Family Man.


   They're all sitting in the living room, staring at that flickering screen of the television.  It blares painfully loud and bright in the dark, quiet room, but no one flinches.  They're all too focused on feeling nothing more than they have too.

   The man laughs at something on the television, and the little girl flinches at the braying sound, shrinking back into her seat a little.  She whimpers, low in her throat, when her thin, bony back touches the chair.  The mother touches her hand, lightly, and the boy shoots a glare at that man in the corner of the room.  The man doesn't notice, just snorts in disgust at the television before falling back into an enraptured silence.

   The boy begins to se things, one image layered over the other, reality over imagination and imagination over reality, and he stares at them.  He is as fascinated by them as his father is by the small bright box of the television.

   His father is smiling, a little sneer that twists hi thick, rubbery lips obscenely and wrinkles his fat, florid cheeks so that his beady little eyes almost vanish.  He's leaning forward now, mumbling something under his breath, and as his hamlike hands clench into fists with excitement, the muscles knot from his forearms up to his huge, meaty shoulders.  An ornate silver belt buckle at his midsection winks with the light reflected from the screen, and it is almost smothered by bulging layers of fat.

   Now he is sprawled back into his chair, the sneer replaced by a slack-mouthed expression, his hateful mouth still for once.  His eyes stare sightlessly at the ceiling; his hands drape over the end of the armrest, still and harmless at last.  The hated belt is hacked to pieces, the buckles buried somewhere in the depths of the smoking and sparking television screen.  A knife is buried in his throat.

   The braying laugh splits through his consciousness and the boy returns to himself, trembling with hatred and his eyes dripping fire as he stares at his father.  The boy glances back at his trembling sister, tears leaking down her cheeks from the pain of her shredded back, and to his weak-willed, ineffectual mother, staring helplessly at her daughter, and then back to his father.  Lithe fingers caress the knife hidden in his sleeve, and then his hand returns to the armrest.