It Shall Be Done part 2
For full Header details, including Warnings and Disclaimer, please see Master Post
.The Thurman Public Rose Garden was built over three acres of land, first conceived back in nineteen forty-nine as a way to draw in tourists and boost the town’s floundering economy. It had worked briefly, in the fifties, crowds coming from as far away as San Antonio to see what the press at the time had dubbed “as a colossal misuse of town funds” but by the early sixties the interest had pretty much dried up. However, the Mayor and town council had decided it was still cheaper in upkeep then it was to tear it apart and leave a gaping flat space on the edge of town, easily seen from the highway.
But by the eighties, upkeep had been reduced to one of the three town workers, wandering in every other week to check for dead trees or animals though everybody in town knew that the truth was that the only real upkeep was done on the main acre of land, the remaining two had been left to go wild. If work needed to be done further out, no one knew of it and no one cared.
Still during the daylight hours, the garden was a thing of beauty, no matter the season.
Nighttime was a different story, wild animals could be heard roaming between the four foot hedges, mist crept along the ground thanks to the dense vegetation trapping moisture during the day, and the gargoyle statues took on a sinister look.
Josh wished he was still in bed. That he wasn’t in the rose garden, that he wasn’t sitting beside a shallow hole that his father had made him help dig and that his little brother wasn’t busy dumping body parts into the grave.
Those body parts had been a woman only hours before, a woman who had screamed behind a gag of dull grey duct tape until his father had buried an axe in her chest because his dad believed her to be a demon. A demon that needed to be destroyed.
The first tear slowly slid down Josh’s dirt smeared face, quickly followed by another and then another. But she had just been a woman, a woman his father had murdered and he had stood by and done nothing.
“Don’t cry for her Josh, she wasn’t human.”
Josh wiped at his eyes, staring down at his dirty fingers, watching the moisture drip off of them as Alan came over to kneel in front of him.
“Didn’t you see that when I touched her?”
Jensen looked up from pushing handfuls of dirt onto the body. “I saw it dad.”
Josh glared at him before looking back at their dad, “You…you killed her.”
“I didn’t kill her son.” Alan swore his face a picture of honestly. “I destroyed her. She was a demon.” He looked down and sighed, “You know, I wasn’t so sure I could do it myself. “ He faced him once more, his eyes pleading, “I mean, she looked like a woman to me too. But after I touched her,” he lifted his bare, dirt and blood streaked hand between them, “all I could see was the evil and I had to do it.”
Alan curled that same hand around Josh’s forearm and smiled reassuringly. “I’m sorry you didn’t see it too. You will the next time.”
Josh had let his head fall to his chest, afraid of what his father might see in his face but at those words, his head snapped back up. “You…you’re gonna do it again?”
“This is our job now son. You’ve got to accept that.”
Josh sat up straighter and started to shake his head. “I won’t let you.”
“We’re doing God’s work here.” Alan explained patiently, trying to make Josh understand.
Alan’s expression didn’t change; eyes still pleading for Josh to understand but his voice grew hard, hinting at the anger growing within. “If you do, someone will die. The angel was clear on that. Do you understand?”
Josh stared back at his father, face unreadable and voice silent.
“Answer me Josh. Do you understand?”***
“Once I was released from the hospital I searched for her.”
Jared nodded but didn’t ask for clarification as to who “her” was but the why would he need any. Jensen’s mother had died ten years before that night and fifteen before Jensen went searching to see if he could find proof that she had been a demon and there had been no other woman in his life at any time during those fifteen years.
Jensen let his eyes wander the room trying to come up with an answer that would make sense. It was still as clear now as it had been that day after Pastor Beaver had visited him in the hospital, in his head. He had needed answers because, although, the Bible was the word of God, it was how a man interpreted it that truly mattered. He had convinced himself that he was evil because being a homosexual was evil in the eyes of his church back in Thurman, the same church that his father had made sure they religiously attended every Sunday, rain or shine. The same church where Father Richings had repeated spoke of the demons that walked among mankind, tempting them with their wicked ways in almost every sermon. Sermons that his father had keenly paid attention to.
Jensen needed to know.
“Sin and demons and being tempted by demons was on my mind.” He finally answered and his smile was bittersweet as he stretched his legs out under the table to entwine his socked feet with Jared’s. “Pastor Beaver came to visit me while I was there and it was him who told me that God loved his creations, all of us and so long as our love was pure, it made no difference if I loved a woman or a man. But that wasn’t what we were taught back home in Thurman and I needed to know.”
Jared nodded but Jensen could tell that he really couldn’t understand but it didn’t bother him. Jensen was the one explaining it and there was no way to make it clearer, not now.
