The Demon

By
“He can too.”

“Cannot.”

I glanced at both of them nervously, struggling to keep my glasses on the bridge of my nose. “C’mon, guys. Let’s just go home. It’s getting late.”

They stared at each other fiercely, and I could tell my pleas made no difference. Desperately I attempted to get into their lines of vision. I walked to the center of the tree house, between them. Dusk was falling slowly, casting an instigating red light over the scene. Both boys’ eyes flickered over me and moved coolly on to their targets: each other. David, the small one, clenched his fists painfully.

“I told you, my dad can get a job whenever he wants!” He protested squeakily.

“You’re dad’s a drunk,” Jonathan said scornfully.

This was escalating quickly. I looked searchingly out the window for possible signs of aid. I saw nothing; no signs of life, save for the baby bird in a nearby nest making pathetic cheeping sounds.

David leaped across the distance that separated himself and Johnny. He didn’t know how weak he was. His fists pounded harmlessly on Johnny’s arms, and Johnny returned them with a punch to the nose. Bleeding profusely, David stepped back. It seemed like a decent way to stop; I felt bad for him, but nothing could be done. The silence was accentuated by the tension between the two. Even the baby bird had quit its wretched chirps.

I leaned in, wondering who would be the first to apologize. While fights were lousy, they were part of the routine and always resolved themselves quickly. Then I glanced at Johnny. Something had changed in his eyes as he stared at David. Without warning he leaped across the tree house and shoved him.

“Johnny, leave him alone!” I objected weakly. But Johnny didn’t stop. He continued kicking and pummeling David until they had reached the tree house door. As David gasped for air and attempted standing upright, Johnny cruelly shoved him out the door.

Time passed more slowly as David’s head, with a sickening crack, hit the lowest branch of the tree, jarring both myself and Johnny and shaking the bird’s nest next to me loose.

I peered down below filled with dread. There David lay, strewn about in odd angles. Quickly Johnny and I climbed down to the still body of our friend. I couldn’t look at Johnny, or address him. Whatever demon had made him do this was unforgivable. I tried not to step on the bird’s nest as I shakily hopped down from the tree and moved towards David.





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