Spoilers through season 5
The season five finale was a turning point in the show, one that's ramifications are still being felt for our characters even years later. The episode was the culmination of the bones arc and revealed the identity of the skeleton in the suitcase. Or so we were led to believe.
One important tool the writers use is to tell the story through one character's limited perspective. It's a way they get the audience to narrow their focus and look at events only through that character's eyes
In 5.22, we saw what happened through Liz's point of view. We saw her track down Ross and get locked in the room with him. We watched her get kidnapped and beat up. Then at the end of the episode, we saw Liz walk the audience through the events of what happened as she explains it to her hallucination of Tom. Flashbacks of previous characters talked about knowing the truth as Liz says those bones belonged to her father.
In that episode, and in the identification of the bones, the audience became Liz. We saw the situation through her limited point of view. Liz was shown a DNA report that told her that her father was dead, that the bones in the bag belonged to Raymond Reddington. That's what we as the audience believed along with her.
Moving forward after the season five finale, interview after interview came out with the show runners clarifying what the reveal meant, making sure the audience understood it. Seems pretty clear, doesn't it? Liz got a DNA report showing her the bones were identified as RR, her father. Red isn't Reddington, but an imposter.
But...when we look back at many of the scenes and lines that those show runners have written themselves, or had a hand in writing, there's a lot that contradicts the season five reveal. When we look at the points of view of some of the other characters who were directly involved in the bones arc, a lot of their words and actions don't seem consistent with the idea that Raymond Reddington is dead in the suitcase. There seem to be some large holes in logic when we look at this in more detail. u/TessaBissolli
and I have both written many posts in the past talking about the identification of the bones. This is a collaborative effort to consolidate all of those contradictions and points of view into one master post. Beware that this is very long. I've broken it up into more manageable sections, but this will not be a quick read.
Before we go into what the characters have to say about the bones, I wanted to examine why so many of us refuse to accept that the bones were positively and directly identified as RR. This ends up being a point of contention that many would like to forget and sweep under the rug as bad writing. But I believe ignoring all of these clues is a mistake.
This isn't about one line that was written wrong or something the writers forgot about as they finished the bones arc. There is a clear path of clues through the series that show there was no way to make a direct ID of the bones to Raymond Reddington WHAT EVIDENCE SHOWS THE BONES CANNOT HAVE BEEN DIRECTLY IDENTIFIED AS LIZ'S FATHER, RAYMOND REDDINGTON?
We know from the pilot that Red surrendered to the FBI and was identified by fingerprints and tattoos. There was no identification of him with DNA, or any mention of it, though at the time we had no idea why.
We know Red pulled off the charade with Gregory Devry in 3.11, using an old friend and grifter. His intent was to try and make his enemies believe Devry was a Raymond Reddington imposter to restore his reputation as a criminal. We were also told there was no way to confirm Devry's identity as Reddington with DNA:
Liz: "I came as soon as I got the call. Who is this guy? He claims he's Reddington?"
Samar: "Yes, and we can't disprove it with DNA because there's nothing on file from 1990 when Reddington disappeared."
So Red knew there was no way to directly confirm or deny the identity of RR with DNA. That's why the charade worked. It's at this point in season three that we finally understand why Red was only identified by fingerprints and tattoos when he surrendered. Because when Reddington was declared missing in late 1990, his DNA hadn't been collected, and wasn't in the CODIS database.
For those who believe Red is an imposter of RR, it's also why Red was able to surrender to the FBI without being found out. If there had been a DNA profile of RR in the system before his disappearance, we wouldn't have all these uncertainties about his identity. It's only because there was NO profile in CODIS to match Red to, that the mystery is still unsolved.
The only official sample of Reddington's DNA was sitting in a sealed box in the evidence vault as we saw in 4.22. There was no other DNA collected from RR before he disappeared in 1990. Not only was there no federal CODIS database until years later (1994 in the real world), there was no reason to enter his DNA. He wasn't a convicted criminal, but a respected Naval Officer.
It's also illogical that Cooper would have put that DNA from the evidence vault into CODIS after 4.22, as I've heard many argue. For one thing, it was illegally obtained. Cooper tampered with evidence to get the sample. Even if we wanted to say Cooper is a moron who would put his confidential informant's DNA in the system illegally, and Reddington's DNA was in CODIS after 4.22, that would have posed new problems. First, if there had been been a match to RR from a sample Cooper put into the system, Cooper and the FBI would have been alerted. That didn't happen.
There would have also been a big problem when Red went to prison. We know Red's DNA would have been put in CODIS after his conviction in season 6, under the identity of Raymond Reddington. We're told in 6.13 that people convicted of crimes have their genetic profiles put into the system:
"His name was Anderson Mount. Run-of-the-mill goon...Did enough damage to get into CODIS. And when we put the DNA from the body into the system, we got a match.
So as we can see, if there was already another DNA profile from RR in the system before that time, it would have been noticed and raised a red flag.
Another clue comes in 7.04 when we were shown how Daniel Hutton was identified. We have another Naval Officer who went missing the year before Reddington, and was also ID with fingerprints, because there was no DNA taken that long ago.
If we take all of these factors into account, we know the DNA of Raymond Reddington was not in CODIS before season 6. Which means the bones could not have been directly identified as RR.
What about the points of view of those characters who saw the DNA report leading up to Liz telling the audience what it said? Pete and Nik would have seen the results, but both died before saying anything. Garvey, Tom and Sutton Ross all saw the ID of the bones, so we can look at what their words tell us.
Then we have those who didn't see the DNA report, but are deeply involved in the events of the past. Kate believed she knew who was buried in the suitcase at Tansi Farms. Red and Dembe both know the truth of the bones.
With the reveal that Liz sees a DNA report telling her Raymond Reddington is dead and it's his bones in that bag, it's easy to go back and fit the dialogue into that conclusion. But...what do these characters actually say about the bones and DNA results? TOM
Tom was the first of our characters who we watched read the report containing the ID of the bones. We know whatever he saw on the report, he seemed shocked and needed to tell Liz. When he calls her, this is all he says:
"Do not tell anyone that we spoke or that you even know I'm okay. I need to see you alone, all right? Have Rosa take Agnes, go to the house, and make sure that nobody follows you. I figured it out, the whole thing. Why Nik was killed, all of it.
These are Tom's last words to Liz before the fateful scene that would lead to his death. Tom tells Liz that he needs to see her alone because he's figured it out, all of it. That's all he really says to her about the situation. At that time, Liz had no idea what he was talking about, or that there were bones in a suitcase, or why they were attacked.
We also have Red and Tom's conversation during that last phone call at the bus station.
"This is a horrible mistake. Whatever you're doing, whatever it is you think you're going to tell Elizabeth, this is a mistake. Walk away from this, Tom.
"You know I can't do that.
"And why is that?
"Because I know the truth. I know everything. And now Liz is gonna know, too.
So what did the report say and why did Tom believe he had figured it all out? How did he know everything? Unless all the writers and executive producers are complete bumbling idiots who can't keep simple clues straight, that DNA report cannot have shown a direct ID of Reddington. For all the reasons I went into at the beginning, it's simply not possible.
The report could
have shown a paternal familial match to the father of Jennifer Reddington. That seems to be the best guess of many people here. Tom sees that Jennifer's father is dead in a bag and he extrapolates that to mean RR was her father, so he's dead. Therefore, Red must be a fake and that's what Tom plans to tell Liz. But...
In what normal circumstances does Tom look at a report saying that Jennifer's father is dead and make the jump in logic that his father in law must have killed the real Reddington and had plastic surgery to become a perfect replica of him? Now Tom thinks this guy that he's come to know over the years, who hired him to watch over Liz, must be an imposter?
