Authors: Jeff Orton
A Guardian of Innocents
Copyright 2010 Jeff Orton
It’s my fault. I know it’s my fault.
I’m standing in my room now. In front of a mirror. With the lights turned off. A pair of Japanese short swords are sitting in a corner, safely tucked away in their black scabbards. I’m trying to call him forward, challenging him. But he won’t show himself. He got away, and I let him.
It’s my fault.
* * *
Darkness enveloped my life at a much too early age. I don’t claim innocence, only that the men I’ve slain were the worst of the guilty, the depraved and the sick. If you held my place in life, if you could stand and look out upon the world and judge it through my eyes, then you may see my actions as justifiable.
This is the story of one life. Mine. A killer—but not of innocents.
* * *
One of my oldest memories is of my adoptive father. . . touching me.
Oh, God… Jack is ten years in his grave and I still have trouble talking about this. Hell, I can’t even hardly write it down on paper. Every time I’ve tried to really confess this to someone, I get this feeling of choking mixed with stomach-quaking nausea. I was afraid of what the person I was talking to would say. I’d imagine the person would say I could have fought him off if I’d wanted to, that I didn’t
to let my dad do those things to me, that I probably liked it and I was just some little queer boy who got off on it. And I was afraid they would either say those things, or they just wouldn’t believe me altogether and assume I was some attention-starved, habitual liar.
It was those fears that drove me into a rarely broken silence. Growing up, those fears were like little demons, perpetually surrounding and taunting me like a gang of schoolyard bullies.
As a little kid I always thought if I could work up the courage to tell my adoptive mother, Doris, then she might be able to stop Jack. I always wondered why Doris never asked me where the blood stains on my underwear came from. She was the one who did all the laundry; did she not see them? But I never had to tell her. She already knew.
On a Sunday when I was nine years old, Doris went on her weekly grocery shopping duty after we’d all gotten back from church. It was part of her normal Sunday routine, first breakfast, then church, grocery shopping, lunch, laundry, etc. She was the type of person who always had to follow a set, rigid pattern and Jack knew her routine well. He knew his wife would always be gone at least an hour.
And in his mind, where he thought no one else could hear, he always called this hour, “our special time,” though he never said so out loud. He said as little as possible to me during… while he was… I still can’t say it.
On this one particular Sunday, Doris’ car hadn’t even left the driveway yet and Jack was already on me. He shoved me inside my room after he had retrieved the Vaseline from the locked videotape cabinets where he kept all his porn movies. I knew what it meant whenever he brought out that stuff. It meant I would soon be lying on my bed, face down.
What happened first was what always happened. Business as usual. I was biting down on a large, bunched-up wad of pillow with my eyes clamped shut in pain, trying not to hear Jack’s constant, panting breath behind me.
Then it seemed there was a sound from not so far away. Just a little
Jack stopped and listened. I could feel his panic, both in his mind and body. I could feel the tremors passing through the lard of his enormous gut. He was shaking. And then very clearly came the sound of the front door opening. We lived in an old house, and the front door had a very distinctive squeak and a kind of yawning sound as it swung ajar.
“Phillip?” Doris’ voice called out to me. I could hear her footsteps clomping on the warped wooden floor.
And I also felt all kinds of things emanating from Jack’s thoughts. Shame, humiliation, fear. But it was really beyond fear. This morbid dread was so powerful, it felt more like the stomach-sinking sensation of knowing you are about to die and that there isn’t really much you can do about it. (It’s the same emotion I felt rippling off the other victimizers I killed later on in life.)
Jack scrambled off the bed and haphazardly threw the covers over me. His callous, meaty hand grabbed a chunk of my hair and tore my face away from the pillow. He drew his face close to mine, nose to nose, and whispered, “You’re taking a nap. Understand?”
He had yanked my head back so far, I could feel the stretch of the skin at the front of my neck. My throat was stifled with sobs, and I could only answer with a slight cringe of my face.
He let go and rushed into my closet. It was one of the least graceful acts I’ve ever witnessed. He crashed through my hanging clothes and a couple of empty plastic hangers at the end of the rack protested with a loud series of clicks and clatters. My boxes of toys were underneath the clothes, and a small die-cast metal plane was lying just in front of them. And if Jack had not been in such a hurry, he might not have stepped directly on it with a bare foot.
He grimaced as he picked his foot up and tried to keep his balance with the other leg, but a steady poise is something usually lacking in three-hundred and twenty pound men.
And he fell.
Jack fell, ass-first, directly onto a large cardboard box full of various toys. The top half of the box crunched and one of the corners, already worn with age, gave way and out spilled a litter of broken, shattered toys. My favorite fire engine came rolling down the hill of crushed playthings and landed on its top, where the siren button was. It hit the floor and came to life with red and blue flashing lights, singing a fierce, droning
When Jack tried to tuck his feet into the closet so he could shut the doors, I saw the jet plane with its nose and one wingtip embedded in the arch of his foot, or at least where his arch
have been, had he not been rendered flat-footed from being so heavy his entire life.
And in that one brief second before Doris opened the door, it seemed as though my mind had just taken a picture. A picture that my subconscious mind seemed to want permanently burned into my memory.
It was of Jack still wearing his dress shirt and tie from church, but naked from the waist down. His still semi-erect penis sat in between his hairy, sickly white thighs. His pock-marked face looked around stupidly as if to ask, “What the hell just happened?”
