Oh, so this is an act of revenge.
And then, when he comes home and finds his children and wife bleeding out on the floor, you’re going to step out of the shadows and kill him, too.
H-he has to know – he has to know what this f-feels like.
Do you really want to kill these people, Maximillian? Look at this family. Look at the girl. You stand over her, knife in your hand. She has the same fear in her eyes that your father did.
My father was MUTILATED! His face was bludgeoned with a blunt ax, and I saw it, I saw it all, and when he looked at me, I could see blood around his eyes, and I could see his eyes go empty before his head hit the floor. This girl is NOTHING, compared to my father! Nothing! She has no heart, none like my father’s! My father was here for me when no one else was, when the kingdom’s youth decided I was an outcast. My father was a good man!
My father was not a KILLER!
And this girl is? This small, impish girl, who has never hurt a fly, is a killer, to you?
She – th-they support, they support this man, they cherish him, they act like he has done no unforgivable wrong, as if it was somehow okay, what he did, they act – thank you for your service! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! God, man, THANK YOU! Why yes, my parents DID deserve to die! Thank you! Thank you for doing what you did!
Maximillian. You know it is not like that. This man you speak of is her father. You forgive the people you love for crimes against those you’ve never met, don’t you?
Did he not tell them what he did to me?
Does he not think of me EVERY DAY, as I think of HIM?
Do they not recognize me, the children, as though I am an avuncular presence in their life? I should be everywhere! This pregnant BITCH should know my name, my FACE! Those I’ve visited at the bar say I have a boyish one, it should be easy to recognize me!
You treat this man’s family as though they are extensions of him. You do not need these people. They are not responsible for your parents’ murder.
Correct. He is.
So I will wait.
Will you let them up off the floor?
No. I will be caught if I let them leave or reach a messenger.
At least take the tip off the girl’s throat.
Wait. A lantern, moving outside the window. He is home.
Are you ready, Maximillian?
Yes. I’ve trained my whole life to be strong enough.
That is not what I mean, Maximillian. You know.
“Margaret, are you okay? What happened?”
“A man came i-”
“Hey! Hey! Ow, what are you doing?”
“The kids, he tried to kill the kids...”
“Protect them, I’ll deal with him.”
Deal with you.
Deal with me.
Deal with ME! DEAL WITH ME!
He is repenting. You know he is. You can see it. He has a stress disorder. His mistakes weigh on him.
Oh, poor YOU! You killed someone! How sad for you! I WAS KILLED, I was murdered, my ribs were taken out of my body, my lungs were punctured, my neck twisted off, my legs were beat into the dirt! I was killed! I was killed! I was killed! I was killed!
Leave this man alone, Maximillian. You do not want to kill him. You do not want to do what he did. You just want something that has been taken from you.
“Heeeey Maaax, hey Max, come into my arms, good little soldier. You’re so tired. You want to rest after all that fighting, don’t you?”
You were taken from her arms.
I want her back. Her embrace. Her warm, low voice.
Of course you do. That’s natural. She did not deserve to die. Neither did your father. But this man did not have a choice.
Then neither do I. You always have a choice.
What would you have done, fighting his fight?
I would’ve rather died, DIED, than have killed someone else.
Well, then you’re a saint, Maximillian. And you should not have been spurned. The rage of a saint is blinding white.
What do I do? What sort of sordid conclusion is this, if I cannot kill him, cannot and should not have to forgive him, and cannot get my mother and father to come back to me? What existence have I led?
One of pain, Maximillian. One of pain. Leave this man, this family. You do not belong here.
Where do I belong?
. . .
I am the village doctor. I was called, because the policing authorities found a man no one knew, weeping at the feet of an old soldier in his home. The man had reportedly threatened to kill his wife and children, but then collapsed to the floor, all cold, alien fury drained from him. He refused to move. I am somewhat used to discussing matters of the brain, so after I treated the soldier’s children of their cuts and bruises, I wanted to take a look at the stranger. The police allowed me to get close, but he didn’t – his rage came back, but it was wild and uncoordinated this time, and even while heavily restrained, he attempted to shake off his shackles, trying to get to me. He began biting through the gag before one of the guards hit him in the shoulders with the butt of a sword.
By the time I saw the stranger in my office, it had been six moons passed the night of the attack. The stranger was much more mild this time, and expressed little interest in the water I offered him. He looked as though he had been away from food for a time.
Everyone thought that it was about time that someone talked to him. But I didn’t need to say anything.
He talked to himself.
I just had to listen.
“I am s-so so sorry, mother, father, please, p-please believe me, I did not mean to fail, I meant to reach you, somehow, I meant to come home to you, I did not mean for us to be apart for so many years, I meant to come home, I meant to come home...”
He was taking heaving, exhausted breaths as he spoke. The only point at which he stopped repeating apologies, promises, words of fury but with no fury to back them, was when his sobbing overtook any other function and he just shook, head in his hands.
Then he drank all the water in the cup I left next to his chair.
He looked up at me, after collecting himself, and asked, “How do I...?”
He trailed off.
But I know what the rest of the question was.
How do I feel anything else but...this, ever again?
. . .
Hey Max, come into my arms, good little soldier. You’re so tired. You want to rest after all that fighting, don’t you?
I’m so tired.
I do. Oh, I do.
Go home, Max.
Where is my home?
. . .
For Mary and her friend Bob.