Chapter four---The doorbell rang
2:06 AM | Author: Jeff
The door bell rang, Jay and his mother remained unmoved, Jay watched the door, His mother sat in her chair smoking, staring at the wall, the bell rang again and this time Marie-Ann blinked, she turned her gaze towards Jay, “Get the fucking door you waste of fucking air” she spat.
Jay stood, almost robotically, he never did anything unless he was told, fear had created that habit, he walk down the dark corridor, which he was sure had never seen more than a moment’s daylight, he reached the front door and opened it. The sunlight poured in blinding him
Jay spent most of his waking hours in that dark room with his mother, he slept on the sofa, he had no possession besides a few rag like clothes, he had never seen a toy, his world was engulfed in a kind of perpetual darkness, the gloom that encased him also shielded him from pain, if you never feel happy it’s impossible to feel sad
Jay stood in the doorway, shielding his eyes, waiting slowly for the glare to subside and for his vision to return, when it did he looked up and standing at the door was the biggest man Jay had ever seen, The man looked down on Jay his eyes wide and full of shock, his expression quickly changed to a look of pity interlaced with rage when he saw the bruises all over Jays face, no child should ever be hit like this the man thought.
“And who are you, my boy?” the man asked forcing a big hearty smile.
“I’m Jay Sutherland” Jay replied
The man’s eyes grew wider, his smile fading a little, eyes widening, his jaw tightening.
“Does Mary-Ann Sutherland live here?” he asked his voice filled with urgency.
“Who the fuck wants to know?” yelled Marie-Ann from her chair in the living room, followed by a short coughing fit.
“You’re father” he paused partly to await a reaction and partly because it had been so long since he had uttered those words, but no reply came, he continued, “Can I come in?” there was a long silence then Marie-Ann appeared in the hallway behind Jay, still hidden in the shadows.
“How did you find me?” she said, her voice trembling
“That’s a long story, Marie-Ann” The man replied, “too long for a door way.”
“But, why now, it’s been years, why did you come for me now?” her eyes narrowed, bloodshot and water filled, looking fiercely at the man in the doorway.
“I have never stopped looking, not since you ran away” her fathers voice was shaking too.
“That was a long time ago, Dad” Marie-Ann cried.
“Can I come in, Mary-Ann?” he pleaded , his eyes shifting from Marie-Ann to Jay and back again, Marie-Ann said nothing.
“Is this my grandson?” he said looking at Jay
“Yeah” Marie-Ann said, returning to her chair “come on in Dad” the shake in her voice gone, now full of sarcasm emphasizing the word ‘Dad’.
Henry Sutherland, was a big man, he stood a hair under two meters weighing one hundred and twenty six kilograms, with barely a stitch of fat over his enormous muscles, he had lived his life by one code, and only one code, the Marine code. Henry Sutherland had served in three wars, only two of which anyone really knew about, he had defended his country with all his heart, been awarded a purple heart twice, among many other accolades, but despite his prowess in combat he had not a single political bone in his body, a fact that had been his downfall, he had never advanced beyond the rank of Sergeant. He now stood on the doorstep of his daughter’s house, crippled by the hatred for him in her voice; he crossed the threshold of her dank, dark apartment and followed his daughter into the dark living room, his eyes scanning the walls, his face covered with a mask of shock. Henry Sutherland, had seen more than his fair share of horror on the field of battle, he had seen young men torn apart in the jungle, but none of that prepared him for the horror that now faced him. He had been searching for his daughter for over a decade, in his mind she had never changed from the teenage girl he’d known, now she was a woman, a mother, and his grandson’s face was beaten worse than a prize fighter, his mind was doing back flips, for the first time in his adult life Henry Sutherland wasn’t sure what to do.
Jay closed the door sealing the three of them inside with the gloom, the light faded away and the dull shadows once again claimed the walls along the hall, He then followed the man into the living room to where his mother sat.
Once he was inside the living room Henry Sutherland saw his daughters face, fresh bruises forming on her cheeks, dried blood on her eye brow. And he then looked back at his grandson becoming fully aware of the horror of their lives, his rage grew inside of him, he had to use every ounce of his will to suppress it, now wasn’t the time for that emotion.
“What the hell happened to you both?” he stared hard into Marie-Ann’s eyes, she blinked and looked away.
“Hank, happened dad, no big deal, he’s just got a temper is all” She lit a fresh cigarette, uncharacteristically fumbling with the lighter three or four times.
“Who the hell is Hank?” Henry’s voice filling with rage, his self-discipline failing, he seemed to grow in size; he looked like the hulk, his shirt beginning to stretch under the strain of his muscles as they flexed.
“Hank’s my man, Dad” Marie-Ann answered, the tremble back in her voice; she on the other hand seemed to shrink in her father’s presence.
“Is he the boy’s father?” Henry’s eyes fell on Jay.
“I don’t know, maybe” Marie-Ann replied, defiantly she stared into her father’s eyes, and then looked at Jay, “I was hooking when I got pregnant with that little bastard” a cruel grin on her face.
“He’s my grandson, don’t you ever call him that again, do you understand me Mary-Ann Sutherland” Henry looked at Jay again, smiled and said “Don’t you worry Jay, ever things going to be just fine”

