|Stories # - L | M - Z | Authors
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His father’s voice woke him up again. Another crash from the living room and the familiar sound of his mother hitting the floor meant it must be Friday. Doug looked over at his little brother who could sleep through anything. He felt a bit of envy at that. It would be ending soon though. His brother was almost 5. Doug remembered it starting for him about then. At first it was the Help-Around-the-House lectures, followed by the You-Ain’t-Doing-Enough beatings. Now that he was almost 9, things were getting bad. His father would come home from the bar sometime after and start screaming at his mother. She would plead and apologize for things she didn’t do. Doug would hide under the covers and wait. His brother would sleep the night away. Eventually his father would grow tired of beating his mother and call Doug out to the living room. It was explained on many occasions that if Doug got hit maybe his mother would see the light and shape up a bit. When this would happen, Doug would sink into his own thoughts.
Once, in school, the teacher read from a book of mythology. Many of these tales stuck with Doug, and he would go back to relive them when he was scared. The acts of Heroism of the Ancients made his problems tiny in comparison.
This night was a bit different. Doug didn’t wait for his father to call him. He walked out of the room and looked at the crumpled form of his mother lying in the corner. His father was standing over her with his belt looped around his hand, the buckle looked sticky and seemed to have a reddish tint to it. Doug walked up to his father, and said, “Mommy I’m here, you can go to bed now”. His father turned in surprise to see Doug standing before him, braced for impact. Doug’s mind filled with the tales of Perseus and there, in his mind, his father took the form of a Gorgon.
The following morning Doug awoke to the sound of machines and a flurry of activity around him. Looking around at his surroundings led him to the realization he was in the hospital. There were lines connected to his arms and things stuck to his chest. A well dressed woman with short brown hair saw him stir, and smiled. She asked if he knew his name. He did. She asked if he knew where he was. He did. She asked if he knew why he was here. He was not so sure, but did recall being thrown. He asked if his mother was okay and about where his father was. He was told his father was in jail, and his mother was in another room resting. The woman seemed surprised that he spoke so freely about the abuse, but he explained that once you get used to it, it’s no different that talking about a TV show or a story in a book. It’s almost like it’s happening to someone else.
A week later, Doug was placed in a foster home with his brother. Their mother hadn’t survived that attack. Years later, Doug was able to see a report on what had happened that night. The report was far from complete as it started at the point he was thrown through the living room window and landed in the front yard. The man down the street was walking his dog at the time and saw the boy fly through the glass. He called the police who arrived to find Doug’s mother lying in a pool of her own blood, and his father mumbling something about dinner in five minutes or else.
Life in the foster home was better for many years.
Doug missed his mother terribly, but there was no fear of beatings. He also had
access to a lot of books, many on mythology. One book detailed the
story of the Minotaur. It suggested that the Minotaur was really
the disfigured son of King Minos of
Just after he turned 14, a new member to the foster home arrived. Tony was 15 and pretty outspoken. Doug disliked him from the start. Something about him reminded him of the way his father had been. Within a month, Tony had built a small gang in the area, with many members in the house. Doug kept to himself, and read a lot, both signs of weakness to Tony and the Boys. One day, about 4 months after Tony arrived, he decided it was time to initiate Doug into the gang whether he liked it or not. A group of 5 surrounded Doug in the back yard. He stood and looked them over as they surrounded him. His mind clouded and visions of dull stone walls and the smell of sea air filled his senses.
In the distance, he could hear shouting. He followed the sound around the corner of the house to where a group of 5 boys were all beating on some guy. He tried to call out for them to stop, but no sound came. From his position he could not see the lone victim clearly, but he was dressed the same as Doug. After a few moments, there was a deafening yell, followed by the smallest of the five being jerked into the air. Suddenly, Tony went sprawling backwards, struck in the chest with his smaller ally. One by one, the remaining three Boys were knocked flat. When it was over, Doug could see the guy standing with the smaller Boy held by the collar and crotch of his pants. At the instant the guy dropped the Boy, Doug was drawn from his safe place behind the house, to standing in the circle of battered bodies. He looked around and walked in to the house where he locked himself in his room for three days. No one ever spoke of the incident, but Tony and the Boys gave him a much wider path from that day on.
When he turned 18, he was given a combination birthday/going away party. He had already started the paperwork to get his little brother out of the house to live with him wherever he may end up. The following week he arrived at the foster home to collect his brother, and they moved into a small apartment near the bus depot. Two months went by and things were looking good. Doug had a job on a loading dock and Davy was doing well in school. Even Doug’s psychiatrist said he was making excellent progress in getting beyond the events of that night. He stopped by the store and picked up some essentials on the way home from work. He didn’t really like the job but at least it made Friday nights something to look forward to. He opened the door and called out to Davy that he was home and to apologize for being late. He was explaining that he got caught up at the store when the flash of silver popped into his sight. There was a bright white flash, followed by an inky blackness. As that cleared, he found himself in the doorway watching his father beating on an older version of the boy who fought off Tony that day in the yard. His father had what looked like an aluminum baseball bat and was swinging full force and yelling things Doug couldn’t quite make out. The other guy was bleeding from the back of his head, but seemed to be quite steady on his feet. Doug’s father didn’t seem to notice Doug had been replaced, and the other guy just stood there taking the hits. Again there was a yell followed by a flying body. This time the body was that of Doug’s father. The other guy had picked him up by the shirt and slammed him down on the kitchen table. The table legs shattered as the top crushed them from the force of the impact. Doug glanced over to the room where Davy slept. When he looked back to the fight, the other guy had taken the bat in his hand and was holding it high above the helpless man. Doug tried to shout, “NO!!!”, but the word wouldn’t come. With the realization he couldn’t speak came the realization that he was standing over his father, bat in his hand. He looked over at the door where he had been just moments ago, but the door was shut. He looked around the room for the other guy, but he was nowhere is sight. He lowered the bat and turned to Davy’s room. Two steps in the doorway he could see Davy wasn’t sleeping. He turned back to his father who looked up and said, “He wouldn’t listen.” A feeling came over Doug’s body. It was like electricity, but it didn’t hurt. His hands were shaking but he didn’t notice. He looked at his father and closed his eyes. His mind filled one again with the images of gray stone walls and the smell of the Sea.
* * *
At the trial, Doug’s psychiatrist testified that Doug suffers from a form of dissociation during times of stress. When he is threatened, or when others are threatened, a second personality will come to the surface. This personality is seen as “The Other Guy” by Doug and came into being because of the repeated abuse Doug suffered as a child. It was his way of distancing himself from it. Doug’s focus on the minotaur myth, and his belief in it as a kindred spirit has allowed this other personality to act as a focus to tap into areas of the mind that allow him to do absolutely remarkable things.
The verdict came back guilty, and Doug’s father was led off
to prison for life. No parole for good behavior would be possible
this time. A reporter at the trial approached Doug’s doctor and
presented her with an idea. Eventually, Doug would learn to
control and focus his actions, tapping into “The Other Guy” at will.
“Tog” now patrols