There was a flash of gold in the window. Shawn, a young boy of nineteen, saw it again, in the topmost window of the tower, the northernmost one, of the Laocoon Estate. Shivering, he tried to put on the chain in the right slot, of his bicycle. It was just his luck to be in trouble by this cursed place. His struggle justly rewarded, Shawn mounted his bicycle and rushed off.
The danger around the forsaken place was an almost physical thing. Carved from stones collected from the ancient crumbled castle on the countryside, the Laocoon state is the home of the Laocoon witch. A vengeful woman, her hump was caused by the incident years ago.
Shawn’s mother told him, that the witch has once dared to enter their town. Her father, Shawn’s grandfather who was now dead, was the head of the town then. He was the first who picked up a stone and threw it at her. Later, hours later, gripped with mercy, Shawn’s mother said, her father had picked up the severely injured witch and placing her on the back of his cart, he had driven off into the distance. When he came back, he had told everyone that he had left her locked at the Laocoon Estate and told her never to set foot in their town again. And just like that, no one ever saw her again.
A year later though, when the merchant was travelling to their town, through the King’s Highway that passed by the Laocoon Estate, he said that he had heard a baby’s wail. Shawn’s grandfather had been enraged, and railed and tried to convince the townspeople to accompany him and help burn down the accursed place. But they had been afraid. So brave old Henry Fold, Shawn’s grandfather had gone on alone. When he came back that night, he was angry and his eyes were bloodshot. He did not leave his bedroom for three days and when he finally did, it was to make an announcement – he forbade anyone from going to the Estate.
Shawn’s mother, Helen, a precocious girl of about eleven then, had wondered at this. Why would anyone go there anyway? She had wanted to ask her father, but the way mother’s muffled screams filtered through her parents’ bedroom doors at night, made her afraid of this seemingly monster of a father.
As Helen grew up and mingled with the other girls, she heard whispers of the witch’s daughter. This young witch, apparently, was a beautiful girl with mesmerizing eyes. Consumed with jealousy, for Helen was a vain teenager – the belle of the town then, she had sneaked through the secret path used by other women seeking various cures from the witch. And lo and behold, the young witch was a very pretty girl. But so much like Helen. They had the same nose and chin and it was clear as day. Helen returned home and never told anyone of what she saw.
Helen met Shawn’s father the summer she turned nineteen. They married after a quick courtship and when Helen realized she had missed a cycle.
Shawn hated his father. He hated his mocking laugh, he hated that he also went to that detestable house behind the men’s salon. Shawn hated the tinkling laughter and the music that permeated the air outside that house. But most of all, he hated how his mother bowed in quiet servitude to his father. Shawn hated how she never stood up to her husband when he returned home in one of his drunken rages, and poured it all out on her and their son. And now, he had started to smell like the white and pink wildflowers and heather that seemed to surround Laocoon Estate.
Shawn was a simple boy. He liked things to be the way they were and did not question them. He did not wonder why he was different-looking than the other boys of the town – why his head was a bit larger or why his face seemed to droop downward. Shawn was eight when he first came across his father in the meadow, in the valley behind the Laocoon Estate. He had escaped his duties for the day and wandering, found himself near the dreaded witches’ place. And then he stumbled upon a sight he never thought was possible.
His father was by the lake, somehow seeming to her leaning over a woman. Shawn stared and realized that his father was mounting her like he had seen the goats do. He was shocked. But slowly, it became his secret. And as the years passed, a guilty secret and a pleasure. Shawn watched as the days passed by, how the woman grew fuller, her breasts larger and her tummy rounder.
Shawn started visiting the house behind the men’s salon when he turned fourteen. It was a good time that he had, although he still did not like the tinkling laughter of the women with the red lips and low-necked dresses. They were nothing like his mother.
Shawn had turned twenty when he first saw the golden haired girl in flesh. He watched her grow up and play in the valley for five years. He watched her jump and run, and bounce and sway like the wildflowers, weave them into her hair. Her watched her bathe in the lake, her body flowering in from of his eyes, while his hand would snake down the front of his tightening trousers, his eyes glinting with lust.
Shawn was a couple of years shy of thirty when he could not wait any more. That day, the girl was in a red sheath, her golden hair bouncing in the wind. The last thing she saw before she fainted under the pressure of his strangling hands, was how the sun glinted off his golden hair, the exact same shade as hers, his eyes the same blue-gray, and his mole, at the exact same spot above his lips, just like hers.