Brad wakes up at 7:30, fifteen minutes before we have to be at school on Monday morning. He is skeletal in his undershirt, and he lights a cigarette before he even gets out of bed.
His room is messy and marred with evidence of his fury. There is a careful slit in the mattress, a haphazard hole in the wall behind the door, empty soda cans on the ground among the laundry. His diary is a spiral notebook, open to a page onto which he's written MELT with his own blood. The walls are gray and the sheets are red. The posters he has on the walls are of Playboy models.
He pulls on his jeans and black designer shoes. His hair is slick enough from being unwashed that he doesn't need to wet it or comb it. It hangs in loose tendrils around his face. In teenage hangover, he dons sunglasses and a black sport coat. He blows a smoke ring at his own reflection before noticing me in his doorway.
"I'm not going."
He turns to me and smiles under his blackout glasses.
"Oh, yes you are."
He marches me to my bedroom, through the wide expanse of our parents' hallway, painted a painful taupe. It's bare and cold over the dark hardwood floor, and it's supposed to be elegant but falls just short, because there's no artwork. Only family photos, lined up in ascending age.
My room is yellow, and has pressed flowers on the walls in white frames.
"Now," he says, throwing open the white door of my closet, and pawing at clothes. "Wear these."
He tosses me a red dress and white sweater I wore to a Valentine's Day dance the year before, and I understand what it is he's doing. I hold the slick material in my fingers for a long moment during which he raises his glasses and we stare into one another's eyes and his cigarette burns down in his fingers. He isn't allowed to smoke in the house.
"Okay," I tell him, and change my clothes.
The downstairs of our parents' house is dark and silent. Behind the closed bedroom door, I listen for a moment and hear the sound of our mother softly crying. Her sobs are listless whimpers now that she is on the far side of her sedatives.
Normally the bright kitchen would be bustling with the sounds of her making coffee and the chatter of her and my father exchanging stories about the news. I walk through the entire downstairs, as if the sound of a normal morning is hiding somewhere in another room. The living room is strewn with tissues and the television is still on, but muted. There's a chair pushed over on it's side on the floor of the dining room, and the rest ignore it like a dying member of their herd.
Brad watches me in the dining room through the doorway which leads to the kitchen. He leans against the counter with his arms crossed until the clock next to the long polished table begins to chime the quarter hour.
"We're taking Dad's car," he informs me, and grabs the keys from the hooks hanging in a neat row on the wall of the kitchen. He stands at the door to the garage and waits for me.
"They're going to stare at us," I tell him, looking down at the fallen chair like there's no way for me to right this at all.
"Yes," he says, his voice biting, and throws his cigarette into the sink holding soaking dishes. It makes a hissing sound, and he swings the keys around his index finger.
"Come on, Evie. Get in the car."
Our father's painstakingly restored Jaguar E-type series 3 Roadster crouches in the garage, and Brad vaults himself over the door and into the driver's seat with a kind of merciless and intentional glee. The interior is clean and black, the steering wheel a gold wood grain outlining the polished steel. The front panel of the dashboard is lined with toggle switches controlling things I was never allowed to touch, but Brad starts the engine like he's practiced a hundred times.
The car comes to life and the sound is threatening in the dark garage. Brad revs the engine and glances over at me as I open the door and sit beside him.
"I could just leave it running in here," he jokes, and revs the engine again. "No more rumors. No more staring. No more finals..."
I press the opener, and he laughs as light from the morning fills the garage.
"I just want to get it over with," I tell him, and he clutches my hand with his, warm and dry.
"I'll be with you all day," he assures me.
We back out into the street and he speeds to school. We arrive just before the first bell and he squeals into the parking lot while the student body on the lawn turn to watch us.
"How does it feel to be the daughter of the worst serial murderer in our town's history?" Brad asks me, lifting his glasses up from the back like this is all a big joke.
"How does it feel to be his son?" I snap at him, and he smiles at me, and pulls on one of the pearl buttons of my sweater.
When he gets out of the car, he throws his arm around me so we can walk in together.