Really? Wouldn't any normal person think that Reddington was not the father of Jennifer, but instead he married Carla when she was already pregnant? Or Jennifer's mother was an unhappy housewife who fooled around like Reddington had with his Russian mistress. Maybe Red found out and the guy who was Jennifer's biological father became a pile of bones.
If the ID of those bones only
showed that the father of Jennifer Reddington was dead, who would care? All Red has to do is say he was never her biological father to begin with. Why would anyone except Jennifer and maybe Garvey even care about that? Remember that there's no DNA of RR in CODIS to even check. Tom's reaction to the bones and Red's desperation to keep them away from Liz has to be more than some familial match to Jennifer's father.
Tom would have already known that Liz was born and lived as Masha Rostova until she was four; the daughter of Constantin and Katarina. Tom found a DNA report in Rostov's FSB file showing he was the biological father of Masha, which was later proved false. Like we heard Red tell Liz, "Just because he was your mother's husband doesn't make him your father."
So Tom already went through this situation when it was proven that Constantin Rostov was the legal father of Masha, but not the biological one. And it's not like Jennifer having a biological father of someone other than Reddington would be some groundbreaking revelation that people are killing to obtain.
So how exactly did Tom know this whole truth or figure it all out? GARVEY
Ian Garvey had an interesting point of view as the US Marshal who was in charge of protecting Carla and Jennifer in WITSEC. Garvey believed that he had been protecting them all those years because Reddington was a threat to his own family. When he got an alert to a match in CODIS, he killed a whole bunch of people trying to get to Reddington to find out some truth.
We heard Garvey tell Tom: "I have the suitcase. And because I have the suitcase, I need to speak with Raymond Reddington" "When you consider all the people on the planet who would be interested in the contents of that case and you multiply that number by an even greater number of unspeakable things those people would do to get it, how the hell could it end up in the hands of a little pissant like you?"
Garvey says he can control Reddington's power with the knowledge of what's inside the suitcase. But once Tom is killed and Liz is in a coma, Garvey has the bones over a year and does nothing. Says nothing to anyone.
We don't hear very much from Garvey to Jennifer about Reddington. Before the final scene in the bar, he told her: "You don't need to be protected from him anymore. Not after tomorrow."
pointed out was very perceptive, that the word "anymore"
implied that Garvey believed Red was the same man he had always been protecting her from. Not a fake Reddington, but the man Garvey always
thought was a danger to Jennifer. Her father.
Regarding the bones and who they were to Jennifer, Garvey doesn't say much more. All he tells her is that "Everything you believed for the last 30 years has been a lie. You've spent a lifetime hiding for no reason."
If Garvey believed those bones somehow belonged to Reddington because he sees a report that Jennifer's father was dead, that would be a giant leap just like Tom would have needed to make. Almost everyone's reaction to seeing bones identified as Jennifer's father would assume Red was a step father to her, not an imposter who stole her father's identity.
But let's say that Garvey jumped to the conclusion that Red was an imposter who stole RR'S identity for some crazy reason. Wouldn't Jennifer be in even more danger from Red? Wouldn't she be living proof that could destroy his entire charade? Red's reputation in the criminal world was of a ruthless killer. From Garvey's POV, he would certainly have no problem killing an innocent person who threatened his way of life (Like Detective Singleton or the witness to his murder). So he would assume Red was the same way and would have killed Jennifer if he found her.
If Garvey knew Red wasn't RR, but the man who stole his identity, he wouldn't tell Jennifer she had been hiding for no reason. He would have hidden her even further. While Red as her father could
still be a danger for her, an imposter of her father would
be even more so.
When Liz burst into the bar to arrest Garvey, that's when Jennifer reveals the truth about Liz's relationship to Reddington: "She’s acting like a criminal because she is the daughter of one."
It's then that Garvey is able to put some of the missing pieces together: "Reddington’s her father. Now I get it. Reddington and your husband – how they knew each other. Reddington didn’t know you through him. He knew him through you."
One thing that's first important to note, is that if Garvey never knew Elizabeth Keen was a daughter of Reddington until that moment, that means her name was not listed on the DNA report. Tom and Garvey could have seen a familial match to Jennifer, but that also means Liz was not a genetic match to the bones.
In a recent post, u/TheDonald1
took another look at what Garvey said in that scene when he finally realizes that Reddington is Liz’s father. Garvey makes the connection that Reddington only knew Tom because Tom was married to his daughter. But Garvey is not speaking of some bones in a duffel bag when he's talking about Reddington. He's talking about the relationship between the man who is living, who he is calling Reddington, and the Tom Keen who was married to Liz.
Stop and think about what Garvey is implying here. He is saying that the Reddington who knew Tom Keen is the same Reddington who he is calling Liz's father.
If Garvey believed the bones were Raymond Reddington, then he wouldn't be referring to the living Reddington who he believed was working with Tom as Liz's father.
Garvey's words here do not support the idea that he believed the bones were Reddington's. In fact, they contradict that entirely. DEMBE AND SUTTON ROSS
The finale of 5.22 was a whirlwind of charades and heightened emotions from all of our characters. Fake escapes, fake torture and kidnapping all added a great deal of confusion for everyone.
The point of view of Ross was a difficult one. We know from what the task force found out about Ross that he was a thief that the Navy targeted back in the late 80's in a charade to get him to steal and then sell defective plans for a plane to the Chinese. Garvey was the US Marshal assigned to arrest Ross, but instead helped him fake his death and gave him a new identity.
Sutton Ross always believed Reddington was the guy who screwed him over, even if we know it was a Naval operation. Ross says that Reddington was "the bastard who tricked me into selling the Chinese a dodo bird"
He was set up to think he was stealing classified plans and believes RR is the man who fooled him. So Ross has an axe to grind with Reddington and wants revenge against the man who he holds responsible for ruining his life.
In the narrative that Ross must know that the bones were ID as RR, we are supposed to believe that he knows Reddington is dead and wants revenge on the guy posing as him. Except...if Ross knows
Red isn't Reddington, then he isn't the man who tricked him into stealing the bogus plans. So why does he want revenge for something he would know Red had nothing do with if the bag of bones identified as Raymond Reddington?
What's been brought up many, many times is not Ross' point of view in the episode, but Dembe's ABOUT Sutton Ross. Dembe is talking about Ross, but this is from the perspective of what Dembe knows to be true.
Before Red and Dembe can find Ross, we have this short conversation:
Dembe: "The truth always comes out."
Red: "It better, or we're not gonna find Sutton Ross.
Dembe: "I'm talking about your truth. It was bound to surface. Ross wants blood. He thinks you ruined his life.
Red: "I didn't give Sutton Ross bogus plans for the Grayscape Seventeen.
Dembe: "But he thinks you did, and because of that, he wants to world to know what's inside the duffel.
Dembe is telling Red that if they can't find Ross in time, the man will expose Red's truth that is inside the duffel bag which we know is about the bones. That's clear. The assumption from many is that Red's truth of the bones must be that he's hiding the fact he's an imposter. What else could all of this be about?
What we know about Dembe is that he is Red's secret keeper and knows exactly who Red is, and knows who's in the duffle bag. Dembe is saying that Red's truth is going to come out because
Ross is going to get his revenge on Red.
"Ross wants blood. He thinks you (Red) ruined his life.
Dembe is telling Red and the audience that Ross believes Red is the Raymond Reddington who ruined his life.
Red says he's didn't give him the plans, so that has to mean he's not RR, right? The alternate interpretation of what Red is saying is that Ross stole those plans on his own. Red may have tricked him, but he didn't give
them to Ross. The man was caught in a trap of his own making.
