The Death of a Father
Four minutes. Four minutes was all it took for my dad to bleed out in the alleyway. Four minutes was all it took for me to lose my best friend. It shouldn’t have been this way. Why us? Why did it have to be us. All the alleys in New York and the guy had to choose mine. It was my fault. I was too scared to go alone and my dad paid the price.
Eight minutes. Eight minutes is what it took for the police to arrive. Eight minutes to see a boy holding his father close to him, yelling at God for taking away a soul that didn’t deserve to go. Yelling at God for choosing the wrong person. It should have been me.
“So what happened in that alley way?” the officer asked me.
Oh, I don’t know. Maybe someone got freaking shot. The real question is why aren’t the cops out there trying to find this guy.
“I-I don’t know,” I stammered, “My dad and I were in the alleyway when I was hit in the back of the head. It didn’t knock me out, but it was swung with enough force to keep me down. I saw my father trying to take the guy down, before …”
“Before what?” the officer asked.
“Before he was shot three times in the chest point blank.”
“Do you know what gun was used? What were you two doing in the alleyway the first place?”
“From what I heard and barely saw, I think it was a glock. My mom took my brother and sister to go to the movies. After they left, we noticed my mom had forgotten her wallet. My dad told me to take it to her but I was to scared to go alone.”
“And so he went with you because you were scared?”
“Obviously! Why are you here questioning me when there’s a murderer on the streets looking for his next victim!”
At that moment my family walked into the questioning room. I couldn’t take it. I dropped. I dropped down on my knees and cried and cried and cried. I felt the warm embrace of my sister, the strength of my brother, and the love of my mother. At last, I didn’t feel I was alone in that alleyway.
Five months. It’s been five months since my dad died in that alleyway. It’s been five months since my mom has decided to get back into the dating game again, as my sister tells me. No. My mother wouldn’t do that to Dad. Tom would. Tom served with my dad in the military. They were brothers. Unfortunately, Tom decided that it was time my mom got over Dad. He was using her emotions, I could feel it.
“Hey, why doesn’t Tom help you rebuild the car you’re working on?” my mom asked. Notice she didn’t mention my father was working on the car as well before his demise.
“I think I can handle it,” I replied.
“Look,” my mother answered, “I know you’re not exactly fond of Tom, but you need to give him a chance. He’s been saying he really wants to bond with you.”
“The only father I ever needed is six feet under ground. Maybe you forgot that he was also the only husband you needed.”
“That’s not fair,” she replied. “I loved your father more than you will ever know.”
“If that were the case, it would take a hell of a lot longer than five months for you to grieve.”
And on that note I left to the garage. My father had a tradition where we would go to my uncle’s junkyard and pick out an old car to restore. My brother being nineteen, and the oldest, was first when he turned sixteen. He got a 1971 Hemi Cuda. Next my sister, who’s now seventeen, almost 18. She chose a 1994 Dodge Viper. Eight months ago I turned sixteen and it was finally my turn. I remember the day as if it were yesterday. My dad drove me to the yard, and I knew that this car had to be one of a kind. I looked all around. After an hour I had lost hope, but then, I saw it. The 1967 Ford Mustang. It was beautiful. We brought it home and immediately got to work on it. Those were good times.
Tom. Why is Tom here. Here in the garage where my dad and I had some of our best memories.
“Your mom tells me you need some help with the car.”
“First of all, no one has called me sport since I was nine years old. Second of all, I don’t need any advice from you.”
“Okay, well, umm, I’ll be in the house if you need me.”
“I’m sure you will be.”
When he leaves. I get back to what I was working on. Finding my father’s killer.
Two more months went by without the killer being caught, and I was no closer to catching him. Summer break ended, leaving me no free time to find this guy. Especially with football season coming up, I had no time, and the murderer would never be found.
“Come on Bates! Get your head in the game!” my coach yells from the sideline.
I’m practicing right now, and I can’t exactly focus. I’m dropping easy balls to catch, running wrong routes, and not performing up to quota. I’m letting my team down.
“Yo, what’s going on Tyler? You’re making the easiest mistakes of your life, man. What’s going on?” Jason asks.
Jason has been my best friend since the first grade. We played football together growing up, and we never stopped.
“I don’t know man, I’m just off today,” I tell him.
“Well how about you get on and get ready for the championships bro. Like coach said, head in the game.”
“Alright, I got you.”
Final route. I get this right, and coach won’t chew my head off about my mistakes.
“Hut!” yells the quarterback.
I’m off like a rocket. The guy guarding me is keeping up with me step for step. I dart left, throwing him off balance and into the ground. The quarterback sees me open and lobs it. Perfect spiral. This time, I’m getting it. I see the ball coming right into my hands. Crack! I’m on the floor, and all I see is Bankowski standing over me. Brian Bankowski. He’s hated me ever since I got picked to start as wide receiver, and coach thought he’d be better as a safety. I take my helmet off and start walking back to the bench.
