01 Feb The DVD was covered in Scratches
This package was not addressed to me. Not like the last one. It was a dvd thrown in a black trash bag. The bag was wet, as if it had been outside for a long time. The ties were open. I brought it into the house and fished inside. After I found the dvd I pulled out the second item. A rose. Except it wasn’t a rose. It was a picture of a rose drawn on construction paper. The edges had been ripped or nibbled off. Perhaps it had been drawn by a child.
With robotic movements I took the dvd and put it my computer. I propped the rose drawing up beside me. I tried to find the bear but he was gone. Maybe he scampered away. Maybe I swallowed him. I looked for a good ten minutes. The rose never fell over.
I don’t know why I did it. I could have left the bag outside. I could have ignored it. But something about the way the light caught the black of the plastic, shining back at me like eyes in a deep and endless ocean…it made me do it. My actions were predetermined. It was like the bag knew I would pick it up and reveal its contents. It had already moved on.
The dvd started with a menu, just like the last one. The chapters were, “Father,” “Helen shakes a leg,” “Choo Choo,” “Helen and Margot are ok,” and “Mother.” I stared at the screen for a while. I was too afraid to click the first chapter, despite my body calling out for it. But in the end, the dvd made the decision. It started playing without me clicking anywhere.
The chapter called “Father” begins with a black screen and giggling. It sounds like a young girl. In a whispered voice she says, “I stole John’s camera. Won’t he be mad?” And then more giggling. Suddenly the black is ripped away, revealed to simply be a shirt thrown over the lens. The little girl from the first video is gazing at the camera. She has two black eyes. Her bottom lip is slightly torn. She wears a basic dress with one huge pocket on her stomach.
She stops laughing and looks as if she is going to cry. She rubs her eyes furiously despite the pain it must cause her. She turns her back to the camera and sits down. There are a few seconds of silence. Slowly she lifts one finger over her left shoulder. The rest of her hand and arm are not in sight. She bends her finger up and down.
In a strange, high voice she says, “Hello, I am Yesterday.”
In her regular voice she responds, “Hello Yesterday. I am lonely. Will you be my friend?”
The finger wags and says, “No. You are ugly.”
The finger stands straight up. It quivers for a second. “Ugly girls get devil grass and bruises.”
“I’ll be your friend!” cries a new voice. The girl has lifted her other finger over her right shoulder. “I love you, daughter! You are no demon. You are a clean baby girl.”
The left fingers angrily asks, “Who are you?”
“I am her Father.”
“John is her father.”
“John smells bad. He cannot be a father.”
The fingers argue with each other in their strange little voices while the girl sits still. The left finger even begins flicking her in the head but she does not react.
“Don’t hit her,” wails the right finger. “She is my little mouse.”
The left finger shouts, “She has forgotten the face of her father!”
“Her father has no face,” screams the right.
A crash is heard off screen. The little girl scrambles up and runs to the camera. She tries to turn it off quickly but before the shot ends I could see the man called John striding into the room. He wears a thick belt that he touches firmly. The girl gasps before the scene cuts to black.
In a big yellow font are the words “And be a happy little girl until the day I die.”
The main menu returns. My hands were ticking. It felt like they itched. The rose had begun to smell. It was sweet, like a real flower. I breathed it in. For some reason it turned to smoke in my throat. I coughed and scratched at my neck. Before I had completely gotten the ash out of me the next chapter began to play.
“Helen shakes a leg” is the most graphic video I have ever seen. It starts with a woman (the same from the previous dvd) strapped to a table. It looks like the same dining room table they had eaten the raccoon off of. She is tied down with belts. She fights against them but it is no use. The cameraperson walks around the table to show the woman from every angle. Also in the shot is a large machete and an iron.
The woman does not scream. She just stares at the camera defiantly. She whispers something that might be “candlestick.” Finally, the cameraperson sets the thing down facing the woman. As I expected, the cameraperson reveals himself to be John. I can only assume the woman on the table is Helen. Somehow, John has always managed to keep his face out of frame. This scene is no different.
John picks up the machete. Helen turns her face away in fear or hatred. He approaches her and rubs the dull side of the blade against her skin. I could almost feel her disgust. John clears his throat and says, “Say it.”
Helen does not respond.
John grips the machete harder. “If you say it, it will make this easier on you.”
Helen twists her face towards him and spits. From the direction, I think it must have gotten on his face.
John wipes away her saliva and lifts the machete above his head. He body shakes. “I do not aim with my eye,” he screams as he brings the blade down upon her leg. Helen screams as blood splatters across the room. John lifts the weapon again. “I do not cut with my hand!” He swipes downward and slashes her deeper. I swear I could hear when the knife hit the bone. Helen weeps. John is smiling, dripping red. “I do not kill!” He cracks the machete on her leg again, nearly severing it.
I wanted to look away, but I was not in control of my body.