Then look at what Dembe says again in response to Red:
"But he thinks you (Red) did, and because of that, he wants to world to know what's inside the duffel.
Dembe is once again saying that Ross believes Red is that Reddington who screwed him over. Ross holds Red personally responsible for what happened to him. They both believe that Ross' revenge on Reddington is to expose the secret that's in the duffle bag.
The men knew back in 2017 that the bones were identified in CODIS. They knew there was a DNA report with the bones as Tom had seen it before he died. They believed Garvey had taken that bag with the bones and DNA report to Costa Rica to give to Ross.
If Dembe knew the real Reddington was dead in that bag, and he knew Ross had a DNA report stating that the bones belonged to Reddington, he wouldn't still believe Ross thought Red was the Reddington who tricked him into stealing the plans.
The episode continues with the audience seeing Ross captured in a charade and the excitement of his escape taking Liz as hostage. He bargains for Red to exchange himself for Liz, and of course he does. Now that Ross had Red sitting in front of him, listen to what he says:
"For 30 years, I've wanted to be in the same room as Raymond Reddington, the bastard who tricked me into selling the Chinese a dodo bird when they were looking for an eagle. And here we are
But if Ross thinks Red isn't RR like the audience is being led to believe, and RR is dead in the duffle bag, then how does that statement work? In the same scene, soon after Ross supposedly showed Liz proof that Raymond Reddington's bones are in a bag, he's telling Red that he's waited 30 years to be in the same room as Raymond Reddington, the man who tricked him.
I guess we could say Ross just decides he will get his revenge on the guy posing as Reddington, or it's bad writing like people tend to chalk everything up to that doesn't fit.
But...how do you reconcile what Ross says when he has Red tied up in front of him, with what Dembe says to Red?
Dembe also believes that Ross thinks Red is the Raymond Reddington who tricked him. Dembe wouldn't be saying that if he knew the skeleton in the bag was Reddington. KATE
Kate's point of view is important as she was one of Red's closest associates and confidantes for two decades, but also because she was trusted by Katarina as Masha's nanny. Most people are quick to assume that because Kate worked so closely with Katarina and then Red that she must know all their secrets. That includes knowing who was buried in the suitcase at Tansi Farms. Kate tells Red that it was "our secret" so that implies she knows the truth Red is hiding from Liz.
Once we heard Liz reveal the bones were her father's in the season five finale, many people made the assumption that the truth Kate wanted Liz to have was that Red was an imposter of Reddington. That the secret Kate was keeping for Red was that Liz's father was dead in a suitcase. Is that really who Kate believed was in the suitcase? Who did she think Red was then?
When Kate went to meet Red around 1997, she believed he was Raymond Reddington. That's obvious in how she speaks to Sam: "Raymond Reddington. That man set off a chain reaction that took everything I loved from me. And not just me. He turned his back on his family, his country. And for what? A life of crime? He's a traitor. I have nothing to say to him, and I don't wanna hear anything he has to say to me."
So if Kate hated Reddington for taking away everything she loved, and she knew the bones belonged to RR, then why did she treat them with such love and reverence? Why was that person buried in a suitcase much like the one we see Katarina pack Masha's clothes in and the one in Dom's garage? Why bury them underneath the apple tree that's marked with a "K?" When Kate dug up that suitcase, she apologized to Katarina and lovingly caressed the K on the tree. If those were the bones of a man she despised, she would have had a different attitude towards them.
For all the discussion about Kate knowing that Red must be Katarina because Red put Masha in her arms as a baby girl, what she actually says contradicts that idea. Here's just a few things from Kate:
Kate to Red: "I made a promise to Elizabeth's mother to protect her girl at all costs." "Her girl,"
Katarina's, not Red's.
Kate to Liz: "I loved Raymond. And your mother. I loved her, too." "I loved her too"
Adding in the apology to Katarina as she dug up the bones, and Kate's actions in trying to destroy Red, all of the clues make it clear Kate never believed Red was her beloved Katarina.
Who did Kate think she was working for all this time then? If we look at all Kate's words and actions from the beginning, I think it becomes clear that she didn't believe Red was anyone other than Raymond Reddington.
Our first clue comes early in the series when Kate is called to clean up a scene after Red kills men trying to find Naomi. Kate tells Red that he will find his wife twice in 2.02. While many want to argue that Kate was only keeping to a role that Naomi was Reddington's wife, that falls flat. There were other ways to write those lines, and combined with what Red says about his wife multiple times and his reactions to losing her, every indication is that's who Kate believed Naomi was-Red's wife.
Then in 4.18, Kate is trying desperately to get Liz to separate herself and her daughter from Red. Kate says: "The reason I'm telling you this now is so that you'll listen to me when I beg you walk away. I gave the authorities enough to put him away forever. But you and your team must disavow any knowledge of the task force." "What if I was one of Raymond's enemies that would do anything to get at him? Please, do what your mother never had the courage to do until it was too late. Walk away from Raymond."
Kate believed that Katarina couldn't walk away from her affair with Raymond and that is what led to Masha's kidnapping and eventually Katarina's suicide. So Kate is trying to keep Liz from making the same mistake and wants her to walk away from Raymond before it's too late and her life is also destroyed.
Kate makes no distinction between the Raymond that Katarina couldn't walk away from and the Raymond she wants Liz to walk away from. In my opinion, it's clear that she believes Red is Raymond Reddington just like she did when he hired her in 1997. None of what Kate says to Red or Liz leading up to her suicide gives the impression that she ever thought Red was an imposter.
So if Kate thought Red was RR, then what secret did she think she was keeping? What truth did she believe she was giving Liz?
Right before her suicide, Kate meets Liz alone and she tells her: "Masha, I can show you the truth. If you want to know why he came into your life."
The only two statements we have to look at on why
Kate thinks Red came into Liz's life are in Requiem.
First, when Red hires Kate, he tells her: "After Katarina's sudden departure, I felt a responsibility to watch over the girl from a distance...I've provided for her and Sam financially...God willing, Katarina's daughter will live a private life of quiet courage. But if anyone learns her identity, the only way I can stop the threats from rising is to rise up as a greater threat than all of them. Help me protect the girl we love."
In 1997, Red is telling Kate that because Katarina had to leave Masha with Sam and disappear, he is stepping in to protect Liz from those threats that come from who her mother was. Then in 2013, 16 years later, Red is surrendering to the FBI and tells Kate something very similar: "As I feared would happen, elements from Katarina's past are circling Elizabeth like a pack of wolves in the night...Indeed, I need to control the danger to Elizabeth. I've built a vast criminal network predicated on that very principal. It's time to live up to my mission statement."
So based on what Red has told her, the why he has become part of Liz's life, is to protect her from her mother's enemies.
Those people who are a danger to Masha because they are still hunting for Katarina Rostova. He's built a criminal empire with the sole purpose of rising up as a bigger threat to the enemies of Katarina to protect her daughter.
The last conversation we have between Red and Kate comes right before she jumps to her death, and this goes back to the truth
Kate wanted Liz to have. "You're right. I was so focused on you, I didn't see that getting you away from her is unnecessary
. All I have to do is give her the truth." "I don't know what that means." "Our secret. At Tansi Farms." "What have you done?" "I have it, Raymond. I went there and I dug it up, and I'm gonna give it to her."
Kate told Red at the end that everything she had done to separate Liz from him was pointless. She wants to give Liz the truth.
What could that truth possibly be if Kate believed Red was Reddington? Did she think the bones were of some other man she knew was Liz's father, or was this truth about Katarina? One thing that's very clear is that Kate never believed the bones were Reddington's. RED
The most important point of view comes from Red as he is the man using the Raymond Reddington identity. Red obviously knows who he is and he knows who the bones were. He knows the truth.