It was the first time Jay had ever heard someone using his name, without prefixing it with some form of profanity.
Henry Sutherlands heart sank, the idea that his daughter had gone down the road of a prostitute had entered his mind from time to time, but he had always hoped that she had met a nice man settled and was living a good life, his worst fears had been confirmed.
“Same old dad, telling me what to do, no wait, more like ordering, isn’t that what they call it in the Marines?” their eyes locked as she spoke, neither of them blinked. “Well news flash old man, I aint a baby no more and this isn’t the motherfucking Marines, and most of all you aint my fucking boss!” Marie-Ann never blinked, she had spent years thinking about this moment, rehearsing it in her head, her face like stone, though her heart was skipping beats in her chest, her eyes were filled with hatred, she stared into her fathers eyes trying desperately to wound him further, though defiant as she was, the smell the fear was rising in her, it wasn’t fear like when Hank came home, it was older, more pungent.
“You’re right, this isn’t the Marines,” replied Henry, his calm voice masking the burning pain he felt in his heart, “ but you forget Mary-Ann, I am and will always be your father, and that means that this boy will always be my grandson, whether you like it or not.” He looked at Jay and forced a smile, damn this kid has been beaten bad, he thought, and then continued. “Mary-Ann, you can hate me and blame me as much as you want, but I have looked too darn long and hard to walk away now and leave you both here in this…”his voice lowered, forcing calm, though clenched teeth, “…state. I can’t…”
“What fucking state is that then?” Marie-Ann interrupted.
“What state!” Henry exclaimed not believing what he was hearing, “What state! The boy has more scares then most of the men under my command in Nam, and my daughter looks like she’s gone 10 rounds with Ali.” He stopped and drew in a deep breath to calm the rising flood of anger he was feeling, then, once calmed looked his daughter in the eyes.
“So fucking what!” Marie-Ann yelled at her father half rising from her chair, she seemed to suddenly come to life and fill with power, and in that moment she was clearly her fathers daughter, “This is my house, and my life and you never where my father!” Her face was filling with blood changing from a ghostly white to a burning red, Jay had never seen this side of his mother before, she always looked like a defeated; a ghost, now she was alive, her anger filling the room.
“You call this a life?’ replied Henry in disbelief, “have you looked in the mirror, lately?”
Marie-Ann’s eyes flared with anger, Henry realized he’d gone too far, but his reason had taken a backseat to his emotions, a rare event in the life of Henry Sutherland.
“Who the fuck do you think you are?” Marie-Ann yelled, shrugging off the intimidation she felt in exchange for anger. “Who are you to judge me? I chose long ago to be rid of you and your judgments.” She paused for a moment to let her words sink in, her mouth tight and twisted with loathing. “I left because of you, and do you know what, I bet if mom had, had half a back bone she would have left you too!” Marie-Ann burst into a coughing fit, and immediately reached for her cigarettes, she had wounded her father she could see it.
Henry felt an ache in his chest, he felt so disorientated, he was a man waking from a dream into a nightmare, how could his daughter have become the woman in front of him? Her words struck deep at his core. Deep down in places he kept hidden, he knew what she was saying was true, he had neglected his wife and daughter in the name of the Corps his entire life, he felt shame like he had never known. Henry Sutherland was not a man familiar with failure, his whole adult life he had despised failure in others, tried his best to weed it out where he saw it, and without realizing his zeal had torn his family apart. The realization came crashing down upon him, threatening to crush his spirit, he, Henry Sutherland a man who had succeeded where all others failed, had failed in his duties as a father. At that moment Henry decided, he would not fail again, he would do what ever it took to make it up to his daughter and of coarse his grandson, he looked at Jay, the boy stared back at him through a black eye and swollen cheeks, the curiosity that is usually sin ominous with a child not even vaguely present in his expression. Henry swore a silent oath ‘I will always be there for you my boy’ and Henry Sutherland always fulfilled his oaths.
