What Horrors Happen Behind Closed Doors?
Where were you when you learned the truth about your family? What did you do when you uncovered their massive secret? That’s where Tommy, and his fraternal twin Dill find themselves. Through a chain reaction of events, they become involved in one of the most compelling and scandalous conflicts they’ve ever witnessed. It was too much to sit on the sidelines for. The brothers had to take action. There was no running away from their family’s crimes. Throughout tumultuous alliances, breathtaking tension, and even the occasional triumph, the two brothers were able to confront a deeply personal injustice.
“Dill’s jaw dropped. Tommy Burst Into Tears Again”
Tommy and Dill were born out of wedlock. When their mom (we’ll call her Diane) learned that she was pregnant with twins, their dad (we’ll call him Stu) left the day after his sons were born.
“Growing up, he was never in our lives and my mother didn’t have any ill intent towards him,” Tommy recalled. “We resented the mention of a father who we never saw in our lives or even met.”
These feelings continued until the boys were 18. It was their high school graduation, and Diane brought all of her relatives to support her sons. But that wasn’t everyone Diane brought with her.
A frail looking man emerged from the crowd. Tommy and Dill recognized some of his features, as they were the same features both boys possessed. Their hearts sank when they realized who was standing in front of them.
“As if in an instant, it was like our resentment towards this man fluttered away. I cried and Dill was helping him up. Without a second thought, we embraced our parents and my father wouldn’t stop apologizing.” Tommy mentioned.
Back when the twins were born, Stu and Diane quickly realized there was no way they could provide for both of them. Stu desperately searched, but the only jobs that would pay for everything they needed were located several states away. The only solution was for the parents to split up. While it seemed like Diane paid for all the boys’ birthday parties, Christmas presents, and Thanksgiving dinners, Stu really was the one who financed each event. Her checks always arrived in plain, unassuming envelopes.
And it was in those same envelopes that Stu and Diane handed the boys each the money for their college tuition.
Dill’s jaw dropped. Tommy burst into tears again. Their futures would be way more secure than they could have expected.
In the years since that fateful day, the four of them only became closer. Stu and Diane paid for the boys’ education, and Tommy and Dill found fulfilling jobs in their chosen fields after college. They weren’t well-paying ones, but the boys were always satisfied at the end of a long work week. It seemed almost too perfect, that nothing could tear this family apart.
Except for Heather.
Heather was the twins’ new step-mom. She had recently married Stu, and the two of them were head over heels for one another. She seemed so bubbly and joyous. Diane was so happy for the two of them. Heather even had three other boys from a previous marriage, who Tommy and Dill were ecstatic to meet. Their new step-brothers were the kind of guys who wouldn’t hesitate to step in if something was wrong.
Unfortunately, things went terribly wrong terribly quickly.
His Smile Soon Gave Way To Total Shock
On weeks the twins would visit Stu and Heather, it seemed like Stu always spoiled Heather and her sons. Whatever Heather asked for, be it brand name clothing, expensive jewelry, the latest smart device, she would always get. Her sons would get the same sort of treatment, but they weren’t as noticeably demanding. Now you may be thinking that Tommy and Dill drew the short end of the stick in this scenario. Why weren’t they getting the same privileges that their new family members received? Tommy and Dill honestly didn’t want any of it. They turned down the expensive cell phones, the luxury watches, and whatever else Stu constantly offered. As corny as it sounded, reconnecting with their dad and expanding their family was the greatest gift either boy had ever received.
Life seemed to settle into a new routine for the blended family over the next six years. Towards the end of this period, Tommy became a poor sleeper. He would wake up periodically throughout the night, whether it was due to a bad dream or his bladder showing him who was in charge. On such a night, he got up to use the bathroom, which was just past Stu and Heather’s bedroom. While in the bathroom, he began to hear shouting from the other room. He washed his hands and cupped his ear to the wall. Specifically, it was Heather berating Stu, calling him names and screaming profanities at him. Occasionally he heard Stu utter a meek response, but it would only exacerbate the barrage of insults. Tommy couldn’t believe his brothers were sleeping through all of this!
What could Tommy do? It was 2 in the morning, and he worried that his interference would make it worse for Stu. He went back to bed in a conflicted state. When the entire family woke up the next morning, it became apparent how awful the situation really was. Tommy and Dill noticed the series of scratch marks and bruises up along Stu’s arms. Stu hastily rolled down his sleeves and mumbled something about shooing away a stray cat from his trash bin last night. The poor guy. There was no way his excuse convinced the twins.
Tommy and Dill shared a dark look. Dill hadn’t heard all the commotion, but he understood that something was amiss. But neither of the two boys felt comfortable enough to bring the topic up with each other, let alone with Stu. All of that changed on the night of the twins’ 25th birthday. Their oldest step-brother, Matt, tagged along with the twins two their favorite nightclub. Thankfully Tommy volunteered to be the designated driver, as several rounds of shots and dancing had rendered Dill and Matt incapable of most human function. Tommy successfully got both of the boys into his worn down Camry and revved the engine. As Tommy drove home, the car was mostly quiet, save for Matt’s occasional ramblings.