As I wrote at length at the beginning of the post, there are clues throughout the series that show there was no way for those bones to have been directly identified in CODIS as Raymond Reddington. It's simply not possible and the writers have made that clear in the way the plot was written and in the dialogue between characters as I've shown.
The basis for the narrative of the show is that Red is an imposter who took the identity of Raymond Reddington after he was shot and killed by Masha. For Red to have plastic surgery to resemble the man, and to surrender to the FBI claiming to be Reddington, he needed to know that he couldn't be exposed as a fake. That's why it was imperative within the story that there was no DNA taken for RR before he disappeared in 1990. The entire narrative can't work if there was DNA in CODIS because Red would have been outed as an imposter on day one. So we know that when the bones triggered a match in season five, it could not have been a direct match to RR.
If the bones couldn't have directly identified as RR, the other option I had discussed was that maybe there was a familial match to the father of Jennifer as some have suggested. But that has many of its own problems as it's pretty unlikely for anyone seeing that on a DNA report to jump to the conclusion that Red is an imposter.
How does Red believe the bones would be identified?
Fairly soon into season five, Red found out that Tom was the one who Kate left the suitcase to. Red confronts Tom after Nik is killed and what he says is revealing: "You asked Nik to identify the bones, and he was killed for his trouble by someone who knows their identity and, therefore, their value. That killer is likely searching for a way to contact me since, knowing their value, he knows they are most valuable to me."
Red says he knows Nik was killed because someone found out the identity of the skeleton and realized the value of what they had. So we know that somehow the identity of the bones is linked to Raymond Reddington, and the person who has them will know to contact him. This sounds like Red believes there is a name attached to the bones and that identity is valuable as a confirmed death.
We once again hear the same thing when Red finds out who Garvey is and confronts him in 5.16:
"Let's start with the truth.
"You have the bones. You already know the truth.
"A truth. I want the whole truth.
"The whole truth is that we are all clinging to a lovely blue ball floating in a sea of blackness. Everything else, including and most especially, the truth you're looking for, is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
"I could take the bones public.
"You could, but you haven't. And you won't. I'm not sure why. There's something I'm missing. Something holding you back. I won't kill you until I have the bones, and for some inexplicable reason, you won't go public until you know this whole truth.
There are some key things that Red implies here. First, as we can see, he believes the bones can be identified. But not only can they be identified, they give a truth that he doesn't think needs to be explained. And again, he says that whoever these bones belonged to, that identity is not only well known, but worthy of being taken public. What Red doesn't understand is why Garvey hasn't told the world what's in the duffle bag.
While we see from Red's words to Garvey that he knows the bones come with an identity, the full impact of that isn't really felt until the very end of the season.
As soon as Red learns from Smokey that the duffle bag was taken to Costa Rica by Garvey, and there is an underground auction, he immediately assumes the bones are valuable enough to command a high price. When Red and Dembe get to the auction, we see that they both believe those bones could be the big finale.
"The final item won't be revealed until just prior to the start of bidding.
"Maybe that's the duffel?
"Then there may still be time.
Both Red and Dembe's believe that the identity of the bones is valuable enough to be sold to the highest bidder. This next conversation between Red, Dembe and Smokey is also important:
"We came all this way to find the duffel has been handed from one enemy of mine to another.
"And yet, neither chose to make its contents public.
"If what you're looking for is as valuable as you say, why, why, why, why didn't they put it up for auction?
"I have no idea.
So what seems clear, is that neither Red nor Dembe understand why Garvey or Ross hadn't taken the identity of the bones public or why they didn't try to sell them at auction. Why is this so important?
Because we saw from what Red said to Garvey, and what was confirmed by Dembe before the auction, they both believed the bones would be directly identified and would come with a name. You can't take a familial match public, or sell what might
be the bones of RR at an auction because they matched his legal daughter. No one is paying a lot of money for what could be or might be. They are paying for a name and a confirmed death of someone
If anyone takes the time to study Red's point of view, what becomes apparent is that he knew when he surrendered that he couldn't be identified as Reddington with DNA. If he really is anyone other than the man known to the Navy as RR, his gig would be up right away if there had ever been a genetic sample on file. That point is undeniable.
Red knows who was buried in that suitcase. What we can see through the bones arc, is that he believed that skeleton could be positively identified. That identity will be recognizable, whether to the world at large, or the criminal underworld, or both. And what is also crucial to our understanding of Red's point of view is that he knew criminals would pay high dollar to have those bones. Which means that this confirmed death has great value. CONCLUSION
When anyone takes ALL of the clues and points of view into consideration, what is irrefutable is that those bones could not
have identified directly as Raymond Reddington. Dialogue from some of the characters like Dembe, Kate and Garvey make that impossible, as does the way the story is being told. The premise of this show was dependant from the very beginning on the fact that Red couldn't be identified with DNA as Reddington or as an imposter. That means the bones couldn't have been identified as Raymond Reddington. It's the show's greatest charade that keeps viewers spinning in circles with no answer.
So if those bones were not ID as Reddington, what did these characters see on the DNA report? What identity was so valuable that people would kill to obtain?
I need you to understand that I never wanted anybody to get hurt. I don’t know what’s wrong with me but I can’t stop myself from doing it. My Mom once told me that what I can do is a gift. But some days I’m not so sure. What exactly do you call it when everything you draw or paint comes to life?
My name is Megan Daniels, but people have been calling me Spacegirl for years and I’ve had my ‘ability’ for as long as I can remember. I never really questioned it when I was a child. On the contrary, I remember that I couldn’t have been happier. I was by myself so often hat it was nice to be able to literally make my own friends.
My Mom was never a bad parent, but she had a career to focus on as well. I know she made some sacrifices while juggling motherhood and her practice as a psychiatrist. She’d set up a home office while I was still fairly young and spent a lot of her time there with her patients. While she was working, I usually just played in my room.
My Dad on the other hand was a bit of a different story. He wasn’t home very often, so I didn’t see much of him. I barely even remember what he looked like and if it weren’t for the few photographs my Mom kept, I would’ve forgotten everything except his intense blue eyes and the smell of alcohol that often hung like a cloud around him. I could smell it on his breath every time he was close to me and even now, years later I can’t help but think of him every time I catch a whiff of alcohol. He worked a 9-5 office job, but he usually wasn’t home until long after I’d gone to bed. When I was young, I never understood why. Mom never talked about it in front of me, but I knew from the arguments that sometimes kept me awake that she was mad at him for it.
Since Dad was never around and Mom was always busy, I was often left to my own devices more often than not and that was just fine by me. As I said before, I made my own friends. Some of my earliest memories involve watching the sea creatures I’d drawn float off the paper and swim around my bedroom. Crude fish and an octopus with only four tentacles swam around, dancing out of my grip as I chased them around the room, laughing all the while. I remember a portrait of my family, consisting of three stick figures moving around on the page, all together and smiling in a way that my own family never did. I remember them standing around my room, content to play with me since I had no one else.
Whatever I wanted, I could create with nothing more than some crayons and paper. My work was crude back then. I was just a child after all, but the quality didn’t matter. Just as I’d drawn them my work would come to life just for me. Of course, everything would return to its place the moment I heard footsteps in the hall. I’d learned quickly that the things I’d created were shy. They were just for me and didn’t want to be seen by anybody else and while I’d told my parents everything, they just dismissed it as my imagination. One can’t possibly keep a secret that big for long, though.
