“So when are you going to stop pretending dad?” Ethen burst out as soon as the kitchen door was shut. He couldn’t hold it in anymore. “You may have fooled everyone but not me. I can see what you are doing to poor Tommy.”
“And what exactly am I doing to him?” Albert responded coolly.
“Exactly what you did to me when I was his age! You better stop pretending dad or I’ll tell everyone!” Ethen was on the verge of screaming.
“OK! OK! Calm down. You should know that I am not your dad. Your mother had an affair with my best friend who turned out to be an investment fraudster and you are the product of their frivolous behaviour. How do you think I felt, huh? I could never accept you as a son and you will always symbolise your mother’s betrayal in my eyes.
I have not laid a finger on Tommy, he is just suffers from generalized anxiety disorder. You are simply jealous because I will never love you like I love him. Now that you are old enough to understand I am telling you the truth – I despise you with all my heart!” And with those last brutal words Albert walked past Ethen back in to the dining room.
The dinner came to a quick end soon afterwards. As the party gathered on the front porch for the last goodbyes of the night, Ethen felt shattered from the earlier revelation. He didn’t feel the cool breeze on this warm night. Neither did he notice the midnight sky full of stars.
Although the blind rage that had engulfed him in the kitchen had waned, he was now submerged in a cold sense of ruthless vengeance towards Albert. He felt like a homeless dog that had taken a good beating by the owner of the house in front of which he had slept and begged for food for years. Utter betrayal and disbelief were running through his veins and his mind was clouded with hurt and anger. He knew he could not live with these feelings and had to come up with a revenge.
Ethen called his father into the house under the pretense of offering an apology. He knew he had to act quick. Having left the gas stove on and shut the windows earlier that evening, he guided Albert to the kitchen and carefully engineered the situation so that Albert was leaning against the cooker.
Ethen offered him a cigarette, knowing that this was one habit the wretched man was not able to give up. Just as Albert was about to light it up, Larissa burst in.
“Gosh! It’s a bit steamy in here. Let’s get some fresh air in, it’s so lovely outside!” she said as she walked past the two of them. As she opened the sash window, Albert lit up the cigarette and the gas around him caught fire.
For a moment it seemed as though his face had exploded into a fire ball. Then the flames disappeared as abruptly as they had come thanks to the drift of air coming in from the opened window…
“So how do you two know each other?” the girl with the squeaky voice asked, her eyes shifting from Ethen to Larissa and back again as the group were walking towards the table.
Both of them looked at each other and Larissa could see the fear in Ethen’s eyes.
“Oh, he’s just an old flame,” Larissa said with a sly smile on her face.
Ethen let out a muffled sigh of relief and wondered how things would have turned out had Larissa not walked in on that faithful night.