“You sure were booking it pretty fast,” he says. “Maybe if you were that fast in that alley, your dad would still be alive.”
My blood is boiling. I know for a fact I can take him. My dad’s voice rings in my head, “Don’t let your enemy get in your head. If you do, it’ll already be too late.”
“Yeah. Whatever Brian,” I reply.
I can tell that it gets him mad. I’m not making a scene.
“What, got nothing to say Tyler? Mad that your mom’s got a new boyfriend and forgot all about your dad. Better off dead, I bet.”
That’s it. I see red. I lose all thought of self-control. I want Bankowski dead. I whip around landing a right hook on his jaw. He’s not gonna get knocked out from one punch, he’s stronger than that. He throws a right, I block it, turning my body ninety degrees and land an elbow on his nose. He’s off balance now. I can hear the team running toward us to try and stop what’s going on. Brian attempts to tackle me. I step to the side dodging him, wrap my arms around his waist from the back, hoist him above my head, and slam him into the ground. I think that’s it, but I’m overtaken by rage and get on top of him. I punch him five times before my teammates finally force me off of him.
Two weeks. I’m suspended for two weeks because of that fight. Not exactly ideal, but now I have time to find the killer. After walking out of school, I’m expecting to see my mom, furious, coming to pick me up. But no. Standing there is Tom. I figure I’m enough trouble, so I stay quiet the entire trip back home.
We get home, and I can already see my mom foaming at the mouth. Even though she married a Navy SEAL, she’s never been a fan of fighting, no matter what. I will give props to Tom for one thing. He convinces my mom to not put me in therapy. Thank God for that.
One week goes by, and I have a slight idea of who it might be. The only logical person that it could be is the guy who invited himself into my home. Tom. I have to be sure though. Because once I find out it’s him, I’m not turning him into the cops. I’m killing the guy myself. I promise you Dad, I will get revenge, and he will know my pain.
I’ve start acting like I’m finally ready to accept Tom into the family. Spending more time with my family when he’s around, not giving attitude when he’s mentioned, and having conversations with him. I don’t know how I didn’t realize this before, but he is insanely boring. All he ever talks about is fishing and basketball. Never been a fan of the sport myself.
“Everyone! Family Meeting!” my mom yells from downstairs.
Ugh. Hearing family meeting and knowing that my mom is including Tom in the word. Family. He will never be my family.
My siblings and I walk downstairs to see what our mom has to say.
“Alright, now that you all are down here, we want to make an announcement.” my mom says.
We wait to see what she has planned for us.
“Tom and I weren’t sure at first based on Tyler’s behavior towards him, but after seeing him finally accepting Tom, we have decided to take the next step, and Tom’s moving in.”
No! This can’t be happening. I tried to pretend to accept him so he wouldn’t be suspicious of me. Not so he can be my roommate. This isn’t good.
“What? That’s crazy!” Stephanie said.
Finally, someone with sense.
“I’m so proud of you two!” she adds.
Wait, what? No!
“This is actually some pretty good news,” Lance says. “We could watch basketball games together and stuff.”
Do they even hear themselves right now? What is going on?
“What do you think about it Tyler?” Tom asks me.
What do I think about it? I think it’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard, and my siblings are brain dead.
“I think it’ll be good for the family.” I reply.
“Awesome! Thank you everyone.” my mom says.
I have to think long term, this could be good. It’ll make it easier for me to find the evidence I need to justify what I’m going to do to him. I hope you’ll forgive me Mom, but with Dad gone, I’m the last person keeping our family safe from him.
It’s been two months since Tom moved in, and I couldn’t hate him more than I already do. Another thing I hate about him, he’s a morning person. As in he comes to breakfast with a good attitude and doesn’t stop trying to make conversation. How in the world did this guy survive on his own not having people to talk to him twenty-four/seven?
My mom and Tom are heading to a banquet this weekend, and this couldn’t be better. While they’re gone, I’ll have time to check around their room to see if I can find anything on him.
“We’ll be back in about four hours, everyone better be asleep by the time we get back.” my mom says from downstairs.
“Money’s on the counter if you guys want to order some food.” Tom adds.
They’re gone. Good. Time to get work.
One hour and forty-five minutes is how long it takes for me to search the entire room and come up completely empty-handed. Tom is good, but I will find something. No matter how long it takes me. That’s when I see it. The painting. That was never there when my dad was still around.