When I was 4, I’d got it into my head that I wanted a pony and I did what any little girl with my ability would have done. I drew my own. I remember laying out a sheet of lined paper and grabbing some of my crayons before I started on the landscape. As I drew, I imagined what my pony would be like. He would be noble, just and kind. He would be brave and strong… He would be a Knight- no, a Prince! A Unicorn Prince, in fact! I remember gleefully drawing his limbs and his horn, giving him shape and making him real. I remember setting my crayon down and watching expectantly as my Prince began to move. He shook his head and if he’d had a mane at that point, it would’ve tossed about majestically. Instead, all he had were two dot eyes and a dopey smile. It didn’t seem to matter, though. He moved all the same and just like everything else he emerged from the paper. He wasn’t quite as big as a real horse. At that age, I had no idea how big a horse really was… But he was still taller than I was. I remember reaching out to pet him for the very first time. His hide felt like paper although it had a warmth to it.
He remained still and even got down a little bit so I could ride on his back. His paper hooves thudded against the hardwood floor as he let out a bold whinney… and I suppose that was a little too much noise. As my Unicorn Prince circled my room, I didn’t hear the footsteps in the hall over the clop of my impromptu pony ride. I didn’t hear my Mom coming in to check on me, not until I saw the door open from the corner of my eye and even then all I could do was grin at my Mother and wave.
She didn’t smile back at me, nor did she wave. Instead her eyes went wide. Her hand went to her mouth to stifle a scream.
The Unicorn Prince froze. I remember feeling his body tense up before he rushed towards the piece of paper sitting on the floor. In an instant, it was gone and I was on the floor. My Mom raced towards me and scooped me up, pulling me away from the drawing on the ground. I didn’t understand why she was so afraid. I couldn’t. She frisked me, checking me for injuries and when she found none she looked me dead in the eye.
“What was that?” She demanded, “Megan, what was that?”
“He’s my pet Unicorn Mommy, I drew him!”
“Where did it come from?!”
“I drew him! I really did!”
I looked back at the picture on the floor. The Unicorn Prince didn’t move but I knew he was staring at me. Even in those simple dot eyes, I could see some sign of life. My Mom fixated on the picture, studying it in silence but keeping her distance as she processed what she’d just seen. She didn’t speak for a few moments. She just held me protectively close.
“Can you make him come out again?” She finally asked. Her voice had a notable tremble in it. Slowly she set me down again and I went to kneel beside my drawing.
“It’s okay. She’s not going to hurt you.” I whispered to my Prince. “It’s just Mommy.”
The drawing remained still for a moment before finally starting to move. He didn’t leave the paper, not again. He was either scared, or trying not to scare my Mom. Even without stepping out again though, just moving was enough. Mom stared down at him, eyes wide in disbelief.
“Can I take him outside and ride him in the park?” I asked eagerly.
“No.” The response was curt and automatic, “No… No… Just… Just leave him for now, okay honey?”
Mom brushed her hair back and looked at me. She still looked as if she couldn’t quite believe her eyes before shaking her head and forcing an uneasy smile.
“How about some lunch?” She said, hiding the stammer in her voice, “I’ll make alphagetti
“Can my Unicorn have alphagetti too?”
“Maybe later, baby. Let’s just talk about this first…”
She offered me a hand and I took it as she led me downstairs.
“Did I ever tell you about Great Grandma Ruth?” She asked as I sat over my bowl of hot alphabet soup.
“Who’s Great Grandma Ruth?” I asked. Mom managed a sad smile as she sat down across from me.
“Well, she was my Grandmother.” She replied, “When I was very young, Grandma and Grandpa sometimes let me stay over at her place. I always loved it there. She had a cottage in the woods, way up past London. It was quiet, there was a big forest to play in. It was beautiful.”
“Can we go and see Great Grandma Ruth?”
“Unfortunately no. She’s been dead a very long time… She liked to draw too though, just like you and when I was a little girl, I used to like to pretend that some of her drawings would come out and play with me…”
She paused, watching me carefully. I stared back at her, my eyes lighting up a little bit.
“Did they really come out? Just like my drawings do?” I asked.
“I… I don’t really know, baby.” She said with a sigh, “I used to think it was all my imagination. She died when I was young and Grandma’s gone too so... I guess I’ll never know for sure… What you can do though, not everyone can do it too. Maybe Great Grandma Ruth could, but you have to understand that this isn’t… Most people can’t do it and they might not understand it if they see the things you drew coming out of their drawings…”
“What do you mean?” I asked. Mom tried to put on a reassuring smile.
“People aren’t always nice, honey and when they see something they don’t understand, sometimes they get scared. I need you to be careful with your drawings. You’re going to be starting school soon, and people can’t see them move…”
“They don’t like it when people see them.” I said.
“And that’s good! We just need to make sure it stays that way.”
“Are you mad at me?”
Moms eyes widened.
“No! No, sweetie. Absolutely not! Why would I be mad at you?” She left her chair to crouch down beside me and wrapped me in a tight hug. “I’m not mad at you. I promise. I just want you to be safe, that’s all… It’s best we don’t tell Daddy about this though. It’ll be our secret. You and me.” She said.
“Why can’t we tell Daddy?” I asked and she hesitated for a moment before giving me an answer.
“Daddy… Sometimes he doesn’t think and says things he shouldn’t. We can show him one day. Just not right now, okay?”
“Okay.” I said and gave a slight nod. Even now, I’m still not sure I fully trusted her tone. ‘Mad
’ might not be the right word to describe how I think she felt. Afraid
might be more fitting and I suppose if it were me in her position, I would’ve been afraid too. At the time though, I hardly knew any better. I was so sure that she was angry with me and I wasn’t quite sure what to do about it.
For the next little while, I didn’t play with the things I had created. Even if my Mom hadn’t intended it, the idea that my ability was somehow wrong had entered my mind and it wouldn’t go away. But just because I wasn’t playing with them, didn’t mean they stopped being alive. When I was in my room, I could see them moving around on the paper, watching me. I’d hung the Unicorn Prince up on my wall and could see him pacing about restlessly. His simple facial features betrayed a look of unease that was impossible to mistake and beyond that, a look of concern. I think that my own emotional state must have rubbed off on them. They knew that something wasn’t quite right and so they stayed in place, moving less often and rarely coming out. I remember that part of me felt relieved that they could be normal… And yet part of me missed them. It’s not easy for a child to go from having something so magical in their life to having nothing at all and without the things I’d drawn, I had nothing. I think it was obvious that it wasn’t going to last. Maybe my artwork knew it too, I can’t say for sure. But it wasn’t long before I couldn’t help myself.
When I told my Mom I wanted to go outside and play, I only took one drawing outside with me. It was carefully folded up in my pocket and the choice was an obvious one. I’d never had a chance to properly ride the pony I’d drawn and since it was an overcast day, I thought I could slip out and do it while Mom was busy.
Our yard backed onto a small park. There was only a chain link fence and a little gate separating us from the park itself and I remember that the day was glum and foggy. No one else was out and about and there were enough trees that I probably wouldn’t be seen. Mom had told me to stay in the backyard, but I knew she had a patient and wouldn’t check on me. I knew I had time. As soon as I knew she wasn’t looking, I opened the gate and stepped out into the park. I remember that giddy feeling of doing something I knew I wasn’t supposed to be doing. Tasting a forbidden fruit as it were. I didn’t understand just how dangerous it was for a four year old to be running around unsupervised, and being a four year old myself I simply didn’t care.
I took the folded drawing from my pocket and opened it, smiling as I looked down at my Unicorn Prince.
“You can come out now.” I whispered to it and watched with a familiar excitement as he bounded off the paper.
