A TALE OF 'DEMON' RIGHTS

A Tale of ‘Demon’ Rights: Part Three: Continuing the Crusade

Chapter Eight

Broom attempted to get this new version of his Bureau up and running as quickly as possible. What was going on in Argentina was his most immediate concern. He made several trips to South America. Even though he seldom went off on field investigations any more, his presence there was instrumental in the establishing of secret bases for his agents to use in foraging into Argentina to research and, if possible, curtail and control what they found going on there.

Broom and Hellboy hated being separated from each other when Broom went away on these trips. In early November of 1954, when Hellboy was almost ten years old, Broom decided to allow Hellboy, supervised by other senior agents, to accompany him to Argentina. The training that Hellboy had been receiving since age five and his sheer size and strength made him a valuable asset, even though he was still short of his eventual full size.

It was on this trip that Hellboy first evinced the bravery, loyalty, and tenacity that would mark his career as a monster hunter and eventually caused him to be designated ‘The World’s Greatest Paranormal Investigator’.

Hellboy would often object when people conferred this title on him. “If you want to talk about a ‘great paranormal investigator’, that’s my father, not me. I just beat the crap out of whatever he points me at.” However, there were those who could see the justice of this title being conferred on both father and son.

The one thing that most impressed others about Hellboy was his courage in the face of impossible odds. He may have been invulnerable to most physical assaults, but he was not indestructible.

There were many times, starting right with this year of 1954, when he would insist on going alone against creatures who were as strong or even stronger than himself in order to protect the lives of the human agents he worked with.

It was also on this trip that Hellboy first starting wearing the rosary that in later years could always been seen hanging from his belt. This rosary had been a gift from his father when Richard James Cushing, archbishop of Boston and a personal friend, had come to the BPRD headquarters in 1953 and conferred first Holy Communion and Confirmation on Hellboy. He was the only prelate high in the Catholic hierarchy that had ever known that Broom had Hellboy baptized when he was five years old.

One good thing that had developed out of allowing Hellboy to work as a supervised field agent at this age was that it alleviated the loneliness he often felt. He became very attached to the other field agents he worked with, often jeopardizing his own life for theirs and grieving immensely for the agents who were lost in the field.

These men also developed a strong affection for Hellboy, often dubbing him with affectionate nicknames: ‘Red’, ‘Big Red, and ‘H.B.’ being favorites. In a way these men became surrogates for the companionship that he had lost in the move away from New Mexico.

Yet, there was an unfortunate development from all of this as well. In the camaraderie that developed between Hellboy and these much older men, their influence on him was not always a good one. Some of these agents, especially the ones stemming from the FBI, could be intelligent, sophisticated men of some learning, but Hellboy did not find these men half so interesting as the men who stemmed from military backgrounds. These men reminded him of the soldiers who had befriended him as a child in New Mexico.

Spending a little too much time in the field with these men, instead of in the well-mannered, but less interesting company of his father, began to cause a change in Hellboy that Trevor Broom did not like to see. It wasn’t so much the smoking, drinking, and swearing that his son was starting to indulge in that bothered Broom. That was easy enough to monitor and control.

It was more the general coarsening of Hellboy’s character that bothered him. Hellboy’s attitude became a lot more abrasive and cynical; even his way of speaking became more inarticulate as he started to imitate the vocal behavior of some of these less educated men.

It was also at this time that Hellboy decided to get rid of the horns he so detested having. One day Hellboy had stayed in his room for a long time. He didn’t come to breakfast or lunch. Even though he almost never got sick, Broom began to be concerned that something was wrong.

Twice he knocked on Hellboy’s door and received no answer each time. But when he tried the door it was locked. So he knocked harder and called out, finally receiving a muffled answer. “Go away, I have a headache.”

“Are you sick, Son? Do you need anything?” Broom called through the door. Hellboy answered, “No. No, I don’t need anything. I just have a headache. Go away.”

Even though he was still concerned, Broom went away. Hellboy never came for supper either, but Broom decided to let the whole thing go after he found that Hellboy’s door was still locked. He figured that sooner or later he would find out what was really wrong. So he went to bed.