“It’s kind of funny how everything kinda fell together right then. After dad was gone, we were put into the foster system and by the time I was fifteen I ended up in Jacksonville, the same town that dad took Cynthia Harbridge from in the first place. It was almost like it was meant to be. The Jacksonville library had a copy of each and every issue of the Dallas Star going back probably from the date the library first opened its doors so it wasn’t hard to find the article about her disappearance. It wasn’t very long, just spoke about how she was a widow and supposed to have been at work that night for the night shift as a waitress at the twenty-four hour truck stop at the edge of town. That investigators believed that she had left the house of her own free will because nothing was disturbed within and that she caught a ride with her abductor because her car was still in her driveway.”
“Sounds like one of a dozen women. Nothing out of the ordinary.”
He nodded, “Yeah, until another article appeared in the paper about her three days later. Turned out that while snooping through her house to try to come up with a clue, the Sheriff’s department opened a small cardboard box tucked behind the hot water tank in her house. They found five different wallets inside that belonged to five different men who had been reported as missing as far away as Dallas over the last three years before she went missing.”
Jared leaned forward, pushing his mug away as he settled his arms on the table once more and threaded his fingers together. “You think she killed them?”
Jensen shrugged, “That’s what the cops figured. The title of the piece was “Missing Woman a Serial Killer?". They speculated that her latest victim got the better of her and killed her instead of being killed. Dad had been right, she was a demon.”
“Well evil anyway.” Jared said slowly and his eyes grew dull as his thoughts turned inwards.
Jensen stayed silent and let Jared think through the idea that a woman he had believed to be a poor innocent victim of Jensen’s father in truth wasn’t. He could wait; he had learned early on to be patient and it had done nothing but be beneficial for him.
“Was she the only one?”
“Hmm?” Jensen blinked out of the memory of a small, stuffy room at the back of the Jacksonville library where dust had tickled his nose and a mix of fear and certainty had twisted in his stomach.
“Was she the only one?”
Jensen shook his head, “After that night nothing much happened. Dad didn’t mention it. Josh didn’t and neither did I. The school year finished and Josh and I spent our days messing around with friends, doing our chores and waiting for dad to come home from work.”
He rubbed a hand across the back of his neck and took a deep breath, “About a month later, round mid-July, Josh and I came home around four in the afternoon after spending the day at the big park behind the Thurman Elementary School and there was this nondescript light beige delivery van with cardboard over the back windows in our driveway. Dad said it was our van and that we had work to do.”***Alan knew that there were moments when a person could just disappear without anyone knowing where they went or why. Those were the moments when God’s Hands could take a person.
He knew it was true because the angel had told them that they would be protected by God while they were doing his work and hadn’t the angel been proven true? That first demon had had her porch light on and neighbors that were still awake in the houses on either side when Alan had caught her. No one had called out, tried to stop him or called the Sheriff’s department. No one ever came to question him because no one saw a thing.
There was nothing, not even a camera that could catch Alan or the boys. They were completely invisible when they were God’s Hands. Alan knew that to be the gospel truth.
That was the very reason why he hadn’t felt even the slightest bit of unease when the angel had come to him while he had been working on an engine the day before and told him when and where he could find the next demon.
If God wanted Alan to grab the demon from a sleepy parking lot first thing the next morning then that’s what Alan would do. Because God had willed it so.
The angel had told him that he had to be in the parking lot of the Bob’s Discount Market in Cooper by nine forty eight sharp. And even with having to hustle the boys, he still managed to be pulling in directly behind a light blue Ford Escort that the angel told him the demon drove.
He pulled in and parked a couple spots over from the Escort and watched as the demon disguised as a balding, elderly man with glasses got out of the car and headed for the entrance of the market.
“What do we do now dad?” Jensen asked, eyes darting from his father’s profile to scan the brick face of the grocery store halfway across the parking lot from them.
“We get him when he comes out.” Alan turned to look at his youngest, kneeling between the two bucket seats and placed a steadying hand in the center of Jensen’s chest. “Just like I told you, remember?”
Alan turned to look at Josh, “Josh?” His oldest had the most import part to play in luring the demon to them.
“I can’t do this dad.” He swore, his voice was shaking with fear and his eyes were pleading for his father to understand.
Alan didn’t seem surprised by the response but they had come too far, they had been commanded by God himself, to turn back now. “I can’t never could do anything.”
“I could do it dad.” Jensen piped up, wanting, needing to prove his worth, his own belief in God.
Alan smiled at him, “You sure can tiger.” He rubbed over Jensen’s soft hair before he turned to stare out the front of the van waiting for the demon to reappear.
“Well, what if someone sees us?” Josh tried again, his voice still rising with his panic.
“They won’t.” Alan answered calmly not diverting his gaze.
Josh waved his hands at the windshield, “It’s broad daylight.”
Alan finally turned to glare at his son, “God will blind them for us.”
Josh opened his mouth as if to argue more before silently snapping it closed and looked away. Alan sighed softly with relief before reaching for the operator’s manual for the van sitting on the dashboard and began to flip through it, waiting.
Jensen entertained himself by drawing little stick figure cartoons in the dust at his feet, occasionally glancing over at his father every time the man shifted. Only to go back to his dust drawings when his father remained silent and resettled in his seat.
