A young boy discovered that everything he ever knew about himself and his life was a lie, and that nothing was what it seemed.
Kevin loved his father, or it would be more correct to say that he worshipped him as a hero. Roy McDade was rich and successful, a tall, handsome man with a warm smile, and most importantly, he had all the time in the world for Kevin.
They were both baseball and basketball fans, and Roy bought them season tickets to their favourite teams. Roy never missed a single one of Kevin’s football games or even practice. But Kevin discovered that Roy was not what he seemed.
Kevin was fifteen, and he knew that although his mother and father adored him, there was definitely something wrong with their relationship. For one thing, his mother and father slept in separate rooms, and Roy had never involved her in walks and activities together.
While Roy took Kevin out to dinner every Wednesday, Lily always stayed home. She was a very quiet, sad woman, Kevin thought, and perhaps his cheerful, smiling father felt depressed in her presence.
He tried to talk to Roy about his mother once or twice, but his father softly said: “Kevin, I’m not comfortable discussing your mother with you.” And that was the end of it.
One summer, Kevin’s friend Doug invited him to go to a comic book convention. As he walked around looking at the display cases and life-sized cut-out superhero figures, one memory haunted Kevin.
That night at dinner, he asked: “Daddy, do you remember when you used to tell me stories about superheroes?”.
Roy frowned. “No… In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve never done that. I hate that sort of thing.” Kevin noticed that his mother was very upset by his question, she quickly got up and left the table.
Kevin went up to his room and lay down on his bed. He closed his eyes and heard a voice say, “And then he flew away… But remember, Kevin, the hero always comes back!”.
He remembered it all so clearly! His father’s loving voice, his gentle hand stroking his hair… But if his father had said he had never told him stories about superheroes, then he must have been right. Kevin must have remembered something he’d seen in the movies.
Three weeks later his mother and father went to a charity event together, to which Roy contributed generously. His parents rarely went out together, so Kevin looked forward to spending time alone, just him and pizza.
He was pouring a glass of soda for himself when someone knocked on the back door. Kevin looked inside, but saw nothing. He opened the door to look outside, and there on the back porch stood a man in rags.
“Hello, son…” the man said. “Kevin, it’s me, Dad…”
Kevin stared at him. “Who are you? How do you know my name?” – he shouted. “Get out, you freak, or I’ll call the police!”
The man stepped forward and said: “Remember, Kevin, the HERO always comes back! I’m back, son.”
Kevin looked for his mobile phone. “I don’t know you… Get out!” He quickly dialed his father’s number. “Dad, please, you and mum come home! There’s a man, he says he’s my father… I’m calling the police.”
Roy’s voice was calm, “Kevin, stay calm, we’re coming. Don’t call the police son, I’ll take care of everything.” Kevin hung up and stared at the battered man.
“My father is on his way, so you’d better go!” – he said, before carefully setting his mobile phone to record so that he would have proof of whatever the madman was about to say.
The man shook his head. “That man is not your father, I am your father. He stole you and your mother from me. But today I’m taking you back.”
“Liar!” – shouted Kevin, “My father is a good father and a good person, the best of them all!”
The shabby man shook his head sadly. “Years ago I thought so too,” he said. “He was my best friend and bank manager when I was an aspiring writer.”
“Your mother and I married young, and when you were three, you got very ill. The doctors said you needed open heart surgery, but I didn’t have insurance and neither did your mother.”
“Roy suggested I rob a bank. He knew when a large sum of money was coming in and told me exactly what to do. He said it would be easy… and it was.”
“I walked out with three million dollars in cash and gave it to Roy for safekeeping. But the next day the police were at my door. Someone gave an anonymous tip, and my fingerprints were on the safe.”
“But…” said Kevin, touching his chest. “It doesn’t make sense… I have a scar… But my mum said I fell when I was little.”
“It was a lie. Another lie. Like so many other things Roy said and made Lily say. He visited me in prison and said he’d take care of you and Lily as long as I kept quiet.”
“If I talked, the police would get the money and there would be no operation. So I didn’t say anything and I did ten years for theft and Roy stole my family.”
Kevin listened to the shabby man’s voice. “You were the one who told me the superhero stories! It was YOU!”
“Yeah, it was that loser,” Roy’s voice interrupted him. “That outlaw isn’t your father, Kevin, it’s me. I’m the one who loves you and cares about you!”
“Liar!” Kevin had never heard Lily shout before. “Liar! YOU are the one who convinced John to commit this robbery, YOU are the one who turned him in so you could keep all the money! You made me pretend to be your wife! But you’re the criminal, you’re the monster, and all this time you’ve been using your control over our lives to keep John quiet so you wouldn’t go to prison!”
Roy laughed. “Oh, so the mouse growls! Lily, dear, even if John goes to the police, who’s going to believe that I, the bank manager, gave him the codes and keys? Nobody!”
“It’s the word of a jailer against the word of a community leader! So, John,” Roy turned to the ragged man with a chuckle, “go to the police, see if the truth will really set you free!”
“Dad?” said Kevin softly. “If you’re innocent, why didn’t you want me to call the police?”
For the first time in his life, Kevin saw his father lose his temper. “Stay out of this, you brat!” – he shouted. “I’m warning you!” Kevin walked down the steps and stood beside the shabby man.
He raised his hand and showed Roy his mobile phone. “I’ve got it all recorded, Dad, I think I’ll call the police.”
Roy turned white as a sheet. “Give it to me, you silly child!”
The shabby man, John, put his hand on Kevin’s shoulder. “No, there’s no need to call the police, is there, Roy? You’ll give me what’s mine.”
“The money… It’s all in the business!” Roy complained.
But Lily smiled. “You have a quarter of a million dollars in the safe upstairs. We’ll take it to start a new life.” And she walked over to John and hugged him.
Roy was forced to hand over $250,000 and the keys to his brand new SUV. Lily, John and Kevin got into the car and drove off. Lily cried and laughed at the same time, but John only smiled.
As for Kevin, he was on his way to a new life with his real parents and left behind the monster who had manipulated him and made him believe his lies for over a decade.