The first time I ever saw my father cry was in 1965. Blood streamed down the side of my cheek out of my ear and I couldn't see anything. I crawled around the rubble on all fours looking for my backpack. I had lost two last year and if I lost another one my father would kill me, as he didnt have enough money to shell out for a new backpack every time a building came down around us, which was often. This was not our fault, but he was always upset. The smoke cleared enough to spot the backpack lying on the curb next to a completely caved in mailbox. I went to grab it and it was the first time I saw one of them up close: Dark cloak, white mask, human hands. His cloaked draped over a pair of jeans. I had never mentally pictured them as human, but the dressed down look and the way that his boots clicked on the pavement was just another familiar patter I heard in the halls of school or anywhere else. There were no theatrics. He reached for my bag but I grabbed it quickly and sprinted down the street. Some people were lying on the sidewalk bleeding while the rest scrambled like headless chickens. The Post Office was leveled, but it was hard to see the damage of the surrounding buildings. I ran home as fast as I can. A woman chased after me, her face stained red, missing a hand. She screamed for me, "Little girl! Come back, please! Little girl!" It's hard to say what I could have done for her. I kept running.

"Mom! Dad! I need a ride to school!"
I dropped the bag on the floor and walked in the kitchen.
Mother was washing dishes and father was tinkering with the hallway clock that
stopped working the other day, tiny tools spread over the table. My mother dropped a dish and picked me up.
"What happened? What did you do?"
"The post office blew up."
She set me down and grabbed a kitchen rag from a drawer. She wet it and wiped the blood from the side of my face.
"Are you hurt? Are you okay?"
"I feel okay."
She brushed the hair out of my face. My father had put on his coat.
"Where's your brother?" he asked. "He wasn't at the bus stop with you was he?"
I didn't want to say anything. My brother entered the front door, saving me the trouble of ratting him out.
"I saw the post office blow up, so I came home."
"Get in the car, both of you," he said. "I'm taking you both to school."
He pointed to my brother, "You're going to school today, you hear me? So both of
you get in the goddamn car."

Me and my brother both sat in the back seat. We never liked to ride shotgun when
dad was driving. We never had anything to say to him, and he never had anything to say to us except when he barked out orders. He was a mound of a man with rugged hands and a beard that stretched to his collarbones. To get any more masculine he would've had to have lived up a tree, which was a funny image to me, but completely realistic in my imagination. My brother tapped me on the leg. He whispered. We didn't talk around dad too loud.
"Did you see one of them?" he asked.
I nodded.
"What did they look like?"
"Like people in Halloween costumes."
Dad was listening to the news. That was all he listened to. Mom would always play the Top 40 when she took us anywhere. We would listen to Casey Casum play each song and we would be happy. We talked a lot when mom took us anywhere. We would joke and laugh. But dad always listened to the news, and with what was happening around us, it was always on even on the radio in the kitchen. We rarely watched TV anymore because dad was always watching the news.
He dropped us off at the front entrance.
"Your mother will be here to pick you up after school. Do not get on the bus, you hear me?"
We nodded and he sped off.

Around noon we were all summoned to the auditorium for a special presentation. It was very important that we sit with our class but we always wriggled off to find our friends and sit with them. The teachers resistance to this was futile and getting us back together was problematic and near impossible. I had found my friends Dolly and Jocelyn and sat down with them.
"We heard you saw one of them!" Jocelyn said to me.
"Yeah, they weren't so scary."
"Did the post office blow all the way up or what? What happened?" asked Dolly.
"I don't know. There was a lot of smoke."
"My mom spent an hour on my hair this morning. If that happened to me
my hair would have been ruined and I would've been so mad!"
I think she said this because in the wake of the attack my hair was particularly disheveled and I hadn't taken the time to fix it. My friends cared a lot about these things
and as a girl I was always there to absorb their superficial remarks about hair and clothes and what have you. For how young we all were, they had already prepped themselves for an artificial adulthood - A life spent with a mile long closet, waiting hand and foot on a successful husband, being given an allowance on the weekends.
The principal walked in and approached the microphone placed on the ragged stand borrowed from the Music department.
"Settle down, everyone, settle down. We have a guest speaker tonight all the way from San Fernando, California who would like to speak to you about a special opportunity for children your age."
He walked over to an older man in an ugly gray suit. His shirt was twisted and his tie hung around his neck like loose seaweed. He had a dark mustache and a great big, red nose that seemed to glow. He approached the microphone.
"Hello, children, my name is Randall Dunn, and I'm here to talk to you about the Dunn-Roerig Initiative based out of San Fernando, California. How many of you kids like to go camping, or go to Summercamp?"
Many hands went up. I could see my brother from the other end of the auditorium, hand raised the highest, focused and tentative on Mr. Dunn.
"The Dunn-Roerig Initiative is a camp where kids can learn hands on experience working in a number of interesting fields, such as automotive design, wood working, farming and other fun things. I'd like to play some slides for you of actual campers at the Dunn-Roerig Initiative enjoying many of our programs."
The lights went and the large projection screen from the stage room was wheeled out. He began his slideshow.
He showed a picture of a boy pulling a large radish from the ground with a smile.
A boy with safety goggles hovering over a large birdhouse not doing much of anything.
Two girls in bathing suits jumping into a lake.
An older boy sitting in the passenger side of what appeared to be a soap box car.
A small girl doing...

