Baby, We Can Be Stars

     Garlic and onions, simmering and crackling in a shallow pool of bubbling hot oil inside a flat sauce pan, are the base of most dishes. The size by which these should be cut depends on what dish you’re cooking. For example, if you’re making a smooth marinara sauce, you want to chop and dice each as finely as possible because you want them to disappear into the sauce, but not dominate the flavor. On the other hand, if you’re making mashed potatoes, you want to dice half an onion into big chunks, keeping the root intact. The root is what carries the sourness that makes you cry. Given that everything will be boiling in milk and salted butter, the cloves of garlic can be thrown in whole and will soften along with the diced unpeeled potatoes into a fluffy cream.

     “Why don’t we call a bundle of garlic cloves a ‘scrotum of garlic’?” Seneca asked, his eyes transfixed on his father’s hands chopping the vegetables. “I mean, we call a whole lettuce a ‘head’ and a certain type of bean ‘kidney’ because they look like those things.” Seneca’s father didn’t say a word. Not even an affirming grunt. “Even a piece of corn is called an ‘ear’ and it doesn’t even look like one.” Listening to his teenage son’s legume logic pulled a smile out of Fausto, as if the corners of his lips were slowly being widened by hooks. “Even an onion looks more like a breast than an artichoke like a heart.” Seneca’s impassioned speech was replied to by the silence accompanying the soothing rhythm of his father’s knife cutting through the vegetables and into the butcher block like a horse’s gentle gallop on hard cobblestone roads. Fausto could peel, chop, mince, and carved any vegetable into any shape he willed while wielding a knife. All he needed was an excuse.

     “According to your reasoning, should those long, green squashes over there be referred to as ‘zucchini peckers’?” Fausto asked. Their necks twisted cautiously, facing one another. As soon as their eyes met, they burst out into a fit of laughter, like two sisters on bikes, Fausto’s chuckle booming like a bass drum and Seneca’s like a floor tom. Based on this interchange of mirth, it was clear that Seneca was going to inherit his father’s deep voice. “Alright, stop being a jerk and get me a rib rack from the meat cooler, I need to head out to work soon.”

     Fausto always made an effort to eat at least one meal with Seneca. After Seneca’s mother died a few years back, his son had been keeping to himself a little more than usual. Fausto had never considered himself “Father of the Year” when his wife was still with them, leaving most of the rearing to her and focusing more on putting food on the table. Being a hunter, he wasn’t home very often and the times he was, he spent them cleaning the day’s kill and relaxing. But now that his wife was gone, Fausto saw it as an opportunity to reset his relationship with his son and rekindle that which had been missing in their lives for many years.

     Seneca wobbled playfully down to the basement to fetch the ribs his father had asked for. The cooler was to the left of the stairwell and was always stocked with sausages and various cuts of meat including sirloin, tenderloin, round and Seneca’s favorite, ribs. Across from the cooler was a fully functional bathroom equipped with a sink, toilet, and a full shower and tub. It was built by his dad at his mom’s behest to protect her clean floors and nice carpet from the muddy, blood-drenched boots her husband drudged home in on the daily. Across the stairwell was his dad’s workroom. It was always locked. Fausto kept in there all of the things that he wanted to protect his son from. Guns, knives of all shapes, sizes and sharpness, chemicals, all of the good liquor and his priceless record collection. He’d only been inside of it once, right after his mother died, but was immediately evicted and excluded from ever entering when he dropped a knife on his foot, the blade cutting clean through the canvas shoe, between his big toe and the one next to it. Not a single scratch befell his foot that day, but his dad was livid and made sure that an incident like that never happened again. Every time Seneca went down to fetch something from the meat cooler, he always looked lustfully at the forbidden door, analyzing the orange-red glow emanating like a halo through the sliver between the door frame and the solid oak door.

     “Seneca, what’s taking you so long?” Fausto yelled. “The oil’s getting hot and impatient, and so am I.”

