Each wild swing landed on his body with intentionality. The boy half struggled to free himself with a truer focus on shielding his body. A full attempt to escape would only escalate the man's anger.
Wham! Wham! Whamp!
The open hand sought the exposed area of the twisted figure that spoke in frantic, irregular sentences. Colorless fluid decorated the face of the boy. The man used one hand to pin the arms of the boy to the floor while he steadied his free arm, ready to strike in the next burst of anger.
The smell of boyhood puberty engulfed the halo surrounding them, which the man absorbed while partially crouched, still holding the boy's arms. Their chest rapidly moved in and out as they anxiously hoped for the predictable, abrupt ending.
They locked eyes.
Huuuhmmm, huuuhmmm, huuuhmmm.
He wondered if the boy was tired of this meaningless event. The man certainly was. The end of these bouts rarely resulted in change. Lately, they only produced bruised egos and division.
The man let go and thumped down the hall without a breath. He slammed his bedroom door and plopped down in exhaustion.
Huuuhmmm, huuhmm, huhm.
The man recalled the 3-year-old boy he would take to preschool in the morning. Both had shaved heads and wore backpacks. Unlike the children in his class, the boy was never afraid.
He did not cry when the man left. He boldly walked to his classroom and followed the entry routine monitored by the teacher. The man rarely saw the boy execute the entire process; he often gave a quick wave and slipped away swiftly with polite smiles and nods, focused on making it to his office on time.
In the evenings, the man casually left work and drove straight to the local university. In another year, he would have his graduate degree and more time with the boy.
In those days, by the time he arrived home, the boy was asleep. He would peek through the bedroom door before he, himself, would spill onto the sofa. The world did not exist for a few moments. In the morning, he and the boy would awake and repeat this familiar drill.
The weekends were much more thrilling. He and the boy explored museums, made games in the grocery store (only particular individuals will understand these games), and they spent hours at the park. The man glanced up frequently from his book as the unrestrained boy climbed and swung with impunity. He ran and laughed and ran some more. With much reluctance, the man would always close his book and culpably chase the boy and his newly found playground companions. They would soon find the football and toss it until dusk unleashed the menacing mosquitoes.
They would reach home just as darkness graciously fell upon them. The man ran a bath for the boy, who would play with the water toys while the man prepared dinner. The man often read as they both ate in silence. Thirty minutes of television and light would catch a glimpse of the closed eyes and still body curled under a throw on the corner of the couch.
Ten years forward and they are locked in raging terror...again. Their widened eyes meet, and they stare upon the bewildering figure they have never before encountered.