“There he is boys.” Alan nodded toward the same elderly gentleman exiting the market with only a single, small bag not seemingly worth spending over an hour in the store.
Jensen kneeled up to see over the dash and watched the demon slowly make its way closer.
“Come on, Josh.” Alan pressed, eyes darting between his son and the demon.
“Dad I can’t.” Josh shook his head; his voice was a pleading whine.
“Yes, you can.” Alan growled and narrowed his eyes on Josh when the boy still hadn’t made a move to get out of the van. “Do what I tell you!” He snarled before opening the driver’s door and slipping outside.
With a small noise, Josh opened his own door and crossed the short distance to the demon’s car. Dropping down to his hands and knees he peered under the car.
Jensen had been told to stay in the van and he knew better than to disobey but there was no reason why he couldn’t shift further forward so that he could better see his brother lure the demon in.
“Please Trixie! Trixie come on!” Heavy footsteps stilled behind Josh and he added a beckoning hand to his act. “Come Trixie! Trixie come on!”
“What’cha doing boy?”
Josh turned to look up at the man staring down at him, “My dog…” he sniffed and the haze in his eyes was all real, “she’s under your car.”
“Oh.” The man smiled reassuringly as he gingerly dropped to his knees beside Josh. “Well, let’s see.”
He didn’t see Alan standing behind him or the length of pipe he held in one hand high above his head, ready to strike.***“I can’t believe you still didn’t see it.” Alan said quietly, his voice full of hurt and dismay, “He murdered little children, Josh.”
Josh barely glanced up at him from where he was standing in the middle of the grave he was digging in the rose garden.
“Babies.” Alan continued, glancing over at Jensen, kneeling by the open hole, flashlight pointed into the grave, illuminating the hard ground Josh was chipping away at with the tip of the shovel. “Babies.” He repeated sadly as he pushed himself up and walked away.
“He’s the murderer.” Josh hissed once he was certain their father was out of earshot. He tossed the shovel out one side of the grave and crawled out of the other. “We’ve got to get out of here, Jensen.”
“What do you mean?”
“We gotta run away.” Josh picked up the first of the six black garbage bags sitting innocently in the wheelbarrow. No one would know what lay inside was anything but grass clippings or household garbage. No one but Alan, Josh, Jensen and God.
Jensen started shaking his head.
“I told you we might have to.” Over balancing, Josh hit his knees by the open hole but continued with what he had to do like he had meant to go to his knees all along.
“I don’t wanna run away.” Jensen hissed venomously.
“We have to.” Josh panted as he met Jensen’s glassy eyes.
“Listen to me Jensen.” Josh shifted until he was right beside his younger brother and pinned him with his stare, “Dad kills people.”
“No he doesn’t.” Jensen shot back. “He’s a demon slayer.”
“That’s all lies Jensen.” Josh growled in frustration.
“No it’s not.” Jensen leaned back a little, “I see it when he touches them.”
“No, you don’t.” Josh pressed, “Dad’s brainwashed you. It’s all a big lie. He’s a murderer and you help him.”
“Nah-uh!” Jensen jumped to his feet, his voice rising in anger. “We’re just serving God’s will. I’m telling dad on you!”
Josh reached for Jensen, his fingers touched but could not grasp his coat. “Jensen! Jensen! Jensen!”***
“Edward March was a pedophile.” Jensen said softly. “When the Cooper Sheriff’s department searched his home for clues about his disappearance they found child pornography on his computer and three scrapbooks full of clippings about the abductions, molestations and subsequent murders of nine little girls, the earliest dating back to the late sixties in a safety deposit box in the Cooper Bank and Loan.”
Jensen rubbed his palms up and down his thighs, “Dad showed us the article that appeared in the paper a couple days later. He said it proved everything he had been saying about the angel and God.”
Jared rubbed across his eyes, trying to ease the feeling of sand scratching at his corneas every time he blinked. He was exhausted but he knew there was no way he would be able to sleep after what Jensen had told him, not with the heavy weight of confusion pressing in on him.
Alan Ackles was a psychotic murderer wrapped up in a religious fanatic that was clear. Only was it?
Jensen had just admitted to not one but two murders his father had committed and then to having hidden the evidence in a town’s public garden under the guise of destroying demons and had dragged his children along for the hellish ride. Only both of his victims turned out to be not so much victim as animal themselves.
The first, a serial black widow of sorts and the second, a child molester. They certainly didn’t deserve his pity nor to be finally found and freed from their unmarked graves. And as sure as the night always followed the day to be followed by night to be followed by day for all eternity, they were evil. But did that make them demons? Honest to God, hellfire and brimstone demons?
He tried to think of what kind of person would do the things Alan’s two demons had been suspected of doing even if it was postmortem. A woman who preyed on lonely men and probably killed them and a man who lured little girls into his home or car, did unspeakable things to them and then killed them too.
