I didn't immediately realize my dad was trying to kill me. As an adult looking back, however, it's clear he was trying to get rid of me in some way that would make him look totally innocent. As the years progressed, his methods became more reckless, more open, and it's a true miracle that I am still around to tell you about it.
The first attempt on my life came when I was 12. We'd moved to a rural area and my dad purchased his first tools of murder: a rope, a sled, and an ATV.
Looks like fun, right? What could be better than sitting on a flimsy piece of plastic, being pulled at high speed across a snowy field littered with rocks, no helmet on your fragile head, until a sharp turn sends you flying off across the snow, tumbling helplessly across the hard ground over and over until you finally come to a rest and lie staring up at the sky and gingerly testing your limbs to see if any are broken? Amazingly, I suffered not a single concussion, contusion, or fracture. Opinions vary on the issue of brain damage.
When death by extreme sledding failed to end my life, my dad upped his game. He bought a boat. He docked the boat on Lake Michigan, probably because a huge lake would be a good place to make a body disappear. His murder plot this time took on a subtle twist, requiring an iron will and large amounts of patience. Oh, and a bucket.
Not one to give up easily, my dad devised another method to put an end to my existence. He didn't give up on the boat right away, and can you blame him? That's quite an investment as a murder weapon. Even though it failed him in the past, my dad turned to a variation of original murder plot. He sure had a fascination with using large vehicles to drag me around.
Let me tell you, if someone offers to tie an inner tube to their 28 foot boat and pull you across a gigantic lake, be prepared for how extremely fast that boat can go. It was the sled and the ATV all over again, except with insanely deep water. When you are flying along at that kind of speed, like at a lot of knots or whatever, and the maniac driving the boat takes a sudden turn, you don't just fall off. You hit the water, tumble around for a while, and suddenly realize you don't know which way is up. There are no clues to show you which way to swim in order to reach life-giving oxygen, which is an indescribably horrible sensation.
Luckily, my dad overlooked the life jacket I strapped on before jumping into the inner tube. All that overzealous blood lust probably distracted him. Just as I thought I was about to drown, I popped back up to the surface like a cute redheaded cork, gasping and spluttering and waving my little arms around.
All that failure must have had a demoralizing effect on my dad because he gave up on trying to kill me for a while. Maybe he thought I was growing suspicious and wanted to lull me into letting my guard down. I shudder to think what would have happened if he'd known I still had no idea my life was in danger.
I was in high school before he acted on a sudden opportunity. My dad collected guns. He kept them in a cabinet in his bedroom. Now that I think about it, the cabinet was probably unlocked. Just sitting there, full of loaded guns in case someone (me) decided to try to play with them. My dad said he only used the guns for target practice and for attempting to rid our pond of muskrats.
One hot summer night, my friend Angel and I returned from a movie and decided (with a lot of giggling) to go skinny dipping in the pond. The rest of the house was asleep, so we ran and giggled down the hill to the water, stripped, and jumped in and giggled some more. We swam and splashed and giggled and talked about boys until suddenly a voice floated out of the darkness and put an end to the giggles. We froze.
There on the bank, just visible in the moonlight, stood my dad.
Armed. With a really big gun. A fast thinker, he tried to play it off. "What in the hell are you doing?" Like I was going to tell my dad I was skinny dipping. After I replied that Angel and I went swimming in the mucky pond to cool off, like all normal people do in the middle of the night, my dad had to come up with a reason to have been stalking me with a gun. "Oh, I saw something in the water and thought it was muskrats. Good thing I came down here to check it out and didn't just shoot from the deck."
Yeah, good thing Dad or there would have been a witness!
Another failed (and awkward) murder attempt. The idea of using a gun stuck, however, but my dad had to be patient. A few more years passed before he struck again. I was in college, and I can only assume the high tuition bills and my desire to be a useless, unemployable writing major pushed him over the edge. He threw caution to the wind in one final, desperate attempt on my life.
The date, July 4th. The time, too late to have much fun thanks to my stupid job at the stupid grocery store deli. By the time I got home from work, the house was dark and silent. I changed out of my completely stupid deli uniform just in time to run back outside and jump into my boyfriend Joe's car. Joe's friend Kyle was with him, and the two of them had some seriously wicked M-80 firecrackers. Up to that point, I'd never actually seen an M-80. Joe and Kyle were eager to show me what the firecracker could do, so I directed them toward our neighbor's mailbox. This particular neighbor was a real jerk, so it was OK. We drove over to the neighbor's place where one of the boys lit an M-80 and tossed it into the mailbox. As we drove off, we heard a loud boom and laughed our delinquent heads off.
Because we lived on a cul-de-sac, we had to turn around. Joe pulled back into my driveway, put his car in reverse, and then paused.
"Did you hear that?" he said.
"Yeah, Kyle did you light another firecracker?" I asked.
"No, that was a GUN!" Kyle yelled.
"No, that was a GUN!" Kyle yelled.
Joe and I scoffed at that until we saw the horrifying sight illuminated by Joe's headlights.
My dad, overcome by murderous rage, rushed out into the front yard, clad only in his whitey tighties, was shooting at me! In front of witnesses! Joe flew out of the driveway and back up the street and I suddenly realized what had been going on all those years. My own dad, while pretending to do cool stuff like sledding and fishing and ridding the world of large rodents, had been trying to kill me!
He did a decent job of covering it up the next day. He claimed not to recognize my boyfriend's car. He claimed to think we were common hooligans on a mailbox destroying rampage.
Oh, but I know the truth Dad. I know. And guess what pal? You failed! All those attempts to end my life, and all you accomplished was giving me a fun childhood! So ha! Jokes on you!
*I don't know what the statute of limitations is in Indiana for attempted murder, so in the interests of honesty I'm forced to admit that my dad didn't actually fire the gun AT the car.
**Names have been changed to protect the innocent, and also so that no one will ask Angel if my dad saw her nekkid. Because that would probably be more awkward than him mistaking us for rodents and almost shooting us.