I follow the man into the kitchen. Scummy water lies stagnant in the sink.
The man fetches his toolbox from the laundry room.
“Qu’est que c’est?!” he demands when a long snake becomes stuck in the drain. “I’ll have to take it apart.”
He squeezes his broad shoulders under the sink. The other children have come in. We watch him work. We are silent.
“Hand me my big wrench,” his muffled voice calls.
Gerard hands him a big metal tool.
“C’est quoi…” he mutters. “Cereal!” The volume rises, “A whole box. Who poured a box of cereal down the drain?! Qui la fait?!”
He stands up banging his elbow.
“You stupid children?! Who did this?! Who was in the kitchen?!”
“Marie was washing dishes,” Claire says.
The man grabs Marie by one wrist, his face is red.
“Gerard, get my strap!”
Gerard brings the hard leather strap that hangs above the washer.
“Crack!” The strap descends. “You did this, didn’t you?!”
“No! I didn’t do it!” Marie cries. “Please, daddy! Please daddy!” she pleads
“Je te tuerai!” he shouts. “Je te tuerai!”
He jerks her by the wrist. He reins blows on her back. Her white, uniform blouse becomes saturated with her red blood.