John drops the weapon and descends on the leg. He uses his foot to try and break the bones. Helen has passed out. Drool falls from her lips, mixing on the floor with her blood. He twists the leg until it comes off. He throws the limb away from him and picks up the iron. He sticks his hand in the wound for a second, letting the viscera collect in his palm. Then he presses the iron to the hole. It cauterizes the wound. I could nearly smell the cooking flesh. John hums a song, pleased with himself.
The last shot is of a yellow screen with small black text: “40.7330 N, 74.0071W”
The chapter was done and I felt sick. The rose was gone. I didn’t bother looking for it. I vomited onto my lap. It smelled like flowers. I tried to get up, clean myself, but I was stuck. There was a belt around my waist tying me to the chair. It had a holster that was empty. No, not empty. It had a real rose inside of it.
“Choo Choo” begins without warning. Luckily, it is a quick chapter. It is just an image of the tiny house from the “Origin” chapter. It fast forwards through two days of footage, showing the shack in day and night. I managed to capture a screenshot of the structure. After the two days are complete the main menu returns. Now, however, the structure stands in the back of the screen. It won’t leave. It won’t be forgotten.
I tried to move again and the belt was gone. The vomit was gone too. Maybe I had imagined it? The real rose that had been in the holster was now on the table. I reached out to touch it. A thorn pricked my finger. My blood was yellow. It dripped onto the table, onto my computer, onto my legs. Helplessly I looked up as the next chapter played.
“Helen and Margot are ok” starts with Helen in a wheelchair. Except it’s not a wheelchair. It’s a regular kitchen chair that has two large cardboard circles taped to the outside. She is either unconscious or extremely out of it. She leans to one side, almost falling off, with her eyes open and tired. Both of her legs have been removed.
The little girl sits on her lap. I assume this means the girl is named Margot. She has a full head of hair in this video, unlike the others. So this must have taken place at a later time. How much later I can’t say.
John holds the camera, like usual. He asks, “How are you?”
Margot replies, “I am okay, John.”
“What did you say?”
“Dad. I am okay, dad.”
John clucks his tongue but does not move. “And you?” Clearly he is addressing Helen, who cannot even lift her neck. “Yes, good,” he says, as if Helen has said something.
John steps back. I could see the rotting carcasses of Helen’s legs in the corner of the room. John proclaims, “I have a surprise for you!” He turns and in front of him is a large door. “We are going through the door today,” he says happily.
Margot chirps, “Are we really?!”
“Oh yes. We are going through the door. We have to go through the door. The door is a door for other doors. No doors no mores.” John has begun babbling like he did in a previous chapter. He turns and I could see Margot’s face falling. She knows he will not let them out. “Door floor more core bore store. Door store. Bought a door at the door store. Got to get Jake from the floor. No door to where he went.”
Margot gets out of Helen’s lap. She approaches John. “Jake is dead,” she tells him matter-of-factly.
John drops the camera on the ground and I could hear him let out a little sob. “I didn’t want him to.”
“I know.” Margot picks up the camera now. She focuses in on John’s face. It is covered by a thick black ski mask. Even if Margot wanted to show his true face, it is covered. “John, why do you record us?”
He looks at her for a moment. ‘Record. Chord. Doored. Door. Got to get the door.”
Margot lets out a long sigh and turns the camera off.
I wanted it to be over. I wanted to shut off my computer, but it was now covered in scorpions. The little bear had returned and was roaring next to me. Roses enclosed the floor. I heard five gunshots from somewhere. I started crying. Why was this being sent to me? What had I done that was so terrible? Did I deserve this?
The last chapter was called “Mother.” The footage opens on a plastic gun on the floor. Slowly, Helen crawls into frame. Her movements are weary. She is dirty and naked. The stumps that were once her legs scratch across the wood. Every inch looks painful. She slithers as close to the camera as possible and begins whispering into it.
“Please kill me. Please. Kill me.” She takes the plastic gun into her mouth. She pulls the trigger, but obviously nothing happens. She pulls it again and again. Tears well up in her eyes. She changes the gun’s position to her forehead. She pulls it harder but of course it does nothing.
“I want to die,” she says a bit louder. “I would be better for me to die.”
A light comes on from somewhere in the room. Margot says, “Why do you want to die?”
Helen stares at the camera. In the smallest whispered possible she says, “I’m pregnant.”
‘What?” Margot calls from her spot across the room.
“Nothing,” Helen says louder. “Go find John and tell him he left his camera on.” The scene ends.
I blinked and my computer was shut down. There were no scorpions. The drawing of the rose was still propped up on the table. The little bear was next to it, harmless. I looked to my finger but found no cut. Desperately I tried ejecting the dvd but there was no dvd. Nothing was inside. I kept pushing the button, hoping to make sense of all this.
I heard a sound behind me. My body froze. The blood barely moved in my veins. It was a small beep. Just a tiny everyday noise. Just the sound of something small being turned on.
Something like a camera.