Congealed blood hung in heavy pools on the surface of the kitchen table. Crimson hand prints adorned the doorpost, leading into the maelstrom of broken glass that was the living room. The knife lay where it was discarded, on the rack in the oven. Vacation was soon to be over, how did it ever get to this point...
Tile squares, turning yellow between the flecks of brown, capture my attention while hour glass sands pour. Distraction. In line at the grocery, when the guys in front awoke me with a question..."Are you going to the party this weekend?"
As they describe the location of the hedonist festivities, I realise I have been to this place before that they are talking about. It's where I live, my parent's home. Interesting....
A coming of age moment in our family was getting a job when you turned sixteen, which also allowed you to stay home from the family vacation to work. After pulling tires off the hot press at the plant, all week, I wanted nothing more than to scrub the rubber from my pores and rest. Now it seemed, expressing her new found freedom for the first time, my sister was having a party...
Hearing two strangers talking about the enormous crowd that would be there, friends invited, inviting friends, inviting relatives from other states, I did what any older sibling would do. I called a buddy to go camping, an impromptu vacation of our own, to get as far away from the train wreck as possible.
Sunday afternoon, after a weekend in the wilds around the lake, we curiously rounded the bend to my parents house, unsure what to expect. Beer cans glittered, flashing S-O-S in Morse code, to passing planes. As we came to a stop in front of the house, my aunt ran across the street crying, "You don't want to go in there! John (her husband) tried to stop it, but they threw the kitchen table at him."
Unable to enter the front door, I crawled through a window, greeted by the sticky sweet smell. My sister's bed a stack of kindling, splintered and broken. Windows with holes, oddly head shaped, drizzled in red. Walking slowly, as not to wake the spectres of the night before, surveying the carnage, glass crunched under sole. Knife and pistol in the stove, crimson swipes and darkening puddles painted the kitchen. Rifle amongst the ocean of aluminum in the yard. No sister. No bodies of any sort, we checked.
Fear. First for my sister, then for my hide. Mike and I scrambled...stuffing cans in bags, pulling glass from panes, sanitizing, scrubbing...finishing just as my parents pulled up the driveway. I don't remember when my sister came home. Periodically through the years I have met people that were there, heard stories of how things came to be.
Why did I run to the mountains? Why didn't I try to stop it before it ever began, especially after over hearing the two strangers at the grocery? Some inner desire for self preservation, while my heart for my fellow man (or young woman in this case) went on vacation. When you try to avoid the issues you see in someone's life, or even your own, sometimes you end up picking up the pieces. Wisdom learned much later in life, sorry sis.