Chapter no 14 – THE HIDDEN HURT


Donnie wasn’t terribly impacted as his mother’s warm blood dribbled down his wrist. He felt Rock’s hefty hand delicately clenched around his and found a peculiar comfort as he entered the bathroom.

Rock sat the boy on the closed toilet seat and looked down at the nasty scrape that painted most of his kneecap. A few uneven, flapping lines of the boy’s once smooth surface dangled off the side. The red was still coming out of the wound quite generously.

“We’ll get you patched up,” Rock said. The boy offered no words in response.

Rock’s big bloody paws shook from the adrenaline rush, the outpouring still rumbled inside him. Steadying himself, he twisted the hot water faucet on the sink. Rock dampened a cloth and used the bar of soap to create a lather.

The emotions he was holding in check were dangerous.

Rock didn’t know how to feel about what he’d done to Donnie’s mother. Just managing to think enough to clean the boy up felt like a victory. He was just doing what he thought was right, but inside, nothing was right.

He felt himself coming undone. He felt high, and that overload of pure panic and pandemonium was like a drug.



Hold it together. You killed her, but everything else is fine. It’s all fixable. More fertilizer… she’s just more fertilizer is all. I can tell Geraldine she tried to leave. She’ll understand. I had to do it. I didn’t have a choice, Rock thought.

The scarred tissue underneath his suit and shirt pulsated. The flesh that had been inflamed long ago via the glowing irons still ached somehow.

She’ll understand, he lied to himself.

Once Rock washed the blood off his hands, he removed cotton swabs and a brown bottle of hydrogen peroxide from behind the mirror. His relationship with Geraldine had forced him to become intimately familiar with the items.

Rock kneeled in front of the boy and tried to make eye contact. While their pupils had connected, Rock still didn’t feel like the boy actually saw him. It was like he was looking past his gruff face and the crimson stains that were splattered all over his chest and collar.

Donnie’s glazed-over gaze was one Rock was all too familiar with, one that concentrated on living inside his own head instead of dealing with the grim certainty of the wicked troubles that plagued him.

“It’ll be alright,” Rock grumbled.

As he doused the cotton with antiseptic, Rock knew that his words were hollow. The cut might be alright, but would anything else be?

What the hell am I doing? Fixin’ him up just to send him out there?

What sense does that make?

He saw so much of himself in the boy. When he lied to him, he felt like he was lying to himself.

“This might sting a little, but I’m sure it’s nothing that you can’t handle.”

Finally, he’d told the kid something that was concrete. Donnie didn’t say a word back, but he nodded a touch. While it wasn’t much to Rock, it felt like they were starting to communicate. Even if Donnie’s gesture was minor, it meant a lot to him. It was the first time he’d been able to talk to someone he related to.

Rock applied a big bandage to the raw area on Donnie’s knee. He was careful to ensure the sticky parts didn’t touch any spots with torn skin. Once the dressing was in place, Rock gathered the soiled swabs and disposed of them in the trashcan. Then he turned the hot water on again and slipped the washcloth back under the spout.

“Just gonna get that blood off your hands, little fella,” he explained as if it were somehow an ordinary chore.

Ironically, to a pair of broken souls like them, it was.

Rock noticed the blood had drizzled down further than his wrist. It must’ve traveled in toward Donnie’s armpit while he was holding his hand. As Rock cleaned Donnie with the damp cloth, he moved from his palm, over his wrist, up his arm, and then finally into the pit.

Up until the moment that the rag entered Donnie’s armpit, he was fine.

But upon contact, the boy jerked his arm from Rock’s tender grip. “I—I’m sorry,” Rock stammered.

He wasn’t sure how to respond next. Donnie’s reaction was something that he hadn’t expected based on the boy’s overall numbness.

Donnie remained static.

“I’m not gonna hurt you. I’ll be more careful this time, I promise.”

Rock slowly lifted the boy’s arm up again, testing his trust. Donnie allowed him to do it without resistance. Rock leaned over and peered under the shirt into his armpit. At first, he couldn’t tell what he was looking at, but after a moment, it struck him.

The circular, flaring nature within the speckling of wounds in Donnie’s pit was a texture that Rock was quite familiar with. The spherical bumps were burns. Burns that were consistent with the tip of Caroline’s Parliament. In Rock’s mind, it was the only logical conclusion. The tobacco embers had been present on each occasion he’d crossed paths with Caroline. They were a weaponized extension of her evil.

Cigarette burns.

Poor Donnie’s armpit looked like it had a case of concentrated mumps. The gathering of puffy dots could’ve been mistaken for a cluster of warts. Rock didn’t have to imagine how much blistered skin on such a sensitive area would hurt. He had experience.

Rock and Donnie were bound by their suffering.

While Rock couldn’t undo the damages inflicted upon the boy, the revelation made him feel better about killing Caroline. The doubt that had crept into his mind started to settle. The savagery he’d allowed to assume him no longer seemed so overzealous.

While there was still a level of shock attached to the dream-like assault, he considered that the most shocking aspect might’ve been in how long he’d held himself back.

Why hadn’t he found a way to harness his rage and unload it on Geraldine? After all, she was the person responsible for his tortures. Or what about Fuchs, who stood by idly and watched it happen?

The questions baffled him.

Maybe I deserved it?

Rock couldn’t be sure if he did or not. There wasn’t a single day where the guilt of his unfailing worthlessness hadn’t been beaten into him. But he still couldn’t help but wonder about that day. It was different from any other. Sure, he’d brought children back before, but it was always single children, never entire families.

Seeing how the ‘normal’ families, Donnie’s aside, treated each other, widened Rock’s eyes. Their loving nature and adoration for each other were so equally reciprocated. Their kindness and innocence left him to wonder if society was far different from the stone walls he’d been regulated to roam.

How can this be right?

Rock considered what came next for Donnie as his eyes twinkled with tears. He didn’t want to see Donnie’s life end that day, but if his childhood was any indication of his future, then the boy would be better off heading outside with the rest of the children. If Caroline was granted full custody of the boy, as it appeared she’d been, then how much worse was the alternative?

He had no idea about the boy’s father, but he didn’t imagine him to be a saint. He hadn’t even cared enough about Donnie to keep him from falling into Caroline’s wicked clutches.

Maybe he’s dead?

What future could that offer? Would Donnie be exiled into the same broken system that had landed Rock at The Borden Estate?

Sizing it up from every angle, it all looked crooked to Rock.

The thoughts saddened him, but he knew what lay ahead for young Donnie. The misery he’d already grown accustomed to was unavoidable. Things weren’t going to get any rosier than the pool of blood he’d just watched drain out of his mother’s skull.

As much as Rock had no desire to watch him venture into the playground, he understood it was probably for the best.

You'll Also Like