Where am I to go now that I've gone too far? by Ken Flott I remember everything, always. I was born this way. It's less a blessing than it is a disguise. I hate never being able to forget the stuff I never wanted to know or see. I was 23 when my Mother was murdered. It was my father’s fault. The day we buried my Mother he came into my room and said only… “I loved your Mother, she loved you; this will be good for business.” When I was 16 my father insisted I learn how to box. In his words... "I don't want no fucking computer loving cunt of a son". Off I went 5 days a week, just so he would leave me alone. The running, the push ups, the sit ups; the getting hit, the hitting, the exhibition competitions. I remember everything. I remember every beating I took. The concussions, the broken nose, the fractured orbital, the bruised kidney. My father seemed to take pleasure from seeing me get beaten. For 3 years I worked hard at being a better fighter, not to impress him; but to survive. He constantly saw to it I was put in with older more experienced fighters. I remember it all. My Mother, my sister (who was 6 years older than me) and father were all murdered. It was my father’s fault. My father has been gone almost two years now. My sister got done 3 years after my Mother and my father 2 years after that. He was a bad person. He would have killed me if I he knew what I was doing. I don’t know why everyone he knew has left me alone until now. His associates have always kept their distance from me. It’s no secret what they are/were/did and that is the reason my family is gone. It was his fault. Fear and intimidation were his tools and as a fighter will always find out, there is always somebody tougher. Always. There eventually will always be somebody who wants what they have more than you want what they have. It never ends well. This likely won’t end well. I’ve really given them no choice. See I found out who they were, I was cautious at first. I poked around in their bank accounts, moved money from checking to savings and wrote checks so they would bounce. Little annoyances. I should back up a bit. I have become the computer loving cunt of a son my father never wanted. But there is only so much you can do with a computer to exact revenge. I should say, revenge that is satisfying to someone who’s family was taken from him, suddenly and brutally because of some “debt” that had to be repaid. Fuck him and his “code”, fuck him and “word”, fuck them and their “business interests”. My Mother and sister deserved better than to be collateral damage in a war waged by nameless men
that do unspeakable things so they can brag about it at their next get together. My sister who was rarely home (shielding herself from my father’s “testosteronic tyranny “ she used to call it) was always off at school or traveling. Holidays was when I’d see her. She was like a mythical character, prettier than I’d remember and not a bit afraid of my father. One Christmas, when I was 18, she came home to find me with a 3 inch cut under my chin which was obtained by me falling on my face after getting knocked out 3 days before. My father had scheduled the fight just a week before Christmas, a gift to himself I would imagine. I had a shiner to go along with it. Blood had welled in the eye on the same side. She made a joke of it all in front of my father but when she was changing the dressing on the stitches she was crying very gently through her words; she asked “is this the worst yet”? and I told it wasn’t but only because it ended after only 2 rounds. I told her about every punch he threw and every one that connected; I told her about the fear in the referee’s eyes when I got to my feet and he knew I could continue, he said “Jesus kid, you don’t have to, just take a knee, no shame kid”. I told her that what came after that was bad, the burn of the blows to the body, the world turned upside down by a blow to the temple, the desperate reaching for the other fighter as I fell into straight right and out. “Where are you off to next” I asked her. “uhhh, I’m off to London for a semester” “maybe someday I’ll join you” “someday you’ll learn to keep your gloves up; or leave … “ she looked desperate. “I can’t leave” “why not”? “because then he wins” She kissed my forehead “then keep your gloves up and stay out of his way” “he’s not the one hitting me” “well just to be sure, have someone keep an eye on him next time you fight” Every picture I have of me during those three years was after a beating in the ring. I don’t know why but I just found regular pictures of my face after I’d healed to be boring. No character. I’d fight every 3 months and started liking the pain as best I can tell. I’d look forward to it. In the end I craved it. The last fight was horrible to those who saw it. I have it on video. I was bleeding sure but internally it was worse. It got so I was seeking the punishment, my defense by then was very good, if I didn’t want to be hit in the face then they couldn’t. But there was no fun in that for me. So I kept my gloves up as she
instructed. The body. My body was being mashed. I was throwing forearms and elbows as a follow through to my punches to piss him off. 6 rounds. 18 minutes. He landed almost 300 punches. I relive them, count them to fall asleep sometimes. And when I crave the pain. 3 weeks in the hospital, the internal injuries were consistent with being hit by a car they told me. They kept checking my legs but they weren’t broken. I tried to give myself a concussion during the fight because I missed the fog. Felt cheated. My father didn’t speak to me for 3 months after. “I’m glad you’re ok” I laughed. He looked at me oddly and closed the door.
