A Changed Man

LeAnn Giaquinto

 

“It all happened so fast, Marty. I don’t know what happened. He was taunting me with descriptions of her and everything. It was disgusting. I had to do it. I had no choice. I just…It was like I was somebody else and everything that I had been taught up until that point just floated out of my body. I had to…..” His voice started to trail off as he looked away from Marty. His face turned red and his mouth tightened as if he had to find words to describe his harsh actions, but no words would do. “I had to do it, damn it!” he yelled as he pounded his fists onto the table.

 

With this last exhale from Dan’s long confession, a tear made its way down his pale face. He looked down at the table because he could not make himself look into the face of the man questioning him; the man who taught him everything there was to know; the man who was like a father figure to him when his real father was out “finding” himself. Marty looked at him with disappointment that he could not disguise.

 

“You killed somebody, Danny,” he yelled over the table that divided them. He was not used to being on the receiving end of the table. His mind began to wander as Marty continued to scold him. He looked at the two way mirror that was to the left of the table. He knew that there were people on the other side of that mirror; people that he knew and worked with. They were just watching him, sipping coffee, and judging; just like he did to suspects and murderers for all those years. Then, he floated back into the real world when he was interrupted by a loud burst of noise that made its way from Marty’s mouth. “You’re a cop and you murdered someone out of cold blood on a hunch that this was some guy that you caught a glimpse of twenty years ago.”

 

“I know!” Dan screamed back. He ran his fingers through his greasy black hair in an attempt to compose himself. It did not work. He began to cry again. Marty threw him a towel and said, “Clean yourself up. Your family is here to see you.”

 

Dan’s hands began to shake. He could not fathom seeing his wife and daughter right now. He was ashamed and distraught. The bags under his eyes were multiplying. His heart felt like it was beating out of his chest. He wiped his eyes and face with the towel. He noticed a little bit of blood on his sleeve and began to wipe it feverishly. It would not come off. It was as if it was his scarlet letter; a mark that would forever label him as a murderer and an outcast from society. The door opened and his wife entered, followed closely by their fifteen year old daughter, Sheila. His wife, Laura, took one look at her husband’s sullen face, and ran to him in tears. She held him close to her and stroked his hair.

 

“Are you sure it was him?” she whispered in his ear so that their daughter would not hear.

 

“Yes, it was him. He talked about the birthmark on your back.” Tears made their way onto the brink of his eyes again.

 

She kissed him and gave him a grateful look that was drenched in guilt. He was going to go to jail for defending her honor after all these years. He was so courageous. Her mind began to contemplate questions that she never thought she would have to ponder in her entire life. What would she do without him? How long would he be in jail? How will she ever make this up to him? Her self deprecated thought process was abruptly interrupted by an outburst from their daughter.

 

“Were you drunk again, dad?” she yelled. “Huh? Answer me! Another bad night at the pub? Did you lose more money gambling? You are pathetic! Can you think of anybody else besides yourself? Jenny already found out about this from her father. The whole school will know about it! I will be so humiliated!”

 

This outburst sparked rage in Laura. Sheila had no idea what kind of self-sacrificing man her father was.

 

She walked up to Sheila and slapped her right across the face.

 

“You have no idea what you’re talking about! Your father is the most unselfish person you will ever meet! You owe him an apology.”

 

Sheila was shocked at her mother’s violence. She had no idea why her mother was praising her deadbeat father. It was only a matter of time before his drunken antics would get him into serious trouble. They would probably be better off without him.

 

“I’m taking the bus home. You both make me sick,” she looked right into the eyes of her heartbroken father. “You know what you can do with your damn apology.” She left in a frustrated hurry. Laura looked back at her poor husband.

 

“Don’t listen to her. She doesn’t know about Jack Dannon. When she does find out, she will feel terrible and that will be punishment enough.”

 

She grabbed his hand in hers. She did not know what to say and how to say it. How do you thank somebody for such a loving and selfless act? Sure, they had their problems in the past. He was quite a gambler and drained their bank account a few times. But, she knew that he loved her more than he loved himself, and she never had that kind of love from another person.

 

“Baby,” she said as she attempted to put into words all these amazing things that she was feeling in her heart. Just then, the door flung open and Marty walked in.

 

“Laura, can you come here and look at this picture please?” he asked as he held out a mug shot. She walked over expecting to see a picture of Jack Dannon.

 

“Is this him?” he asked her. With a deep breath, she looked at the picture. Instinctively, she looked away in disgust.

 

“Yes. That’s him,” she said. She looked back at her husband with tears in her eyes. His face looked strange, though. He looked scared; like a deer caught in the headlights.

 

“What’s wrong, hun,” she asked.

 

“That is Jack Dannon,” Marty interrupted. “He just got caught at an attempted bank robbery. When I say ‘just’ I mean thirty minutes ago. The man that your husband murdered was Jason Philerman. Jason was a very dangerous man that Dan owed a lot of money to.”

 

“Is this true?” she asked Dan. “Did you know all this?” She was confused by the information Marty had just relayed.

 

“I think he knew exactly what he was doing,” Marty answered.

 

They both looked at Dan. His face was no longer sad. It was blank. Laura did not even recognize him for a split second. Even worse, she could swear that a smirk escaped his face for a moment; a smirk that gave her chills throughout her entire body. His previous heavy breathing suddenly slowed to a steady and relaxed pace. It was as if he was an actor whose mannerisms suddenly altered when the director yelled “cut.” His head slowly drooped down and his eyes wandered up to his audience, creating an eerie and frightening sight as his eyes seemed to be smiling with mysterious ingenious. Laura became even more frightened when she saw this transformed monster open his mouth to speak his devious truth. He was changed.

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