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Hellboy recalls the man who raised him. Based on the movie.
I am also assuming that all here have seen the movie; don't read this if you haven't and want to avoid major SPOILERS.
Father's Day Gifts (A Story of Chocolate)
/A stormy night, late December 1944, an Island off the coast of Scotland/
Prof. Trevor Bruttenholm was not a big man, nor did he look to most eyes like a natural leader of men; he was a very quiet man, a fervent Catholic who usually armed himself against his foes with relics and rosaries rather than the weapons employed by the military types he often ended up leading.
One of his hardest jobs was convincing hard-nosed military commanders that their guns and maneuvers were at times useless in the face of the kinds of things he usually dealt with. However, there are times when knowledge of the paranormal and military knowledge must be employed together and his real genius was in recognizing this. Even though he himself would never wield a gun, he recognized when it was necessary to employ people who did.
Prof. Broom, as his name was pronounced, and his fledgling Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, in its first real field operation, managed to shut down the operations of a small group of Nazi occultists who were attempting, with the help of a Russian man that Broom had always insisted was Grigory Efimovich Rasputin, to conjure from 'beyond' some mighty weapon to help them win the war.
Broom and his small group of soldiers closed down the portal as quickly as they could while bullets, blades, and grenades added to the chaos that the Nazi's occult machine had created. However, Broom knew that the portal had been open just a little too long. One could not open such a portal as these Nazis had done, no matter how briefly, and have nothing happen.
What these Nazis had ended up conjuring was something that Broom did not expect. He did not think they did either. Exactly what Rasputin himself had in mind was a different story all together. That evening may, indeed, have been Rasputin's greatest triumph as he had claimed. Maybe what came forth that night was exactly what he intended. If so, that triumph eventually became Rasputin's greatest defeat and instead became Trevor Bruttenholm's greatest triumph even though he did not live to see it.
The weapons employed by the young professor in this other great battle that took place on that same night in 1944 were weapons that he ended up employing for many nights, days, and years to come. These weapons had very little to do with either the guns or relics that had been employed that night and everything to do with love -and chocolate.
Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense,
Newark, New Jersey, June 19, 2005
Hellboy walked into the late Professor Trevor Bruttenholm's office.
At almost seven feet tall, Hellboy looked like someone who could defeat almost anything that he came up against. With his bright red skin, tail, sawed-off horns, and a huge right hand that looked to be made of solid stone, Hellboy looked just like the very creatures he was supposed to protect society from. He was somewhat over 60 years old and in recent decades began to be known in certain circles as The World's Greatest Paranormal Investigator.
These circles, however, were somewhat circumscribed. Hellboy was one of the FBI's biggest top secrets, especially if you counted his sheer size. The official line of the FBI was that Hellboy and the Bureau that he called home didn't exist and most people only knew of him from badly focused pictures in tabloids like The National Inquirer.
He was also one of New York City's most pervasive urban myths and there was even a comic book that came out in the mid-90s based on a veritable mish-mash of fact and pure fantasy. If Hellboy had really done everything that some believed him capable of, he would have had the powers and abilities of at least 20 different fictional superheroes. Hellboy's greatest asset was his sheer strength and he usually beat the crap out of whatever monster the FBI pointed their greatest weapon at.
There was a large desk in the office that Hellboy had just walked into and he sat down in the chair behind it. Even though this chair was actually quite large it creaked under his weight as he dropped into it.
Trevor Broom had been the founder and director of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, or the BPRD as most of the agents who worked there called it. Broom had also been chief researcher and, until a second bout with cancer in his eighties, the longest-serving investigator of this clandestine wing of the FBI. The Bureau had been originally formed by Roosevelt in the early 40's to fight against things that the Nazis were doing that conventional weapons had little power against.
Trevor Broom was also the man that Hellboy had called Father. On this day of all days Hellboy couldn't help thinking about the man who had raised him; the man who had named him.
Hellboy knew that over the years Broom had come to regret that the description he had uttered almost with out thinking ended up becoming Hellboy's personal name. However, the name stuck and there really was little Broom could do to change that.
Hellboy was alone in the office. The only source of light was a small lamp on the desk. Abe Sapien, the merman who usually occupied the large aquarium that made up one whole wall of Trevor Broom's office, was off doing some work in another area of the underground complex that was the BPRD's main headquarters.
Using his left hand Hellboy reached into a drawer of the desk he was sitting at and pulled out a small rectangular piece of wood covered with ornate carvings of a religious nature. It was a really a kind of box and the top had an oval carving of the Virgin Mary. He had just cradled this in his enormous right hand when John Myers entered the office, switching on some lights as he came in.
Since Broom's murder people only entered the office to visit with Abe or to consult the thousands of books on the paranormal Broom had collected over the 60 years he had been director of the BPRD. Myers was surprised to find Hellboy there; he almost never consulted books and usually felt uncomfortable being alone in the place where his father had been murdered.