I loved my sister, I wish things were different and she could have been home more. I understand why wasn’t and what we had was perfect. We were always there for one another just not in the same time zone generally. There were many late night hacking hookups as she would need some kind of computer/laptop assistance all the time. We would chat via VOIP and she’d tell me about all the places she’d been and seen and show me pictures and video of all the great stuff she was doing and the people she’d met. Always telling me to write to some girl in England she’d met or Italy or Ireland. I think she just really liked it when I would do that stuff. I would always plant something for her to find the next time she restarted her computer; a note or a picture or short video of our father farting or something. Anything to make her think everything was ok. That she didn’t need to come back, never that she shouldn’t though that was the real truth. She should never come back. It would never be safe for her. Just the holidays, please; don’t surprise us, him. “no, no, the holidays are fine; I can wait.” “You sure?” “Hey I want you here all the time but what fun is that?” “Your birthday is soon, you’re going to be 23?” “yah, 23” “wow, you don’t want me there?” “I do, but don’t; he’s uh, focused lately. I don’t know what that means this time but it’s
never good.” “ahhhh, ok. Well …” “hey I’ll let you know when the coast is clear.” “yeah. Hey.” “yeah?” “keep your hands up” I laughed… “I always did”
It had been almost 4 years since that last beating. I was working on a program that would simulate horse races based on the track bias, the past performances of the horses running that day and the weather of course. Other factors certainly, lineage, age, etc and the goal being to simulate the races thousands of times and find the probable top 3 finishers. And do that for every race, every day at every track. Then bet accordingly getting the best price for particular horses. See, all you really have to do is outsmart the other bettors. Bet down a particular price on a horse thus fluctuating the odds up on the horse you want and load up. A good theory, not without flaws. And lots and lots of work. But potentially, more profitable, less dangerous and less traceable then what my father was doing. That’s right, I was going to earn my own and then stake a place in the “business”. The goal there, being better than him and forcing him out. Part 2 The message that greeted my sister one morning about a month later was simply… “You have to come home” My mother would visit her sister every Sunday. My father was busy with his business every Sunday, especially during football season so she would go. Being who my father was I wasn‘t really allowed to go and play in the neighborhood much so I had to go with her, my Aunt had no kids but I didn’t mind sitting in her kitchen as they spoke Sicilian and cooked and listened to the Italian radio station (which sounded different than what they were saying so I don’t know why they listened other than the words were very fast so it sounded like everything they said was very important) and ultimately (and thankfully) made pizzelli. Both wearing a house dress, well worn and ill fitting; they would laugh and argue and look at pictures. The same damn pictures all the time. Me too, I loved them those pictures. They were of a different world as far as I could tell, they seemed 200 years old, those old clothes and the hats and nobody smiling. I mean
nobody ever smiled as far as I could tell back when the world was all black and white. That’s what I thought, I figure everyone thought that as a kid. A colorful world was a modern invention as if somebody said, “this sucks everyone is unhappy, let’s add a little color” and then everyone would be happy as they seemed in photos from 50’s. At least that’s what it was like in my family’s photo albums. I always thought the black and white people wouldn’t like me. Hell, it seemed like they didn’t like one another why would they like me. As a kid you think things like that. Or I did anyway. My Mom and my Aunt were in color and they liked me so it stands to reason. My father was in some black and white photos, he was real little; but I could tell he wouldn’t like me, even back then. My Mother would appear at some point and just say… “Mancia beddu ” and smile and call me to eat. Forever I thought that’s what we were eating. Manciabeddu . It was different almost every time so I just thought they made it a different way each time this manciabeddu . It was good. Always good. Took forever to make it seemed; makes a difference to make your own pasta and that adds time but manciabeddu was always worth the wait. I made these trips with my Mother until I got older and started fighting and hacking and I would make the trips less frequently. I was more inclined to stop by and eat, no need to repeat myself but manciabeddu was delicious; than to sit around all day and look a photos of people who didn’t like me and listen to the radio and try to figure out the seemingly never ending spill of words only occasionally interrupted by a song that my Mother and Aunt would of course sing. I swear that radio station was only broadcasting to my Aunt‘s kitchen. I could never find it. One Sunday when I was 23 I decided not to go and kissed Mamma good bye. “Ciao beddu , Ti amo” she smiled “Bye Mamma” Somehow I slept in that afternoon and missed manciabeddu and had to settle for a sandwich from our refrigerator. It was late in the afternoon and the house was real quiet, kind of cold. It was October but it was cold. I remember. I was hacking around with the horse racing program and not getting anywhere; just a dead end every time I ran the simulation, I was missing something I couldn’t figure what. I went back over the variables again and again; weather, lineage, track bias, workouts, trainers… everything. I was at it for hours. 10pm, hungry again. The kitchen was dark, cold; black and white.
