Once upon a time
"But we're hungry, Big Daddy" the children cried, their emaciated bodies a testament to their neglect.
"We all have to make sacrifices," Big Daddy declared, "and if I spend money on food for you, I'll be too broke to join the gym. And if Big Daddy's muscles don't stay strong, you kids will have a lot more to worry about than being a little hungry."
"We're not a little hungry, Big Daddy. We're starving. We're dying."
Big Daddy eyed this particularly brazen child before bashing him with a clenched right fist. The child sailed across the room and landed in a bloody heap against the wall.
"I didn't want to do that, children," announced Big Daddy as he flexed his triceps in the mirror. "But if you allow one bad apple to act as a cancer, the whole barrel will rot. Sometimes it's necessary to exert force to promote peace and stabilize a situation."
"Oh, Big Daddy, we're just asking for you to fix the hole in the roof so we don't freeze again tonight."
"What? Exert myself in such a petty affair? What if Big Daddy hurt himself? Who would fight off our neighbors? What would you kids do then?"
"But I like our neighbors. They don't want to hurt us."
Big Daddy hit this child with his left hand. "Don't ever let me hear you say that. You kids aren't smart enough to know danger when you see it and if that sneaky neighbor ever heard you speak kindly of him, he'd take advantage of our weakness. We must stick together to fight the evil he's building next door. If even one family member isn't behind me, I can't use these muscles. I need all of you to support me. Do you understand?"
Big Daddy's bellowing scared the children and they agreed. He told them some of the stories that his parents had told him and the children saw that it was long family tradition for the Big Daddy to spend all his time, energy, and money to build himself up in order to protect his weaker family members. It truly is sometimes necessary to destroy something in order to save it. The children began to see what "family values" really means.
The two kids who were hit crawled back and apologized to Big Daddy for forcing him to hurt them. Another child tried to thank Big Daddy for keeping his biceps so strong, but the words wouldn't come out. The child was too sick and too cold. Big Daddy hinted that this particular child wasn't fit to be in their family. And, as Big Daddy conveniently turned the other way to flex his back muscles, the fit children ganged up and beat their unfit sibling before sending him from their home.
"Go out there," one kid yelled, "and see how long you last without Big Daddy."
They all watched from the window as their evil neighbor emerged from his house with a blanket and some food for the sick child. This confused the children and they were tempted to join their exiled brother when suddenly, Big Daddy appeared. He roughly pulled his child from the clutches of evil and proceeded to beat the wicked neighbor senseless.
"Keep your filthy hands off this child!" Big Daddy screamed as his children cheered him on. The police arrived and arrested the neighbor for kidnapping while Big Daddy re-entered his home with his prodigal son.
"Children," Big Daddy stated, "your brother is home. He was lured away by that clever animal next door."
"But now," the child interrupted, "I see how wrong I was. Please take me back."
Big Daddy beamed proudly as all his skinny children embraced him. He flexed his muscles in the mirror and made sure his hair was in place.
Mickey Z. is the author of The Murdering of My Years: Artists and Activists Making Ends Meet (www.murderingofmyyears.com) and an editor at Wide Angle (www.wideangleny.com). He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.