Marie-Ann’s coughing fit subsided, she took a deep drag on her cigarette and fell back into the chair, she was pale and completely exhausted, Henry looked at her, his heart breaking, he realized that he didn’t like the woman sitting in front of him, but he loved his daughter, it was the hardest trail a parent could endure, but enduring hardship was what Henry did best, he was determined to turn this situation around.
“Marie-Ann, you’re right, everything you’ve said is true” Henry began, his words sent a shock through Marie-Ann and though she tried hard to conceal it, she failed; it was the first time she had ever heard her father admit he was wrong!
“I devoted my life to the corps, and at the time I didn’t realize, but I had given your life and your mother’s life to the corps as well, I had no right.” Henry looked into his daughter’s eyes searching for any sign of the teenage girl he had loved, and briefly for an instant he was sure he saw her.
“I was a terrible father and a terrible husband, I am sorry Marie-Ann” he looked at the floor, unable to look into his daughters eyes, the pain they bore was too much for him too take.
“I am sorry Marie-Ann, I messed up bad”
“Yeah, you really did” the venom still dripping from her tongue, she had waited a life time for this moment, there was no way she was letting him get off easy. “You were always Mr. Perfect, did you know that dad? Nothing anyone did escaped your criticism, nothing was ever flawless enough for your fucking standards was it?” tears began to well in her eyes, “Why dad?” her voice was filled with the frailty of a young child, the tears began to fall.
“I never meant to put that stress on you, I have always been hard on my self, I didn’t realize I was being hard on everyone, I can only tell you that I am sorry and I will give anything to have another chance…” words failed him, “I’m just a man Marie-Ann, a man who made a mess out of that which mattered the most, when your mum died I realized how much of a fool I’d been, I really miss her Marie-Ann and I have missed you.”
“Mum’s dead?” Marie-Ann cut in clearly taken aback.
Henry took a deep breath, his expression becoming graver, he looked up at the ceiling, clearly on the verge of tears, a sensation he rarely felt and he was determined not to succumb to his emotions now.
“Your mother died of cancer eight months ago” Henry said, his voice soft.
“Oh” replied Marie-Ann the news came as a blow.
“But, you know I’m glad, her suffering is over. She had spent her life suffering, she was never really alive just a shadow hidden by your shadow”
“Your mother was never a shadow Marie-Ann, she was a woman of few words, but she was all heart, when you left it wounded her deeply” Henry’s voice was growing in strength again, though still weak.
“Marie-Ann I will not, I cannot leave you and his grandson in this place, let you be beaten, let the boy be beaten, I have come to take you home and I’m not leaving without the both of you.” Henry’s face was resolute; he’d made up his mind. “I know that we’ve got a lot of baggage, but I really want to work through it or at least give it a try. This is no way to live” he said gesturing at her bruised face.
“Wha…” Marie-Ann began to argue but then stopped; she knew her father was right, maybe it was time to get away.
“Now, when does this Hank get home?” Henry spoke with such authority and power; the mere thought of this ‘Hank’ sent Henry into a fit of rage, age and experience helped him control it for the moment. Henry Sutherland was not a man to mess with once he had set his will in motion, Marie-Ann knew it.
“About eight” said Marie-Ann, she felt the rage pouring out of her father, she knew what that meant, He had never been violent when she was growing up, he had never used any form of physical punishment on Marie-Ann, but once he had caught a burglar in the house when Marie-Ann was about eleven years old, and he had beaten that man with such fierceness and power the man had almost died, Marie-Ann had seen her fathers face that night, and it was the same face that looked at her now, suddenly she was a little girl again.
“Tell me everything that has been going on here Mary-Ann, starting with how my grandson ended up with a split lip and two black eyes” Henry stood his arms folded across his chest, forcing himself to be calm and listen, though in his mind he only heard the name ‘Hank’ repeating itself.
