My father, Mr. Paul Lassiter, and I, Jessica Marie Lassiter used to have this unremarkable bond. It was one of those when I screamed, he would immediately run into the room and kill whatever bug was terrifying the crap out of me. When I’d cry, he’d be the first one there to talk to me about what was making me upset. And he’d be the one to make me feel better.
But ever since my parents split up when I was 13, he’s become totally unaffectionate towards me and my brother. The only thing he cares about now, is watching my brother, Marcus (Mark) Gregory Lassiter, wrestle on the school wrestling team. But I shouldn’t say that’s the only thing. Since the separation, he’s inhabited a fascination with late night drinking, thinking that Mark and I would never find out if he did it late at night.
When he started become unaffectionate, mostly towards me, I used to think that I was just a terrible kid; that I kept doing things he disapproved of. But I was wrong. My father and I got into a horrible screaming match one night, and I called him out on how cold he had been towards me. That was the night I got the biggest insult that probably still affects me to this day. The reason he was always so cold towards me, and not Mark, is because I was a lot like my mother…Maren Loraine Fink. I had her looks, I had her personality, and I did little things that she did when she was younger, that made him fall in love with her in high school.
He made an effort after that to care a little more, and stop taking out his aggression on me. He even became more and more okay with her not being around, and her not even stopping by.
About a year ago, I dated this guy named Evan Kade Tobertz. He was the best for a while, until he started getting very weary about everything I did. He became possessive, not wanting me to spend time with anyone but him. He started getting angry quite a bit. I wasn’t surprised. Knowing him as long as I had before we started dating, I knew he had a very short temper. It didn’t take much to make him angry. It was when he was angry that he started hitting me. It wasn’t really that bad, but I had noticeable bruises all the time. They started getting worse and in less easy-to-hide places on my body. When the worst of the hits came, that was the first time I’d seen my father care about something other than work or wrestling, in years.
I still replay that night over and over again when I lay awake at night. He pounded on my bathroom door, yelling at me to come out. I didn’t eat dinner that night, afraid of what he’d say about my eye when he saw it. I tried my best to hide it from him. The swelling had started to go down, but the small cuts from Evan’s class ring underneath were still bleeding.
“Jess, get out here now!”
I kept trying to stall, afraid of letting him in. When I could take his yelling anymore, I unlocked the door, turning back towards the window as quick as I could. I had been staring out at the afternoon rainstorm since I’d locked myself in here, wishing that the rain would just wash away this day.
“Jess what the hell is going on with you today?” He asked me angrily. His voice was still rising from the first moment he started pressuring me about opening the door.
I still cried silently, hoping he’d just go away.
“Jessica Marie, turn around when I’m talking to you!” He grabbed my shoulder and he turned me to face him. His eyes widened, and he took a step back at the sight of my swollen eye. “What the hell happened?”
I shrugged, tears still streaming down my cheeks. I had been rehearsing the lie since it happened. “I fell today after school near the bike rack. I was running, and I didn’t see the kid untangling the lock from his bike. I tripped over him and hit my face on the metal. That’s all.”
The anger returned to his face and he pointed his finger at me, like he used to do when I was younger and did something I wasn’t supposed to. “Don’t. You. Lie. To. Me.” He took a deep breath. “Tell me the truth Jessica. Now.”
I looked away from him, twiddling my fingers together in awkwardness.
“Did someone do this to you?” His voice rang in my ears. I looked down at my pretty pink toenails and nodded.
Before anything else was said, my younger brother Mark appeared in the doorway. “Is Jess in trouble again?”
“Mark get the fuck out of here!” I screamed at him through angry tears.
“Whoa, what the fuck happened to your eye?!”
My father turned on him quickly. “What have I told you about swearing Mark? Get your ass downstairs now!”
Mark turned, ran down the hallway and down the stairs. I heard his bedroom door slam. My father turned back towards me, “Who the hell did it? You better tell me, or I’m calling the cops and you can talk to them about it.”
“No one dad, it was an accident okay,” was all I could say to him.
He folded his arms, refusing to leave. I sat down on the side of the tub, holding my head in my hands. My eye was throbbing, and the only thing going through my mind was the look on Evan’s face when he was throwing the punch.
“Jessica Marie, I’m starting to get pissed off. Did you get into a fight with someone at school? Or someone on the bus or something? I know Terry didn’t do it, and I’m sure as hell Evan wouldn’t do something like this.”
I tensed at the sound of his name and I felt a shiver go down my spine. He sensed it.
With a lowered voice, he took a step inside the bathroom, closing the door behind him. “Did Evan do this to you?”
I nodded, and cried even harder.
“I’m gonna beat the shit outta that boy.” I looked up and his hands turned into fists.
“Dad please don’t do anything to him. Please dad.”
“Are you fucking kidding me right now? He hurt my baby girl, and you expect me to just sit around and do nothing about it?” He looked at me in disbelief and chuckled, shaking his head. “I know I haven’t been the best father, especially for letting something like this happen, but I’m not making the same mistake twice. I watched him turn around and walk out of the bathroom.
I wasn’t sure how he was going to deal with it, but I know he was going to do something. That’s the kind of person he was.
Everything was silent for a little while longer. I dabbed at my eye with an alcohol soaked cloth over and over again, feeling the sting become less and less painful. The bleeding finally stopped. A soft knock on the door made me jump.
“Jess, will you please come downstairs, I’d like to talk to you.” My father’s voice seemed a little amused.
“Sure,” I said. I heard his footsteps go down the stairs, and I opened the door. I took a deep breath as I headed towards the stairs. I stopped at the top when I saw Evan sitting on the sofa.