The phone rang; I didn’t know the man on the other end, I don’t know why he was telling me the brakes on my mother’s car failed and she drove off the road into a nearby shallow lake. On a road she’d driven hundreds of times. Or why he knew the time it happened and that my father had already identified her. Or why he said he was sorry and why he kept calling son. I asked if I could see her and was told “Yes, at the wake”. And then he hung up. -----------------------------------------------------The next morning after I’d left that message on my sister’s computer she called. “Hey!” “Hey, you have to be here in two days, Ma died, she lost control of her car after her breaks failed and she drowned” “……………………no” “Yeah” “Why now?” “I don’t know, but I’ll find out” We both cried a bit… “Save some for when I see you” She laughed. I drove to my Aunt’s house that night, it must have been after midnight. I knocked and rang the bell and finally she answered the door. “beddu?” “Auntie can I come in?” “Sure, sure” We go to the kitchen and sit, she starts making coffee, puts a plate of Pizzelli on the table, turns the radio; words still spilling out of the radio and onto her floor even at this hour. She knows. I can tell. The way she’s moving. Keeping herself busy as if her tasks can reverse the truth. As if to say, I will stay busy and if you never say the words they can’t be true and we’ll all be here next Sunday.
She brings me my coffee, tears on her face. “Manciabeddu” she smiles through them at me. She sits across from me, a song comes on; this song “your grandfather used to sing this one to your grandmother, that’s why your Mother she likes it; after the song you tell me” She smiled and cried; her eyes closed. Part 3 I told my Aunt everything I knew to that point, she nodded when I was done and said simply. “It’s the life, it gets us all.” “What?” “The life, we pretend as wives not to know but we do. We know. Your Uncle, they take him too. Right after you were born. He went with your father and no come home. It’s the life.” “It’s not my life.” “No” “I know very little about any of that, I never wanted to know, I thought he’d just leave us alone.” “Not up to him sometimes. Your father is no who you think he is.” She went on from there, outlining the life she had with my Uncle and what her life was like all those years ago. How they introduced my Mother and father and the wedding and the world they created for themselves. How it took my Mother a long time to accept who she had become and the many times she came to my Aunt to help her get out and away with us kids and always the answer was the same. “There is only one way out for the wives.” She said my Mother laughed at that. Then, the requests stopped, she was happy. Oddly so my Aunt said. My Mother was calm and in love with him again. Life was good and things got better. She showed me a picture from her bedroom, framed; of she and my Uncle and my Mother and father; we were all outside a church. My sister next to my Mother, me on the other side holding her hands. A color photo, everyone was happy; my
father at that moment didn’t hate me. I could tell. “I remember that, I was 4; they got married that day, right?” “Yes” For some reason I couldn’t find the images from that day. I couldn’t find anything, no words came to my head, no replay, no memory other than they got married that day and taking that photo. The weather; it was a bit cool, it rained later that day. A house full of people, cigarettes and laughter but it didn’t seem special; I couldn’t recall any of the faces or the people or the conversations. I was probably just tired. “I want to find out who did this.” “Yes.” “Will you help me?” She looked at me with pity and sadness and love; “your father is no who you think he is.” is all she said. “The wake, we talk after the wake, you come for dinner next Sunday.” She looked into me and nodded. “Yes?” “Yes.” “You sleep here tonight, the couch; no go home, no tonight.” An odd request I thought but I said ok. “Your sister?” “I have to get her from the airport tomorrow.” “Ok, you take my car in the morning.” “Ok.” She smiled, “I come for the ride. Bona notti, t’amu beddu.” “Oh I’m not hungry thank you just tired. Good night Auntie.” -------------------------------------------------------------