"Hey, Red," Myers said, "I hope I'm not interrupting anything. I'll just get the book I need and turn the lights back off on the way out."
Hellboy didn't look up. Instead he reached out with his normal-sized left hand and touched the box that he held, ever so gently, in that enormous right hand that Myers knew could punch through a cement wall faster than a sledgehammer.
"You know what day today is, John?" Hellboy, who had a deep voice that usually could be heard at least a mile away, spoke so low that Myers almost couldn't hear him. He was a bit surprised at the sudden use of his first name. Hellboy usually just called him Myers-that is when he wasn't calling him 'Squirt' , 'Boy scout', or some other dismissive nickname.
"It was Sunday the last time I looked," Myers answered.
"Nah, wrong answer. It's Father's Day," Hellboy replied, looking at the box in his hand.
Myers looked more closely at Hellboy. He hadn't really known Hellboy all that long, but somehow he just didn't seem the 'Father's Day' type. Though Myers knew that Hellboy cared deeply for the man he called Father, somehow Myers just couldn't imagine 'Big Red', as some of the other agents called him, going off to the local Hallmark's and browsing through the mostly saccharine cards that were printed up for this government-invented 'holiday'.
Also, John Myers was a man whose parents had mysteriously disappeared when he was quite young, leaving him to be raised by an uncle, so Mother's Day and Father's Day were just not days that usually came into his consciousness.
Hellboy sighed. "You know, Myers, it's been almost eight months since Father was murdered. At first I thought I would never be able to forget that night. Coming in here and finding all these people collecting evidence like this was some sort of cop show. And there he was dead on the floor with those little numbers outlining his body and his blood all over the rug."
Myers couldn't think of anything to say to this. If there was one thing he learned about Hellboy during those days and weeks after Broom's death last November it was that he could be notoriously hard to console.
Hellboy looked around the office in the light that was now brighter than when he first came in. "It's easier to come in here than it used to be. I used to think about him every day-all day. Now, my life just goes on and sometimes I find it hard to imagine how often I find myself going for days without really thinking of him."
Hellboy looked at a framed picture on the desk that showed his father standing between him and a smiling, dark-haired young woman. Hellboy wasn't smiling in the picture. He didn't like having his picture taken-pictures that got leaked to the public usually caused big problems so he usually avoided all pictures.
But Liz, his Liz he called her now that he knew that she loved him, had cajoled him into allowing another BPRD agent to take this picture of the group with that Polaroid camera of hers. She had it framed and gave it to Broom for his 78th birthday. Hellboy was around 50 in that picture, Liz around 19. He loved that picture because it was really the closest thing he had to a family picture; it was the only picture he had of himself with the two people he loved most.
"You know, this picture always makes me laugh. I looked just as big and ugly at age 50 as I do now. I found that I kind of stopped aging once I hit my full growth. Liz on the other hand looks so young in this picture that I almost feel like I've fallen in love with my kid sister."
Liz looked happy in that picture. At that time period she had become more comfortable with herself and with her pyrokinetic abilities. That was not always true. Liz had joined and quit the BPRD more times than Hellboy could remember.
The picture he was looking at was taken at least 8 years before her inability to control her fire when emotionally overwhelmed cause the death of six BPRD agents in Pittsburgh in 2002. This incident caused her to quit the BPRD for what Hellboy thought was finally for good.
Hellboy had adored Liz and he had not dealt well with that last departure. That was just one of the things that had driven a wedge between him and his father around the time of his murder. Now he knew that Liz loved him as much as he loved her. Even with his father gone Hellboy found it harder to be sad now that Liz was back.
Myers, himself, had been interested in Liz Sherman when he first met her last year and still regretted somewhat that she had decided to throw in with Hellboy. But it was hard to compete with a relationship that had developed over the years between two people who had so often laid their lives on the line for each other.
Liz often joked about the expediency of having a lover who was essentially impervious to fire, but Myers realized that the love between the two was deep and lasting.
He decided to change the topic, "Tell me, what is that beautiful wooden carving that you're holding. I've never seen it before."
Hellboy again touched the box with his left hand, this time nudging the top of the box with his index finger causing the top part to slide away revealing an interior covered in some sort of red velvet, slightly faded with time.
Hellboy looked up at Myers. "This is the only Father's Day present I ever gave him."
He slid the lid completely off, set the box down on the desk, and removed something from the box that was wrapped in a small white cloth.
Hellboy unwrapped the cloth and Myers saw the bits and pieces of a broken and partially burnt rosary; some of the beads still strung together, some loose, the Crucifix the most intact part of it.