     “I’m coming, dad,” Seneca replied. The door always remained locked, even when his father was in there working on something. From time to time, Seneca would sneak downstairs to listen to his father work. The percussive sounds of a cleaver and buzzing of the band saw grinding through animal bone, moved forwards and backwards by his father’s strong arms brought Seneca a sense of comfort. His father loved Frank Sinatra’s music and would often play it while he worked. It was during this time, and only within the confines of his solitude, that Seneca would hear his father’s deep and boisterous baritone voice.

     Come fly with me, we’ll fly, we’ll fly away, Seneca would hear his father singing in full voice as he rested his head against the cooler. Sometimes, Seneca would fall asleep against the meat cooler listening to his father work, and would wake up in his bed. His father only yelled at him to leave if he was awake and putting his ear against the door. Fausto didn’t want his son snooping around in his business. He was a very private man.

     “You’re too young,” Fausto said. “I’m going to let you in that room when I think that you’re ready.”

     “But I’m sixteen-years-old, dad,” Seneca said. “You were much younger than me when you started to learn how to do these things.”

     “It’s not just about how old you are. It’s also about maturity. You’re not mature enough to deal with the things I have to do in there.”

     “But I know how to kill stuff. Remember how I nailed that squirrel right between the eyes? Besides, I’m not going to drop anything on my foot this time. I promise.”

     “You think that hunting is just about killing. Hunting is much more than that. Hunting is a way of life. It takes patience, skill, intelligence, empathy and a cold heart of stone, to do what needs to be done. Killing is murder, a massacre. Hunting is elegant. It takes class.

     “I didn’t train you to be a killer. I trained you to use a blade so that you can know when it is the right time to take a life. Animal or human.”

     If there was something that Seneca hated more in the world was to hear his dad say, “Enjoy being a kid. Trust me, you don’t want to deal with adult problems before your mature enough to even begin to understand them. Once you become an adult, at whatever age life decides to turn you into one, there’s no turning back.”

     As Seneca walked up the basement steps, he could hear his father humming “Fly Me To The Moon.”

     “In other words…Seneca, come here, my boy,” Fausto said, not looking back at his son approaching. “Let me show you how to make the perfect tomatillo sauce to go with these short ribs.”

     The spiciness you want to give the sauce depends on what type of pepper you want to include. You can go with a jalapeño to add a small kick or with a tree chili if you want to burn everything that the sauce comes into contact with. Fausto preferred a pepper with a more infernal profile. He enjoyed the way its hotness made his blood boil as it reminded him of the feeling of rage. It’s only when you are truly angry that you are truly honest, Fausto used to say. After you’ve chosen your poison, remove the paper-like husk from the green tomatoes and place them on the hot skillet along with your choice of pepper, whole cloves of garlic, a whole onion and whole pepper corns. Roast them until they turn a dark brown, but it’s perfectly fine if you burn them slightly. The burnt smell of pepper will indicate how spicy the sauce will be as it will suffocate you and drive you helplessly into a coughing fit. Fausto shoveled the scorched contents into a glass bowl and added a handful of salt and a splash of olive oil. He handed the bowl and a masher to Seneca.

      “Why don’t you use the blender,” Seneca asked as he mashed the steaming contents in the bowl, releasing scents that both tickled and caressed his nose.

      “Because if you want things done right,” Fausto said, rinsing the cast iron skillet he used to roast the sauce ingredients, releasing a hissing, white smoke cloud, “you need to get your hands dirty.”

     Fausto bought very few things from the supermarket or restaurants. If I can make it myself, why would I pay someone else to do it worse than me? he often said. He had a big vegetable garden in which he grew lettuces of all colors, corn, wheat, tomatoes and squashes. Fausto had robust fruit trees that provided delicious fruit and plenty of shade for his two cows, which he milked every day and whose milk he would use to make all types of dairy products such as cheese and yogurt. The eggs he used to prepare Seneca’s breakfast every morning or dinner, whenever they had breakfast for dinner, came from the dozens of chickens roaming and clucking around their property. Fausto’s burgeoning garden benefited from his profession as a hunter as he would use the discarded bones, blood and waste products to make bone and blood meal, which he would then use to fertilize it. Fausto hated waste and clutter of any kind and always kept his house and work area spotless, like a meticulous Levite of old.