Part 4 In the morning I woke up to the most amazing smell coming from the kitchen; I forgot what had happened for just a moment and smiled, went into the kitchen fully expecting to see the two of them sitting there. “Mancia beddu” and she nodded toward the table. I sat down and said, “manciabeddu”. She laughed. This one seemed to be only bread and coffee, very different than the other ones. I figured there would be something inside the bread but no, just the rolls and coffee and some jam and butter. She had some slush thing but I preferred the coffee. Ok. Still good I mean but way different this manciabeddu than the other ones. She left the kitchen to change and I cleared the table, washed the cups and saucers. Washed my face, warm water; soap, warm water; then the thought of my Mother punched me in the throat. I thought of her in that kitchen and all the love and laughter. I thought of her struggling to get free as the car went under. I hoped she was dead before it filled with water. I couldn’t stop running water over my face. I felt as helpless to help her as she likely did to stop the inevitable. My Aunt stood in the doorway to the bathroom. “Eh, come on; huh? We be late.” “Why now, why did they do it now?” “Why no last week, why no last year?” is all she said and she smiled and patted my face with a towel. There was something that she wasn’t telling me, something aside from years in dealing with this, that she was drawing her strength from. She pushed my hair around. I cried. “It’s hard to make sense of such a mess.” she said. “Yah” “Get a shirt from you Uncle’s closet then we go” It was a little big but nice, like new; good quality old school stuff. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------We headed over to the airport to get my sister, she’d taken the over night flight I’d booked for her online using our father’s credit card. I wouldn’t usually have been so bold but I figured the circumstances were right and he’d never say anything about it.
I could see her coming toward us down the concourse from her gate. My beautiful sister; my best friend; crying a bit when she saw us, smiling though the tears. “Sa'benerica bedda!” my Aunt kissed her about 100 times. “Hey” “Hey” she said and I hugged her and kissed her head as she buried her face into my shoulder and hugged back. “I think she wants to know if you‘re hungry, I’ve been learning a little of the language.“ She laughed; I could feel her body shaking as it turned into tears, my Aunt touching both our heads and saying… “T’amu beddu, t’amu bedda” “I’m glad you’re here.” “Me too.” She had a determined look in her eyes. “Nice shirt.” She kissed my cheeks and turned to my Aunt and said “andiamo” and she passed me her carry on and walked arm in arm with my Aunt. They started talking like on the radio; words just falling out of their mouths. Both a bit angry and both a bit sad; but both determined and in agreeing about something. All this time I had no idea my sister could speak another language. How could I not know that? We headed back to my Aunt’s house; they talked the whole way. We made plans to meet the next day for the wake, I would pick them up. My sister would stay with my Aunt. I kissed them both as I left and headed to my car; just to make myself feel better I checked underneath. Someone had nicked my brake lines. I could see in four spots where the fluid had dripped. My Aunt knew something would happen. That’s why she suggested we take her car. I laughed to myself. I went back inside to get some duct tape to wrap the nicks and that would be good enough to get me home if I played nice on the brakes. “They come?” “Seems so.” “Take my car.” “No, no; I’ll take mine; that way when I get home, there will be lot’s of surprised faces as I’m sure the house is full of his “friends.” I dropped my car off at my buddy’s place, he’s a mechanic. I left him a note telling him what was wrong and walked home. Not too far about a mile. Quiet. Chilly actually but not too bad. I passed the Diner my Mother used to take us once in a while when we were real little for pancakes; the waitress always seemed to happy when we came in.