Tommy voiced how, “Matt smiled at me with his stupid giddy face and slurred some stuff about how lucky we were to have such a caring father and how much his younger brothers loved us.”
Tommy smiled wistfully at the steadfast camaraderie he had built with these boys over the past few years. But what Matt uttered next wiped the smile clean off of Tommy’s face.
A Sharp Chill Ran Down His Spine
“Our mom always talks bad about our Dad and your Mom to us. Our mom hits him too,” Matt slurred from the backseat.
Tommy felt a sharp chill run down his spine. His worst fear, the one he refused to even admit to himself that he harbored, was stated right out in the open in the cramped car. There was nowhere for him to escape from the thought. It remained there, pervading the interior with a palpable dread. Matt’s sentence played over and over again in Tommy’s mind, even during an especially restless night. The next morning, Tommy had to confide in someone, he had to release the tension building up in his system. He met with Diane and a much more sober Dill. Both of them were shocked that Heather’s seemingly perfect facade obscured something much more violent. They couldn’t come up with any solution, allowing the dread to wash over themselves.
It took a couple weeks for Tommy and Dill to muster the courage to ask Matt about what he said that fateful night. Tommy wrote how, “Matt’s biological father was angry with Heather and divorced her after she had cheated with his slightly more wealthy friend. Heather would scratch, throw stuff, threaten and belittle Matt’s father whenever she didn’t get what her or any of her children wanted immediately. Stu would tolerate it and give her anything she pleased with a reluctant smile. Matt would be forced to stop her before anything worse could happen.”
Tommy thought back to the argument he overheard several weeks ago and how soundly Matt had slept. How many brutal fights had Matt completely missed? They felt terrified at the thought of confronting such an intense step-mom. The thought of waiting for another round of abuse to happen made the boys feel
There had to be something the three boys could do, but they faced such a daunting task. The thought of waiting for another round of abuse left a horrible taste in their mouths. It took several long brainstorming sessions, but the three boys worked out a feasible solution. It was risky, and quite expensive, but Tommy, Dill, and Matt would do whatever it took to save Stu. Tommy and Dill already saved $2800 in order to surprise Diane with a down payment on a much better house for her. But this money would first have to be used as the bait.
It took many hours of planning, but the boys had thought out every worst-case scenario that they could. This was the plan that held up to their intense scrutiny. The time for speculation was firmly over, and the boys needed to take immediate action.
His Room Was Completely Ravaged
Step 1 of the plan began with Tommy confiding in Stu and Heather. He told his parents about the money saved to eventually get Diane and her new boyfriend better living conditions. Heather’s eyes widened at the bundle of cash sitting directly in front her, but Stu didn’t seem to notice her response. The three of them spent the entire morning looking on real estate websites to find the perfect house for Diane and her boyfriend.They also discussed the process of saving the rest of the money required for such a purchase. They decided to visit a real estate agency the next evening with the rest of Tommy’s brothers.
On the morning of the visit, Tommy took out all of the cash and placed it underneath his mattress, with just enough of the bills sticking out for Heather to see them. Tommy got out a minute video camera and connected it to his open laptop, being careful to place the camera in a much more inconspicuous area on his desk. Now all that was left was for Heather to take the bait. He then found Dill and Matt downstairs, and the three of them were off to surprise Diane with their big news. Except thats what they wanted Stu and Heather to think. Instead, they hid in Tommy’s car a few streets over, giving Heather enough time to snoop through Tommy’s room. They returned home to an empty house. Stu was off at work, and Heather’s car wasn’t in the driveway. The other stepbrothers must have been at various extracurriculars as well.
The three boys expected Tommy’s room to be a mess, but it was much, much worse. All of the dressers had been pulled out and flung across the room. Everything inside the closet currently resided on the floor in messy heaps. Tommy’s mattress was completely flipped over, with the wad of money gone from its hidden spot. The three boys called Stu to notify him of the chaos. Their dad drove home immediately, completely bewildered at the state of Tommy’s room. He didn’t know who would do such a thing, but the boys knew well in advance. The small video camera still hidden by Tommy’s laptop showed them everything they needed for their plan. The boys transferred the video to Tommy’s laptop and sat down with Stu, revealing to him the incriminating scandal right before his very eyes.
“What Would Happy To Their Family Now?”
Tommy remembered how, “The video showed an empty room before Heather had walked in, not at all sneakily, as she pulled out my drawers, pulled my clothes out and threw them to the ground before doing the same to my closet. As the video ended, Dill and I could see the gears clicking in our father’s head.”‘
In the 9 years total that Tommy and Dill had known Stu, they had very seen him angry. Until that very night. Stu called his wife and said through gritted teeth, “Come home. Now.”