      “Waste comes from negligence and negligent people are the ones that always seem to find themselves in trouble,” Fausto used to say to Seneca. “Always make sure to take care of all the loose ends whenever you decide to do anything. However insignificant they may seem at first.”

     Seneca always thought of his dad as the smartest guy in the world. Not because he knew the answer to everything. In fact, his dad often made his ignorance known. But what he did know, he knew it well. Fausto was full of knowledge, knowledge that, if heeded, could keep you alive. He didn’t say much, but when he did, Seneca found it the most appropriate and insightful words ever spoken on the matter.

      “You have to be certain that when you do something, you’re doing it because you’re ready to live with the aftermath of it,” Fausto said, cleaning the blade of his favorite hunting knife. “When I killed your granddaddy.” Fausto rarely spoke about his father, but when he did, he would refer to him as Seneca’s granddad, especially when he talked about his death. “I had to make a choice.” Fausto sat quietly in his favorite chair, looking out the window and at his reflection on the knife’s cold sheen. “The choice whether to live with a man that was hurting my mother and me or live with him in my mind, hurting me from within my own blood and bones. When you kill something, you can’t unkill it. No matter how much you wish you could.”

     Fausto’s father was a hunter as well as a heavy drinker and expected perfection from his wife and son. Perfection, in his inebriated mind, was the opposite of whatever these two had prepared for him. If the house was messy, he’d complain about how filthy it was and if it was clean, without a speck of dust, he’d complain about how the house looked like a “goddamned, abandoned ghost house.” When he was home, Fausto’s father would call him over and punish him for any reason. His favorite mode of punishment was to draw X’s on Fausto’s back with his hunting knife. Got anything lower than a B in school, X on his back. Got into a fight at school, two X’s on his back. Fausto would often overhear his mother’s pleas for her husband to stop hitting her and, as he was leaving to head back to the pub, her wishes for him to just leave Fausto and her alone and never return. He could bear his father’s twisted form of discipline, but any form of abuse on the woman he loved most, was simply unbearable for Fausto.

     While his father was passed out from a binge of too much moonshine, Fausto unsheathed his father’s hunting knife and drew an ear to ear, bright red happy face on his throat. He cleaned up all traces of the act, so detailed that it looked as though it had never happened. When Fausto revealed what he had done to his mother, she wanted to shun him for having done that. He wasn’t hurting anybody, she would yell at Fausto, banging her weak fists on his chest as he would try to hug her. The sound of her wounded sobbing and the way she dug her fingernails deep into his shirt and the skin of his chest communicated to him that he had done the right thing.

      “Killing is a disease,” Fausto said as he stood up sheathing his knife onto his belt. “That’s why it’s so hard to do, because you’re not supposed to do it. Once you’ve killed, you yourself need to be killed or you’ll continue to kill because you’ve figured out how easy it is to do so. Then you start using it as a means to solve your problems and there, in that thought that you can kill anyone in the world, lies the danger.”

     Seneca handed the cold ribs to Fausto and he motioned his son over with his elbow to join him near the cutting board.

      “A knife lets you take matters into your own hands,” Fausto said, sliding the sharp knife through the frigid meat as if through butter. “You can grab life by the knife-handle and carve any situation that life throws at you.” The beads of sweat cascaded onto his brow and dripped onto the cutting board like raindrops in spring, diluting the puddled blood on it. “Sometimes, it’ll be a chicken. Others, it’ll be something which neither water nor soap will be able to wash away.” Fausto wiped his brow with the bicep on his knife-wielding arm. “Something that will live with you forever.” Fausto continued to cut in silence.

      “Besides,” Fausto smirked, “You definitely don’t want to be like those stupid people that overpay for prepackaged, precut chicken breasts, or vegetables. They live prepackaged lives, consuming and digesting whatever the safe bounds of convenience allows them to.” Upon dropping the blood-soaked ribs into the rumbling oil, a stadium-filled cheer sprinkled a mist of scalding oil onto Fausto and Seneca’s forearms. The white marbling of the meat emitted a heavenly sacrificial scent. “Soon, they too will be prepackaged corpses being dragged out of their prepackaged homes into their prepackaged coffins.” Fausto threw a handful of salt onto the browning meat, effervescing on contact, like Merlin into a bath-sized black cauldron.

