After my father died, I went to clean out his house on Maple Street.
I had no idea what to expect. It had been a few years since we had spoken, our lives just drifted in separate directions. I became busy with work and he became a bit of a recluse. From what my mother and sister told me, my father was some kind of hoarder, never leaving the house anymore. Living off his social security and veteran funds, having all his groceries delivered and never bothering with human contact. My sister said he had grown a long beard and looked like “one of those homeless people outside the markets”. I didn’t bother seeing for myself. I simply was never that close to my father, growing up I felt distant from him, he was a very private man and we had nothing in common. That was what I thought.
Then the day I went to clean out his house, because my mother and sister refused to do it, I saw how bad things had gotten. Piles of newspapers reached toward the ceiling, boxes everywhere filled with papers and baubles. It was hard to find one’s footing and there was a terrible smell like cat urine and rot. In the kitchen maggots nestled in an old bowl filled with some expired beef stew. I would rather have just bulldozed the place than dealt with it but if I could clean it up, a house like this in a neighborhood this nice could sell for about half a mil. Thank California and its overpriced housing. I was living in a one bedroom apartment in the city and could use the extra cash.
I went into the bathroom where I saw a tub filled with black liquid, it looked like no one had used it in years. The toilet stank so bad, I nearly vomited. How could my father have lived like this? He had been a soldier, worked in a steel mill for over forty years, he raised two kids and nurtured a screeching banshee of a wife until he couldn’t take anymore. Yet I never would have expected him to dissolve like this. It saddened me.
Then I found his bedroom where a mound of clothes laid that smelled worse than the kitchen, some of the shirts had thick stains on them. It looked as if he wore shirts until they were stained beyond recognition then tossed them on the floor and picked up a new one. This wasn’t a home but a cavern for a hermit.
I tried to enter my father’s mind, tried to grasp his perspective, how he could crawl through the piles of garbage from room to room each day. Treating his home like an untouchable structure that would soon resemble the interworking’s of his mind. Then I started going through the drawers. That was when things got worse.
I saw the pornography.
He had everything from Asian bukkake to transsexuals and underage girls. There are just some things you don’t want to know about your father. Yet it fascinated me. I had no idea that his tastes ran so broad, that he had this entire hidden life.
I put one of the videos into an archaic VCR which looked more like a relic from a dead era than an actual device anymore.
On the screen a young girl appeared, a young Asian girl, she was sobbing in the corner as men yelled at her in Japanese. She was naked and looked to be no more than thirteen years old. They beat at her with sticks. When she cried, they beat her harder and a man in a leather mask came in the room. He was large, at least six feet tall and was a wall of muscle. He was naked from the waist down and only wore the leather mask and a see through fishnet vest that looked like it was made of barbed wire. He bled and smiled.
The men holding the camera began to chant something and from the little Japanese I knew it meant serpent. I assumed this was the man’s name. He was the Serpent.
He came at the girl who was screaming and crying as he spread her legs, then the man holding the camera started to hand him instruments. The first was a nipple clamp which he put on the girl. She screamed out in terror.
The Serpent slapped her and the men off-screen could be heard laughing. He spread her legs to reveal a hairless pussy and they did a close up. The girl was sobbing when the cameraman handed the Serpent a dildo with a spike at the tip. Slowly he used it to penetrate her. The screams were unimaginable. I had never heard such pain. Not even when—
I turned off the video.
I saw my father’s laptop near the bed. I turned it on and started to go through his files. It was an hour before I found the folder marked LOVE. It was password protected. I tried to hack in but my skills were very limited. I tried to think. Wondering of all the things my father would use as a password, I used my mother’s name, my sister’s name, the town where we grew up, his birthday, my birthday. Then I saw the picture next to the bed in a small frame. It was of a husky dog we had when I was growing up. After all these years he kept it. He had loved that dog.
I typed in the dog’s name POLO.
The folder opened.
Inside I found a plethora of photographs of young girls. Yet these didn’t look like ones that were stolen from the internet. They were marked: Miley, Kimmy, Sandra, Ellie, Denise, Vanessa, Lucy, Amy, Shannon, Nikki. Then inside each subfolder was a catalog of conversations he had with these girls. I saw the photographs he was sending them of a handsome looking fourteen year old boy who any girl would be attracted to. He looked like one of those Hollywood teenagers who played vampires and werewolves.
