A TALE OF 'DEMON' RIGHTS

Author’s notes: Don’t read this Epilogue if you haven’t seen the film and don’t want to encounter SPOILERS. With one exception, none of the characters here are mine. But the dialogue is my own and is not from Del Toro’s script. Hellboy’s thoughts are also basically my own, but there is a little of it based on Yvonne Navarro’s novelization of Hellboy. The final scene is my own and takes place after the end of the film.

While I was on vacation recently, I encountered this inspirational poem for the first time. Somehow, it seemed appropriate to my story. I insert it here, hoping the author won’t mind, and dedicate it to Trevor Bruttenholm.

The clock of life is wound but once,
And no man has the power
To tell just when the hands will stop
At late or early hour.

To lose one’s wealth is sad indeed,
To lose one's health is more,
To lose one's soul is such a loss
That no man can restore.

The present only is our own,
So Live, Love, toil with a will—
Place no faith in ‘Tomorrow’—
For the clock may then be still.

Robert H. Smith

©1932-1982

A Tale of ‘Demon’ Rights

Epilogue

Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense,
Newark, New Jersey, November 1, 2004

Hellboy knelt on the rug of his father’s office in a pool of his father’s blood.

He was gently holding the murdered Trevor Broom to his chest with his enormous right hand—holding him close the way Broom, his adoptive father, had held him close when he was too young to completely understand the meaning of death.

Hellboy noticed how light his father’s body seemed in his arms. When had his father gotten so thin? Had he been ill recently and Hellboy so wrapped up in his own selfish concerns that he hadn’t even noticed?

Hellboy placed his head on the chest of the man he loved more than anything else in the world and listened for his heartbeat—just the way he had listened for it when he was small and thought it was a clock that needed to be kept wound up.

All that came to his ears was a silence, a dead silence. The five-year-old child who still resided within wept for a broken promise.

Hellboy mourned the loss of the man who had never stopped loving him even if that had not been enough to keep his heart beating forever.

And how had Hellboy repaid that love? By disobeying his father, by not being there when his father had needed him the most.

How many times had Hellboy turned away from his father? How many times did the constant love of this gentle man bring him back?

“Father,” he wanted to shout, “Open your eyes. Look at me. I’m here. I’ve come back.”

Instead he whispered, “I told him I hated him. I didn’t mean it. Please, let me stay with him.”

But Hellboy knew it was too late; he had come back too late to let his father know how much he loved him and still needed him.

He tried to block out what was going on around him.

There were crime scene specialists, forensics experts, homicide investigators, FBI agents—what seemed a veritable crowd of people, all examining Trevor Broom’s office collecting evidence related to his murder.

When they would approach the primary piece of evidence, Broom’s body, Hellboy would hold it even closer as if to keep them from taking it away—as if never letting it go would make everything different.

Everyone would then back off, leaving Hellboy to his grief and his father’s body.

Agent John Myers had only just met Hellboy and his father for the first time the day before. He was amazed at how much grief he felt for a man he had barely known.

Yesterday evening Broom had told him that he was, unknown to Hellboy, terminally ill and had brought Myers into his organization to be there for his son when he was gone.

He hadn’t known that his death would end up happening so soon and so violently.

Tom Manning, the current liaison between the BPRD and the FBI, knew from first-hand experience how emotionally volatile the seven-foot demon could be. Even though this was a crime scene he had been reluctant to try to stop Hellboy from disturbing his father’s body.

Manning was now becoming impatient. He walked up to Myers, “Jeez, he’s just like a dog with a bone. Isn’t there something you can do to get him out of there?”

Myers surprised himself by grabbing the man who was technically his superior and shoving him back away from Hellboy into the crowded hallway outside of the office.

“Good God, Manning,” he said in a low voice, “Don’t say that. He’ll hear you. He is not a ‘dog’ and what he is holding is not a ‘bone’. He is a man who has just lost his father, someone who has been with him every day of his life for almost sixty years. Give the guy some respect and let him take his own time to grieve. In fact, I would recommend getting everyone to clear out for a while so he can have some time alone. It might help.”

Manning shrugged. In a way he knew Myers was right—he really should feel sorry for Hellboy’s loss. Manning had known Broom and Hellboy for years and had seen father and son track and destroy more monstrous threats to human existence than he could count. And yet, like many, he could not see beyond Hellboy’s own monstrous exterior.

Trevor Broom had always been able to see beyond that exterior—to see something very special in Hellboy that many could not. There were some others over the years that had followed in Broom’s footsteps and had come to have affection and respect for the demon Broom loved as a son. Manning was not one of them. Freaks made him nervous.

He stepped forward into Broom’s office, avoiding looking at the distraught Hellboy, and quietly shooed everyone else out of the room.

Professor Trevor ‘Broom’ Bruttenholm’s funeral a few days later was a major affair attended by thousands from all over the world.

Most knew of him as one of the world’s greatest folklorists and collector of tomes and artifacts. Some in attendance also knew of him as the world’s greatest expert on Nazi occultism.

Only a select few knew of him as the founder and director of the FBI Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense and ‘father’ to Hellboy, its chief field investigator and monster hunter.

These select few were also the men and women who accompanied the funeral procession as it left the BPRD’s headquarters and proceeded to the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark where the funeral was to be held.

Somehow it seemed appropriate that it be storming that early November day, the day of Trevor Broom’s funeral.