     When Fausto was in his late twenties, he was living in New York and was dating a girl that was going to college there. His girlfriend Sherry shared an apartment with a girl who hit it off with Fausto. Her name was Marie. Fausto’s infatuation for Sherry’s roommate got to a point that he looked forward to visiting his girlfriend only because he wanted to see more of Marie.

     Fausto was aware that Marie had a boyfriend named Mike. In fact, he had met him twice, both times disappointed by the encounters. The first time because Fausto expected Marie’s boyfriend to be taller and more impressive than himself. The second time because he heard him go on and on about drugs and every which way to get high.

     On one occasion, Sherry wasn’t home, but had instructed Fausto to wait for her at her apartment. Upon arriving, Fausto noticed that the front door was unlocked and wide open. It hadn’t just been left open, it was pried forcefully, against the door’s will. Fausto walked in cautiously and looked around the common area. Nothing.

      “Is anybody there?” he called out as he would, were he exploring an abandoned house on Mars’s surface. “Hello. Marie?”

     A hallway door cawed and a shuffling of rummage startled Fausto and he turned around to see what it was.

      “Shhhush,” Marie commanded with a finger across her lips. She came out of her room, closing the door behind her so fast and quietly that it almost appeared as though she had incorporeally permeated her body through it. Her sullen face and the hall’s bad lighting didn’t allow Fausto to appreciate the condition her face was in. The bruise work her boyfriend had apportioned her that day was concealed by the shadows.

     As Fausto reached over to support Marie’s deflated and flagellated body, their eyes locked. At that moment, Fausto didn’t need to know that she had three broken ribs, internal bleeding and a dislocated shoulder. All he knew was that she needed help and that he needed her in his life.

     Fausto escorted her in his arms to the crisp light of the sun-filled living room, which revealed to him that whatever Marie was going through needed to stop and that he was the one to make sure that it did. Fausto wanted to call 9-1-1 and get Marie to the hospital, but she begged him not to.

      “He’s got two strikes on his record,” she cried. “One more and he’s done. I don’t want to get him in trouble.”

     Fausto couldn’t conceive of how someone so beautiful and delicate, intelligent and independent, could want with a piece of human excrement like Mike.

      “I’m so stupid,” she said, banging her fists on her lap, which explained the extensive bruising on her thighs and knees. At least, some of it. “I should have listened to his ex. His ex was right.”

      “Who’s ex?” Fausto asked, confused.

      “Mike’s ex-girlfriend. She put a restraining order on him and called me several times, warning me to do the same.”

     She ignored her, not wanting to see, and continued to believe that she was capable of changing Mike. The other girl was probably really trashy, Marie thought, and didn’t respect herself. Her mother had always told her that men preyed on weak women. That a man treated a woman the way she let herself be treated, the way she herself wanted to be treated. Marie thought of herself as strong, which made this whole situation the more humiliating for her.

      “Who the fuck’s there?” A man’s voice roared from Marie’s room. Both Fausto and Marie’s heads turned simultaneously. “Marie, where the hell are you?”

      “Oh, crap. He’s awake,” Marie said. “I better go.”

     As Marie groaned herself up and began to stumble away, Fausto grabbed her hand and she stopped almost by choice. He took a deep breath.

      “Do you want to get out of this?” Fausto asked.

      “What?” she replied.

      “Do you want all this to end? Do you want him gone and out of your life?”

     Marie stood there, in silence, amidst Fausto’s patient anticipation and Mike’s vociferous tantrums, contemplating the proposition and the weight that the repercussions would bring to her life. She knew she was dead if she stayed with Mike. It was only a matter of time.

      “Yes,” she said in a soft, low voice in almost imagined tones. There was no emotion in her voice, no sign of love behind her tears. She knew exactly what he was asking her and what she was asking him to do.

     Fausto pulled her down to the couch gently, laid her on it and covered her with a warm blanket. He gave her a kiss on the forehead. She closed her eyes. At first, out of the exhaustion that comes from sleeping with one eye open next to the one person who could end you, because he keeps reminding you of the fact. She kept them closed due to the screams and shouts coming from her room: one from a man whimpering and begging for his life, the others from a man grunting and moaning, taking it away. There was crying, and gagging. Then, nothing.