I remember thinking that he looked happy to see me as I pet his neck. The light rain didn’t seem to have much of an effect on his paper hide and after examining his surroundings, he knelt down before me, offering me a place on his back. I felt like the Queen of the world as I climbed on.
“Go.” I said as I held on to him, “Run!” and he did exactly that. The park was abandoned and we were lucky for that. My Prince might not have been as fast a real pony, but I didn’t care. For a little while, I was completely free and I will never forget that wonderful feeling. Mom never caught on to my little adventures with the Unicorn Prince, which very quickly became my go to activity. In a sense, he became one of my best friends.
When we weren’t outside, I spent my time drawing newer and better versions of him. My artstyle began to get better with practice as my Prince slowly began to resemble a real horse. It was always him
that came out of the newest drawing. No matter how he’d changed, he
was always the same. When we were together, he and I would linger by the edge of the park in a small spot covered by trees and away from prying eyes. That small patch of ‘woods’ wasn’t much, but for me it might as well have been my very own fantasy land. I only got caught outside of the backyard once and even then, Mom had no idea that I’d had one of my drawings out with me.
Once, I remember that I’d brought out two pictures of the Unicorn Prince. I’d been hoping that maybe I could create two of him, although he only came out of the newer drawing. I suspect that was only because it was the better one and he seemed to prefer looking good. He was a vain one, but I suppose I made him that way. When I looked at the paper, both of them only showed the background. The Prince himself was absent. It’s how I knew that no matter how many times I drew him, so long as it was meant to be him, he was the one who’d come out. That didn’t mean I couldn’t draw other Unicorns though. I only tried it once before deciding that if I had too many Unicorns out at once, I’d probably get caught and Mom would get mad.
It was on one of those overcast days when I saw the coyote. I’d finished my newest drawing of the Unicorn Prince and wanted to see how he’d turned out. As soon as I knew Mom wasn’t watching, I slipped out the back gate and ran for the trees, hiding my drawing under my raincoat. When I made it to the safety of the trees, I took it out and watched as the Prince stepped off the paper. He was still a little cartoonish, but I was sure that he looked better than he had before. The Prince lowered his head to me, a gesture of respect and I bowed in response before moving to climb on his back. Before I could though, I saw something moving through the trees out of the corner of my eye.
It looked like a dog, although I couldn’t quite identify the breed. I remember thinking that it might have been a husky only it had a grey coat with spots of brown. Its ears were triangular and folded back as it crept towards me. I got the impression that it looked a little shy. Nowadays, I’d recognize it as a coyote but at that age, I doubt I even knew what a coyote was.
“Hello puppy!” I said and took a step towards it. It shrank back, baring its teeth at me as it did. I didn’t take the hint, though. Behind me, the Prince protectively moved to my side. From the corner of my eye, I saw him watching the coyote carefully. It never occurred to me that the animal could’ve been dangerous though. I just saw a dog, and wanted to pet it, not understanding that it didn’t want to be petted. When I reached out for it, the coyote snapped at me before darting to the side. It didn’t bite me but I leapt back as if it had all the same and that seemed to be the only provocation the Unicorn Prince needed.
When he moved, the coyote tried to get out of the way but the Prince was faster. I remember hearing the crack of its bones under the Prince’s hooves. I remember seeing its body distort as it was pulverized. It died instantly, and I suppose that was for the best. I’m not sure how I would’ve handled watching it suffer. But the sight of the thing that I’d drawn trampling the life out of another living thing was hardly much of an improvement. As the Prince rammed its horn into the broken corpse, goring it in a show of violence that was like nothing I’d seen before. I screamed and stumbled backwards. I lost my footing and fell as I stared in horror up at my unicorn. He looked at me, big colorful eyes soft and kind and yet his hide was spattered with blood.
I stared up at my Prince, looking at him and shaking as he stood over the corpse. He shook its head, shaking some of the blood off before he advanced on me. I tried to crawl away, tears streaming down my cheeks.
“No…” I stammered, “D-don’t hurt me! P-please.”
The Prince stopped and looked down at me, studying me. I could see in its eyes that he knew I was upset. I could tell that he was thinking on what to do about that and after a moment he just bowed his head and knelt down in a gesture of submission.
For a few moments, neither of us moved. I was still shaking and crying. The Prince waited for me to make the first move and when I did, all I could manage was to quietly take out the paper I’d drawn him on so he could go back. He stood up and approached me slowly. He didn’t go back to the paper though, not at first. Instead he lowered his head down towards me and gave me an affectionate nudge, silently asking if I was okay.
I looked over at the pulverized carcass of the coyote, and I remembered the way it had snapped at me. I think I realized that it would’ve hurt me if it had gotten the chance… and if that was the case, then my Prince had done nothing but defend me. I looked over at him and finally reached out to pet the side of his face. He nuzzled into my hand before returning to his drawing. I went straight back into the backyard. Mom didn’t know I’d been gone, I had no intention of telling her either. I didn’t go on any more adventures after that.
I think it goes without saying that I didn’t spend much time around other children when I was young. Mom had a few friends who’d bring their kids over every now and then, but that was it. Mom had told me that she’d wanted me to go to preschool but my Dad was adamant that it was a waste of money. I’m sure they fought about it more than once during the occasional fights I’d overhear as I lay awake in my bedroom at night.
That lack of socialization though made it so much more difficult when I started school. I won’t pretend to remember every single detail but I remember the fear. I could handle being on my own. I’d been alone for more of my life than I probably should have. It was being around other people that was hard. I preferred to simply avoid the other kids. During playtime, I’d sit on my own and draw. I’d bring a notepad to school and fill it with crayon drawings of fantasy lands, mermaids and the like. That isolation made it difficult for me to make friends and I suppose it made me an easy target.
People can be cruel, but children have a special kind of cruelty to them. I know that the bullying started early. If it wasn’t my coke bottle glasses they made fun of, it was my frizzy red hair but more than any of those, they teased me because I wanted to be by myself with nothing but my notepads and sketchbooks. I think it was around second grade when someone first came up with the name ‘Spacegirl’, because I was ‘always spaced out
’ but I don’t remember exactly who used it first. Either way, it caught on to the point that people called me that more often than they called me by my actual name and it wasn’t long before some people started taking it further.
It was a few months into second grade that Chris Burton took my sketchbook. I usually spent my recesses out in the field behind the school. If the weather was good, I’d sit down beneath one of the trees and draw. Sometimes people bothered me, but my Mom had told me to ignore them and that’s what I tried to do. Chris was a couple of grades above me and I was one of his favorite targets. He just loved trying to get a reaction however he could. Sometimes he pulled grass out from the ground and sprinkled it in my hair, trying to get a reaction. I usually just brushed it out and moved to a different tree. On that day though, I guess he wasn’t going to accept being ignored.
I could see him from the corner of my eye as he came towards me, flanked by a few other boys.
“What’cha drawing today Spacegirl?” He asked as he reached me. He leaned against the tree and tried to peer over my shoulder. I didn’t give him an answer. Mom had said not to vindicate him with an answer. He gave me a light push, trying to get my attention.
“Hey, Spacegirl. Spaaaacegirl…
I still didn’t reply, even when the questions started.
“Are you ignoring me? Don’t you talk? Do you know how to talk?”
No answer. I just continued working in my sketchbook. I was nearly done with a drawing of the Unicorn Prince.
“You know that Unicorns are for babies, right?”
I kept my head down, trying to at least finish my sketch before I moved. I never got that chance. Before I could react, Chris had snatched my sketchbook from my hands and with a manic grin on his face, he took off.
