Monday, April 20, 2009

World of Darkness, part four

all materials on this blog are copyrighted and are the property of the author and may not copied or reproduced in any format without express consent by the author. part four

That meant the other pair was for good. Not that we ever went anywhere that I needed good pants. We didn’t have a clothes dryer. We had a clothes line a hundred feet long. Fifty each way. It was on a pulley and the clothes were run from the back porch which was eight feet above the ground to a tree. I watched the washer shake and rock as she and my sister ran several loads of clothes. What happened next has plagued me my whole life.

I mentioned that I had brothers which were twins. One was standing on a chair watching the laundry being done as well. He stood as my sister was doing dishes. He was only four and tried to pick a wet sock from the washer. His hand leaned on the ringer and it pulled his arm into it. He cried out and we were suddenly shocked to see our little brother’s arm being pulled into the ringer. The meat of his arm piled into a clump in front of the ringer rollers. He screamed as Sis hit the release on the side. It was too late. His arm burst and muscle was laid bare with skin torn open.

Our father came running in and I stood on the steps in my underwear. He grabbed the closest towel and wrapped the arm. My sister was sent to the neighbor to use the phone to call our aunt who seemed to be the only one in the family ever available to help. She arrived within minutes and they flew down the road.

My mother arrived some time after and went into her usual snot and fit. My sister finished the laundry including rewashing the clothes in the washer when the accident occurred.

Hours later our mother returned. Left in the hospital was a very shaken twin. I still cannot believe what happened next. My sister became the target of one of my mothers screaming and hitting fits! It was all my sister’s fault for this terrible accident. She should have watched better. It went on and on.

Who’s fault was it that three little boys were hanging around in their underwear while laundry was done? It wasn’t my sisters fault we had no other clothes to wear! Ah well. I didn’t get a chance to wonder long if my bad luck had jumped.

My habit of clinging to my sister got me shoved aside with, "and what were doing?" I needn’t add what happened next.

I don’t remember wearing shoes much in the summer and my feet were hard. We often went into the road and pushed on the bubbles of hot tar and watched them pop under toe pressure. That same road gave me my second bad experience with bike riding.

One day the kid up the street came by and he had a twenty four inch bike. I should have known better but he thought is was funny to invite me to ride it. I couldn’t reach the peddles and even though I managed to sit with my crotch resting against the bar I could barely touch the peddles. I thought to coast it a little way but we lived on hill. The bike took off and as I rounded the corner of the street the peddles came up and I tried to stop the bike. The chain popped off and I found myself flying down the road.

There was highway at the bottom of the hill and I knew if I couldn’t stop, I would end up in it and probably get hit by a car. My mother would kill me! Near the bottom of the hill the road leveled out and one driveway was angled just right. I swung the bike into the driveway. It was just gravel and the bike slid sideways. It slammed into a tree and I flew over the handle bars into the fence.

The home owner came out at the sound of the crash. She was an elderly woman and her blue-grey hair was short and curly. She helped me to my feet and I stood dazed as the kid from up the street arrived to stare at his bike. He was quite mad and pulled hard to free the bike from the tree. The front wheel had bent severely and I knew there was going to be trouble over it.

The old woman had gone into the house and returned with iodine and bandages. She tended my cuts through the torn pants and I winced in pain from the iodine. She scolded the boy for being so angry. He left dragging the bike up the road toward his house.

I hid out for the rest of the day. My parents weren’t home for a minute when the kid’s father showed up. He gave a very biased story of the events and I heard my name called in that shrill voice that meant I was to be sacrificed. I walked into the house and the kid’s father looked at me as though I were scum.

His urging to "ask him" sent my mother into a diatribe and I stood taking the threats and until she ran out of air. Lucky for me she was asthmatic. She popped her inhaler and I waited while my father, half drunk, told the guy to take it easy he’d take care of things.

The guy shot a figure of dollars to repair the wheel and my dad handed him the money and told him to get out. I think my father would rather have punched him, or at least I’d rather he had.