People always pondered what kind of person could commit such acts against another human being when stories like those hit the news. Jared was beginning to believe maybe they weren’t so human after all. And it wasn’t just them, dictators who indiscriminately slaughtered their own people, sadistic killers, pedophiles, cult leaders who convinced their followers that they were God, among others.
Animals, psychos, megalomaniacs and…demons, the lot of them.Dear sweet baby Jesus!
Could it be true, could it really all be true?
“Why did your dad show you and Josh the article that time but not the time before? Was it because you had told your dad what Josh had said? Or did you?”***
“I’ll never forget the look on dad’s face that night.” Jensen curled his arms around his sides, hugging himself, trying to forget the sharp pain he still felt for telling his dad what Josh had told him. “I expected him to get angry, livid but he didn’t. He just sort of fell into one of the kitchen chairs and got all quiet. But the betrayal etched in his face was the worst.”
His face twisted into a bitter smile, “Dad was the only adult that ever really mattered to me when I was little. Oh I liked a lot of adults, most of my teachers, parents of my friends but dad was…dad. He took care of us, loved us, kept us safe and I had said the one thing that hurt him the most. I told him that his oldest son had called him a crazy murderer. That look tore me in two.”
Jared pushed up from his chair and moved around to Jensen, he kneeled down and cupped Jensen’s thighs, “Jensen you were only ten years old.”
“It hurt him so bad, I hurt him so bad.”
“No Jensen, no.” Jared shook his head, “Your dad…he put a lot on you and Josh when you were both to young. He expected you guys to deal with things that most adults couldn’t.”
He knew that Jared was trying to be helpful and he could appreciate it, logically, but emotionally the words didn’t settle anything. Jared hadn’t been there, he didn’t see how dad had crumpled in on himself when Jensen had uttered those fateful words, Josh says you’re a crazy murderer
, and Jensen felt like the murderer.
“And Josh couldn’t.” Jared leaned in and brushed his lips against Jensen’s. “But I’m not surprised you did.”
Jensen could detect the faint scent of the body soap Jared had used when he got home from work earlier that day, the day before, and right at that moment, it was the best scent Jensen had ever smelled. He wanted to lose himself in that scent, take Jared to bed, curl up with him and just forget the last twenty-four hours. But he couldn’t, he couldn’t
“It took a long time for dad to say something and when he finally did, it was to tell me to go shower and head to bed.”
Jared leaned back and searched Jensen’s eyes before he slowly nodded and with one more squeeze to both thighs, he pushed back to his feet and reached for his mug. “More?”
“Please.” Jensen handed his over and closed his eyes, the shaking of his limbs, the way he could barely walk from the room but knew that look on his father’s face, the one that foretold of a miserable punishment if Jensen didn’t do as he was told, propelled him toward the bathroom in silence, it was overtaking him.
“Dad had this look.” He continued, eyes blinking open as Jared placed a fresh mug of coffee before Jensen. He snorted, “I'm pretty sure that all of the fathers have that look, the one that promises hell being rained down if you don’t do as you’re told. So I did as he said but I took more than enough time in the shower, more than Josh usually did and we both know what fourteen year old boys do in the shower. But finally the water started to cool and I knew I was pushing my luck so I finished up and went to bed. Dad never came in that night to say goodnight even though I kept waiting and waiting but that was okay. I was too twisted up about what dad was going to do to Josh to sleep anyway and it was better with the little light on the nightstand on, I think my imagination about what was going to happen would have been worse had I had to wait in the dark.”
“That had to be so hard.” Jared murmured, “I don’t think I could’ve stayed still.”
“Patience is a virtue.” Jensen’s lips twitched into a quick smirk, “And fear that dad would tan my ass if I didn’t do as I was told.” And I couldn’t risk hurting him more in one night, not after telling him what Josh had said.
“It could have been minutes, it could have been hours but finally I heard the squeak of the back door screen open and I couldn’t handle it anymore.” He shrugged and felt the ghost of his terror for Josh, for his dad, start tingling through his hands. “I could hear the deep timber of dad’s voice and the higher one of Josh’s but I couldn’t make out the words so I snuck to the bedroom door and stuck my ear to the crack. All I heard was dad telling Josh to shower and head to bed, just like he had me. He wasn’t yelling and neither was Josh. I didn’t know what to think, I had been so sure that all hell was gonna break loose once Josh got done in the rose garden but there wasn’t anything. It was almost like dad had forgotten what I had told him.”
“But he hadn’t, had he.”
It wasn’t a question but it had to be answered because the answer was part of Jensen’s story. The pivotal point, he had reached the middle of his history and all that was left was the downward slide to the end. It was like a movie and it didn’t matter how his heart began to pound or how much he wanted to be able to go back and change things, anything, just one simple thing that would change the ending, it wouldn’t change because that which has already been played out and recorded cannot be changed.
“No. He hadn’t.” Jensen took a gulp of his coffee, reaching for time, trying to slow down the telling before he huffed out a breath and forced himself to continue.
