Browning, not Browner!

I was eight, when my father walked out on us. I can only remember the shape of his face and unshaved beard that touched my face when he kissed me in the middle of the night. Mom can’t remember even that. He never said good bye to her.

My friends know it and they pitied me. Their parents wanted them to be considerate, so they never asked, why my father wasn’t around, but I knew from their dirt grey eyes that they knew. That was the life in our town – no one was left untouched by the ratchets of gossip, even children, who got all they needed to know from their parents. But I was lucky and pretty, made friends easily and they stayed, because we had big TV and free cable television.

On that fateful September night we had just branched out in our fully lit living room and dug out our study books, when Maybre turned the TV on. She searched through the channel with her usual rushed movements until she stopped on the news.

I never watched the news. They were horrible mix of death and despair and as I child I only wanted happy memories. It wasn’t because I was touched by the horror, but I simply chose not to take part of it. I had my broken heart. I didn’t need to add to the burden that would rip the wound farther.

She turned the volume on and one by one we all looked at the TV.

“I can’t believe someone could do that to a woman!” Hallee whispered from the sofa.

The news anchor was describing a murderer, who used needle work on the victim. I wasn’t listening her, but I remember seeing the bright image in my head of a lady sitting on a chair, head sagged on the back. Her legs were tied together and pulled together like piece of meat ready to be pushed into the oven.

I shrugged the image off.

“How many victims does he already have?” Maybre asked no one particularly, but she did look straight at me.

“I don’t know,” I shrugged, “I haven’t watched this.”

“You should!”

I was speechless. Why?

“Until they get that bastard you and us – we’re all in danger!”

“Don’t be silly, May! The killings take place in Tolsveren!”

“This one didn’t!”

We weren’t convinced. She did like drama and add to her truths. Hallee rolled her bright smart eyes and turned back to her homework as did I.

Maybre looked so distraught I couldn’t help but ask: “Then where, May?”

“In Montfort!”

“That’s still far enough,” responded Hallee and we left her sulking, delving in our books.

“Just imagine he could be someone from our city!”

“May! Montfort is hundreds of miles away!”

“Still, imagine if he was my father or your father or…” She pointed to Hallee and then turned her finger at me, frozen on spot. “Or your father!”

I probably grew gray hair right there. They did look dull after that fall.

It was outrageous, but all I could do at that point was to stare at her. I couldn’t even manage a smile.

“Uu!” she wheeled suddenly and shook herself so hard all her brown hair flew around, reminding me of jelly fish in deep-sea. “I wouldn’t wanna know you then!”

My heart sank. “What?”

“You don’t know who your father is – you might be daughter of that serial killer!”

Hallee shouted her name, deafening me for a moment.

“Oh come on, Hal! The murders started after her father left and she did receive a birthday card from Tolsveren only weeks before the first victim was found!”

“I should be afraid how much you know about that killer!” Hallee murmured, amazed by her facts.

When on Earth did she already connect me with that monster?

“They did say that he loves to use hunting rifle!”

“And this relates with me, how?”

“Because your daddy was in Hunters Society with my dad and he told me he took it with him!”

“And you can give the mold num…” Hallee mused.

“Probably semiautomatic Browner!”

“I’ll be damned…” I started, but Hallee burst laughing.

“It’s Browning!” she corrected Maybre

“What?”

“Browner does not exist, darling!”

“Yes it does!”

“In your dreams! Your dad may be master hunter, but he is obviously lousy on gun models!”

“HE IS NOT!”

With this they continued on different route and I was forgotten with my probable ancestry. But I sat on, frozen on my chair and staring at the screen behind Maybre. The newswoman had already moved on to some petty political argument, but I couldn’t get May’s logic out of my head. As long fetched as it sounded – what if she was right?

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