Myers immediately recognized it as the rosary that Broom always wore around his wrist; the one that Hellboy wore on his own wrist after his father had been murdered and that Rasputin had ripped off Hellboy when he tried to convince him that the only way to save his Liz was to destroy the world-and it was this rosary that Myers somehow managed to throw back to Hellboy causing him to decide to derail the apocalyptic process that Rasputin had convinced him to start; the process that Rasputin had conjured him up in first place to perform.
Hellboy now knew that he had another name-a different name than the man that raised him had given him and that his right hand was the key to bringing about the end of the world. Rasputin had mistakenly assumed that killing off Trevor Broom would break this man's gentle hold over this demon Broom had called his son.
Myers suddenly realized, while standing in Broom's office looking at what was left of Broom's rosary, that it wasn't really he himself that had reminded Hellboy of his father at that crucial moment in Moscow; it was this small and now battered looking set of beads and string.
He also realized that Hellboy must have gone back later to the place where he had destroyed the massive and monstrous creature that had grown out of the dead body of Rasputin and hunted down all of the remnants of the cherished item.
"There's actually quite of lot of it that's missing. I couldn't find all of it, even with Liz helping. It originally came to Father in this box, the box that was designed to protect it, but I hardly remember a time that Father ever kept it there. He was always wearing it. However, he did keep some other things in here."
Hellboy reached in and pulled out a piece of folded, yellowing paper. "I won't even attempt to unfold it," he said. "If I did it would probably just disintegrate. I already know what it says. Sometimes, I can't believe he kept it." He had also removed and set aside what looked like a kind of gift card.
"That one thing looks like an old school paper," said Myers.
Hellboy grinned for the first time that day, "That's kind of what it is. Father and I lived on that Army base in New Mexico in the mid to late 40s. That was one of the time periods when they were really trying to push the idea of Father's Day. This was before all of this commercialization crap with the cards and a set date and everything. You just were supposed to find some way to honor your father on some Sunday in June."
"When I was around five years old I started attending classes that were held at the base for the children of the personnel who resided there. Before that I only interacted with my Father, who gave me lessons himself, and the military personnel on the base who worked with him. However, there came a point when Father's duties meant even more traveling than usual. Just about the beginning of June of 1949 he had to go on a long trip. So I was put in the school with the other kids. These kids were already used to seeing me around the base. Seeing as their parents' line of work was unusual these kids got used to me quick enough. Going to school with them was the only time in my life that I got to live like everyone else around me."
"Well, one day in class the teacher started talking about this day to honor our fathers and that we should all write essays about our fathers." Myers tried to imagine Hellboy writing any kind of essay. He remembered how the tongue-tied tough guy couldn't even write Liz a love note let alone a love letter.
"What did you write?" Myers asked him.
"Nothing. I hated writing. I really, really hated writing. I still do. Why do you think I try to get Abe to write all my Bureau reports? But when Father came back from his trip and all of the other fathers on the base were bragging about what their kids wrote about them, I could tell that he was a little disappointed. Not that he said anything to me. He may have grounded me at times over certain behaviors, but he hardly ever complained about the way that I treated him personally."
"I can tell you that I ended up feeling really bad about the whole thing. He had always treated me just as if I had been his own child. At that age I was just beginning to realize that there was something really different about me and that Father's caring for me was completely from his own choice. So one night I worked on this note when I should have been sleeping."
"Well, what did you write?" Myers was curious as to what a five year old demon would write to the only father he had ever known.
Hellboy mumbled, "I love chocolate. My father gives me chocolate. But not too much because he doesn't want me to get sick."
Hellboy stopped speaking and Myers, who had wondered how the conversation had suddenly gotten to the topic of chocolate, realized that he had been quoting the note.
"That's it?" he asked. "Took me all night to write it," Hellboy answered as he poked the small piece of paper back into the wooden box.
Myers picked up the beautiful box to admire it. He noticed that someone, probably Broom himself, had kept the box well oiled so that the lid would slide open easily.
"What about this box and rosary? When did you give him that?"
Hellboy picked up what was left of the rosary with his left hand.
"That would have been June of 1956. By that time the BPRD had moved into its first real headquarters in Boston. Father's Day was not yet a national holiday, but a joint resolution of Congress had declared June 17th of that year as officially Father's Day. Next thing I knew all sorts of people were pestering me and questioning me about what I was going to do for Father's Day. I was almost 12 at the time and only just a little short of being full grown. The older I got, the faster I grew. It seemed like it was practically no time before I was towering over the man that at one time towered over me."
"I was already starting to work as a field agent and had been allowing myself to get really cocky. I was so much stronger than Father was, so much faster, that he started to seem a lot less to me. I told everyone that he wasn't really my father, so I didn't see much use in wasting what little money my hard work was now earning me on worthless gifts. Of course, I was careful that I never said that around Father and thankfully nobody repeated to him what I was saying."