Hellboy came to him in the middle of the night. “Father, my head, it hurts. I can’t get it to stop hurting.” Broom woke from a sound sleep to find Hellboy kneeling by his bed holding his head in his hands. Looking at Hellboy in the semi-darkness, Broom knew immediately that there was something different about him. “Son? Son, what happened to your horns?”

Hellboy groaned, “I didn’t want them anymore. I wanted to look more like everyone else. So I broke them off and tried to use a big file to sand them down. But I didn’t know it was going to hurt so much.”

Broom sighed, “Son, we better go to the Medical Wing and have you checked out. I hope that you haven’t done yourself some real damage. You are lucky, that unlike some animals, you do not seem to have major blood vessels in your horns. If you had you could have bled to death.”

Later in the Medical Wing, after Hellboy had been given some kind of pain reliever and the pain was receding, he asked his father if he didn’t think he looked a lot better without the horns.

“Son,” said Broom, “I can’t say that I am particularly pleased that you injured yourself for the sake of your appearance. Yet, I understand that this issue has been a particularly troublesome one for you. Dr. Thomson assures me that you have done no permanent damage to yourself and this sensitivity will fade after a time. He does recommend waiting a few days if you wish to try to file your horns down further. As for the way you look: I did not love you because you had horns; I loved you regardless of that fact, and will love you just as much now. If you prefer to be without them, so be it.”

Trevor Broom wasn’t the only person in the BPRD to notice a change in Hellboy’s behavior. Things really came to a head in the June before Hellboy’s twelfth birthday in 1956. Hellboy was generally careful not to be directly disrespectful to Broom, but after a while his disrespectful attitude toward his father become noticeable to almost everyone. When the issue of Father’s Day came up he said some things about his father that people were very careful not to repeat where Broom could hear them.

Paul Johanssen was the only person that Hellboy had been close to who at the time was generally unaware of this issue. He had a bad heart attack in the previous year and had to resign his duties with the BPRD. Hellboy often missed Paul; he was a good influence that was missing in Hellboy’s life at that time. Even though Paul occasionally came to visit, he now had a part-time job as manager of a religious goods store that kept him busy. Broom often visited this store, but never complained about Hellboy when there.

One day Hellboy was in his quarters watching a new television that his father had picked up for him recently. He was smoking a cigar and watching some episodes being broadcast of the old cartoon Felix the Cat. There was a knock on his door and thinking it was his father he tried to get rid of the cigar before he walked in. However, it wasn’t Broom, it was Lee, the FBI liaison.

“Hellboy,” said Lee, “Don’t bother trying to get rid of that cigar. You can smell it a mile away, anyway.”

Hellboy grinned at Lee and continued to smoke the cigar. “Lee, it’s been a long time since you’ve been around. How’re you doing, anyway? It’s good to see you.”

Lee sat down on the rumpled couch next to Hellboy. “I wish I could say the same thing about you, Hellboy. You’re right; it has been a long time. I have to say that I was looking forward to seeing you again. But now that I’m here, I can’t say that I like what I’m seeing. Or what I’m hearing about you. And I’m not talking about the smoking and drinking, either.”

Hellboy took another puff on his cigar and leaned back. “It’s this Father’s Day crap again isn’t it? Well, I’m tired of hearing about it. I don’t want to listen to another lecture about how I should be buying poor Father some stupid gift. So why don’t you just buzz off?”

“Don’t worry, Hellboy,” said Lee, “I’m not planning on giving you some long lecture. I think it would be a waste of breath, anyway. I think its time that you started thinking some things out for yourself for a change. But before I ‘buzz off’, so to speak, let me put a bee in your bonnet and give you something to think about. Remember, I was there on your fifth birthday. I would hope that you remember that day in New Mexico as vividly as I do. I would hope that you remember what happened that day and what happened afterwards.”

Lee got up to leave, “You think about it for a real good long time, Hellboy. See if you don’t think that ‘poor Father’ deserves some kind of gift from you for all the trouble he went through on your behalf. And you see if you can’t come up with a gift that he would like, instead of buying him Zippo lighters and things like that just because it’s what you like. You’ve been grumbling about him not being your ‘real father’. Well, how much more of a ‘real father’ do you want than someone who practically gave up his entire life and fortune for your sake?”