The wheezing behind me ended and I was lifted off my feet by a hit to the back of the head. She hovered over me yelling about the bill that the money could have paid. I laid there thinking the only bill they ever paid was one at the bar, and that you paid when you ordered.

She grabbed me from the floor and I was dragged into what might have been a living room in any other home. She spanked me again and pushed me off as her wheezing came back. She was angry, not from the bike or the money, but because as hard as she hit, I wouldn’t cry. My father was rummaging about the kitchen.

Finally he shouted, "Oh shut up and let him alone. You didn’t even ask him if what that jerk said was right." He didn’t actually say jerk, but we’ll leave it at that. She stared at me and I wanted to run but I waited for the usual, "get out my sight."

I didn’t hear my father walk in, my ears were still ringing. "What happened?" He asked. My mother went off with her usual yelling. "What does it matter? These kids are not going to get bikes until we have the money to buy them their own. It isn’t safe here in town anyhow."

"Well?" My father hated repeating himself. He was patient with me. He saw how, of all the kids I seemed to bring out the worst in our mother. "The chain popped." That was all I got out. She was short but when angry, amazingly strong. I was hefted again to my feet to hear her screaming fit. Finally she said the words I wanted to hear so badly. "Get out of my sight!" I did too.

I hid by the wood pile under the back porch. Summers,,, how I learned to hate them. They left too much time at home and time brought trouble. Kids in those days did lots of thing others would never dare today.

The local car dealer on the highway had a junk yard in the back. One kid at the bottom of the hill seemed to find my company tolerable. His sister liked one of my brothers and he came by with her on occasion. The kid suggested we go play one afternoon and I went along. He crossed the highway and I knew if I got caught I was dead. Yeah well, I crossed.

We snuck around the edge of the car dealer and into the junk yard. We pretended to race the old wrecks and the sound of our motor noises were stopped often to listen. We were sure we’d get caught. The kid told me to follow him and we wandered among the cars. We reached a huge truck box. It was locked and there was junk leaning against the side. We scrambled to the top and found a square vent hole in the top.

"My older brothers come here and smoke." The kid was smiling as he looked down into the semi-darkness of the inside of the box. "Come on." He climbed into the hole and stood on a pile of tires under the vent. He was several inches taller than me and made it look easy. He dropped to the floor and I slid into the hole.

Unfortunately my shortness caused me to have to drop onto the tire pile. It fell over with me in the middle. We were both laying on the floor as the falling tires knocked the kid over as well. He stood sputtering and staring. There was no way we could reach the top! The darkness of the truck box put us both in a panic. That was when we heard the voices.

"I’m telling you I saw kids out here." One voice was loud and sure. The other was quieter.

"Yeah, well, I guess they saw us and ran off. They’re probably a mile away by now." He laughed at the thought of fear sending us running in panic like deer in hunting season.

We sat and didn’t breath! I was sure we ought to yell out but I knew if they caught us they’d call the police and then our parents and well, I’d rather die here. "Let’s get back to work. There’s no one here now. It’s not like they could hide anywhere else." The quiet man laughed again, this time I think at the other man.

I could hear the grumbled consent and we waited like rabbits too scared to run. They were wrong of course, I don’t think they realized the older kids had pried the lid on the top of the box and we were only feet away, stuck!

"We gotta get out of here!" The kid was almost in tears. He thought his brother might come by, but what if he didn’t? He looked at me and wondered if he could lift me up to the hole. He was chunky for a kid. Too chunky. I climbed on his shoulders and he fell. I sat for while looking at the hole and the tires.

"Maybe we should pile the tires."

"Your not strong enough to lift one. I can’t lift them high enough myself!" The kid had brawn, I had brains. Out thinking older siblings was a matter of survival and I was good!

"What if we roll the tires?"

"What?" I stood and rolled some to the tires away from the spot under the vent. They stood nicely and I move several others into a line which ended under the vent. I pushed another on top the previous and soon my tire stair way was taking form. I was sweating and finally after three rows sat for a break. The kid got up and rolled another onto the row. He stacked several more and were more than half way up. He couldn’t roll any more up the steep pile alone and I got up and together we rolled the next four into place. The kid reached up caught the edge of the roof.