"The man who was the liaison between the BPRD and FBI at that time period shall remain nameless because he is now a very famous politician. 'L.' had known Father for a long time and knew how much he went through and was still going through to raise me. He really gave me the lecture. He didn't yell at me or berate me or make me feel guilty. He just reminded me of all the things that I had allowed myself to forget. He told me that he would take me any place I wanted to go to pick something out for Father and that if I didn't have enough money he would help me pay for it."
"Well, there was something that I knew my father would like. There was this religious goods store not too far away from the forever-to-be-nameless location of the Bureau. Some of the items in the store were either imported from Rome or the Holy Land. Father had been admiring this hand-carved olivewood box that was designed to hold a rosary or other religious items. I thought it was really neat myself because it looked like one solid piece of wood when the lid was closed. It was more expensive than my Father felt that he could afford. What little salary he made was either used to help support me or shoveled back into the rather thin funds that the Bureau was allocated by the Feds. He almost never spent money on himself."
"So 'L.' and I went off to this store. The box was approved of as an appropriate gift and I came up with the money to purchase it. When I went to buy it, Paul, the store manager, who knew both my father and myself very well, wanted to know if I didn't want to purchase a rosary to go with it. Well, I had seen this rosary that I thought was really beautiful-it had the larger beads in olivewood and the smaller ones in ivory."
As Hellboy spoke Myers looked at what was left of the rosary and realized that this was why the larger beads had been slightly darker than the smaller ones. Olivewood and ivory-this rosary must have been plenty expensive.
"Between 'L.' giving me money," Hellboy continued, "and the manager throwing in a discount for the two together, I managed to purchase both. Paul even tossed in gift wrapping. It was really a beautiful package. Only problem was that they expected me to include this little note card. I realized that I didn't want to write something like-'To Father, From H.B.', but I had no idea what else to write. At least this time it didn't take me all night, just about 20 minutes."
Hellboy pushed over the small card that he had earlier removed from the box and set aside.
Myers read the card aloud, "I still love chocolate. I think you're better than chocolate, Your Son"
Myers chuckled, "Why is it always chocolate with you, Red?"
"Chocolate was the first thing he ever gave me that night back in 1944", Hellboy said as he returned everything to the box and started to place the box back in the drawer.
"Who ever would have thought that this rosary that I gave him all those years ago would practically save the entire world?"
"Your Father did," Myers said, "Remember he took it off before they killed him and intentionally left it in a place where he knew you would find it."
Hellboy looked at the box in his hand again, "I wish he were still here."
Myers nodded, "So do I."
Hellboy placed the box back in the drawer and got up to leave the office, but he turned back.
"I would like to say so much more to him than 'I love chocolate'."
Myers heard Abe's voice in the hall, and suddenly noticing the time he grabbed the wanted book and walked out.
Instead of following him, Hellboy returned to the desk and took an unused piece of paper and a pencil from the top of the desk. He again sat in the chair and looked at the blank piece of paper. He was still sitting there when Liz came looking for him about two hours later.
"We were supposed to watch a Charlie Chaplin film tonight, Red. Aren't you coming? You haven't even eaten your supper."
Hellboy looked at Liz, the woman that he loved more than anything else in the world; the woman who, like John Myers, also lost her parents at a very young age. Hellboy also thought about his BPRD colleague Abe Sapien. Abe was over a hundred years old and he had probably been created in some sort of 19th century test tube. Hellboy suddenly realized that out of all of them he was the only one that had had a consistent long term relationship with a loving parent.
Hellboy reached down into a small drawer on the bottom left hand side of the desk and grabbed out three of the six Baby Ruth candy bars that Broom had put there the day before he died. Hellboy knew that his father always kept these on hand just for him. He opened one and stuffed it in his mouth as he walked out with Liz to go find his chili and start watching his favorite silent films.
A few hours later Myers came back in to return the book now that Abe was finished with it. Hellboy had forgotten to turn out the lights when he left and Myers noticed a piece of paper covered with what looked like the big guy's handwriting. He went over to the desk and looked at the paper.
It was the essay that Hellboy should have written some 55 years earlier. Carefully placed on the desk next to it was the wrapper that Hellboy had removed from the candy bar that he ate on the way out of his father's office. In a way Myers felt that he shouldn't read the note, but he couldn't help himself.
My Father was a great man. A big man.
I never realized how big until he wasn't there anymore.
He loved chocolate and my earliest memory of him was of
warm arms surrounding me and feeding me chocolate.
He loved me when others wanted to destroy me.
He always forgave me when I turned away from him
and welcomed me with open arms when I returned.
He was the one who first called me Hellboy.
But he almost never called me by that name.
He called me Son.
That is a name that is forever lost to me.
Who will call me Son now?
Father, did I ever say that I loved you?
I don't really remember.
I told you often enough that I loved chocolate.
And I hope you realized that for me
chocolate was love because it came from you.
Happy Father's Day