“I listened as Josh came down the hall, I took a step back from the door so he wouldn’t notice me if he happened to glance toward our room as he headed to the bathroom and once I was sure that dad wasn’t following, I slipped into bed.” He shook his head, “I still couldn’t sleep, I kept waiting, expecting for dad to do…something but by the time Josh opened our bedroom door I had calmed down enough that my anger at Josh for even suggesting that dad was a crazy murderer, was back full force. I was on my side, facing away from Josh’s bed and I pretended to be asleep because for the first time, ever, I didn’t want to talk to or see my brother.”
Jensen sat back in his chair and crossed his arms over his chest, “I woke to warm sunlight shining into our room and dad telling Josh to get up and go with him. He wasn’t sad anymore but he wasn’t angry either, he sounded determined and a little bit resigned.”
“I still wasn’t ready to talk to Josh so I waited until he was up and out of the room before I crawled out of bed and went through my morning routine and by the time I made it out to the kitchen dad was setting a box of cereal on the table. He told me that Josh was out back digging a hole for a cellar and that dad had made me a couple sandwiches for lunch and I was to leave Josh be, that this was his punishment for not believing in our mission from God. That a little hard work and prayer was all Josh needed to see the light.”
He leaned forward to grab his mug and took a decent mouthful of the bitter liquid. “We were well into July by this point so it wasn’t like anyone would know that Josh wasn’t allowed to do anything but dig in the backyard. Dad left for work and I went into the living room and contented myself with morning T.V. and comic books.”
“And Josh kept digging all day?” Jared stretched a leg out and comfortingly ran his toes along Jensen’s shin.
“For seven days.” Jensen shrugged, “Josh could be a hard headed son of a bitch. Through hands that blistered then bled, through dad telling him to take a couple days off to let his hands heal up, through the hottest part of every one of those seven days. Through my offer of helping and not telling dad by lunch time that first day when my anger finally left me and guilt surged in to replace it because I had told dad, I had spilled the beans but he told me to get lost and when I wouldn’t he chucked a lump of dirt at me. Josh started that ten foot deep by fifteen foot squared hole for the cellar by himself and he finished it by himself.”
Jared whistled low, “Damn.”
He sounded awed but Jensen wasn’t surprised. The Josh that Jared had known would never had managed a foot deep before he would have quit but Josh had been a different person back then, an angry fourteen year old with something to prove.
“He never prayed once. He told dad that when dad asked and he wasn’t remorseful at all. I still sometimes wonder if Josh hadn’t been a few years older if dad would have made him build the shack that sat over the cellar by himself too. Instead, once Josh had showered, dad bundled us into his truck and took us down to the hardware store in Dallas to buy the supplies we needed to build the shack. It took us a week, working pretty much non-stop from the moment dad got home until we didn’t dare work longer into the night for fear of the neighbors complaining about the noise. But finally it was done and we had a, roughly, twenty foot squared wooden shack with a tin roof and a trap door in the floor over dad’s cellar.”
Jensen picked up his mug of coffee and met Jared’s eyes over the lip of it. “The next night dad brought home another demon.”***It was late when Alan arrived home, the next demon on his list, the demon that was now laying on the dirt floor of the cellar before him, had stopped at the local watering hole in it’s hometown of Sulphur Springs instead of returning to its home after work that day. Alan had known the demon was going to do that because the angel had told him but he hadn’t expected the bastard to sit in the bar for almost two hours before deciding it was time to return home to put the boots to its unsuspecting wife.
It didn’t get the chance.
It didn’t surprise him that Jensen was the first one out the door to greet him; lantern already lit and grasped in one small hand, his youngest had stuck closer since that whole business with Josh and the pedophile demon a little better than a week before. But he had been pleasantly surprised to see Josh, albeit reluctantly, not that far behind his younger brother.
Still it was ten year old Jensen who fearlessly led the way down into the cellar out back, not hesitating once on the stairs as he descended further into the dark not fourteen year old Josh, who instead hung back only, reluctantly managing to follow Alan halfway down the stairs before stopping.
That wouldn’t do, not with what Alan had in mind. It was time for Josh to become a man and take a more active role in the family.
“Get down here.” Alan ordered, sparing a glance at his eldest, only long enough to ensure that Josh was doing as he was told before turning and reaching for the axe. Grasping it one handed, he turned back to stare down at the demon before him, before turning back to Josh. “It has to be done.” He stretched out his arm, offering the axe, axe head first to Josh. “It’s God’s will.”
Josh looked down at the demon, hands and feet tied together and duct tape over its mouth and swallowed hard.
“Come on, do it like I showed you, the neck first Josh.”
The demon’s eyes were brown and huge in his frightened face and though no words were discernible, the noises he was making had to be begging and pleading for his life.
