Levi is my father. Usually, a young girl should call her father a dad. But, father is a more formal way of saying what he truly is. He is my father, not a dad. A dad is warm and loving. A dad puts his own emotions aside when his wife dies and his daughter is the only thing he has left.
Life is like a jack-in-the-box. We anxiously wait cranking the handle hoping for a pleasant surprise. Instead of a gloriously adorable head, its creepy eyes stare us in the face. The music is deceiving, you should not trust it. That is precisely what happened to my father.
He used to be a good, courageous man. At least, that is what I hear among the whispers behind his back. I hear what he used to be and what he could have been. But, I only see what he is: a goddamned coward. The jack-in-the-box’s handle was turned too many times for my father I suppose. I suppose he could have amounted to something. But, I do not know that man. I already know the present, the now, and the here.
Each morning, I see him hope to stuff the jack back in the box. But, Jack already reared his ugly face. Jack already existed and once he’s out there is no going back my friend. No going back for neither of us.
My father welcomes Jack into his world. He welcomes him as he fashions five metal coat hangers into a point. He opens the door in his mind and his breathing becomes paced liked in a trance. A calming smile spreads across his face as his Jack comes alive. He grabs the cloth resembling a head and placing it over the metal joined together at a point and the formation is of a dog’s head. Oh, how he loved that dog. At least, that’s what everyone tells me.
He loved that dog more than my mother. More than me. He loves that dog more than life itself. He grabs the contraption and tapes it to his chest. It is a rather time-consuming process, but do the mentally insane truly understand time? I doubt it, as they waste away life. I imagine within his mind he is running with that dog. The dog with the mane of a lion and the agility of a panther jumps to life. The dog he’s loved and nursed to health breathes.
Although, there is a twinge of pain beneath the insanity that knows the dog is dead. The dead dog does not live and that dog killed my mom. I call her mom and not mother, because I picture her as warm. Although, perhaps, she could have stayed alive for me, perhaps she gave up on life itself. I like to think she’d preferred to take me with her and she whispers for me to join her.
I watch as my father jogs down the street with the jack-in-the-box dog swaying back and forth. I want revenge for all those lost moments. The lost moments with my mom and my father are something I must retrieve. People whisper that Jack literally murdered that dog in front of my father’s eyes with a shotgun. They say the dog dropped instantly, but he licked my father’s tears as he took his last breath. They say he was a strong and loyal dog, that he resembled my father’s character and sustained them until his last moments. There lies the difference. He maintained consistency in his loyalty, whereas my father lost his.
My father waltzes through the door with a vacant look upon his face. He appears lost, instead of relaxed. “He’s back.” He whispers beneath his breath. He rips off the vest of the jack-in-the-box looking dog head. I don’t quite understand, because he always gently removes the contraption to place on a stand and speak softly to as if it where animate. But, this time he treated the head as if it were dead.
As I exit, I see people’s eyes on me. They are usually staring. But, this time there laid something behind them, something new. I heard them whisper a name and I saw the house that was for sale for too much money loses its sign. No one was going to pay that price. No one except someone buried in money, someone returning to a small town with no other available except for the trailer park around the corner. No one would move into that house except none other than Jack.
As the days go past, I watch his house. I observe who enters, how many times, how long they are there. I notice one consistent visitor. A woman with beautiful, long flowing hair just like my dad’s old dog. I watch as her curves are pronounced and she enters excited and leaves even more so. I watch as she breathes as he hugs her goodbye as they watch television and he wipes her tears from a sad movie, just as the dog did to my dad.
I never thought I would see the past so clearly. But, I was born for revenge. I was born to give my dad justice and punish the reason for his misery. I was born to return to my mom and I hear her whisper: “Come to me darling. “ I imagine her voice soft and smooth. It is a familiar voice, yet I have never heard it before.
Patiently, I cranked the handle of the jack in the box. Faithfully, I desire to see it rear its head. I am no stranger to it. It remains a friend that’s never failed nor abandoned me. Tonight, the time has arrived. The handle will barely crank and I will see the product in all those days of anxiously cranking. But, it won’t be Jack surfacing from the box to greet me. In the end, I shall see my mother’s face and right all the wrongs to my family.