He loved thunderstorms, especially the cold storms that came late in the year. When asked why, he would always say that the most wonderful event of his life had occurred during the chaos of a wild December storm.

As the mourners left the building that secretly housed the BPRD, someone looking down from the roof above would have seen nothing more than a sea of black umbrellas that briefly parted to allow the coffin to be placed in the hearse.

The FBI would not permit Hellboy to attend anything related to his father’s funeral and this brief parting of umbrellas was the last glimpse Hellboy had of Trevor Broom.

Among the mourners was the retired politician, now elderly, who had once worked under the name of ‘Lee’ as the FBI liaison. He looked out from under his umbrella as he left the building and saw Hellboy standing bear- headed in the pouring rain, defiantly stuck up on the roof like some modern- day Colossus. Hellboy had wanted to witness something of his father’s funeral and had wanted people to see him—to see that he really did care about his father. He was clutching something in his left hand.

Lee was devastated that Tom Manning, the current FBI liaison, couldn’t even see fit to let Hellboy participate in carrying his father’s coffin out to the waiting hearse. All of the people gathered there knew exactly who Hellboy was. What was the FBI trying to prove by totally blocking, within the confines of the BPRD, Hellboy’s access to his late father? Wasn’t his father’s Bureau the place Hellboy called home? Wasn’t this disrespect of Hellboy’s status as Broom’s son exactly what Broom had spent a lifetime fighting against?

Lee raised his hand in a gesture of sympathy and wondered if Hellboy recognized or even saw him. Hellboy was as motionless as a statue, his eyes locked on the last glimpse he could see of his father’s coffin. However, right before Lee turned aside, Hellboy shifted the position of his left hand as if intentionally. Lee then recognized what he was holding. It was the beautiful rosary he had taken Hellboy to purchase almost fifty years before as a Father’s Day gift for Trevor Broom. Lee quickly entered his car, no longer able to bear witnessing Hellboy’s immense grief.

Hellboy never moved from that spot on the roof. Some suspected that he had remained up there all day and all night. When he eventually did come down, he locked himself in his room and didn’t sleep, eat, or speak to anyone for three days.

Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense,
Newark, New Jersey, December 23, 2004

Hellboy climbed up the fire escape to the roof of the building that housed the BPRD headquarters. He had not been up there since the day of his father’s funeral.

The night was very clear, very crisp, and the stars shone brightly in the sky. The weather was exactly the opposite of the stormy weather that had greeted him that same night sixty years before. He had always been taught by his father to consider this day his birthday.

This was Hellboy’s first birthday without the man he always thought of as his father.

It was also his first birthday spent with Liz Sherman since she started to love him the way he always wanted her to.

It was a day that was both very happy and very sad at the same time and Hellboy often had difficulty dealing with more than one emotion at a time.

So here he was alone on the roof.

Hellboy thought of his birthday last year. His father had arrived to his room in the late morning bearing a brand-new DVD player and a stack of DVDs of their favorite films. Of course there was also a box of Baby Ruth candy bars.

They had worked together to set the machine up, eating candy bars while figuring out all the wires and connections. Popcorn eventually was sent in as well.

Father and son then curled up together on the mattress in the back of a pickup truck that served both as Hellboy’s couch and bed and proceeded to watch four films. Or at least Hellboy watched four films while munching on chocolate and popcorn; his father eventually fell asleep slumped against his son’s right side supported by that huge right hand.

When all four films were over, Hellboy had picked up his sleeping father from the bed and carried him out to his own room. He placed him down on the bed and covered him up with a blanket.

Rather than walking out immediately, he looked down on his sleeping father. Many decades before when Broom had been very ill, Hellboy had thought that his father looked old. Now he realized that the man he called Father was, indeed, old.

For some reason Hellboy never quite understood, he did something that night he had not done since he had been young. He knelt down next to his father’s bed and placing his head on his chest listened to his father’s heartbeat as he had done on his fifth birthday. Hellboy never considered at the time that this would end up being the last birthday he would ever have a chance to do this.

Standing on the roof lost in his memories, Hellboy realized that his father had never broken even one promise that he had ever made him.

Trevor Broom had promised his young son that he would never let anything or anyone separate them. And he accomplished that even though he practically spent all of his savings to do it—just as he swore he would.

He had also sworn to his son that all would recognize him as a sentient being of equal status to any human and he had accomplished this. Not always as well as he would have liked, but at least never again did the young Hellboy have to live in fear of being experimented on as if he were something even less than an animal.

Fifty-five years earlier on this same night his father had promised him that he would always love him and it was this love that kept his heart beating. At the time Hellboy had understood this as a promise to live forever.

Hellboy knew that his father, fervent Catholic that he was, believed in life after death. He knew that his father had never stopped loving him and believed that he would take that love even beyond death.

He closed his eyes and contemplated the warm darkness inside of himself. Very quiet, almost at the edge of hearing, he thought that he could hear a heart beating.

“Good,” Hellboy whispered to himself and then descended from the roof to begin making a new life without the father he had always had with him, the father that he now knew he would never really be without.

This is finally the end of A Tale of 'Demon' Rights. I saw the movie four times when it came out. After writing this story exploring the past relationship between Trevor Bruttenholm and Hellboy, I don't think I will ever be able to see this movie in the same way again. Kudos to Mike Mignola and Guillermo del Toro for coming up with characters that have so much depth to explore and write tropes on.

Thanks for reading,

Beth Palladino

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