I pick it up off the nail and sure enough, there it is. A hole in the wall. I put a glove on so that I won’t leave any fingerprints behind. I reach down into the hole and my heart sinks. I picked up a Ziploc bag, and it’s heavy. I pull it out and see it. In the bag is a glock with the clip taken out, and on it is dried blood. My dad’s dried blood.
The piece of crap actually did it. He murdered my dad in cold blood, just so he could have my mom.
Four days have gone by since I found the gun. Now that I have my evidence to reassure myself, I can finally take him out and get revenge for my dad.
My brother has a basketball game tomorrow, and my sister has to cheer for it. My mom is insisting that we all go to watch Lance play and see Stephanie cheer.
“I’m slammed for homework mom,” I tell her after getting home from practice.
“If you want Julie, I can stay back and take care of him,” Tom tells my mom.
Perfect. This is exactly what I’ve been waiting for. Tom and I alone.
“Alright, we’ll be back by eight o’clock.” my mom tells us.
Four minutes. Four minutes from now, Tom will pay for how he hurt me. I grab the gun from behind the painting and put it in my back pocket. I sneak downstairs where Tom is watching a basketball game. Now is the time. I sneak up behind him, as my father taught me, and punch him in the back of the head. He falls face first into the coffee table and then onto the floor.
“Wh-where the hell am I?” Tom asks in the darkness.
“You’re exactly where you deserve to be,” I tell him.
“Tyler? What are you doing?”
“Acting stupid now? Or are you actually stupid and haven’t put two and two together.”
“What are you even talking about?”
“I found it.”
“The gun you used. The gun you used to kill my father. The gun you used to murder him in cold blood. The gun you used to rid the world of my father!”
“Tyler, what gun are you talking about?”
“So, you just want to keep on trying to act like you don’t know. Alright. I was hoping you would.”
I pull the knife out of the oven which I had let heat for the past ten minutes.
“Tyler! Stop! Your father wouldn’t want you to do something like this!”
“And he’d want you dating my mother? He wanted to die in that alleyway in his son’s arms?”
I’ve had enough. I stuff a shirt in his mouth and press the hot blade on his chest. His eyes pop wide open, and he yells in pain.
“What you’re feeling right now, is a fraction of the pain I felt holding my dad, watching the life leave his eyes.”
I take the shirt out, and he is crying.
“I didn’t kill your dad! I don’t own any guns.”
“Then why was this hidden behind a painting in yours and my mom’s room?”
I stand there holding the barrel of the gun to his head.
“I don’t know! You have to believe me!”
“That painting wasn’t in the room until you moved in. Is that some sort of coincidence?”
“The painting was there before I moved in. Your mom put it up.”
“Are you saying my mom killed my dad? Now you are just straight out lying.”
I pull the hammer back.
“You have ten seconds to tell me some idiotic reason why I shouldn’t waste you right here.”
“Please, if you let me live I’ll-WATCH OUT!”
I’m kicked in the arm and drop the gun to the floor. I do a side kick, pushing my attacker against the other side of the room. As I get a better look, I realize it was him. Or should I say her. The attacker. The person who killed my dad. The feeling I got when I got into the fight with Brian comes over me again. I have to control myself. This person in front of me is obviously a skilled fighter. She comes at me with a hook kick. I catch it with ease, but she wants me to catch it. She twists around and kicks me across the face. I get back up, and she’s already on me. She attempts another hook kick, but now I block it and return with an axe kick, putting her off balance. Now’s my time. I throw a right hook, and she attempts to block it, just as I predicted. I pull back, do a 180-degree turn and land an elbow on the side of the attacker’s head, turn back around and deliver a push kick on her chest putting her against the wall. She jabs at me, which I dodge by leaning my head left and holding her against the wall.
Now. Now is the time to see the person who killed my father. I grab the top of the black hood and tear it off.
“No. It can’t be,” I say in utter disbelief.
“Oh my God,” Tom says.
I drop to my knees. Destroyed.
“You. You killed dad.”
Standing in front of me is my mom.
“I’m sorry, bu-”
I cut her off, pinning her on the ground, putting the barrel on her forehead. It is then that I hear my dad’s voice again. He is urging me not to do it.
“Don’t do it, son,” I hear him saying, “Will this make you happy? Will it bring me back? Will killing her fill the hole in your heart?”
I start crying. What have I done? I look at my hands seeing the bruises and blood, ashamed of what I became. I almost became the very thing I swore to protect my family from.
It’s been about two months now. My siblings and I are living with our uncle who owns the junkyard and honestly, life is pretty great. I no longer live in fear of a monster that killed my father. My mom was arrested and sentenced to life in prison. I soon found out that Tom was arrested because he was actually aiding and abetting a crime. Turns out he knew the whole time.
Revenge doesn’t bring back loved ones. Revenge doesn’t truly make you happy. It will never fill the holes in our hearts that we have as human beings.