"Morning, mom." I greeted her from the kitchen, seeing her pass by in the living room.
"Derrick." She simply gave a weak smile and continued to the TV to take her mind off of things while I cooked breakfast. I was cooking up some meat that I needed to get rid of - it was starting to smell anyway. But with the right seasonings, it was a fine meal. At least I thought so.
The relationship between me and my mother is... odd, to say the least. She's not abusive, far from it - she's become very timid ever since that night when dad died. It changed both of us, but we continued on without him.
It was about three years ago when it happened. I was 16 and hadn't really developed an identity for myself yet, I was just kind of average, very unassuming - people didn't think much of me. In retrospect, I appreciated that. I still try to keep that part of myself alive.
It was a Friday night like any other. School had let out for summer break and I was excited for the weekend. We had dinner and I watched TV on the couch with my dad. I wasn't really distant from my mom or anything, we men just naturally spent time together due to our raunchy sense of humor and love of action. I went to bed that night thinking about how summer was going to go - pool parties, barbecues every Saturday, all that good stuff. I didn't have many friends but the ones I had were near and dear to me, and that's all that mattered, really.
I think an hour had passed and I still hadn't gotten to sleep; my mind was just racing with plans. That's why I suddenly heard footsteps passing by my door, and the soft sound of talking. It was my dad, and he seemed to be speaking in a hushed, frantic tone, as if something was wrong. I quietly got out of bed and walked towards the door, which had been closed. With an ear against it, I could hear him much more clearly than before.
"Just bring it here, alright? Fuck. We don't need this shit here... I'll be in the garage. Don't attract any attention."
My dad didn't work a job that relied on him to be up at such a late hour, so this didn't sit right with me. It made my stomach churn hearing the cold tone in his voice, conflicted with worry... about us. I'm certain it was us he was thinking of, in the end. I kept listening for his movements, and once he'd made his way down the hall and out of ear shot, I quietly creaked open the door to confirm that he was out of sight. If I got caught I would just pretend I was getting water or something.
I must've stood there for what felt like five minutes before I thought it was safe to follow. Once I got to the kitchen and stood by the door leading into the garage, I could hear my dad talking to someone I recognized. Placing my bets, I gently and slowly turned the knob to creak open the door, just to peek and see what could possibly be happening.
The smell was unbearable. The sight of it was burned into my memory: A red puddle pooled underneath a table that my dad had set up in the center of the emptied garage, and resting on it was a naked human body whose limbs and head had been chopped off. I backed away from the crack in the door and leaned against the wall inside, catching my breath and trying not to vomit. I was dizzy enough to pass out.
"Got any idea how you'll cover up this one?" the other voice said. It sounded like a close friend to the family who met my dad at work, Wilson Marks.
"Don't sass me, asshole," my dad snapped at him. I could hear him chopping into the torso of the victim.
"I didn't think their daughter was such a light sleeper." Wilson retorted.
"In any case, the cleanup crew will be here in half an hour." My dad continued. "I wish the club would get the balls to set up a place for this so we don't have to."
"All part of the process, man," Wilson said simply.
There was a moment of silence between the two, and eventually my dad abruptly stopped chopping. Wilson snapped a finger to get his attention and - I'm pretty sure - pointed towards the door, because it suddenly jolted open to find me sitting on the floor in silence.
"Derrick..." My dad started. "Your mother isn't here, is she?"
"What did you do to that man?" I looked up to him, my eyes tearing up.
"Shit." My dad hissed out in frustration, leaning against the door way with this look of regret. Wilson stood behind him, watching his friend's spirit be crushed by this realization. "Just... go to your room and don't--"
Sirens wailed in the distance. My dad looked around, assessing the situation: He and his friend were bloodied, with a dead body in our garage. As multiple police cars woke up the neighborhood and officers surrounded the house, he had no options left. His secret was out, at least part of it. The truth would go with him as he used the meat cleaver in his hand to slit his neck. Unlike him, Wilson went down fighting - he tried taking on the multiple officers rushing into the mess of a garage and was ultimately taken into custody.
Our family was shaken by this event. The neighbors knew that my mother and I were perfectly harmless up to this point and always wondered about him since he apparently did leave the house at unusual hours, they just weren't aware that these outings were unusual for a 9-to-5 job.
This is how the official report went: My father, Robert Carrol, and his partner, Wilson Marks, were two serial killers who'd kidnapped several people within the past month. The number keeps going up as this information reaches further parts of the city, but the lack of any bodies means the connection is mostly speculatory. Wilson only admitted to a few kidnappings he committed with my dad. Based on this final victim, it can be assumed that they were disposed of, but the exact reasoning of these kidnappings is unknown since he isn't willing to answer.
There's one piece of crucial evidence the police didn't have, however, and I'm certain it was what Wilson wanted to take to the grave: A club was involved. I never told the police this since I was too speechless to give any useful information that night, and once I regained my senses I didn't think anything of it - my dad was dead, and I wasn't about to give Wilson Marks any slack when he just stood by and let it happen. I'd just let him go to death row like he seemed to deserve.
But as I went through some old belongings of my father, I managed to find an old safe he kept some personal belongings in. Inside, I found out what he was part of behind his family's back. I'm not at liberty to just say the name to strangers, but I found my way around that eventually - I'll get to how in a moment. The club was, in essence, a private organization for cannibals, which should explain why they prefer their privacy. They select people of considerably lower class in society - people who you wouldn't notice are missing in a big city - and kidnap them. What I saw my father doing was just preparing another meal.
You'd think that was bad enough, but they aren't cooking it for themselves. This club is connected to a few store-brand meat products, so if you've ever found yourself picking up the cheaper pork at a grocery store, you've probably tasted human flesh before and don't realize it. My dad once boasted having connections with a butcher who gave him discount pork, which we always had during summer barbecues... so I know we've all been exposed to it for years.
Joining the club to learn all of this was simple enough, and I was prepared to stomach whatever morbid task there was. When I connected the dots and realized that part about my dad's 'butcher', it wasn't really hard to stomach the taste of human flesh. In fact, it's very similar to pork, and when you season it just right you can't tell the difference.
I've learned a lot about how they operate, what their goals are and how they've rid themselves of most any moral fiber that could get in the way. It's helped me cope with the fact that my dad was a cannibal. Eventually I even started to take part in their killing sprees, or 'Harvest' as they prefer to call it. I grew so numb to the idea that, by the time I went back to school, I was practically unchanged in the eyes of my fellow students. But I couldn't share my lunch with them - not yet.
Everyone thinks I'm a perfectly normal person after all these years. That is, except for Mom. I'm sure she's snooped around my room as a worrisome single mother trying to keep her boy on the straight path, making sure my calm demeanor isn't the result of some kind of drugs I'm using to cope with it all. That's probably why she acts so timid now - she must know. And she must also know that if she says anything, she'd lose her son too.
So she'll eat the meat I prepared for her this morning, smiling and telling herself that it's just pork, and life will carry on like always. Just like the club wants.