Jérome clutched his father’s throat with one enormous palm. The old man stumbling backward, arms flailing wildly, and they both fell to the ground. Jérome began pounding his father’s head against the hardened earth, still clutching tight to his throat. Julien could not believe his eyes. He scrambled to his feet, running at them, screaming, pleading for Jérome to stop. He launched his nine-year-old frame at the girth that was his father’s back, beating him with child-size fists and seemingly unnoticed. Frantic, Julien scanned the area. An ax, a rock, and there, on the ground beside them, was the bottle. He grabbed the half-empty bottle of bourbon, resting on its side where Jérome had dropped it. His hand gripped the glass vessel by its neck. He brought it up high above his head, spilling the remaining liquid down his hair and face. Julien had the sensation that everything was moving in slow motion as, with all of his might, he swung the bottle downward through the air, landing it against the back of his father’s skull.
Silence instantly enveloped them, all but the hollow sound of the tumbling undamaged bottle, empty and rolling over dry pebbled dirt. Jérome fell with a thud over his father’s lifeless body. Julien’s eyes burned from a mixture of spilled alcohol and tears; he could not see a thing. Seconds later, Jérome was up again. Julien, rubbing at his searing eyes, could hear him coming closer, the smell of bourbon on his warm, huffing breath. His father was looming over him now, causing Julien to back blindly away in the direction of the barn doors. He could hear his grandmother’s screams far off in the distance. She is coming to help, he thought. Then, with a vice grip, Jérome grabbed hold of his son’s right bicep, forcing the child up onto his toes. The sightless boy froze; his arms fell to his sides in submission. Jérome drew his elbow far back and with a fist meant to knock out a prizefighter, delivered one crushing blow to his son’s diminutive face. The sound of crushing bone was the last thing Julien would remember.
Julien, panting like a trapped animal and awoken by his own gasp, sat up in bed. Surrounded by darkness, the familiar sounds of Manhattan below the bedroom window reminded him that he was safe, grown, and far from France.
Brooklyn Hudson was born and raised in New York City’s borough of Staten Island. She currently resides in Los Angeles where she produces The Springsteen Experience, a theatrical concert event; she is a replica-rock (tribute show) concert promoter and band manager, and has been writing fiction since she was old enough to hold a pencil. She credits Stephen King for her devout adoration of adult dramatic horror and is currently fast at work on the WISHBONE screen adaption and WISHBONE Part II.