“Look, Hellboy, I’m going to be around for a few days. When you’re done thinking about everything, come to me and I’ll take you anywhere you want to go to pick out a gift. I’ll even help you buy it if you’re short of money.”

Hellboy did think about it. He sat up all night staring at the television set his father had given him for no particular occasion except that he loved him. He just couldn’t believe how much he had allowed himself to forget about his father. The next morning he looked Lee up and told him that he thought he knew something his father would like. Later that month, he didn’t think he ever saw his father so happy as when he gave him that beautiful carved box and rosary that Lee had helped Hellboy pick up from Paul’s religious goods store in Boston.

Things went along much better after that time. On Hellboy’s birthday that same year in 1956, Trevor Broom received an interesting visit from the now retired senator who had given him so much trouble on Hellboy’s fifth birthday. Broom didn’t know what to make of this unexpected visit but, not wishing to appear rude, invited the senator in for a cup of tea. On this particular birthday Hellboy was not around, since he was still on his way back from a long and desperate forage into Argentina. Broom missed him very much and was glad that he was on his way home safely. He hated being apart from Hellboy on his birthday and around Christmas.

The senator sat stirring his tea without saying anything for a few moments. He then looked up and addressed Broom. “My wife and I cannot thank you enough for the excellent work that your organization is doing in Argentina. My son, Steven, our only child, works for the FBI and, though not directly associated with your Bureau, had been sent into Argentina to work with your agents. He was unfortunate enough to become trapped in the mountains by some terrible creature and if not for the resourcefulness of your own son, Hellboy, I would no longer have a son.”

The senator stopped and nervously took a sip of his tea. “My son talks of nothing else except in praise of Hellboy. In fact, Steven claims that Hellboy single-handedly fought this creature and, when his gun malfunctioned during the fight, continued to fight against it using nothing but his fists until he finally defeated it. He then carried Steven, who had a broken leg, miles through the mountains to the nearest enclave of your organization. Steven also tells me that Hellboy asked after you and wished to have a message sent to you that he misses you and wishes that he could have been home for his birthday and the holidays.”

He took another sip of his tea. “Professor Broom, I am so ashamed of my former attitude toward Hellboy. The child I once described as a ‘monster from hell’ had become an angel of protection for my son. I cannot tell you how sorry I am for the trouble that I have caused you and Hellboy in the past. Believe me, I am not an evil man. I abhor that which is evil and at the time I had foolishly convinced myself that what I was fighting against in Hellboy was truly evil; that we would be better off ridding ourselves of such a creature. If I had succeeded in destroying your son where would my son be now?”

Broom raised his hand, “Senator, I never thought you were an evil man. You were merely an ignorant one and, thank God, ignorance can be taught. I understand only too well that outward appearance can be hard to see beyond. I have been fighting against that on behalf of my son for most of his life.”

Broom poured the senator another cup of tea and offered him a biscuit. This was a much better tea than he had once been plagued with in New Mexico and the biscuit was actually edible.

“I am grateful that the Almighty has seen fit”, Broom continued, “to gift me with an ability to recognize evil when I see it no matter what garb it is dressed in. It has been very useful to me in my line of work. I am very seldom fooled by outward appearance. That was the one thing that so impressed me with Hellboy when I first encountered him as an infant; despite his outwardly hellish appearance there was no inherent evil in him. Like all children he was a blank slate for some other hand to write on. That may not have been what the person who originally conjured him intended, but that is what happened. I see the hand of Providence in this and have tried to the best of my ability to love him and raise him to be a force for good in this universe.”

The senator stood. “Professor Broom, I believe you have succeeded in that task.”

“Before I go I have a gift for your son.” He handed Broom a package. “Hellboy gave my son the gun that he had been carrying in Argentina as a kind of souvenir since the damage to it was irreparable. My son tells me Hellboy made a joke out of calling it ‘The Good Samaritan’ since it used only special bullets designed for the killing of monsters and demons. My family fortune stems from gun-making and I have had this gun replicated.”

Broom opened the package and inside found a beautiful handgun that was more than a mere replication of the original. It had a beautiful wooden grip with the sword-in-fist logo of the BPRD and was contained within a box that had the same logo and the words ‘Good Samaritan’ carved on the outside. This ended up being a favorite gun that Hellboy would carry for decades.

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