Heather took her time coming home, arriving with several thick shopping bags adorning each arm. It was to be expected, but her calm and collected demeanor still spooked the three boys. She was a completely different person from the monster who had destroyed Tommy’s room only for a few thousand dollars. Tommy and Dill were holding back tears, while Matt’s long-held disappointment with his Mom immediately spread across his face. Stu lost it, shouting at Heather for taking the money that his sons had spent so long saving up. It was as if all the years of receiving her vitriol had finally broke something in him. He was relentless, his voice displayed a fury the boys had never known from their mild-mannered father.
Heather merely scoffed at her husband’s newfound rage. She dug up the wad of cash, with most of it still intact. She had apparently spent only a fourth of it during this outing, so she should have obviously been praised for her consideration and generosity. Her response just made everything worse.
“Leave this house, I don’t know why I haven’t divorced you already!” Dad spewed forth at his wife. With her power actively being disrupted, the cracks began to show on Heather’s cool facade. A hint of worry seeped into her face, as it finally dawned on her that she wouldn’t get away so easily this time.
Tommy never forgot how, ““She began to plead and beg as my father forcefully turned her around and pushed her out of the house, still yelling at how horrible she was.”
Matt’s response was distressing. Here was the mother he had grown up with, who had supported him through everything he had been through, but turned out to be a monster. How could he turn his back on her? He knew that she was unhealthy, that she would only cause more strife for his family, but there was a distinct part of him that wanted to be with her. THat part of him wanted to return to how things used to be, even though there would absolutely be no going back. Sure, the past had been full of violent outbursts behind closed doors, but there was a strange stability to the whole procedure. Matt knew what to expect back then, and he hated how much of a question mark the future was turning out to be.
Matt begrudgingly followed Heather outside. He watched on in agony as Heather slammed the front door, demanding to get back inside. It was clear that the rest of the family wouldn’t budge, despite her running around the house and banging on every door and window they had. Matt simply watched the chaos unfold, unable to reach out to his mother. The rest of the brothers remained inside with Stu, with no one daring to utter a sound or make a sudden move. They were all on tumultuous ground, and no one wanted to make it worse than it already was. Stu stared on without any expression.
Finally, at long last, Heather left in a huff. Matt stayed behind, collapsing on the ground as tears began to pour out from him. Stu lead the brothers outside and they gathered around Matt in a fierce and devote group hug. In between the wracked sobs of various brothers, Stu repeated how immensely sorry he was for this to have happened. The whole group remained that way for some time, eventually returning to the empty house together. Stu continued to apologize for the rest of the night, as if he was in a daze.
When Tommy finally went up to his room to go to bed, the guilt that was festering inside of him seemed to overflow. Did Tommy, Dill, and Matt cause this reaction to happen/ They had certainly organized the plan that lead up to this outburst. But would it have happened anyway? Things were already tense between Heather and Stu despite their cordial appearance. With the bruises getting worse on Stu, something was bound to happen, right? Did the three brothers simply expedite the process, or was this how their family was meant to unfold all along? Tommy stared at his leftover crumpled pile of cash. It seemed to taunt him now. It was a reminder of the massive rift in the family, and for the defeated way that all of the brothers seemed to act that night. No one wanted to talk. Each brother seemed to be processing their feelings internally at different rates. What would happen to their family now?
What Would You Have Done In Their Shoes?
It seemed that the only solution was for each family member to openly confront their feelings. As difficult as it seemed, directly communicating their feelings slowly but surely relieved the weight on each brother’s shoulders. Their vulnerabilities drew them closer to one another, as well as to their father. After much time had elapsed, the brothers sympathized with one another as well as Stu. They understood that Stu was terrified of bringing the conflict out into the open, even though it was inevitable.
Dad eventually tracked down Heather and made her return the purchases she had made with the stolen money. Somehow, they were still married. Neither of them could contribute towards a divorce. They never again shared a bed. They barely saw each other on a regular basis. What they had could barely be called a marriage. It took Tommy, Dill, and Matt, along with help from the other step brothers and Stu, to accumulate enough money to begin payments for a new house for Diane and her boyfriend. Diane was beside herself at their generosity, especially after confronting such an intense trauma. The family’s next goal was to save up money so Stu could get the divorce he desperately needed.
And that concludes the shifting, precarious narrative of this blended family. Tommy and Dill refused to sit on the sidelines as more and more revelations came out about the people they had presumed to know all about. What the twins knew about Stu and Diane consistently fell by the wayside as they uncovered more and more information about their parents. After reeling from the abuse that Heather inflicted, the twins wanted to stand up for their family. Stu seemed powerless to do so, so Tommy and Dill took control of the family narrative and took swift action with Matt. Did they make the right choices? What else could they have done in their situation? What else would you have done in their shoes? While the climax resulted in a fractured family unit, they were able to slowly yet surely come back together with a newfound sense of understanding. Diane got the house she deserved. Stu will eventually get the sense of freedom and security that will come from his divorce. Heather’s fate remains a mystery. She may have moved onto another unwitting victim. But if the determined actions of the brothers are any indication, they will work hard to create the positive, encouraging future that their family rightfully deserves.