“Give it back!” I yelled after him before I scrambled to my feet. Chris already had a head start on me and I was barely even up before someone else had pushed me over. As I hit the ground, all I could do was watch as Chris took off towards the school. I scrambled to pick myself up again and give chase. I wasn’t as fast as him. There was no way I’d catch up in time.
He was already inside the school by the time I got to the doors. I had no idea where he’d gone. He couldn’t have been in one of the classrooms, could he? Maybe he’d gone to hide in one of the bathrooms? I knew that technically I wasn’t supposed to be in the boys bathroom but where else could he have gone?
“Hey! Spacegirl!” I heard him call from just down the hall. I turned and sure enough I saw him standing in the doorway to one of the bathrooms. My heart skipped a beat as I began to dread what he’d done. I took off after him. I didn’t see my sketchbook in his hands and I tore past him towards the boys bathroom.
The smell was the first thing I noticed and I could see one of the stall doors hanging open. I came to a stop in front of it, already knowing what I’d see. Chris had thrown my sketchbook in the toilet. The pages were soaked and it stank like piss. Behind me, I could hear Chris laughing as if he’d just played the greatest prank in the world.
I gagged as I took my sketchbook out of the toilet. The pages were soaking wet when I pried the book open. Most of my drawings were ruined. The things that had been on them didn’t move. They were still and lifeless and that sent an unfamiliar stab of panic through my chest. I flipped over to the incomplete sketch of the Unicorn Prince, expecting it to be damaged as well. That page had been spared the worst of the damage, but I could only see the background I’d drawn. No sign of the Prince himself.
“See? I made some improvements?” Chris teased. From the corner of my eye I could see him hovering over my shoulder. My heart raced and I felt a flash of rage. The next thing I knew, I'd punched him.
“You ruined them!” I cried, “You ruined all of them!”
Chris stumbled back a step, no longer smiling. I could see a thin trail of blood running from his nose before he hit back. We were both on the ground, hitting each other when a teacher found us and broke us up a few minutes later.
Chris and I were both sent home that day and I never got my sketchbook back. I imagine that one of the teachers threw it out. It was ruined anyways. It was my Dad who picked me up from school that day, not my Mom. If I hadn’t known better, I would’ve thought that was punishment enough. It was something of a blessing that I barely saw him. I never felt comfortable when I was around him.
As we left he seemed quiet. Not angry, just quiet. It wasn’t until we got in the car that he said anything.
“So… You hit that boy back, huh?” His tone was gruff and made me a bit uneasy.
“He took my sketchbook.” I replied. Dad just chuckled.
“Well, boys will be boys. I guess he had a crush, huh? When should I be expecting you to bring home your new boyfriend.”
I shifted uneasily in my seat. I’d expected him to be angry but something about the way he was talking seemed… off… I could smell the familiar smell of alcohol on him as he keyed the engine and pulled out of the parking lot.
“Chris is a jerk.” I said quietly.
“Most boys are, kiddo. You’ll learn to like it eventually. You’ll notice it more when you get older. You’re probably gonna look a little like your Mother. Legs for days.” He lit up a cigarette as we drove and I looked out the window, quietly shrinking away from him. I could feel him looking at me, and I hated it.
Mom was waiting for me when we got home and as soon as I got through the door she had me wrapped up in her arms, already fussing over me.
“Megan, what were you thinking? Did he hurt you? What happened?”
“Chris threw my sketchbook in the toilet.” I said quietly. “I’m sorry. I got mad and I hit him…”
“Relax Annie. It’s just kids being kids.” Dad said, brushing past her to head to the kitchen and get a beer. “There’s no point in making a big fuss over it. Sounds to me like it’s just a little boy with a crush.”
Mom looked over in his direction, glaring daggers at him. She watched as he took two beers out of the fridge.
“Kids being kids?” She repeated, “Did you look at her? She’s got bruises all over her arms!”
“It’s a bit of roughhousing. Nothing to worry about.” Dad said with a shrug. He opened one of the beers and took a sip.
“Did you even ask what happened? How many times has she told us that the other children were bothering her? We need to set up a meeting with the school.”
“Don’t you think that’s overreacting?” Dad stood in the doorway of the kitchen. “This kind of thing is normal. The school will tell you the same thing. Stop worrying. It’ll toughen her up a little, make her socialize. God knows she could use a kick in the ass.”
“Excuse me?” Mom snapped. Her tone of voice made me flinch but my Dad hardly seemed to notice it. He just took another sip of his beer. I could see the rage in Mom’s eyes as she tried to figure out just what to say to him. Her attention shifted to me for a moment.
“Megan, why don’t you go upstairs to your room? Daddy and I need to talk.”
“Why are you coddling her? She’s a big girl, she can take it.” Dad asked as I headed for the stairs. The argument had already begun before I even made it to the top.
“She’s six years old, James. Do you really think she deserves to be harassed?”
“They’re kids! This is what they do. It’s natural. It’ll help her grow a thicker skin. Just relax, will you?”
I took off towards my room and closed the door behind me. My hands were shaking. Even through the door I could hear the muffled sounds of my parents screaming at each other.
From the corner of my eye, I could see the drawings I’d put up on my walls shifting around, sharing in my discomfort. I could feel them watching me. I pulled away from my bedroom door and went towards a recent piece I’d done of the Unicorn Prince. I needed him, if for no other reason than to have something I knew I could call a friend close by. But as soon as I approached the picture I saw that it was empty. The Prince was nowhere in sight. He’d left his drawing and the sight of that gave me pause.
He’d never left his drawing without me before. I looked around, none of the other subjects from my artwork were missing. It was just him…
As my parents argued downstairs, I felt alone and sick to my stomach. Somehow in my gut I knew something was wrong. Something bad was happening. I didn’t know just what. Not yet… But I could sense it and that alone was enough to scare me.
The Unicorn Prince was back in his drawing the next morning. I remember seeing him standing just as I’d drawn him in the picture. He didn’t move when I looked at him and I didn’t have the time to bring him out. Remembering his absence left me with a lingering sense of unease though and it wouldn’t go away.
I was back at school that day although I didn’t see Chris in the recess yard at all. It was that morning that we were told that recesses would be indoors for the next few days in spite of the lovely weather.The teachers didn’t tell us why. That much I overheard from a few of the students. During the first indoor recess, I could hear one of the other girls, Sasha talking to some of her friends about how Chris Burton hadn’t quite made it home the other night.
“My Dad works at the hospital and he said that he’d heard that Chris and his Mom got attacked by an animal yesterday! He said that they’re probably gonna die.”
There was a glee in her voice that didn’t quite fit in with what she was describing. I didn’t listen in for long. I couldn’t even if I wanted to. A hollow feeling in my stomach overtook me and I suddenly felt sick. I was a child, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t put two and two together. The Prince had been out of his drawing the other day… and it just so happened that Chris and his Mom had been attacked by ‘an animal.
A vivid memory of the coyote lying dead on the ground flashed through my mind. I remembered its vacant eyes and caught myself wondering if Chris would look the same if he died. I sat still, the color draining from my skin. I couldn’t even bring myself to look at the fresh sketchbook I’d brought. How could I, knowing that one of my drawings had just put another person in the hospital?
The other kids in the classroom around me paid me no mind. The teacher didn’t even seem to notice my trembling hands as I tried to comprehend the truth that I couldn’t avoid. My drawings had nearly killed someone… that sat on me like a weight and I didn’t know how to handle it. I felt like I could barely breathe. The next thing I knew, I was crying and I couldn’t tell a single person the truth as to why.
I didn’t know what to do about what had happened. When I got home after school, the thought of ripping every drawing off my wall and tearing them to shreds had crossed my mind but when I tried to make myself do it, I couldn’t. I could only stare at them as they watched me, waiting for me to do something. These were my creations. I had given them life… Could I really bring myself to take it away from them?
