Monday, March 2, 2009

World of Darkness part Two

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My siblings, being older, were already running around the small neighborhood of half a dozen houses. Our arrival brought them running. Fresh fish for supper set the older brothers to cleaning and scaling the fish. It wasn’t long and some potatoes were sliced and two skillets sent aromatic delight into the rooms. My father was as good a cook as my mother. He fried the fish with leaks from along the river. My mother arrived soon after the meal was cooked. She had that dark broody look that spoke volumes. We ate in silence relishing the small portions each of us received.

Darkness fell and as my mother took the dishes to the sink which had no hot water, I heard her growl something at my father. I didn’t know what was wrong but that was the day I think she started to really hate me. The next day I woke up and noticed my mother was gone but my father was still at home. "Do I have to go to the school today?" I was fearful of a repeat of the previous day. My father looked at me with sad eyes.

"No. You won’t have to go there again." We walked to the back room and he picked up his fishing pole. We started down the path to the river. I followed behind, bewildered but still innocently happy. We arrived at the river and a large hand reached out and took my arm. "Here, use this today." My father placed in my hand the stick and line from the previous day. I grinned so hard my face felt like it would break. He sat me on a rock out cropping, where the river swirled slowly about me. His large fingers set a worm from our small dead garden patch on my hook. My own fish line!

We fished for hours and each time I had a big tug on the line he came over and with practiced skill helped pull the line until the fish lay on the wet rocks. Most were sunnies or chubs but every once in while I had a crappy bass, once a bullhead. He tried to teach me how to handle it and I got horned. That’s what we called getting stuck by the long hard bones on the bullheads face. It hurt a lot but I grimaced and dad smiled as I put the finger in my mouth and sucked the blood from the wound then spit it out.

Today he had a metal stringer and by lunch time it was full. His sharp knife split the fish and we carried cleaned scaled fish home. We spent a lot of days doing that through the summer. Dad picked up odd jobs here and there but didn't get a regular one for while. A year later just before moving from the area, I learned why my father did not go back to the school. Apparently my father had confronted the man at the school. It got heated and my father was fired!

I knew why my mother had taken such a delight in hitting me when she was drunk. I got him fired! At least that was how she felt. Unfortunately I learned it from the boy I had met that day. I say unfortunately for him not me. You see he had grown older and picked up his fathers prejudice. He paid dearly for calling me a reliefer that day. The spanking the teacher gave me was worth it as well as every bruise the kid gave me and I gave back. It was worth the switching my mother gave me for fighting too, but here I am getting ahead of myself.

I learned that a reliefer was someone who was less than human and didn’t deserve to live, let alone be happy. It was someone who had the misfortune to be the pariah society, a poor person. By choice or accident it didn’t matter. People give money to make the social leper go away and feel satisfied they have done good. If they can’t or don’t want to give, they get angry and justify it. It doesn’t matter who the object of their anger is, it only matters that it goes away.

The man at the school was angry because he was hard working and responsible. I was just the next generation of lazy, useless social lepers. His fear was if I touched his son maybe it would rub off. Maybe that meant he wasn't all that good himself and he knew it.

I've wondered on occassion how his life turned out, as well as his son. I can only hope it got better than what I saw at five years old. I saw him once in a while at school that first year and he was a little too pleased with himself. That is until I corrected his sons social skill problem. After that he just watched me walk by with the kind of burning hate that ate at his guts.

His son avoided me and my brothers as well. Word spread quickly. Don't touch that kid. A small few learned why the hard way. Even a kitten can do serious harm to you if provoked.

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About Me

My childhood was spent growing up on a farm in the mountains of northern Pennsylvania. In those years I learned the lessons that would mold my character and moral center. In my teens I moved to a small city in southeastern PA. Like many teens I had my rebellion and found the futility of it. During my late teens I moved to central PA and in high school lost my heart to the girl who is now my wife. Presently I'm well into midlife and slowing rapidly. The things I used to do, I can't even remember. Married for 37 years, we have a son, a daughter and five grandchildren. My son has two boys, my daughter three girls, I love irony! I'm self-employed for most of 25 years in construction. Doing a project for a customer and getting their approval is wonderful and inspiring. I started writing when my children were younger. I did some stories for them and over time it became more of an interest. I now have four completed novels and several shorts and am working towards getting one or more published. One short has been published.

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