Her hair was this massive shell and somehow managed to tie a polka dot head band up in there. It still mystifies me to this day. She always smiled. I passed the Little League field where my father never bothered to show up. Always my Mother; she knew nothing of what was happening on the field but was the proudest person within 50 miles whenever she saw me out there. I could feel her happiness. Down the street from out house some boys were hanging on the corner. I knew them from school but never really hung out with them much as most of my High School years were spent surviving to please my father. Or displease him by surviving is more like it. “HEY!, HEY!” they wave me over. There are 3 of them. I’m not afraid. “Hey. What’s up guys?” “Sorry about yer ma.” “Yeah” “Yeah” the other two chime in. “Oh hey thanks man, hard to know how to feel other than; holy fuck! You know.” “Yeah.” “Yeah.” “Yeah.” they say staggering their responses. Feet shuffling. “You gonna be ok.” “Oh yeah man, just gotta get through the next few days you know.” “Hey uh, if your old man ever needs any help, could you mention us? We could use the money, you know?” I look straight at him and say “I’ll give him your name so he knows you were asking.” Then I excuse myself and start down the block for home. “Thanks man!” I hear behind me. “We’ll see ya!” I get to my house and there are a few cars around, inside the house there are people, I don’t them. I am very tired, I don’t want to deal with them. They look at me with pity. None with love. These people I don’t know are here for my father; not because of my Mother. Each one of them are somehow here out of obligation and in their minds that’s the same as love. That’s the same as saying; “it sucks what happened to your mother, she was a beautiful person, we are so sorry.” But it’s not the same. And they don’t care. I see my father across the room; huddled with about 3 guys I’ve seen before. A very serious conversation. As I walk toward him somebody announces “Hey kid! You alright?” He stops me to shake my hand and kiss my cheek. I now smell like a sad old man at a strip club; all dressed up and perfumed hoping to find love. That’s how I imagine his asshole. It was just an announcement or warning for my father to let him know I made it home, nicked brake lines and all. I’m sure of it. “You’re home” he said and nodded, hand on my face.
“Yeah.” “Your sister?” “She’s with Auntie.” He seemed to no like that; “Oh good, that’s good. She don’t wanna stay here?” “No. She never does.” “Yeah I know I just thought because of your mother and all we could be together…” “as a family” I finished his sentence. “as a family yeah. Well, maybe next time.” He said. -----------------------------------------------Part 5 “Hello” “Your car’s all set dude.” “Oh hey, thanks man. I‘ll be right down.” “No problem.” “Dude, the people that did this don’t like you. Make no mistake, they meant to hurt you.” “Yah” “I re-ran the lines underneath along the frame, if they come back, they won’t know it was fixed, they’ll just be nicking the old line; I left the duct tape and everything.” “Thanks man. Anything else?” “I changed your oil…” “Cool.” “…And the transmission fluid, dude, I’m right down the street; take care of your car will ya?” “Ok.” “Dude.”
“Yah, I know.” “No, no, no; listen. I got your mother’s car here. Some people dropped it off, I never seen them before. I bought it for parts.” “When?” “Today.” “You didn’t recognize them?” “Nah. Usually your father has the same guy drop the cars off; ya’ know? The fat guy with the…“ “Yah, with the ears and that…” “That fucken hat; yah, it’s like he’s daring you to say something about his ears; the fuck is that all about, anway; these people were new, nervous; wanted cash. One of them didn’t speak English.” “Ok.” “I’ve been going over the car, dude. I am really sorry about your Ma. The car it uh… I don’t know how to say this…, the breaks; they…” “Just fucking…” “Alright, alright, well it couldn’t have been the brakes o.k. They were nicked just like yours; see and if the distance she drove is the same distance you drove; give or take; you’d expect the same amount of fluid loss and the level in the reserve under the hood would show that, like yours did ok?” “Yah.” “She had no fluid loss. And…” He pauses “AND?!” “Dude, this is hard ok, give me a fucken break.” “Alright, sorry; I just…”
“I know, I know o.k. so. It seems like the brake lines were cut right before the car went into the water; you know, make it look like it was brake failure. It couldn’t have been. So…” Silence “Dude?” “Yah, yah uh… don’t tell anyone about that o.k. You can’t. You do understand that right?” “Yah dude.” “Nobody!” “I know dude. That’s not all.” “What?” “Yah dude, that’s not all. Yah, I have her cell phone, it was in the car.” Silence “Oh yah?” “Yah dude.” “I’ll grab it when I see you later on.” My mother never owned a cell phone.
Part 6 As a test to see just what my father was capable of I told him about the boys on the corner and exactly what they said. He asked their names and if they were friends from school. I told him the truth, that I knew them but they weren’t friends. Two weeks later they found all three burned in a car. They were to do some “running” for my father and stupidly thought they could get away with skimming.
Published on Aug 1, 2010
I remember everything, always. I was born this way. It's less a blessing than it is a disguise. I hate never being able to forget the stuff...