Once Upon a Time in Washington

Maron is thirteen years old. Yesterday was her birthday. No one came, just like every other year. Only her daddy came, gave her a credit-card, told her to use it. No kids though. She's too rich to have friends. And not smart enough. She's never been smart enough for anything, according to her daddy anyways. Not her fault, perfection is but a dream.

For some though, its a reality.


No answer. Good, this is a good sign.

"Daddy? Can I come play?"

No answer. She grabs a flashlight off its hook and slowly, careful not to stumble on the steep stairs, makes her way into the basement. 'Where disappointments don't belong'. Loneliness had taken its toll and not even the threats of her father will keep her out. She promises herself to be brave. She lies.

She's terribly freezing by the time she's half-way down. So cold. But she won't give up. Carefully, she continues on her way, almost stepping on a dislodged pipe, almost tripping and falling into the unknown. She doesn't even know how close she comes to death as she side-steps and goes on, down the steep crappy stairs. A minute passes, she's slow in her movements today. Its a lazy day. Almost there.

Her footsteps echo off the floor as she reaches her destination. Everything is black and dead silent. Maron's little flashlight provides the only relief. She can't see much, not yet. But she doesn't need to. She can sense what she needs to know. She can sense his presence, just ahead of her.



"Levi?" She knows he's there, watching her. Maron isn't a smart girl, but she's no idiot. Her father may think so, but she knows her playmate gives her more credit then that. Her only playmate, the only one left. Her property. Her Christmas gift last year. She begged her daddy to leave him for her when the other one was taken away. Strangely, he complied.

Annoyed with the silence, Maron searches around for a light switch on a nearby wall. Its there. She turns it, smiling at her progress. The lights flicker for a moment, settling on a semi-dim orange glow. Heat lamps. Her daddy is so smart.


She spots him. Slumped over in the corner, knees pulled tightly into his form, harvesting whatever heat still remains in his nude body. He doesn't cry anymore, only sits there talking to her and playing little games sometimes when it's warm. Not today though. Today's a bad day, a real bad day. She shouldn't have come down.


Tears welling up in her eyes, Maron rushes over to him. Her school-girl crush takes over and they fall, down her cheeks and soaking into her uniform. Maron goes to a private school, a good school. Her uniform is brand new.

He makes no motion to acknowledge his presence but she knows he's glad she came. He's tough. Tougher then her, tougher then this place. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she lowers her face until her lips meet his partially open ones. Blue eyes link blue. She smiles once more.

Its been a long time since she has come down. Daddy was working for days now, preparing for them, the IRS, the CIA, the whole mess of silent men in black suits. He prepares but he forgets, forgets that no men in black suits will look twice at a posh Beverly-Hills-like home in Washington, a small town's outskirts, and she remembers. She's a silent witness to all that has taken place within these rancid walls over the last few years. 'Leave it at the door', says her daddy. 'One word and men will take you away from me'. So Maron keeps her mouth shut and goes to school like a good little girl. No one can ever know.

"Hey .."

"I was worried, I came down. Daddy is gone."

"I'm cold .."

"Do you want to come upstairs? Daddy is gone."

"No! .. No. I'm cold, Mar, I'm cold .."

"My shirt - Here!" She undoes her buttons, slips the fabric off, and wraps her friend, or is it her pet? in her school shirt, unashamed in her white lace bra. He clings to the fabric.

He's been here for a while, ever since some day before the Christmas week some years ago, Maron isn't good with numbers, see. He came one day, the three of them they came, on a cold night those few years back. Car broke, battery died, did daddy have a jumpstart? Daddy didn't have that 'jumpstart' but he did have a mighty big gun and a basement full of super- secret plans that Maron couldn't figure out.

The first one, a tall woman that may have looked like mommy, Maron couldn't recall either too well anymore, was the first to go. Her blood marred the snow. Daddy said it was paint but daddy lied. Maron found out when she became a woman last year. The second one, the pretty blonde a few years older than Maron, became new step-mommy. She wasn't a very good step-mommy but she did try her best to make lasagna the same way Maron's real mommy used to make. It never tasted quite right but at least she tried and thus Maron always liked and was nice to her. And him, her friend, he couldn't be the new step- mommy after that other one went away, because boys can't be mommies, right? The basement became his home, right next to the pipe behind the stairs. Maron brought blankets but daddy always took them away. Daddy was mean that way.