“What are you doing here?” I asked, trying not to sound spiteful, but my words came out like venom.
He cleared his throat and stood up, walking towards me. I didn’t move from the top of the stairs, and he paused. “I uh, came to see how your eye was doing after hitting that bike rack today.” I could hear the lie through his voice. “That and your dad invited me over. Said you weren’t feeling so good and that you needed some support.” He paved a small smile on his face, and for a second he actually looked innocent and caring.
I looked at my dad. He was sitting on the arm of the couch and he had a small smirk on his face. He patted the sofa next to him, and I nodded. I walked down the stairs, brushing past Evan, and taking a seat next to my dad on the couch. He patted me on the shoulder before standing up.
Evan took a seat next to me, wrapping his arm around my lower back. I shuddered at his touch. “So dad,” I said, trying to break the silence, “what’s going on?”
He folded his arms and walked over to a large cabinet. I knew what was in that cabinet. I’ve never actually seen them, but I knew what they were.
He cleared his throat as he entered the combination to the small lock that held the secrets inside the stand. “I’m glad you asked,” he said dryly. “I wanted so show Evan a little piece of our family.”
Evan cleared his throat and tightened his grip around me. “I’m honored Mr. L.”
“I don’t just show these things to anyone,” my father continued as he pulled out one of his prized possessions, “Evan, do you know what kind of gun this is?” He pulled out the large rifle and held it in his hands.
I knew that one! It was my father’s absolute favorite! It was a Brno 98 Sporter Rifle! I loved talking about it, because it was amusing to see people’s faces when someone like me named off a superior rifle.
Evan shifted in his seat. “A rifle?”
“This isn’t just any rifle though. This is actually my favorite rifle out of my entire collection,” my dad teased. He shifted the gun in his hands. “Evan, let me ask you another question. Do you know the history of these kinds of guns?”
I felt Evan shift uncomfortable. “Uh, no sir.” Again he shifted his arm against my lower back.
My father and I exchanged a quick glance…a glance we both did when we were around someone stupid. My father chuckled. “Well Evan, these guns were actually used in World War II. Germany actually used them as a matter of fact. These guns are pretty rare to come by.”
Evan cleared his throat. “Uh, sir, if you don’t mind me asking, why are you showing me this? I mean, I’m honored to see them, but I don’t understand your point.”
I wanted to laugh. I wanted to punch Evan in the face and yell at him “MY FATHER IS BASICALLY SAYING HE WANTS TO SHOOT YOU!” But I couldn’t.
My father brought the gun closer to us. He handed it to me, and I held it how he taught me to when I was young. “Have you ever shot a gun?”
Evan shrugged. “I’ve gone to the shooting range with my uncle a few times, but never shot anything this big. All guns are pretty much the same though. Aren’t they?”
Dad laughed. “Evan, not all guns are the same. Just like not all cars are the same, and not all people are the same.”
I nodded to myself. All people were definitely not the same.
“I’m sorry?” Evan cocked his head to the side, still trying to understand the point that was attempting to be made.
My father grabbed the rifle back from me, and he grasped it firmly. His expression changed from simple to pissed off. “Evan, basically what I’m trying to say, is if you ever touch my daughter again, I’m going to shoot you with my most prized possession. You have 15 seconds to get out of here.”
I’ve never seen Evan move so quickly. He bolted for the door and he jumped into his car. My father and I stood in the doorway, watching his car peel out of the driveway.
I started laughing. “He looked like he was going to pee his pants.”
He nodded and wrapped his arm around my shoulder. “I think he might’ve.”
Kissing the top of my head, we went back inside. We spend the rest of the night talking about our lives, asking me what I saw in Evan, and how long the abuse had been going on. I was able to talk to him a little bit about Mom, before he told me he was tired and we both headed to bed.
After the few weeks that I’d been getting back to focusing on school, and Mark had still been practicing his wrestling, my father had another falling out with my mother. I’m not sure why he allowed her to come over to the house, but she showed up that night, and the house was filled with screaming. My mom screamed to my dad that she was trying to get help and that she needed more money to continue treatment, and my father yelled back that she was a liar and whatnot. It went on for a few hours while Mark and I hid in my bedroom.
My mother Maren was not a mother. In fact, she was nothing more (to us) than a crack addict. She had been for many years, at least for as long as I’d seen her. She used to hack into my father’s bank account to get money for her habits, and she’s even taken money from Mark and I. Dad knew about it for years, but he liked to think she was going to change. Eventually, she put us in debt, and she even started messing with dad’s job That’s when he finally kicked her out. Every now and then, she would come around to “visit” Mark and I.
Mark was always too young to understand what she was really up to. She only stopped by when she needed to “borrow” money from us. She used to make promises all the time. Like for one, she used to promise Mark every year that she would be home for Christmas, and that she’d get help and get better. She never once showed up for the family gatherings, and every Christmas Mark would slump into a deep depression. He wouldn’t talk with anyone, he would hardly eat, and he wouldn’t even take wrestling seriously.
As for me, mom always used to promise that she’d visit more and that she seriously would get help if I gave her money for treatment. After a few months of giving her my allowance, dad found out. That was the first time I heard about her addiction from him. That was also the first time I saw her for who she really was: a liar.
But still my dad would try and make excuses for her. They were high school sweethearts, so that always made him soft on that topic. But Mark and I knew better.
So after the last falling out my father had, his job decided to transfer him to South Carolina because they thought his personal life would be more out of the way of his job. Of course Mark and I were livid about the whole situation, considering we didn’t have a choice in staying, so we packed up, a month later, we moved to South Carolina, saying good-bye to the family and friends that we’ve had here for our whole lives.
But at least we were close to the beach.
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