Jensen bit his lower lip, watching silently as Josh’s eyes moved from the demon to their father and then back. It was less than a minute before Josh suddenly bolted up the stairs and out of the cellar, Alan yelling for him to come back and the thuds of Josh’s sneakered feet as they hit the wooden floor above the only proof that he had ever been there at all.
Jensen shifted from foot to foot, his head was snapping between the empty entrance to the cellar and the demon at his feet. “Dad?”
Alan muttered darkly before spinning back, “Take this.” He growled, letting the weight of the metal axe head pull itself toward the ground and handing it over to Jensen. Then he bent over and picked the demon back up, settling him over his shoulder, the man’s forehead banging against Alan’s back as he shifted the demon’s weight.
“Where are we going?”
“I don’t know what that brother of yours has planned but we need to take this demon to the rose garden for now.” He snarled as he started back up the stairs, his free hand pressed against the reinforced dirt wall on his way up and Jensen close on his heels.
“What are we going to do then?” Jensen waited until they were clear of the shack before moving around his dad to light the way. “Are we gonna go look for Josh?”
“Your brother will be back.” Alan grunted and stumbled a couple quick steps forward as the man on his shoulder struggled for release. “Hold still demon or I’ll drop you on your head.”
“Then why do we have to go to the rose garden now?” Jensen persisted but didn’t stop moving ahead, keeping the lantern held out before him to ensure neither of them twisted an ankle on a stone or root hidden by the night.
“Just do as you’re told Jensen.”***
“We went to the place where dad said the angel had told him to bury the demons and the whole time I kept hoping to hear Josh calling for us. Hoping that he had come back and was going to apologize to dad for running off.”
Jared watched Jensen blink the world back into focus, pulling himself out of his memories and shake them off just enough to be able to answer a question that hadn’t been a part of the telling.
“No. Dad put the struggling demon down by one of the few Walnut trees that the town left standing in the rose garden and stood back and watched him wiggle around on his side like a fish out of water for the longest time.” Jensen titled his head, “He just stood there and watched the demon’s eyes flash from one fresh grave to the other and struggle harder and harder to free himself but he couldn’t. Dad always knew how to tie a knot.”
He rubbed his fingertips under his eyes, “He told me to stay and watch the demon and he would be back as soon as he could.”
“He left you there?” Jared couldn’t believe what he was hearing. If Alan was so convinced that he was slaying demons then what the hell was he doing leaving his son with one? “In the middle of the night, with a supposed demon and Josh missing. What if something had happened? What if someone had happened along?”
“Dad said that we were invisible to everyone while we were doing God’s work.” Jensen pointed out quietly.
Jared raised his hands and made a gesture to indicate that to him, it didn’t make any difference. Alan had left his son with an unknown man and tied up or not, that was high on the list of one of the worst things that Alan had done to Jensen through this whole story and considering the story that was saying something. If the man had gotten free, after being kidnapped, tied up, threatened with an axe because even if Alan hadn’t swung it at him, he had to know what the damn thing was for and then left in an unused corner of a public rose garden beside two fresh graves in the middle of the night with a kid, still tied up, God knows what he would have done to Jensen as retaliation.
Jared shuddered as images of a much younger Jensen torn apart by a man crazed by fear and anger flashed through his mind. And not only were the images in Technicolor but graphic as hell thanks to Jared’s appetite for slasher movies.
“I…” he shook his head, there really was no point railing at Jensen about it, it hadn’t been his choice. Alan had told Jensen what to do and he had done it because it was his father saying to.
“I didn’t have a watch so I don’t know how long we, me and the demon, were there just us two.” Jensen continued once it became clear to him that Jared had run out of words. “But it was long enough that the demon calmed down, stopped struggling and just laid there trying to get me to look at him by making these pleading little noises from behind the duct tape.”
“And did you? Did you look at him or talk to him or…” he let the words dry up on his tongue. So far in this story Jensen was Alan’s good son and Jared didn’t really believe that that was suddenly going to change just because Josh had run off.
The thing was, Jared wasn’t sure how to feel about that. He had already kind of admitted that maybe there were demons in the world; he just wasn’t convinced that an angel had come down to earth and told Alan Ackles that he was to slay them in a vision. Or that the angel kept returning to Alan and telling him what day to snatch those people, demons, whatever and where to find them. But he was finding them and if they weren’t just some poor, unfortunate souls he snatched off the street but honest to God evil people, demons, whatever and Jensen said that they actually were, then how in the hell was he managing that?
Alan had been a mechanic for a small shop in Jupiter, before that, a mechanic in Thurman for a different small vehicle repair shop. He hadn’t make it past grade six before dropping out of school, never been in the army or marines or special ops of any kind and from all that Jensen had told him up to that day, didn’t seem to have any kind of special skill in searching out criminals. So how had he done it?
It couldn’t have been an honest to God angel. Could it?
