There is a man sitting on my bench. There is never a man sitting on my bench. I don’t know what to do because I want to sit down because it’s my bench but I don’t want to share it. I’m standing at the bench and I think he sees me so I sit down.
He says, “hi.”
I rest my hands in my lap and stare at the ground.
He says, “aren’t you going to say hi back to me?”
I look up at him, briefly, and shake my head. “No.”
Does he have horns? I shake my head again. People don’t have horns.
He says, “you should be more polite, you know.”
He leans his arm around behind the bench so it’s hanging somewhere behind my back. I don’t like this.
I go to stand up and he says, “sit down.”
I sit down.
He says, “I know who you are.” He shuffles closer to me and says, “you’re William Horn.”
I say, “fuck you,” and I spit in his face. I stand up and start walking away.
He says, “I know about the dog under your bed.”
I pause and look over my shoulder at him, the spit sliding down his cheek.
He says, “Zeus.” He says, “come sit down, boy.”
I say, “he ran away. Tracey and me went around the neighbourhood handing out fliers.”
He says, “sit back down. I know he didn’t run away.”
I sit down and look at him again. Those are definitely horns. Zeus was my step-mother’s dog until he ran away.
He says, “William, I’ve got a nickname for you. Would you like to hear it?”
I don’t like the way his arm is hanging around the back of the bench behind me.
He says, “I said, would you like to hear it?”
I shrug. “I guess.”
I say, “why do you call me that?”
He says, “because I know the things you do. I know about the dog under your bed.” He moves closer to me and says, “would you like to know a secret?”
I say, “I don’t know. What is it?”
He says, “your step-mother likes to tie your father up and gag him and cut him and beat him.”
I say, “what?”
He says, “I’ve seen it. She ties him to the bed and puts little cuts over his body and punches him while she straddles him.”
He reaches his arm around me and touches my arm. And it burns white hot, and for a flash I can see it too. My father crying as my step mother jabs and slices her knife all over him and telling him to take it like a fucking man. And then I see her where my father is and I’m standing over her with the knife and I’m stabbing stabbing deep into her chest and she’s crying out and I’m telling her to take it like a fucking man. And then I open my eyes and see a large puddle of black vomit at my feet.
He says, “yeah, I would have killed her dog too. But maybe you should bury it in the back yard before it starts stinking your house up.”
I go home and tell my father that I love him.