My brother fought hard to convince my father to let him sign up for the Dunn-Roerig Initiative but he finally caved. I had overheard my parents discussing the matter while I tried to sleep, but the wall that separated my room from theirs was paper thin.
"It will be hard for him to get work in the next few years, Gabe, you know this, I mean, you read. You listen. You know. The post office, the bank, the vocational school. What next, the fucking hospital?"
"Will you lower your voice? Jesus"
"I heard Senator Gaalfick on the radio the other day saying that if Prop. 31 passes then health care benefits will be slashed in half and your 401K will be thrown out the window. They're trying to destroy us from the inside."
My father fell silent. He never raised his voice, even when angered.
"I read the other day," he said, "That in some small town somewhere in Northern California, a motor home camp, you know, when families take motor home trips together? I can't remember what that's called...but six motor homes. They were ambushed somewhere in the forest at a small park. They were locked inside and burned alive in their sleep. They knew who they were because of their license plates. That's how they could tell. And you wanna send Terry out there?"
They argued for hours, but he whittled down. This was the only opportunity Terry would ever have for work experience and placement opportunities after high school. Things were going to get better before they got worse, and they knew it. A week later a charter van from the Dunn-Roerig Initiative came to pick Terry up from our house. The other kids in the bus were hopping up in their seats, ecstatic and overworked.
My mother threw her arms around him and kissed him fervently on the cheek over and over again.
"You call anytime you want. Call us as soon as you get there, okay? As soon as you get there."
"I will mom. God, it's only for 6 months, then I'll be back."
My father put his hands on Terry's shoulders and patted them. He didn't hug.
"Let me know what they got you doing out there. Try the automotive division, that's a good racket. Fun, too, you'd enjoy that. I know you like cars."
"I will dad, thanks."
He grabbed my hair and gave it a quick pull.
"See you soon, sis."
He got on the bus and it drove off. The voices of the children were audible through the windows and meshed into a low decibel static, a sort of low frequency that trailed off as the bus sped towards the San Fernando Valley. The noise never left my head, and as the bus was out of sight, my right ear began to bleed a little bit again.
Poor advice.
Last edited by stellar_legs at Apr 13, 2011,
This is fantastic! Looking forward to a Part II...


"Art is always and everywhere the secret confession, and at the same time the immortal movement of its time."

on part one

I didn't want to say anything. My brother entered the front door, saving me the trouble of ratting him out.
"I saw the post office blow up, so I came home."
"Get in the car, both of you," he said. "I'm taking you both to school."

the last he said was confusing since the focus had shifted to the brother. It wasn't hard to figure it out but it just wasnt smooth.

The teachers resistance to this was futile and getting us back together was problematic and near impossible.
this line felt a little funny. probably dont need problematic

A small girl doing...
I'm not sure how this worked in writing. It's sort of a cinematic gesture which can work since this has been a pretty well set story so far but it might work better if you repeated it li,e a small girl...//a small boy... or something like that to slow the pace down for the "fade out" moment.

very good pacing

good start, though you start with seeing your dad cry but then he seems absent from the immediate scene which was weird. not necessarily in a bad way though.

A woman chased after me her face stained red, missing a hand.
it sounds a bit like the face is missing a hand but it's pretty easy to pass over
Anatomy Anatomy
Whale Blue Review

Park that car
Drop that phone
Sleep on the floor
Dream about me