Bogleech.com's 2016 Horror Write-off:
The Daddy Face
Look, the Reynolds family weren't bad kids. I was in a class with the brother, Randy, and my friend Marcy was in the little sister's class. They never did anything that you'd expect abused children to do. They were pretty much normal, if quiet, kids. What happened to them might've stayed a secret if we didn't start carpooling to school.
Mr. Reynolds had a station wagon and a greasy mullet. This was the period of time when the eighties were still haunting the nineties, so it wasn't too out of place then. I remember he teased me and Marcy a lot when he picked us up, the kind of teasing adults play off as funny but is really mean. I remember he called Marcy "ketchup" because of her red hair, which made her face turn red so he called her "tomato."
God, I have never seen kids look as uncomfortable as the Reynolds kids were in that car that day. The quiet, funny Randy I knew on the playground was gone. He and his little sister Lillian were frozen in place, like rabbits when you open their cage.
Randy had the front seat, so that left me and Marcy in the back seat with Lili between us. Of course me and Marcy wanted to talk. We'd been friends forever, since we lived on the same street. We weren't loud or hyper, we were just talking quietly about things we loved.
Then Mr. Reynolds asked, "do you want to be quiet or do you want me to show you the daddy face?"
I never knew much about Mrs. Reynolds. I know she worked a lot. I don't know if she knew what her husband did when she wasn't home, how terrified her kids were of their father.
When Mr. Reynolds asked that, his kids immediately started screaming and crying. Lili threw her hands over her ears. Randy just kept begging him no, no.
Mr. Reynolds was perfectly calm. He was smiling, like he thought it was funny. He repeated the question. "Do you want to be quiet or do you want me to show you the daddy face?"
Marcy and I were completely silent.
Mr. Reynolds decided that since we didn't answer him, he would show us anyway.
He took his hands off the steering wheel and put them on his top and bottom jaw, like he was going to rip his face open. His eyes bulged so that they sort of pointed in other directions.
Randy kept screaming, begging him not to. Me and Marcy held each other, tears streaming down our faces. Lili had sank down in her seat, arms thrown over her head.
Mr. Reynolds made a gagging noise. The station wagon had started drifting over the line, so a horn blast from the semi behind us broke the spell. Mr. Reynolds swore and took his hands off his face and put them back on the steering wheel, still wet with saliva.
He dropped us off and bid us a cheery good-bye, like it had all been a joke. We were grim as a funeral procession all day. I was still in shock when my mom picked me up after school. She asked me what was wrong. I tried to tell her about the daddy face, but I ended up crying right there in the car.
Mom. was. pissed.
She saw Mr. Reynolds pulling up in the station wagon and told me to wait in the car. I screamed after her. I was terrified he would pull the daddy face on her, I didn't even know what it looked like but I didn't want it to happen to my mother. In the distance I saw her approach Mr. Reynolds, I could see her body language as she spoke to him. Mr. Reynolds was dismissive at first, I could see him try to play it off as a joke. Then my mom said something else. Mr. Reynolds shot me a furtive glance. My mom saw.
She started back towards the car, shouting at Mr. Reynolds. Mr. Reynolds had taken on a defensive stance, making the same face he'd made when he called Marcy "ketchup." When we pulled out, I could see that the kids had joined him at the car. The tips of Mr. Reynolds' fingers disappeared as he dug them into his son's shoulder.
My mom wouldn't tell me the conclusion she'd come to. She just told me not to worry about it as we stopped off for McDonald's. She let me get a toy and even a cola, which I normally wasn't allowed.
The next day she went to a meeting with the principle. Just her, because Marcy hadn't told her parents, and the Reynolds parents. I don't know the exact outcome, but the Reynolds kids weren't in school the next day. Or ever again.
Well, we grew up, but me and Marcy stayed in touch. We weren't super besties, but we were still very good friends, so I guess it was kind of a shock when I found out she'd begun dating Randy Reynolds.
She'd run into him again, and he'd grown up rather nicely. He was polite, funny, and respectful, everything his dad wasn't. Marcy had been afraid to tell me, because there was still something closed-off about Randy that frightened her a little. She got to know him pretty well. Parents divorced, dad fucked off to parts unknown, little sister studying to be a beautician.
She dated him for three months before she told me. In all that time, she never asked about the incident in the car. But finally, one night, he looked at her and sighed.
"You want to know about it, don't you? The daddy face?"
Marcy didn't answer.
Randy said it was something only his dad could do, and he only did it to people who couldn't tell about it. His kids. An old homeless guy who promptly pissed himself and had a stroke on the spot. A poor waitress who had given him milk instead of half-and-half.
But the worst part, Randy said, the very worst part, was that it was genetic.
He hadn't dated too much. He was afraid to get close to anyone because he was afraid of himself. And if Marcy wanted to see it, really wanted to see it, he would show her.
I know she said yes, even if she never outright admitted it, because Randy wasn't like his dad. He wouldn't spring that on someone without asking.
Marcy doesn't remember the face. She blacked out and when she came to, Randy was gone. He stopped answering his phone, stopped going to their hangouts, and basically just disappeared from her life.
Marcy still can't see too well out of her left side, and sometimes she gets these bright flashes even when it's dark outside. As bad as I feel for her, I think I feel worse for the Reynolds kids.
Because she only had to see it once.