By Andrew Knott of Explorations of Ambiguity
Carl Simcox was enjoying a peaceful Sunday afternoon with his family before it self-destructed.
The family was relaxing in their living room watching TV when Carl started playing with Bradley, his 2-year-old.
“It was pretty normal,” Carl recalled. “Bradley came over to me and started bouncing on the couch and screeching in my ear. He’s kind of insane, but we hope he’ll grow out of it.”
However, normal turned to something more sinister when, a few moments later, Carl decided to engage with his child.
“So yeah, at first I just kind of ignored him, but then I started to play along,” Carl said. “We were play fighting and wrestling around and then Bradley made one of his screeching noises again and I did that startled reaction thing like Kramer from Seinfeld. Is that reference too dated?”
To answer Carl’s question, no, Seinfeld references are never dated. But that was the least of Carl’s concerns.
“Bradley laughed out loud at my Kramer, which was great,” Carl continued, “but I noticed that it had also caught someone else’s attention.”
The someone else was Carl’s 5-year-old son, Jayden, who is known for his tendency to latch onto trivialities with the tenacity of a bull shark.
“A smile crept across his (Jayden’s) face as he slid off the chair to come across the room. That’s when it hit me: Having to act surprised was going to be a thing.”
You can imagine how the rest of Carl’s day played out. Jayden insisted that he and Bradley take turns screaming in Carl’s face for the next 3-5 hours. Of course, Carl was required to repeat his surprised reaction each time. Failure to do so convincingly was punishable by death.
“I suppose his goal was to make it so I could never feel joy again,” Carl concluded. “As always, he succeeded. We kept at it until we all collapsed asleep in a heap on the couch. It was, without a doubt, the worst experience of my life.”
About the Author
Andrew is a writer from Orlando, Florida. His work has appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The Higgs Weldon, RAZED, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Defenestration Magazine, Scary Mommy, Flash Fiction Magazine, and Paste Magazine. He also writes on his website, Explorations of Ambiguity, and you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. His first book, Fatherhood: Dispatches From the Early Years, is available now.