Forks and knives scrapped against the ceramic plates as we all sat down for dinner. The whole house was filled with the scent of freshly cooked roasted chicken with stuffing, rice and veggies for a side, and glazed cinnamon pastries for dessert. Mother and father sat across from each other at the dining table, smiles on their faces as they chatted and ate. They laughed and giggled about this and that, things that I either didn’t know about or care about. I chose not to focus too much on their talk and focused on eating the rest of the food on my plate.
Just a couple of feet away was the living room, a normal layout consisting of a large three-person couch, the single lounger, which belonged to dad, the small coffee table with a stack of old magazines on top, and the entertainment setup against the wall. Since I was seated at the end of the dining table, I was able to look up and get a clear view of the television, its flashing lights and images changing every couple of seconds. The voices from the commercials mixed in with my parent’s talking, sounding like there were a few more people in the house.
I ignored it all and finished my chicken.
My mother called out to me, “How’s dinner tonight, hun?”
I nodded, “It’s good, Mom. Real good.”
“Is everything okay? You’re a bit more quiet tonight than usual.”
“I’m fine. Just thinking and eating.”
She smiled, “If something is going on, you can always talk to me or your father. We’re always here to listen.”
“I know. Thanks.”
As my mother finished trying to console me for no real reason, the television had become louder than any of the household chatter going on. On screen now was a small scrolling message at the bottom with the main image showing a line of police cars and barricades in front of a brick-style home in broad daylight. The newscaster spoke.
“In today’s news, the body of Timothy McClein, a forty-six-year old male who recently moved into the area, was found inside his residential home. Authorities received a call just after seven this morning when awaking neighbors found the front door to his home unlocked. The neighbor, who wished to stay anonymous, reported that he found the body of Mr. McClein passed out in the doorway of his home. When paramedics arrived on scene, his body had already began to grow cold and show no signs of life. Nearby just a few feet away was an empty bottle of prescription sleeping medication, having many police officers believe this his death was an apparent suicide.”
The newscaster continued on with the report while my parents watched on, their faces struck with shock and surprise of the death of the newest addition to the neighborhood. When the report finally ended they faced one another, their shocked faces slowly turning into small smiles of joy.
“I can’t believe Mr. McClein is dead,” my mother gasped. “I never got a chance to properly introduce him into the neighborhood.”
My father played along, shaking his head with a teething grin, “It’s a real shame. He seemed like a great guy to have a drink with.”
My parents looked at it in unison, asking me, “What did you think about Mr. McClein?”
I looked at both of my parents, unsure of what kind of expression I should have. The meeting from the other night obviously lead to the demise of this man, who’s name I’m just now finding out on television. My memory flashed that image of the woman dragging the man into the house and looking at me. However, something in my gut was telling me that no matter what I said, nothing would change.
Mr. McClein was clearly hated in the neighborhood on a massive scale, both from the local neighbors and all the way up to the police force of the city. Everybody had some kind of altercation or incident with the man. I didn’t.
I shrugged and answered my parents, “All I hear was rumors.”
Copyright © 2020 by Luka Tatsujo