Children of Vice

By: J. J. McAvoy
PROLOGUE


“Monsters make choices. Monsters shape the world.

Monsters force us to become stronger, smarter, better.

They sift the weak from the strong and provide a forge for the steeling of souls.

Even as we curse monsters, we admire them.

Seek to become them, in some ways.

There are far, far worse things to be than a monster.”

~ Jim Butcher





ETHAN


I’m not sure when it happened…

When it began to crack and alter shape…

Looking back, there are so many moments that could be the one, the origin.

If you asked anyone who wasn’t family, they’d say it happened the day I was born.

That the moment I came into this world as a Callahan, the innocence, the morality, and the virtues that are normally common to everyone else, were defective. Like a house with fractured windows. If you asked anyone within my family they’d say the windows were not fractured but frosted and bulletproof because that is how it should be. After all, the people who were pointing at my windows were the same people who used blinds. That was my family all right…stupidly rich, dangerously powerful, unspeakably ruthless, and obsessed with extended metaphors. But the thing was…I didn’t care if I was a house with fractured or frosted or bulletproof windows. If people were curious to know the type of man I was, they were free to find out at their own peril.

What I cared about was when.

When did it happen?

When did I understand what it meant to be a Callahan?

To be Ethan Antonio Giovanni Callahan.

Staring up at the waters above me until my eyes drifted closed, one memory, one moment came forward…





ETHAN - AGE ELEVEN


He looked like what everyone said Santa Claus was supposed to look like…with everything but the long white beard, though, which made his red-faced, white-skinned, fat body, cloaked in red robes disturbing to see.

“Why is there a screen here if I can still see you?”

He laughed. “Is this your first confession, boy?”

I don’t like him. I thought immediately and for three good reasons too.

One, he laughed, when I was being serious.

Two, he didn’t answer my question.

Three, he called me “boy.”

“Yes,” I answered anyway but only because Mom told me to be respectful in church.

“By your seat there is a card. It will tell you what you have to say.”

I really don’t like him.

Why would you put a card in a dark stall? It was stupid.

Reaching around me, I got the small little card and lifted it up, reading.

“Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned…but no, I haven’t.” I looked back up at him.

“Really now?” he said, his voice going up. “You haven’t done anything wrong?”

“Nope.”

“Sometimes we may think things aren’t wrong or are so small that they aren’t sins, but God cares about them all,” he replied.

“Okay, when I have something I’ll come back,” I told him, putting the card down.

“So you’ve never said anything to hurt someone? Maybe pushed your little sister—”

“Why would I push my sister?”

“Or hit your brother?”

“Didn’t do that either.”

“Yelled or fought with your parents?”

“No. My parents would kill me and then bring me back to kick my ass to Ireland so every Callahan there could kill me again.” I laughed at that. I liked Ireland. Everyone was kinda like Uncle Neal.

“Callahan?”

The way he said the name made me pay attention to him. He said it like…like it was shocking or scary even. No. When I looked into his blue eyes they were wide-open and shaking. I didn’t know that was possible. Maybe his whole head was shaking and I could only really see his eyes.

“Yea.” I nodded, adding, “I’m Ethan Antonio Giovanni Callahan, first son of Liam Alec Callahan and Melody Nicci Giovanni Callahan. Are you new to this church?”

He didn’t reply, so I knocked on the screen.

“Why are you scared?”

When I said it he sat up more and focused in on me. “I’m not scared.”

“You’re lying…you should confess that.”

His whole jolly priest thing went away when he spoke again. “Understanding who your parents are, I now see why you are so ill-mannered and pompous at such a young age.”

Hurt him!

I wanted to, but I kept talking instead. “Who do you think my parents are? I’m sure—”

“It’s not who I think they are. It’s who they are. Murderers.”

“So?” I asked him.

“So? So?”

I nodded. “Moses was a murderer. King David was a murderer. Actually almost everyone in the Bible is a murderer…expect Jesus. But since he’s part of God, doesn’t that make him a murderer by connection? Because God tells people to kill people too and—”

His voice started to rise. “You are twisting God’s words.”

“No, it’s there. I’m sure.”

“You…” He took a deep breath. “In the Bible, boy, God is seeking justice, a righteousness for the whole world, in a world in which there are bad people who hurt people, because back then there were no jails. There was no way to stop people from continuing to hurt and cheat others. The church teaches us every life is precious and in a modern world jails do exist. As such murder is a sin.”

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