     Fausto later told the cops that it was in self-defense, but they still took him in. It didn’t upset Fausto that he was arrested, or that Sherry went to see Marie at the hospital before checking up on him at the precinct. It didn’t bother him that Sherry allowed the carnage befalling Marie to go on for as long as it did. What bothered Fausto was that Sherry never told him about it. In Fausto’s mind, even a minute of abuse was too long for anyone to suffer through. He loved Marie and this wouldn’t be the first or last time that Fausto would kill for those he loved.

     On that very visit, Fausto broke up with Sherry. Later that week, after Marie testified against her deceased boyfriend, Fausto was acquitted and he nursed Marie back to health. Two weeks after that, they started dating and three years later, they were married with Seneca on the way.

     Fausto and Seneca were sitting at the table having a nice meal, enjoying the last rays of sunlight daggering through the blinds.

      “I was thinking about your mom earlier today,” Fausto said, chewing a mouthful of rib meat, dipped in buttery mashed potatoes. “About how proud of you she’d be to see the responsible man you’re turning into.”

     Seneca looked down, spooning his food aimlessly about his plate.

      “I know that I’ve been kind of hard on you about what I do, but I want to make sure that you don’t end up.” Fausto swallowed hard, harder than what the contents in his mouth required. “That you don’t end up fucked up like me.”

     Seneca placed his utensils down. He had never seen his father get emotional like that. Fausto palmed away tears from his eyes.

      “I just want to make sure that I am the type of man that can protect you from the world out there and the wilderness within every man,” Fausto said. “The one that makes us do stupid, crazy shit.”

     Seneca walked over to his dad who by now was sobbing quietly, cornering his face into his hands. He placed his hand on his dad’s shoulder and felt the gentle tremors of his dad’s shallow breathing.

      “Dad, you are a good man,” Seneca said. “You’ve done your best to teach me how to be like you.”

     Fausto emerged from his hands, eyes bloodshot.

      “That’s the thing, I don’t want you to be like me. I want you to be better.”

     Suddenly, Fausto’s phone rang. He answered. He nodded and hummed affirmatively.

     “Listen, son,” Fausto said. “I’ve got to go. Finish what’s on your plate and make sure that you clean up the table and do the dishes. You got that?” Seneca nodded. Fausto sniffles as he exited were silenced by his door slam.

     After taking care of his chores, Seneca went to his room and began to think about why his dad didn’t trust him. Am I that different from him? he asked himself. There’s got to be a way to get into that goddamned room. Seneca went downstairs to the basement and began to study the door handle. He wrapped his warped fingers around it and wrung it furiously, jerking the knob in all the cardinal directions.

     Seneca heard his dad’s truck arrive and he immediately jumped inside the cooler, leaving a crack open to let air in and the stench of the meat out. He noticed that Fausto was carrying a large, black sack into his workroom. The clings and clops of sweeping aside metal tools made way for a heavy thud that comes as a result of dropping a soulless carcass onto a stainless steel surface. Fausto came out of the workroom carrying a half-drunk bottle of Macallan 18 Year Sherry Oak scotch in one hand, a towel in the other, and an indistinct tune in his whistling.

     Seneca noticed that his dad had left his workroom’s door ajar. Tiptoeing past the bathroom door, Seneca sneaked in and began to analyze the sack. He picked up his dad’s hunting knife— shrink-wrapped in a pink film— pulling it out of its leathery vestiture, and neared its razor tip towards the cadaver, trying to prod it. As the knife touched the bag, Seneca heard his dad’s shower singing get closer and more melodic. With knife in hand, Seneca ran to hide in any crevasse he could find.

     His dad came into the workroom, completely naked, toweling his head. Seneca grabbed tightly onto his shins, the back of his shoes digging into his buttocks. He had a clear view of his dad and a partial one of the bag on the table. With the towel still resting on Fausto’s shoulders, he turned to his turntable, made of a reddish-brown cherry heartwood, its fine, straight grain with narrow brown pith flecks and small gum pockets were brought out by the single source of light swinging about, gently above the motionless sack. As Fausto looked meditatively for the perfect record, he slid his fingers on the smooth lacquered texture, closing his eyes from time to time, humming an undistinctive melody. It sounded like a jazz standard.

