The Path of Jacob Roberts
Length: 1529 words (4.4 double-spaced pages)
It was a beautiful day, as far as beauty goes in Juneau, and it was a rare event for a mid March afternoon. Jacob Roberts lived in a small house on the Back Loop Road, surrounded by trees. It was a blue house with a two car garage and a wooden patio that jetted out from the north face, which made the house seem content in the atmosphere of tall pine and towering spruce. The property line encompassed nine-tenths of an acre, which included the front yard and a two minute walk into the woods. The trees in the yard were positioned to only permit the entrance of sunlight for about three hours a day. As a result, the structure was tinged with lime green mold and moss on every inch. The backyard was a thick forest that punished weary travelers with a constant shadow. Even on the brightest of days, in the forest, it looked like dusk. Running parallel to the north face of the house was an old road turned path used to cut through the trees and pop out near the Episcopal Church. From the church one could reach the road via a long winding gravel parking lot, and then head south for about a mile and a half to reach Floyd Dryden Middle School. This was the path of Jacob Roberts.
He was a quiet boy, but not by choice. He was quiet as the consequence of an abusive, alcoholic father who preferred the drink over the love of his family. Jacob was smart. Smart in many ways. Not only did he have an extensive knowledge of physics, chemistry, math and even politics, but he was well versed in more practical intelligence as well. This expertise involved how to take a punch, how to run without looking back, and how to slam shut a bedroom door and hold it against a lumbering drunk whose purpose was to destroy. The trick was to stay low and brace yourself. These things became more useful as time went by.
Jacob loved his father, he loved him very much, but as strong as his love was, he wished his dad would fall off the face of the Earth. Jacob understood that alcohol was a destructive substance and this, he told himself, is why his father should perish.
It would be better, he thought, if his father would die in a car crash than to slowly sip himself away.
Everyday, Mom would wake him up for school. She was a small, portly woman of 38; a fact dad would never cease to point out. She would wake him, then follow him out to the living room proddingly and continue making him breakfast. This particular morning, his father stormed to the couch in which he was sitting, snatched the plate of Eggo Waffles out of his lap and said,
“Did you make this?” he had the tone of irritation brought about by a previous night of hard liquor.
“No” Jacob replied.
“Then who did?” his anger rising.
“Mom” He was afraid.
Then with no response, Dad thrust the plate into his lap, spilling syrup on his shirt. At that point Jacob was fuming. These little spouts with dads anger happened often, but never the less, they always sent him off. Jacob knew that today was already on the track of being a bad day.
After finishing breakfast, showering, and getting dressed, Jacob set off for school. He always walked to school in the summer. The school bus only picks up students that liven more than one-and-a-half miles from the school in the summer, in the winter it drops to one mile, oddly enough, Jacob live one and a quarter miles away. This made for a tiresome walk, but not an excruciating one.
He set off taking the trail towards the church, although the bears were just coming out of hibernation, he was confidant that any bear up this early could be avoided. He trudged along kicking rocks, still angry with his fatherly encounter, when he heard a rustling in the bushes up ahead. There had been talk in the neighborhood about a mamma bear and two cubs in the area, and Jacob proceeded accordingly. He stomped past the rustling in an attempt to make just enough noise to let the potential bear know he was approaching, but not so much as to look like a fool if it were just some of those teenagers that find it all too appealing to hang out in the underbrush and smoke cigarettes. After about 4 steps into his trudge, he caught a glimpse of a deep red liquid under a patch of blueberry bushes. This made him stop in his tracks; it could only be one of two things, fresh motor oil, or human blood.
Surprising himself, Jacob stepped in closer; this sort of curiosity was most unusual for a boy that lived in a house of, “don’t speak unless spoken to” values. Upon further investigation, Jacob saw to his horror a man of about 25, greasy, sandy blonde hair, and a leather overcoat, huddling over a bundle of red soaked rags with a knife in his right hand. His first reaction was to run, this was quickly overturned by his thoughts saying, “no, he didn’t see you, don’t move, stay quiet, keep watching, pay attention”. The man had a look of evil in his face, evil satisfaction; he slowly began to rise from what now looked like the body of a little girl, no more than nine years old.
As he stood, Jacob noticed that the man’s pants were covered in blood and, strangely, they were unbuttoned. He made a haphazard attempt to cover the body with leaves and foliage from the area. Then with a survey of the area, which caused Jacob to duck behind a cottonwood, he left in a hurry. After Jacob was certain he had left for good, Jacob went to inspect the girl’s body. He was familiar with death, but not quite at this level.
Once when he was eleven, his mother bought him a puppy. This was by far the nicest present he had received in his life, a feet that hasn’t been topped yet, and sure enough, his father didn’t like it. About a month after having the dog, his father was pulling into the driveway after work when the dog ran out to greet him, and Dad didn’t even attempt to swerve. Jacob had thought that it was intentional for him to hit the new dog, but according to his father, if the dog was too stupid to see it coming, he wasn’t worth having around for a pet anyways. But the dog didn’t die. He had two broken legs, and according to Mom, a broken back. This, Dad said, was all too expensive to have the vet fix, so one Sunday afternoon, Jacob was told to go dig a hole big enough for him to stand in. This was odd at first, but by the time he finished, it was clear what the hole was for. Dad brought the dog to the hole and through it in with no notice to it being a live animal. It hit the dirt with a soft thump and a loud whimper. Jacob began to cry. Dad then reached into the back of his pants and pulled out a Desert Baby Eagle .45ACP hand gun, and handed it to Jacob. Jacob took the gun, Dad said after he did it to put the dirt back in and clean out the gun. Jacob stood watching the dog for over an hour until he raised the gun and fired. Until today, that day was the worst of his life.
Jacob went to the body and knelt down near her shoulder. He began to think if her life was stricken from her in the same helpless fashion as the dogs, and he was sure it was. Jacob noticed that her underwear was lying in a bush not far away, and a wave of disgust welled over him. He was ashamed. He was ashamed that a possibly beautiful young girl would be violated in such a manner. After the feeling of putrid disgust left, he was flustered with rage. He wanted no more than to tear the flesh from the man who did this. Any man who would sink to a level below that of animals and do this to such a pretty creature, just to satisfy some beastlike need, has no business living on the same planet as the rest of human society.
Jacob wanted to somehow regain some of her dignity. He looked back towards the path and saw a light blue forget-me-not flower. He picked the flower, laid it on her chest and thought, “yes, that’s how it should be, she should be beautiful, not violated, betrayed or hurt, beautiful like this flower, whole, innocent and unique, not everyone may think so, but some will, and those some will have a power granted only to those who are open enough to see the truth, the truth that she deserves”.