The pile began to rock and he sat back down. I was on the floor and remembered seeing a piece of wood leaning against wall. I found it and handed it up. He laid it across the hole in the top tire and stood on it. He was as tired as I was but pulled himself through. I crawled up the shaking pile and stood on the board. My finger tips barely reached. I was too short! A pudgy hand reached in and grabbed my hand. The light disappeared from the hole as the kid leaned in and pulled. I grabbed the edge of the vent and he let go. Wrestling the last bit of myself through, I sat up to see the kid staring down the hole.

The box shook and we stared in amazement as the stairway of tires fell into heaps in all directions. At that moment a car in the garage backfired! Our eyes popped at the sound of the bang.

We leapt from the box truck and ran to the opening in the fence toward the woods. We ran until we were far enough away not hear anything but our own pounding hearts. We laid in the leaves of the woods and were glad to be alive!

Our hands were black from the tires and we were close to the river. We walked toward it and quietly shared our fear. Once we reached the river the whole world seemed to have changed. We sloshed our hands and rubbed stones on them until they were pink again. I finally had one real friend. We roamed dumps, fields the river and the woods together that summer, but not the junk yard.

Some weeks later on arriving at my friend's house, he was sitting staring at his bike. The tire was flat and there was only one place with a pump, the car dealer! We talked over our story if any one questioned us and happy with our alibis, we rolled the bike to the dealer garage. You know there are people who are followed by luck in all they do. I was one of them. Too bad it was all bad luck!

We arrived at the garage and asked the mechanic if he could pump the tire up? A quiet voice inside said, "go ahead. It’s just a couple of kids."

"Yeah and what about the ones who trashed the spare tire truck?" This guy was angry and he wanted us to know it.

"Well it wasn’t those two. They couldn’t get in out of the locked truck. They’re too short. Crying out loud, just pump the tire up!" The grouchy guy was Barry and he looked at us with hard eyes.

"I bet it was your brothers though, huh?" We stood frozen. Our alibi forgotten, we nearly ran except for the bike. He pressed tire then walked away with the bike. The hiss of air lasted for a few seconds and he returned. He stood holding the handle bar and for a moment I thought he was going to ask for money. We didn’t have a penny and so the worst he could do is let the air back out and send us packing. "You tell the other kids to stay out of the parts yard, y’hear? I put metal over that old cover so no ones getting in that way anymore." His voice softened slightly. "God, if some kid got hurt back there,,," He didn’t finish and I could tell his anger was for fear. Fear that one of us might get hurt! "You tell them any how, OK?" he pushed the bike to my friend who caught the handle grip.

"Yes sir," we said.

"No more racing either." Oh God, he knew!

"No sir." We sounded like a soprano duet.

"The tire may have a hole. If it keeps going flat bring it in and I’ll patch it for you." "Thank you." My friend was quicker at thanking people than I. He stood hands on hips as we walked the bike out the big overhead door. We wanted to run for it but we stayed calm. We hadn’t been forced to lie and so we just walked silently away. From behind Barry called out. "Patches are a dime. Some body has to pay for the patches." We waved and crossed the highway at a run. My friend pushed the bike and once we cleared the white line he jumped on the seat and rode away. I knew he would be going home, so I cut across the ball field and the garden of one of the neighbors. Like I said I was a fast runner.

He just cleared the corner as I ran to his back porch. There was a click and slide of the tire as he locked up the brake in the stones. "Wow! I though he had us! When my brother gets home I’ll tell him what Barry said." He got along with his brother and so I nodded my head. I didn’t want him to get in trouble.

On the other hand, I felt I owed my brothers for their many abuses. It would be just fine with me if they got caught in the junk yard. I never said I was a nice kid! I learned from the best! They never did get caught and we kept our secret about who wrecked the tire truck. This is the first telling of it, forty five years later.

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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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