     As Fausto was humming a jazz lullaby, Seneca was thinking of an alibi in case his father were to find him, hiding there. However, what was preoccupying him more than the harsh lecture his father would give him on how he wasn’t supposed to be in there and how the fact that he sneaked in wasn’t the reason why he was so upset, but the fact that he lied, was how he would manage to get out without his dad being the wiser. You should never lie to your father, Fausto would often say.

     “Ah,” Fausto exclaimed as he found what he was looking for and slid an LP record out of the stack. Seneca couldn’t see what record his dad had pulled out. The swoosh of the protective plastic sliding against the cardboard sleeve and that of the record sliding out of the paper cover made Seneca nervous with anticipation. He knew that it would be Frank Sinatra singing, but not the song.

     The click releasing the tone-arm gave way to the head-shell dropping down, the needle making a crackling sound as the record began to play on its continuous loop. All the while the muscles on Fausto’s back were rippling like clowns running around manically under a fallen circus tent, decorated with big scar-tissue X’s. The sight of it reminded Seneca of the times in which his dad would pretend to be a strongman, a Mr. Olympia contestant, flexing his strong back for Seneca and his mother as they snuggled in bed, laughing at his dad’s silhouette, which towered over him like a menacing giant.

     As the squeal of the strings began, Fausto turned around with a goofy smile on his face, his eyes closed, and began to waltz with himself as he once had with his wife Marie. Seneca had always heard that his dad had been such a good dancer, but it wasn’t until this very instant, that he had seen him with his own eyes. As Fausto twirled, the towel on his head waved about like long terrycloth tresses. The orchestration filled the workroom and Fausto gracefully removed the towel from his head and wrapped it around his svelte waist and muscular buttocks, never once losing his footing on the beat.

     And now the purple dusk of twilight time, Sinatra began to sing.

     “Steals across the meadows of my heart,” Fausto joined Frank with his lyrical yet slightly distuned voice, words slurred from the intoxicating bath he had just vacated in the room adjacent.

     High up in the sky the little stars climb…

     As Fausto unzipped the sack, the animal within became reanimated and started to move. The unzipping became more violent as the creature convulsed vigorously, making Seneca feel each zipper tooth becoming unfastened, drilling chalkboard scratches into his ears. The gaping incision bloomed a bouquet of flesh-colored, blood-drenched tentacles, creeping spastically, gripping desperately for a way out, limb by crippled limb.

     It was a person. Fausto turned and scrambled to grab a tool with which to bludgeon it, but Seneca jumped out of his nook, yelling louder than the thing that emerged from the bag.

      “What the hell are you doing, dad?” Seneca yelled. The nearly unconscious man rolled off the table and snaked himself behind Seneca, leaving a badly mopped streak of blood and fluids in his wake. “Dad. I asked, what the hell is going on?”

     Still under the effects of the scotch, Fausto leaned back on his work bench and looked at his son with the eyes of a man who had lost his purpose in life.

      “What are you doing with my knife?” Fausto asked, words slurring. “Well, I guess you were going to find out about this someday.”

      “Find out about what?” Seneca asked, not really wanting to know the answer to his own question.

      “That we’re cannibals.” Seneca momentarily lost his footing as if the whole Earth was flexing its gravitational force on and off.

      “Please don’t hurt me,” the bloodied man cried. “I’ve got a son just like you. Let me go home to him, I won’t tell anybody. I promise.”

      “Shut up,” yelled Seneca. “Dad.” Seneca’s stomach began to churn, wanting to purge itself of all the tainted meat he had consumed. The meat that he had enjoyed so much. The one that his own dad had prepared so lovingly. “Why are you killing people? I’ve seen you kill up to three deer in one outing. Why are you doing this?” Fausto cleared his throat, then chuckled.