Then he had fake dick pics to show them, body pics which he got from who knows where, probably from pretending to be girls to other young boys.
Then alongside these chat records as well as some webcam videos of the girls showing off their budding breasts and masturbating on cam for what they thought was another teen their age. I read the chats for the next two hours, the way he got in these girls heads and manipulated them, turned them against their parents. He said they could run away together and that he loved them and would take care of them. Then the final message would be a meeting place and a time. Then I saw the last folder in each subfolder marked: DOLLS.
The photos were of girls naked and screaming in what looked like a dark room. Then videos of him cutting them with a scalpel and torturing them. Finally there would be a video of him slitting their throat then he would embalm and stuff them. He would keep them as long as he could before they started to rot, pose them in skimpy clothes. Pose them with the other dead girls and keep them as living dolls.
My heart was beating in my chest, I couldn’t believe that—
I heard a sound like a knocking below.
Did this house have a basement?
Thoughts swam through my mind.
Was one of the girls here now? Had he died leaving behind a victim that the police never found?
I searched the house wildly looking for where the basement would be. I ran into the kitchen and heard the knocking sound again.
In the kitchen there was a large piece of cardboard taped up against the window, I stared at the fridge and the scraping marks across the floor and pulled the fridge from the wall. Behind it was the basement door.
It was locked.
I went back into my father’s bedroom and searched for the key frantically. Pulling out drawers and feeling through the stiff bed sheets that were full of old shit and semen.
Fuck it, I thought, I ran back and kicked the door until the hinges broke off.
I took a flashlight from the kitchen drawer, stuffed batteries down the tube and lit it up.
The basement smelled like mold and rotten food.
I searched for an overhanging light and found one in the middle of the room.
That was when I felt the hand on my ankle, I cried out.
I kicked it away in panic then slowly ran the flashlight over the shape.
It was a young girl, who had to be no more than sixteen years old. She was filthy and looked half-starved but was still alive. My father had been dead a week and she had found a way to survive. I turned on the overhead light and saw a large water bowl in the corner. He had left her here like an animal.
“What’s your name?” I said.
“Nnnnnnnn,” she growled.
“Who put you here?”
I stared at her in utter fascination. She looked like a porcelain doll come to life.
She looked so much like Jasmine.
“Can’t you talk?” I asked her.
She opened her mouth then and pointed. Her tongue was missing.
I opened my eyes wider; my father had made sure she would never speak back to him. Her teeth were also missing and there was a plier with dried blood on it on the floor.
“My father did this to you,” I said, “He’s dead now, you don’t have to be afraid.”
She started to sob, wet tears making clean lines on her dirty face.
Behind her I saw the red door.
I felt like my entire life had led up to this.
I walked towards it and put my hand on the handle and went inside.
What I saw, I can hardly explain the surprise, the—
Inside was a well-lighted room with a perfect examination table, a wall full of well stocked stools, everything from sex toys to torture devices and surgical equipment. I could only imagine the things he did to these women. How he had drugged and lured these girls into meeting him, abducted them and did unspeakable things to them. All these years and I thought my father and I had nothing in common. I was so wrong.
I took a knife from the wall.
“You look so much like Jasmine,” I said to her, smiling, “She was my first.”
The girl looked scared then and started to crawl away from me.
“She was this young hitchhiker I picked up when I was in college. She was so innocent and trusting. I barely knew what I was doing, there was so much blood. When you make love to a corpse you have to be gentle, rigor mortis starts to set in and you have to choose the right angles. All these years my father and I barely spoke, I thought he was boring, dull, uninteresting—I had no idea that he was just like me. He understood the dark urges, the need to kill. He was a master.”
The girl made mewling noises like an animal as I cut into her, her screams were like music to my ears. I laid her body on the examination table and we made love in my father’s secret room. For the first time in my life I felt free, I felt whole. I had a place to call home.
The next day I called my sister, “I have decided not to sell the house. I am going to clean it up and live in it.”
“Well, he left it to you,” she said, “I could give a shit less if you burn it. He obviously loved you more than me and my combined. He was a cold bastard but Mom said he loved you best. He always said you were his one joy in life.”
A slow smile crept across my face. I felt warmth in my heart, it felt like coming home.
By Daniel William Gonzales