"Do you want to hear about my day at school today? said I did better! Remember I told you how I failed the geometry angle thingie?" was a nice lady, always nice to Maron even though Maron was the only one in the 'special' section of her class. She was such a nice lady. And Maron didn't really care if she was just playing pretend like her so- called friends for to her, she was always nice, helpful, and caring. Some ladies are nice.

"Yeah .. I remember."

"I know it all now! I didn't mess it up once!"


And the day drags on and on.

You see, Maron's daddy never got caught. While most psychopath's made the news, claimed a tough of fame, left a trail on some poor woman's spine, Maron's daddy never did. Oh he was a smart one alright! He knew the tricks and kept a low profile, kept it up until the bitter end, he did. People disappeared but hey, a widower raising a daughter, in this day and age, who'd suspect a lovely man like that? Nobody ever did. Maron knew, yeah Maron knew it all, she did, but who's there to tell? Who'd believe her? To her, regardless, there was nothing to tell. Life went on as life did day after day after day prior and for as long as she could remember. Daddy was just daddy.

Ten years later and Maron is no better off than before. Yeah sure, all her girly dreams of girly little jobs came true and if they didn't: who cares? Maron inherited a pretty nice sum of cash from daddy and is as well off as she could be. Financially at least.

But everyone needs a little more than a house of horrors, for the little girl that Maron remained inside never did have the lion's heart stepping over the threshold one final time required, and that very need was what filled her days with false hope and nights with false visions. And in the middle, in that special parts during the day when the sun sets and rises, all those false hopes and false visions rolled themselves into one putrid ball of superstition. For it was during those few moments in the day that Maron ritually and punctually sneaked her bunny-slipper-covered feet down the cold steep stairs of the basement and called out to the ghost below, never receiving a reply yet trying nonetheless.

Today is such a day again and the little girl enters the netherworld once more.

"Levi!" she calls, hopefully.

But of course, no one answers. Poor Levi, he didn't deserve what he got. Daddy had explained it all to Maron, however, and on some yet-to-be- understood level it all made perfect sense. 'He'll rot from the inside', daddy said. 'Must be put out of his misery, for the good of the nation'. Those worms. Maron still got goosebumps when she recalled the worms, eating away at her friend's flesh to a point where he no longer recognized her face or voice. The worms. The red bloody worms wiggling around in the torn flesh of his leg, white bone becoming more and more visible as the days passed. Maron was first to discover them, tried to pick them off. There were too many.

"There's a worm inside you," she screamed.

"I know, Maron, I know. It's fuck .." He cried for the first time in a long time. "It fucking hurts."

And he cried and cried for what seemed like weeks until there was very little remaining of his ravaged leg to cry about and then the worms went higher and the rest, Maron wasn't allowed to see. Daddy locked the basement. He took Levi somewhere later, returned alone and the entrance remained locked forever after. After daddy's death she pried the door open but found nothing, only a pile of junk that was once daddy's prized work and a few sets of metal rods and handcuffs.

Ten years later and Maron still holds on to the memories. They are her lifeline. They are her everything. She's been married a few times, too many times for her young twenty-three years, and each time she had left. Peter wasn't Levi and neither was Mark. Sex with them made her sick and despite her love for the men and the enjoyment of their company, she was no wife. She never went to college - not smart enough and that was alright, she knew she wasn't. She didn't need to go. Daddy made sure his little 'disappointment' was very well taken care of. So ten years had passed and Maron had nothing to show for them except an old house she moved back into after her marriages failed and a basement of phantoms.



"I want to buy a kitty. I saw one at the store where Jimmy works. Remember Jimmy? The red-haired boy that said I was 'stacked'? The kitty is white with gray spots, its soooo cute! I want to buy it but .. You know, I'm not sure."


"I miss you .. I'll tell you if I decide on the kitty tomorrow."

Nothing changes, silence.


Turning off the light, Maron retreats up the stairs. Her coffee is ready. She pours herself a cup, sits down on her antique divan in front of the television, watches a rerun of 'Friends'. She laughs and cries with the characters, forgetting herself for a moment at a time. Sometimes, just sometimes, its best to forget.

The End