      “At first, killing was easy because I was killing bad people, people that deserved to die,” Fausto said as he belched, ending it with an abrupt hiccup. “But after a while, I realized that killing was all the same; whether I was killing guilty or innocents.”

     “But why the fuck were you eating them and feeding them to me?” Seneca failed to find the humor that had so enveloped his father, whose eyes were starry with red meteorites.

     “Meat is meat. It’s all about how you cook it.” Fausto’s laughter crescendoed and reached a forte before it was punctuated by a woozy, silent stare. “How many times have I told you not to be wasteful?”

      “Duh-did you kill mom?”

      “Don’t be stupid. I loved your mom more than I ever loved anyone. Even you.” Seneca clutched the knife-handle. “However,” Fausto smiled, “I did kill the doctor that gave her the cancer diagnosis.” Fausto chuckled. “You know, I found that all of his braininess made him kind of stringy.”

     Seneca looked at his dad, in a way he never thought that he would.

      “Please son, I trust that you know what needs to be done. This way of life has kept us alive this whole time,” Fausto said, his smile morphing seamlessly into sobbing. “I need your help, my dear boy.”

     With the knife soldered to his hand, Seneca began to walk towards the man that could’ve been his father. The man he didn’t know and wouldn’t care to kill. He squeezed the wooden handle and threw it directly towards the man’s chest, lancing it deep into his sternum. Deep into the chest of the man who gave him life and this wretched way of living.

     The man on the floor began to sob uncontrollably. He would see his son again, the one that was Seneca’s age, but he would never be the same loving father he was before Fausto kidnapped him and attempted to flay and fillet him.

     Fausto staggered to breathe, attempting to wedge out the knife out of his chest, cutting his fingers and gushing out even more blood. The same knife Fausto used to murder his own father was now plunged deep in his heart by his own son’s hand. Fausto waltzed randomly about the workroom, out of rhythm and out of breath. He crashed chest-first into the liquor cabinet, the knife burrowing itself deeper into his being, releasing a melodic chime of glass shards on the cold cement floors. By the time he collapsed, Fausto palmed the record player as a last chance to find stability. He staggered to breathe for the last time, bleeding Maraschino red all over the cherry heartwood record player. Sinatra’s bittersweet voice would forever sing in Seneca’s mind the loop that the record was stuck on…

     The melody haunts my reverie…The melody haunts my reverie…The melody haunts my reverie…

     Seneca called the police and they swarmed his house, the faint scent of garlic and onions still wafting in the air. They had been looking for the person responsible for all those disappearances. The workroom his dad had tried so hard to keep private went from being completely unknown to one of the most popular news stories for two whole days.  The police took Seneca in for questioning, but he was mute. Dumb like a sheep before her shearer. Not because he wanted to preserve his dad’s good name, but because he really had no idea about what had been going on in his own home. Part of Seneca wished that he had never gone into that room, that he had never discovered his dad’s sadistic tendencies, and that he had never ended his life. Even a messed up life with his dad would have been better than no life. Better than the living, breathing death he was currently experiencing in his flesh and bone prison.

     In his mind, Seneca remembered the happy times when he went on strolls with his mom, the summers when the three of them would go on long road trips to various parts of the United States, and the recipes of how to cook various dishes.

     The recipes. Those beloved recipes, now they were all tainted with human blood. He wanted to forget them all, including that of how to be a killer. Seneca wanted to forget who he was and where he came from. However, he would never truly forget the lessons his dad taught him, the ones that had been preparing him for that final showdown in the workroom. The mental minefield that would to detonate continuously and without warning as he got older and tried to move on with his life. The haunting memories.

     The memory of love’s refrain.


Artwork Credit

“Marble statue of a member of the imperial family.” Met Museum, New York, 27AD,


  1. Fine piece of literature, I will use the comming weekend and read it to the end. I tried desparately to locate the “Follow this blog” button, but it is somewhere hidden on your site. For me its no big issue, ’cause I can include it by hand in my selection of followed WP blogs. but maybe for others readers you can somehow manage to place this button somewhere.
    regards, Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love all of the details that you wove into this story. I thought that Fausto would turn out to be a part-time hitman, so your ending was a complete surprise. Well done, man.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s