Henry stood unmoved and listened for the next few hours while Marie-Ann told him everything that had happened since she ran away from home eleven years before, the drugs, prostitution, getting pregnant running from the cops and Hank. Every time she mentioned Hank, Henry flinched a little as if barely able to contain his rage, though; he hardly said a word the whole time, his body spoke volumes. After Marie-Ann had finished, the three of them sat in silence for what seemed an eternity, Henry finally broke the silence, turning his gaze towards Jay, a big warm smile, the likes of which Jay had never seen, across his face.
“So, Jay, I’m sorry to have been so rude, let me introduce myself” he reached out his big right hand, which caused Jay to flinch, something which he noticed and registered in his mental notebook, “I’m Henry Sutherland, I’m your Grandfather Jay” Jay looked at his grandfathers enormous hand, his eyes widened full of fear and uncertainty, Henry saw this immediately, he looked at his grandson, softened his voice and while looking Jay directly in the eyes said, “don’t worry my boy, I won’t hurt you”
Slowly Jay reached out and took his grandfathers hand for the first time; Henry looked down on the boy still smiling, though his eyes were filled with sadness.
“Hello Grandfather” Jay mumbled not used to being addressed as a person.
“Call me Pops my boy, grandfather’s just too darn formal” he laughed a little, a big hearty laugh which though it shook Jays nerves then, He would grow to love that laugh more than most anything else in the world.
That night when Hank came home, he was drunk as usual, he threw up in the hallway then walked into the living room and yelled “Hey guess what, we going to go another couple of rounds tonight you little fuckers!” “Do I have any takers?” he started to laugh to himself, only stopping when he heard Sergeant Henry Sutherlands reply.
“Yeah, I’m game” said Henry, his shirt sleeves rolled, up a little grin on his face
Hank stopped smiling. “Who the fuck are you old man?” he said too drunk to noticed how the old soldier dwarfed him. Hank barely had time to raise his fists, not that it would have helped him if he had, before Henry Sutherland struck his first shattering blow to Hank’s kidney, a blow which bent Hank in half like a rag doll. The fight, if you could call it that, it was more like a beating, it was like watching Mike Tyson in his heyday, every punch Henry threw, found its mark with precision and immense force. The fight ended with Hank hitting the floor unconscious, after taking a massive uppercut to the chin. Henry Sutherland had always shown respect to his enemies in war, but not today, he spat on Hanks back as he laid there his body still twitching a little, and then called out to Jay and Marie-Ann
“Mary-Ann, Jay, its ok now”
Before Hank had come home Henry Sutherland had told his daughter and grandson to wait in the bedroom, he didn’t want them to see what was going to happen, but Jay watched the whole fight through the kitchen door, which never shut properly. He couldn’t really describe what he felt while watching the fight, Jay felt something he had never felt before when he looked at Henry Sutherland that night, a feeling he would later come to know as, safe, though the immense size and power that Henry Sutherland represented would scare him for a while yet.
That night Jay and Marie-Ann packed a few meager belongings and left the city to live with Henry Sutherland, while Hank still lay passed out on the kitchen floor.
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On November 8, 2007 at 8:29 AM , Elise said...

I'm utterly and completely hooked! The characters are so defined and the relations between them are extremely deep.

Keep writing. I can't wait to


Reader Reviews!

"Wow. That's awesome. I like how you write, it's unique and descriptive and paints an image for you. when i was reading this first chapter, i could just picture this becoming a blockbuster movie or something." ...Toni Brolin

"I'm utterly and completely hooked! The characters are so defined and the relations between them are extremely deep. Keep writing. I can't wait to read more. x"...Elise

"What amazes me about your work is that you have an incredible capacity to get into the minds of your characters, regardless of age or gender. That is truly a great talent."...Kathleen

I'm supposed to be doing all sorts of things--writing cards, laundry, decorating and what happens? You put up another Chapter! So much for my schedule. Ooh, it's a good one, though that's for sure. What a cliffhanger. Can't wait to see what Sabian has to say. Really good tense stuff, but with just the right poignancy."...