Note > The following story is based on a dream.
I don’t know what caused the change in my parents. All I know is that one Saturday morning when I was seventeen , they had gone shopping — as they had every weekend for as long as I could remember — and when they returned , they were not the same. Before they had been … well , my parents. I loved them despite their many flaws. Now they were strangers to me.
I first noticed the change in mom. She was putting canned goods into the cupboard over the sink. I was drawing at the kitchen table. Drawing was one of my favorite things to do. The only thing I liked to draw in those days , were pictures of Jesus.
“We need to get rid of the cat , ” mom said. ” He needs to be incinerated.” She paused a moment , as if to consider it. “Yeah , that’s what we’ll do.”
I stopped working on my drawing and gaped at her. Dad was a few feet away from me , taking items from a grocery bag. He too paused and stared at her. I thought he would be as shocked as I was. But he wasn’t.
He said , “OK. But we can’t incinerate him ; we don’t have an incinerator. “We’ll have to shoot him.”
“That would be too messy.”
“I could drown him.”
Mom considered it , then shook her head. “Not bad. But it wouldn’t be as much fun as hearing him scream.”
“I could chop him with the axe.”
“Stomp his head?”
“No!” mom shouted.
“Well , we can’t incinerate him without an incinerator!” dad shouted back
Mom glared at him. “I’ll think of something.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. All I could do was gawk at them stupidly as they had argued about different ways to kill the cat. The cat that had been a beloved family pet since I was ten or eleven years old.
“I know what we’ll do!” mom said. “We’ll boil him and make stew out of him.”
I’d heard enough. “What the hell is wrong with You? You love that cat.”
“Of course we do ,” mom said. “And we’ll love him even more when we’ve made stew out of him. She grinned and licked her lips , as if she couldn’t wait to get started.
“Get the cat ,” she said to dad.
“Nobody’s touching that cat!” I said. I grabbed dad by an arm , but turning quickly , he shook off my hand , and back handed me across the jaw. I went down hard , but felt nothing , it happened so fast. Leaning over me , he said ,”Unless you too want to be made into stew , don’t interfere again.”
I couldn’t believe it ; dad had never struck me before. I saw neither anger hatred , or remorse in his eyes , only indifference , as if he didn’t care what I did.
I hesitated , considering whether I might possibly overpower them and prevent them from killing Winston. But after being struck I knew it would not be wise to antagonize them further. There was madness in their eyes , and whatever had been the cause of their disturbing behavior , I wanted nothing to do with it. All I wanted to do was get away from them , so I ran to my room and slammed the door behind me. I was afraid dad would try to force his way inside , as he had on occasion when I’d fought with mom. But when nothing happened , I threw myself on the bed and cried until I couldn’t cry anymore. I wasn’t crying because I’d been struck. I was crying because I didn’t know who my parents were anymore , and for a helpless cat who would soon be made into stew.
A few minutes later , the door flew open and banged against the wall. Dad raised his shot gun and pointed it at me. Mom stood behind him , smiling , her hands hidden behind her back. I knew she was hiding something , even though I couldn’t see it.
“You have two choices ,” dad said. “You can join us or not join us. If you choose not to join us , you die.” He cocked the shot gun for emphasis. Again , all I saw in his eyes was indifference.
“No! You can’t shoot him!” mom said. For a moment she smiled so sweetly and lovingly , that I thought there might be hope for them. But then she raised her hands over her head , revealing what she had been hiding.
It was an axe.
“Let me chop him to a million pieces , and then we can have cat / Sam stew!”
“I stared at her , wanting to cry again. But I didn’t want to show weakness in front of them. This woman had given birth to me. Had stayed up , sitting by my side until I fell back to sleep after a nightmare woke me. And now she wanted to murder me? I never would have dreamed it in my worst nightmare.
An idea came to me. I hesitated for only a moment , but a moment was all I had. The bedroom window was open , letting in a cool breeze. It was late in the evening , just minutes from sunset.
With a gleeful grin on mom’s face , her and dad came slowly into the room. Dad aimed the shot gun right at my face , and mom raised the axe even higher.
“It’s time for cat /Sam stew!” she said. A bit of saliva dribbled down her chin. “And I’m so hungry!”
I made my move then. I turned , took three steps , and dived for the open window , knocking off the fly screen. At almost the same time , there was a deafening blast , and half of one side of the window frame was blown out.
I must have blacked out when I hit the ground. I came to in my bed. Mom was sitting on the edge , smiling down at me , the very same way she used to when I was a boy.
“I just had the strangest dream ,” I said. “I dreamed that you and dad were trying to make stew out of me and the cat. Isn’t that wierd?”
“Yes , it is ,” she said. “But it wasn’t a dream , dear.”
From somewhere in the house , Winston screamed. Mom reached down beside the bed and picked up the axe off the floor. I shoved her aginst the wall , and shot up off the bed. As she struggled to get up , I quickly stuffed a few shirts and pants into a duffel bag. However , before I could zip it shut , she was back on her feet , reaching once again for the axe.
“That wasn’t very nice of you , dear ,” she said , obviously flustered at my unwillingness to let her make stew out of me. “Just where do you think you’re going? Do you think you can get away?”
She raised the axe above her head. “Please don’t make this more difficult than it already is , dear. Just close your eyes , and it will be over before you know it.”
I had no intention of letting her make stew out of me. I slammed her back into the wall again , this time much harder. This time , she did not get up. She lay there moaning in pain. I felt a momentary pang of guilt. Had I broken her back? I wasn’t planning on sticking around to find out.
I grabbed my bag and hurried for the front door , hoping dad and I didn’t run into each other. But he was nowhere in sight. The house was now deathly quiet. I could no longer hear mom moaning in pain. All I could hear now was my own labored breathing. I wondered if dad was hiding nearby , watching me , waiting to prevent me from reaching the door. I eyed every corner cautiously before I passed it , and every possible place he might be lurking.
Finally , I reached the door. It was locked , bolted , and chained. My hands were shaking so badly that it seemed to take forever to unlock it , and slide back the bolt and chain. Then I yanked it open , and stumbled down the steps on legs that felt like rubber , and ran down the road.
Behind me , Winston screamed again.