Josh came from work after a hard day of landscaping. He was only a young boy of fourteen years old. He worked hard to get his own spending money. Josh studied hard in school and wanted to make something of himself when he graduated. Graduation seemed like a long way off and he didn’t know if he could wait.
He was looking forward to taking a shower when he walked into the house. His father was there in another one of his drunken rages. He screamed at Josh, “Where have you been”
Josh backed away from him in fear, “I’ve been at work.”
“You don’t need to work. I give you all you need. Do you hear me, I want you here at home.”
Josh rebelliously said, “No, I will continue to work. I want to do it.”
Ben, Josh’s father, grabbed Josh and said, “it is time you learn to mind me, boy.” Ben took off his belt and yanked off Josh’s shirt. Ben lashed him on the back repeatedly time after time until Josh’s back had large painful welts. Josh didn’t think it was ever going to stop. Finally, Ben let go of him and said, “You better start listening to me boy. Do you hear me?”sh got up saying, “You are nothing but a mean rotten drunk. You will never change. You can go to hell.” Josh then ran out of the house in severe pain. He went to one of his favorite spots, near a stream about a half mile from home. He started to cry and wondered why his father had to be the way he was. No one should be beaten he thought to himself. “I don’t dislike people, but I hate you Dad, I really hate you,” Josh said with tears streaming down his face.
Josh felt something stroking him on the top of his head. He looked up and a tree branch was moving back and forth on his head. Eyes and a mouth opened up in the trunk of the tree. The tree said, “Who did this to you? It looks so sore. Are you going to be alright?”
Josh said, “I don’t think I can take much more. I am afraid I may kill him.”
The tree knew that something had to be done, but he knew if Josh killed his father it would only mean that Josh would be spending the rest of his life in jail. The tree thought and thought about what it could do to help. The tree said, “Does he beat you often?”
Josh replied, “Every time he drinks which is about every day. It is not just that he drinks but even when he doesn’t he is mean. He has never told me that he loves me. Six years ago when Mom died it has been like he has been taken over by the devil.”
“Does he know that you come here?” asked the tree.
The tree was majestic about a hundred feet tall and fifteen feet around. It was well over a hundred years old and has seen good and bad. People had cut down many of the trees around him and he often wondered why he had been spared. The tree knew that it had to help, Josh. It was the right thing to do. It looked at Josh sitting on the ground crying. “Get him to come here, Josh. You need to get him to come here.”
“I don’t know if I can and besides what can you do?”
The tree sighed a sound of relief and told Josh he would make it so that Ben never hurt him again. The tree had no use for hatred and that is exactly what Ben was showing to Josh. Josh got up off the ground and looked at the tree. He said, “You really can talk. I never saw a talking tree before.”
The tree laughed and said, “there are many things that people don’t know about trees.”
Josh walked home and at the front door of the house, he yelled at his father that he was a rotten no good for nothing man. Ben staggered to the door and said, “You will never talk to me like that again.”
Josh ran down the steps and told his father that he was drunk and wouldn’t be able to catch him to do anything. Ben ran out and fell down the steps. Josh laughed saying, “Look at you, you are pathetic.”
Ben took off after Josh but Josh was not in fear. He knew that his father could barely walk yet alone catch him. Josh was moving along and luring Ben to the tree. He had no idea what the tree would do, actually, he still found it hard to believe the tree was actually talking to him.
Josh got to the tree and told his Dad to come closer. Ben said, “I am sorry your mother ever had you.” That hurt Josh more than anything and even the tree found it impossible to believe.
Ben was standing right in front of the tree when two of the branches reached down and wrapped themselves around Ben. They lifted Ben about twenty feet off the ground. Ben was screaming, “What happened, this can’t be, this can’t be happening.”
The tree opened its eyes and mouth and said to Ben, “Why did you hurt this boy? What is wrong with you?”
“Let me down, this is a joke. Trees can’t talk and lift someone off of the ground.”
The tree let go of its hold on Ben. He dropped twenty feet to the ground and landed on his right shoulder. It was obvious that it hurt bad. The tree reached its branches down and lifted Ben up again and again. Each time dropping him at a different angle. Ben broke both of his arms, his ribs, and one of his legs. He was screaming in pain, it was unbearable.
The tree said to him, “How do you like the pain, Ben. That is how you made your son feel every time that you beat him.”
Ben looked up and said, “Stop, please stop, I can’t take anymore.”
One last time the tree reached down with its branches and lifted Ben off the ground. This time it held Ben tightly in one branch as the other rammed into his chest and went through his heart. Ben died immediately, but he did a lot of suffering before the end came. The tree dropped, Ben to the ground one last time.
The tree said to Josh, “Don’t worry son, he will never hurt you again.”
Josh walked over to his lifeless body and beating after beating flashed through his mind like wildfire. Josh kicked, Ben time after time. He knew Ben was dead but it gave him pleasure to know that Ben would never hurt anyone again.
Josh looked down at Ben lying on the ground with the pine needles turning red from the blood that ran from his body. “You never deserved Mom. She was so much better than you.”
Josh turned and walked back toward the house. He went inside and sat down in his father’s chair. “What should I do with the body?” he said to himself. Josh went to the refrigerator and got every can of beer and threw it in the trash. Sitting back down he said, “Your body can stay where it is, the animals and the birds can have it. You don’t deserve any better. You have never been a father to me since Mom died.” He smiled and fell asleep, never having to worry about being beaten again.
Copyright Larry W. Fish 2017