The bedroom was filled with Christmas Carols. Joy to the World was on the radio and Jason sat at the edge of his bed with his revolver. His heart raced and his hand shook as if feigning for a cancer stick. The room was showered with blood and the scent of Christmas dinner lingered in the air. Jason scratched his head in confusion and stared at a family portrait. He looked at himself back then, back when Cody was still alive. He was finally able to convince his wife Ellen to take that family picture. Though she griped she went along with it for the kids. He wore a blue and gray argyle sweater with a white button up shirt. The collar was out and he finished it off with dress pants and shoes. Ellen wore a black skirt that had white and blue designs and a white top. She hated that outfit he thought. Ellen always told him she thought it made her look like a frumpy mom. Allison, the eldest of the two kids, wore a dark blue-tiered dress with sandals. She was only nine then and next to her was her brother Cody. He was six years old in that picture and was the spirit and life of the family. Cody wore matching outfits with his father that day. Jason began to cry as memories of his son swirled in his head.
This was not the first time tragedy had struck the Tyler home. It was Christmas day in 1996 when he lost his son. A refreshing blue excavation in the back yard was the cause of his death. The kids had just finished opening their presents and ran to their rooms to change into their winter clothes to play outside. These outfits consisted of a pair of shorts and t-shirts with tennis shoes. This was the perfect attire for winters in Brownsville, Texas. Allison and Cody played outside while Jason took a nap before family stopped by. Ellen had dinner in the oven and poured a glass of vodka and orange juice. This was nothing new for her and she boiled over the fact that she received no help from Jason in the kitchen or around the house. Jason cried harder as he recalled Ellen’s scream for help. He remembered jumping from the couch where he was sleeping and ran down the long hallway to the back of the house by the pool. In a panic he struggled to get the screen door open. He could see his son floating face down in the middle of the pool. He remembered this in slow motion. He recalled this frame by frame and Ellen sounded like her batteries had run out.
“H-e-l-p me J-a-s-o-n, I c-a-n-’t reach h-i-m!”
He was finally able to get the door open and he jumped into the pool to retrieve Cody. Jason pulled him out and immediately began CPR. Since he was a professor at the community college he needed this training in case something happened to a student. As he continued CPR Ellen ran inside to call 911. Allison had been watching her father attempt to save her brother from behind the fence that enclosed their pool. Jason continued compressions and gave a couple breaths. Cody’s face had turned blue and his spirit and life trickled away. Jason stopped when the ambulance arrived but he did not let go of Cody. He knew his son was gone but he held on tight. He remembered how he cried and cursed the world. He cried so hard his chest hurt. He held his son close and kissed his forehead before they took him away. Allison finally came out of hiding and whispered to her father.
“I saw everything dad.”
“You need to speak up a little honey, I can’t hear you.”
Ellen had returned with another glass of vodka and orange juice as Allison tried to speak again to Jason. Allison glanced toward her mother to see if she was paying attention. Ellen was staring off into space and Allison spoke again.
“I saw everything from behind the fence.”
“You saw nothing,” yelled Ellen. “This is all a bad dream. You must forget this day Alli.”