“Finally,” Jensen shrugged, “if I had to guess maybe an hour, an hour and a half later, dad came back and we, the three of us, dad, me and the demon went back the same way we had come. I wanted to ask him if Josh had come back but he had that look on his face again, that shattered betrayed look that he had worn for those seven days after I told him about Josh calling him a crazy murderer and I didn’t dare. Partially because I was scared that it would make him cry but really because I was worried that either he had found Josh or Josh had come home and something bad had happened to my brother.”
He knew that nothing bad had happened to Josh that night but it didn’t stop his heart from pounding in trepidation. Because something was going to happen in Jensen’s story, something bad if the history of his story was anything to go by and Jared knew it was.
“I could hear Josh sobbing in the cellar, dad had left the trap door hanging open but it wasn’t until I followed dad with the demon slung over his shoulder down into that hole that I understood why.”
Jensen paused and Jared knew it wasn’t for dramatic effect because Jensen just wasn’t that way. He was working himself up to admit to whatever came next, something more horrific to him then everything that had happened up to that point.
Interlacing his fingers around the mug, Jensen’s mouth twisted into a frown. “Sheriff Steven Williams was always good with us kids so long as we behaved. He didn’t have a lot of patience for trouble makers but he was a fair man who everybody always said listened to both sides of a story before making up his mind. I modeled myself as a Sheriff after him.”
His eyes slid to the side, focusing his gaze on the off white tile near the fridge. “He was laying on his back a couple steps away from the stairs, dead with blood still slowly seeping from the axe wound in his chest.” Jensen met Jared’s wide eyes, “Josh told me a couple weeks later that Sheriff Williams hadn’t believed him about dad and the demons or the rose garden and the graves. He said that he convinced the Sheriff that he needed to look in the cellar because he had been so sure that me and the demon would still be down there. That dad had killed him as he had walked back up the stairs.”
“He was a good man Jared.” Jensen admitted softly, “A righteous man doing an honorable job and dad had to kill him because Josh told. Just like the angel said, if any of us told anyone that someone would die.”
That, right there, using an angel telling Alan it what would happen if any of them told someone outside the family still sounded like an excuse to Jared. An excuse that a mad man would use to justify his actions only, only maybe it didn’t when lined up with the rest of the story. Am I really starting to believe this?You’re already starting to believe that it isn’t just evil men and women in the world Jared.
A snide little voice in the back of his mind hissed at him. If there are honest to God demons walking among us, why can’t an angel speak to an undereducated, hardworking, religious man?
“Dad laid his hands on the demon and then destroyed him right there beside Sheriff Williams body.” Jensen emptied his mug, “Then we took both of them out to the rose garden.”***“I never killed a man before tonight.” Alan admitted softly, his voice laden with regret as he kneeled on the cold ground beside the hole that he was making Josh dig for Sheriff Williams’ body. His eyes returning to the body of the man he had to kill because of Josh and his refusal to see the truth.
Jensen looked up from where he was dumping the body of the demon in the second grave that Alan and Josh had dug together first, forgetting that the angel had said there was a particular way that the body had to be laid in the ground, in favor of watching his father and brother.
Josh stilled and glared up at his father, “I’ve seen you kill plenty.” He stabbed the sharp end of the shovel into the hard ground and started to work more dirt loose.
“Those were demons.” Alan glanced from his son to the Sheriff then back, “That was a man.
Why can’t you see that?” He pressed, his voice now clogged with hurt, betrayal, guilt and under it all, frustrated anger.
“You didn’t have to kill him.” He pressed, stopping once more to glare at him.
“I had to protect our mission.”
“There is no mission!” Josh practically yelled, his body going tense and vibrating with impotent anger.
Alan surged forward and curled his fist into Josh’s dirty t-shirt, shaking him a little before forcibly turning his body so that his oldest had no choice but to look at the body of the Sheriff lying at the lip of what would become his final resting place. “That man is dead because of you. Look at him!” He kept shaking Josh, trying in his own way to shake some sense into his son. “He’s dead because you have no faith!”
Josh tried to lean back and he tried to get out of his father’s grasp.
“Do you understand what you made me do? You made me commit murder!” He yelled heedless of anyone that might happen to be awake and around in the middle of the night. He didn’t need to fear discovery, the angel had told him that his was safe. If it had only been the Sheriff they had to bury then perhaps Alan would be worried but they had been doing God’s work and even if Josh still didn’t believe, even if the angel had told Alan that his oldest was, in fact, a demon, he still had to try.
“I didn’t make you do anything! You did!” Josh shot back, “You’re crazy!”
Anger and frustration fought for control, Alan almost dragged his son closer before pushing him away and jumping to his feet, only noticing the shovel clenched tightly in his hands after it was raised over his head and aimed at Josh.
“Dad, no! Dad, don’t!” Jensen yelled as he struggled to crawl out of the demon’s grave, his fear making his movements sloppy and uncoordinated.
The desire was there, right there in Alan’s taut limbs and sweaty palms and Josh wasn’t moving, he wasn’t trying to get away. Instead he just stood there cowering in the half dug grave waiting for Alan to make that swing and end it all.