I remember looking at the newest drawing of the Unicorn Prince I’d made. I could see myself tearing the paper, but even if that didn’t kill him I’d have felt guilty for even trying to hurt him. The Prince just stared back at me, a quiet resolve on his face and I knew that even if I could destroy him it wouldn’t be what I wanted. I knew I’d need to do something else and I wasn’t quite sure just what else I could do… Aside from draw. Maybe in hindsight, it seems like a bad idea. My art had put Chris and his mother in the hospital in the first place. Sending him a drawing probably would have seemed more like a threat than an apology but I still convinced myself it was a good idea. If nothing else, maybe it would make me feel better.
I looked up at the drawing of the Prince again, my brow furrowed.
“Why’d you do it?” I asked, “Why’d you have to hurt them?”
He just looked back at me before stepping off the paper. I took a step back as he stared me down.
“You can’t just hurt people whenever you feel like it! You can’t!”
The Prince just huffed. I’d never imagined a fake Unicorn could sound dismissive, but he somehow pulled it off. He tossed his mane before nudging me with his head. I pulled away from him.
“You’re never going to hurt anyone else again.” I said, my voice shaking. “Do you understand me? Never again!”
My eyes darted around to the rest of my drawings. I could feel them all watching me.
“None of you are going to hurt anyone!”
I got no replies… No sign of agreement from them. Just uneasy silence. The Prince quietly turned away from me and stepped back into his drawing. What he meant by that, I wasn’t quite sure.
I got myself some fresh paper and started on a handmade card. I can’t say I ever knew Chris particularly well. Aside from harassing me, I didn’t know what he liked so I stuck with something simple. I drew a picture of him. People liked seeing portraits of themselves, right? I spent almost an hour working on it, drawing him from memory. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see my other drawings moving around on my wall. On the inside of the card, I wrote a simple message.
I’m sorry that you got hurt. I hope you get well soon.
Just writing that made me feel a little better. I looked at the drawing I’d made of the Prince. He was still watching me intently, as if he had a problem with what I was doing.
“I’m apologizing.” I said defensively. “You hurt him, I have to do something!”
The Prince just huffed. That same dismissive sound as before.
“I’ll take the card to the hospital and when he’s better, maybe he’ll leave me alone. It’s better than just… just attacking him!”
I checked my clock. Maybe I could get Mom to drive me before it got too late. I knew she’d been in her office when I got home. I imagined she was probably still there. I held the card I’d made for Chris close as I went downstairs. Mom would understand. She’d probably be happy to help me make amends! As I reached the bottom of the stairs, I heard the TV blaring from the living room. Maybe Mom wasn’t busy? Even better.
I wasn’t greeted by the sight of Mom sitting and watching the television though. She was nowhere to be seen. Instead, it was my Dad on the couch. He’d taken off his tie and I saw a half empty bottle of scotch on the table in front of him. He was in the midst of nursing another glass.
“Hey there, kiddo.” He said. He didn’t even look away from the TV.
“Hi Dad. Where’s Mom?”
“She went out for a bit. Shrink work, you know.” He finally looked over at me. “What do you want, kiddo?”
“Could you drive me to the hospital?” I asked timidly, “I wanted to visit someone.”
“Oh, so you’ve got a friend now?” He asked playfully, “C’mon. Sit down. Why don’t you tell me about them?”
I hesitated for a moment before I sat beside him.
“What did you draw?” Dad asked, noticing the card I was holding. He snatched it from me before I could stop him. “A boy, huh? Your friend from the other day? What was his name? Chris?”
“Y-yeah… It’s for Chris…” I murmured as I sat down beside him. Dad studied the card, a smile on his face before he chuckled.
“Isn’t that cute. I guess you’ve got yourself a boyfriend then, huh?”
“I feel bad cuz we got in a fight yesterday and now he’s sick.”
“Yeah, yeah. I get it.” He said. “Hey, he’s a lucky guy. You’re gonna grow up just like your Mom. I can already see it.”
I could feel his eyes on me and it made me uncomfortable.
“Can you drive me to the hospital?” I asked again.
“It’s too late for that. I’ll take you on the weekend.” He said and downed his drink. “I’d like to meet the young man who’s got my little girl all worked up… Hell, you look all shy now. Isn’t that cute...”
He pulled me closer to him and the stink of alcohol was almost overpowering. I didn’t want to get closer but I didn’t know what else to do. The card was tossed onto the coffee table.
“So did you steal any kisses from your new boyfriend, yet?” He asked, grinning as he fixed me in that hateful stare of his.
“No! He’s not my friend!”
“It’s alright. I get it. You’re growing up. You’re getting to be a big girl and you’re beautiful just like your Mom.” He said. He gently ran his fingers through my hair, and for a moment he looked thoughtful. “Just like your Mom…”
The next thing I knew, he’d leaned in to kiss me. Not in the way a parent should ever kiss a child. The stink of alcohol was overpowering and made me sick. Every nerve in my body wanted to pull back, but I couldn’t. Even if he would’ve let me, I was too scared of what he’d do if I did.
“It’s alright, baby… You can trust Daddy…” He whispered but I knew he was lying. I knew something was wrong but for all the fear that I felt, I couldn’t fight back. I didn’t know how.
I could feel his hands on me as he tried to pull me onto his lap and it was then that I resisted.
“S-stop…” I stammered as I finally tried to pull away but his grip on me tightened. I saw a flash of rage in his eyes that was enough to break whatever terrified defiance I had in me. However what he might have done to me was nothing compared to what was about to be done to him.
From the corner of my eye, I saw movement on the coffee table. Fresh panic kicked in as I struggled to get away. I saw hands reaching out of the card and pressing onto the table. I could see the drawing I’d made of Chris beginning to pull itself out and I knew what was about to happen.
In a panic, I pulled away from my Dad. I kicked at him and scrambled off of the couch. There was confusion on his face, followed by a look of realization… Or perhaps remorse. Then came the terror when he at last noticed the living illustration of Chris that now reared out of the card on the coffee table. He screamed and froze, eyes wide as he looked at the drawing. But he didn’t run. He didn’t fight. As the impossible loomed over him, all he could do was scream.
I covered my eyes as the hands of my drawing gripped his throat. I couldn’t watch it. I didn’t want to. I could hear it though. The screams. I could hear a terror deeper than anything I’d heard before and that was enough… There were screams and then there was silence.
It was a while before I allowed myself to look. The picture of Chris was gone and in its place, I saw one of my Dad. The art looked like mine but I hadn’t drawn this. His mouth was open in a scream. His eyes were wide with terror… and he was completely still. He didn’t move like my other pictures. He just remained there. Lifeless.
My heart was racing. As afraid of my own father as I’d been a moment ago, I wanted him to move! I wanted to see some sign of life! I held the card, silently begging for something to happen but nothing did and I remember the quiet creeping realization that he wasn’t going to move again. He was gone.
I never wanted anybody to get hurt. I mean that. But the choice isn’t mine. I learned that the hard way. Perhaps they deserved what they got. The things they did were not by accident, after all. Chris chose to bully me. My Dad chose to try and hurt me and so many others have hurt me since then… But that doesn’t mean I wanted the same for them.
Over the years, I’ve done what I can to keep myself in check… They react to my rage and my fear. So long as I control those, I can keep them at bay. But every now and then, I slip. Someone pushes me too hard and I can’t bury the rage or the fear. It gets out and when it does, They
react to it and people die. I thought I could do it forever. I really did… But I have my limits. Well… Had. Not anymore...