it off as a coincidence. He couldn’t say he bought it as a party shop. He couldn’t say anything. He just stood there and let Dad hit him. He was doomed when he jerked his arms up, back while Dad was still seated. If he made a move, ducked his head, or even whimpered, Dad would lose control.
As it was, Dad thru the rest of his beer in Nathan’s face, then smashed the can on his forehead, which didn’t do any damage, but bent Nathan’s head way back with the force of Dad’s push. Then Dad reached out and pulled the mask open, forcing it down over Nathan’s head sideways, an ear popping out of his eye hole. Then he took hold of Nathan’s ear and twisted, hard, driving Nathan forward until he was bent over double.
Nathan couldn’t breathe. The mask, two rubber bathing caps glued together, was made of rubber, or rather latex. At nano scale, latex was a great water and air friendly material (???) but manufactured the way it was, it functioned as an airtight, watertight seal. So Nathan held his breath. It was easier to go with it.
He stumbled to his knees, blinded by the mask, following the pain in his hear, his head, the swelling pressure in his lungs.
Dad gave a final jerk on Nathan’s ear, feeling provoked because the boy was being passive just to taunt him.
Nathan fell to the floor, curled up into a ball…