But he couldn’t, Josh was still his son, his first born, the one he had trusted to keep Jensen safe after their mother had died. He had trusted him to take care of his little brother while Alan worked to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table and he just…couldn’t.
There was no shining light, no angel suddenly telling him that he must stop that this had all been a test of his faith as it had been for Abraham and though he knew he shouldn’t, Alan threw the shovel aside, dropped to his knees and knees and let the tears come.
Jensen’s body finally responded as Alan hit the ground and he crossed to his father’s side, ignoring his brother who had once again betrayed the family by attacking their dad. “It’s all right dad.”
He knelt down beside Alan, resting a hand on his shoulder, his own tears starting to fall, “Don’t cry.”***
“Dad was a firm believer in spare the rod, spoil the child. Only he never hit us with anything but his hand and we never got our asses beat without there being a damn good reason. But that night…” Jensen shook his head before slowly rubbing over his top lip. “I had never been so scared in my life. I thought for sure that that shovel was going to come down and crush Josh’s skull. In that moment all I wanted was to get out of that damn grave and get to my family but I was shaking so bad and the grave was too deep for me to jump out of and my fucking feet kept slipping on the side…”
“Jensen.” Jared said softly.
Jensen focused in on Jared, not having noticed that at some point his gaze had slid away once again during the telling. It was happening a lot even though Jensen had the intention of making sure it didn’t happen again every time he caught himself. Criminals, people or kids with something to hide, wouldn’t look at him when he was questioning them and he didn’t want Jared thinking he was hiding anything. The fact was, he was laying everything out for Jared to hear, to judge, and he didn’t want him second guessing what Jensen was telling him because Jensen couldn’t hold his gaze.
But the memories would come, clear as if they were happening in front of him, all over again and he’d get lost in the telling, remembering feelings and scents and sounds and the next thing he knew he was gone from here and back there. Back there, there was no Jared to look to, or try to convince, there was only him and dad and Josh.
“We finished burying them after a time.” He pushed at his empty mug, part of him wanting another cup but pushing it further away from him. He was getting close to the end now and he wasn’t going to need the caffeine to keep him going. Adrenaline was slowly working its way through him, fear and anticipation of finally getting this out, of finally sharing with Jared the truth of things was making fine tremors work through his limbs. If he added coffee to that now, he’d probably shake himself out of the chair.
“Sheriff Williams and the demon, we finished burying them,” he clarified, “and went back to the house. Dad told me to head in but told Josh to stay and some of my worry must have shown on my face because he promised me that it would be okay and I went.”
He shifted in his chair, “And it was just like that night when I told dad that Josh had told me that dad was a crazy killer. I showered as quick as I could and went to mine and Josh’s bedroom. Only there was no light on this time and I didn’t turn it on. Instead, I snuck to the window and stared out, trying to find dad and Josh out there in the backyard only they weren’t there anymore. I panicked, I didn’t know where they were or what had happened and I thought about disobeying, of getting dressed and going to find them but just like my fear kept me from completely believing that everything was going to be okay, it kept me from leaving the room. Dad was so, so mad. Madder than I’d ever seen him before and it was enough that anger at Josh for hurting dad, again, never crossed my mind, just fear for him.”
“Where did they go?”
Jared pressed and Jensen realized that he had gotten lost in the memory once more. Blinking the fog of the past away, he focused in on Jared. “It couldn’t have been longer than a few minutes of me standing at the window, dancing from one foot to the other trying to decide if I dared risked dad’s wrath or not when the door to the shack opened and he came out without Josh.”
“You know when people say that they felt their stomach drop? Or that they were so scared that they felt like their hearts were going to pound right out of their chests? I understand what they mean because in that moment I experienced both.” Jensen’s rubbed at the bare skin of his forearms, trying to chase away phantom goose bumps and fear.
“Dad was dad. He took care of us, made sure we had a place to sleep and food to eat. Helped us with our homework, played with us on weekends and made sure we got to church every Sunday. But Josh was the one who had taken care of me my whole life. He was the one that mopped up the blood when I scraped my knees and joked until I was laughing instead of crying. He was the one that took care of me when I was sick and let me tag along when he’d go play with his friends. He let me crawl into his bed when thoughts of the boogeyman scared me. He really was everything to me, best friend, mom, dad and brother all rolled into one. And the thought that dad had…that he could’ve…” Jensen shook his head.
“But he didn’t.” Jared reminded him gently, reaching across the table and laying his hand palm up for Jensen to take if he wanted to.
Jensen managed a small smile and curled his fingers through Jared’s. “No, he didn’t. But I didn’t know that at the time and the thought that he had that was enough to override my fear of what dad might do or think of me for disobeying him. I met him at the door asking where Josh was and he told me that Josh was in the cellar and that he would stay there until he had his own vision from God.”
“He locked him in that hole in the ground?” Jared spluttered.
Jensen nodded, “He got Josh down there somehow and then nailed the trap door closed.”***Part 3