“Phillip? What in the Lord’s name are you doing in here?” Doris asked as she opened the door to my bedroom.
Looking back, I can laugh at what happened to Jack just then, but this all happened in a space of about three seconds, and I was still terrified of what he would do to me (to us) if Doris found out what her husband liked to do once a week while she did her grocery shopping.
My throat still clamped shut from sobbing, I answered her, “Nothing, Mom.” I was still red-eyed and wheezing, “Just taking a nap.”
“Are you sick?” she asked as she walked into my room and placed a cool hand on my forehead, “Oh, you’re so hot… and I can feel your blood just
in your temples!”
But then she smiled, “You’re up to something, little man. What was all that ruckus I heard just a second ugh—“
Doris’ voice broke off just then as she looked towards the closet and saw Jack sitting spread-eagle on top of the small hill of torn cardboard and broken toys. Her facial muscles seemed to contort in unfathomable directions, as if her entire face was trying to cave in on itself. Her emotions exploded from her like intense, undulating waves of energy. Shock, outrage, betrayal… but mostly, hurt. I saw in her mind the confirmation of every horrible thing she suspected of her husband as her eyes bored into his.
But what she did next tore a gaping hole in my world, leaving it septic and infected forever.
She turned away, eyes locking onto a fixed spot on the floor, and said to me, “I came back to ask if you’d like tacos for dinner. If you do, then I’ll need to get some corn tortillas.”
I never answered her. I shut my eyes as tight as I could squeeze them and just cried. Because I knew then what Doris, my own damn mother, would have done if I’d told her what Jack had been doing to me. Absolutely nothing. Doris walked out, intentionally fighting the urge to glance back at her husband. She got into her car, and then. . .
She went grocery shopping.
* * *
The given name typed on my birth certificate is Phillip Wright, though it’s had only seldom use in these past years. After I graduated high school, I wanted to forget where I came from. Just start over. Wanting to become a new person, I invented the alias, Jeshua Seynes, the only name that still bears any meaning for me.
I was taken from my mother not long after I had drawn my first breath. My early childhood had always been filled with suspicions that these peculiar, chubby people living with me were not my actual parents. My perceptive powers, growing stronger with every passing year, confirmed for me at the age of eight that I had indeed been adopted.
My biological mother was a daughter of a devout Mormon couple. Growing up in the midst of the sexual revolution, she had been overwhelmed by temptation and had slept with her boyfriend of two years and, judging by my birth date, I’m guessing I was conceived on a prom night.
Her plans to begin her first semester at Brigham Young were squashed when her father noticed the beginnings of a “baby-bump” forming. Instead of Salt Lake City, she would be sent like an ostracized heretic to Fountain, Colorado where her Aunt Jeanne would look after her. She would carry the baby to term, have it there and immediately give it up for adoption, lest she should embarrass her father, who was too ashamed to attend Sacrament every Sunday with a pregnant, unwed teenage daughter.
Everything went according to his well-structured plan, and he even found distant relatives willing to take me in. I was pawned off to his second cousin, Doris, and her husband, Jack, who were incapable of producing a child of their own. And so, being the fine Christian man that my grandfather was, he took me away from my mother and handed me over to the two most morally twisted people he could find, and thus forever fucked my life.
And it was all because he didn’t want to hear “the whisperings.”
But news of my arrival still got out. It seemed that our doting Aunt Jeanne told just one person, her closest friend of thirty years… who then told somewhere between ten and twenty people before I was even born.
It was just a few weeks after my mother was shipped out of their quaint Salt Lake City suburb that my grandfather noticed the whispers and mumblings were starting anyways.
And so… Life progressed as it always did, with Jack doing what he loved to do and Doris pretending not to know about it. But after a few months passed by and Jack had realized his wife wasn’t going to call the police or divorce him, he became more brazen. Sometimes Jack would lie awake for an hour or so until Doris was safely asleep, and creep into my room for a midnight visit. He always made me get on the floor then. It seemed the bedsprings creaked a little too much for his liking. He never
me why. He didn’t have to. An innate ability to read minds is something I’ve always possessed, though when I was a child it wasn’t nearly as fine-tuned.
There. I’ve said it. I’m psychic.
That doesn’t mean I can predict the future or any crap like that. I don’t read tarot cards and I don’t work for any 900 numbers that advertise on daytime television in between everyone’s favorite soaps. I don’t wear robes or pointy hats embossed with stars and crescent moons; so I’m not the flaky kind of psychic the population at large is accustomed to. All I can do is read minds. I can tell you what you had for lunch two weeks ago, but only if that is what you are thinking about at the current moment I’m reading you.
Here’s an analogy. Let’s say I’m walking around in an office building with rows and rows of cubicles. I can peek inside each work station and describe what image each person has on his computer monitor. I may not always understand what each picture means, but I can always
Now let’s say I come upon an employee who was fiddling around with a video game on company time before I got there. His status as a slacker would remain unknown to me because the game is no longer on his screen. I can only see what is being displayed in the front of one’s mind; I can’t delve into someone’s subconscious and pull out long forgotten memories.
* * *
The frequency at which Jack raped me grew as more time passed. The more often he did it, the deeper Doris would sink into her denial. I could feel her sometimes—when she was in the hallway or in an adjacent room. I could feel her self-loathing for not having the courage to do something about Jack’s perversion, to stop him somehow. But then I would always feel her push those thoughts away with a conscious effort, like a person walking down a street deliberately ignoring the homeless beggars panhandling for money.