Tuesday, July 21, 2009

World of Darkness, part six

I rode down the yard and put the stand down and it stood there shiny and mine. I went in the house and found my sister. She was my, always, companion at home. She was several years older and did more in raising me than my mother ever did. I told her my good fortune with great excitement. My own bike and my parents didn’t even have to pay for it! It was about then that I heard the front door slam. We ran into the kitchen and there stood my mother. My shiny bike was gripped in her hand. She looked at me and with deadly quiet in her voice asked, "what is this? I told her it was my bike and that James’ father had given it to me for free. "You will get a bike when we buy it for you. We don’t need his charity!" She turned and dragging the small bike by the grip went toward the basement. You could only get into our basement from outside. I followed and my sister held my hand as we wondered what she was going to do. She snapped the light on. The only thing in there was our wood furnace and the big block my father chopped wood for the stove on. She grabbed the axe and laying the bike on the block. She swung. I stood staring as she chopped the frame in half. Then the new tire and shiny rim. It was a wreck and she slammed it with the blunt end of the axe until it was dented and twisted. She heaved it against the wall and dropped the axe. Tears spilled from my eyes and I ran. I hid in the woods behind the house. That was the day I started hating my mother. Not just a simple dislike or upset, but burning, angry hate. It never went away. I tried, over the years to forgive her for it. I never did. She’s dead these many years and now I can’t. I wonder if I could if she weren’t though? I avoided the ball field, James house, or any place I might see them. School started again and I was about to enter third grade. I remember always feeling sad in those days. The only bright moments I remember were with my sister. She had seen. She knew my pain. She taught me to sing, and let me listen to her records. The Beatles were the rage and she was as caught up in that mess as any teen girl. She took me baby sitting one night and the people had a television. Ed Sullivan was on and the Beatles played. I had to be quiet while my sister screamed as loud as the ones on the television. The summer passed and I missed seeing James. Sis was OK to be around but she wasn’t a guy. She didn’t do guy stuff. I mentioned my bad luck. One day, when I got off the bus, James’ dad was waiting. James sat in the front of the bus and was off before me. I always sat near a brother because as much as I didn’t like them, when trouble started, family stuck together. I followed them off the bus and only saw James’ dad too late. The other kids all ran for their houses and I was trapped. They stood there all three of them. James’ house was only four down from the bus stop. "Want to come down?" James dad seemed sad, hurt. I was afraid he would yell at me and I had avoided James as much as I could. "It will be a couple hours till your folks come home. James hasn’t had someone to play with much lately." I knew what he was saying. I followed them to their house and inside. James set his books down on the table. I didn’t have any. I never had homework. I did it in school at recess. It was safer inside doing homework and reading. I knew if I took something home it would get trashed. We sat at the table and James’ dad set some cookies on the table and glasses of milk. I ate silently. Watching, waiting. Finally James’ dad sat at the table. He nibbled on a cookie. "Did the bike tire go flat?" He was careful in how he spoke. "No, sir." It really hadn’t. "Oh. You haven’t come over to ride I thought you might be afraid to bring it if it went flat. That happens sometimes, it not your fault. If it needs something bring it down, OK?" He was so kind I honestly wanted him to hug me like he often did James. Tears slowly formed in my eyes and dripped into my milk glass. "Are you OK?" He stood and I nearly leapt from the chair. He was between me and the door and I wanted to die. I slid back onto the chair. I remember the sensation of his hand resting on my shoulder, warm, and comforting. "It’s going to be fine. Tell me what happened." James wiggled uncomfortably but did not leave. His sister looked as though she might burst into tears as well. Later I learned little girls are like that. If they see someone cry they do also. It’s still strange to me. I spilled my guts sitting there. A half eaten cookie turned soggy from tears. James and his dad listened as I told them what my mother had done. He had moved around the table and I looked up to see his kind face. It was near tears. I told him all of it. That my mother had said we don’t need his charity. He sat heavily and James just stared. The air was silent. I choked out a thanks for everything. He was staring out the window. I leapt from the chair and was gone. The door banged behind me. We never talked again. Not to James or his dad. The last sight I had of his face was of such sadness. I felt I had betrayed him by being born into such a family. That was the day I learned to hate charity and kindness. Nothing should make you hurt like that. My mother had been raised in a Catholic orphanage. She talked about God and His love. If he was so nice why did He let my mother hurt the nicest man I’d ever met without even touching him. God wasn’t nice! He was cruel and mean and what had I done to Him that He left me where I hated the very people who were my family?

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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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