June 4, 2010 Comments Off
“You read at third-year college level,” the school counselor says.
Wow, me? I smile and show my teeth.
“We don’t have a class to put you in but you can be a reading tutor for a remedial reading class,” she says.
Wow, my first few days of class at Wisbe Junior High school. I am so smart. I get to be a tutor. I always thought I was smart.
“Do you know how to type?” The counselor asks.
“Great. Some kids come here and don’t have a clue how to type. For now you go ahead and join Mrs. Reisland’s typing class in room twenty-four.”
“Okay,” I say. I join the class.
“Go ahead and sit. Join in when you’re ready,You can just start typing with the rest of the class.”
“Okay. You know, I think I’m gonna like this school. A new start. I can’t wait,” I say.
“Good glad to hear it Beatie. Now go ahead and take a seat,” Mrs. Reisland says.
I take a seat near a boy with straight red hair and freckles.
“Hi, I’m Beatie.” I smile and show him my teeth.
“Hi,” he says. I know he likes me, I can tell. I smile at him. My teeth choppers like a rabbit’s two front teeth. I watch him type. He types fast. He does not look at the keys. The typewriter is not electric; instead, it’s a manual Corona. What’s weird is the keyboard doesn’t show the letters. It’s a blank keyboard. I try to type the words from the typing book assignment. I can’t type without being able to see the letters on the keypad.
“Is something wrong?” Mrs. Reisland asks. She inspects my blank paper.
“No, nothing,” I say. I keep my eyes on my feet.
“Well, if you need any help let me know.” Mrs. Reisland cannot help me.
May 31, 2010 Comments Off
I lie on the red velvet couch inside the living room of the trailer. Mother smokes a Salem next to me on the couch. The Salem stinks of peanut butter.
“Mom, that smoke is making me sick.” Mother continues the puff.
“Can you put that out? I can’t sleep.”
“I’m almost done.”
“I hate that smell.”
Mother pulls the last of the smoke into her lungs.
“Good night, Mom.”
LATE FIRST NIGHT
I dream. In my dream, I see myself. I sit on a goat. I hold the goat’s horns and guide the goat. Me on top of a goat. Together we ride through a village in Tuscany. People in the village follow us with flutes and tambourines. They sing in the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard.
I am the Messiah. The chosen one. Something touches me, invades me. My
goat stops. I kick the goat with the heel of my spur. The goat does not move.
Someone grabs one of my breasts from behind. I open my eyes. It’s dark. I see a shadow and smell a stink of body odor mixed with beer. A man. I feel him. He touches my body and caresses me. I open my eyes.
“What are you doing?”
“Huh? Oh, I thought you were asleep,” Lenney whispers.
I pull the blankets tight around my chest. Shit…
What the hell was that about? Why did Lenney do that? I’m scared.
I don’t know what that was about Beatie I don’t either.
May 28, 2010 Comments Off
Father is quiet. We travel in the Datsun to Mother’s trailer twenty miles away to the desert. A mile an a half outside the town of Twenty-nine Palms.
The trailer park is called the Oasis Park. We pull into the trailer park.
“Where’s the Oasis?” I ask.
“Please don’t talk, Just don’t talk,” Father says.
Up a dirt road inside the Oasis Park a small barefoot girl pushes a stroller
and smiles at us. Father passes her and stops the car in front of space #348.
The man Lenney, from the mental hospital sits on the porch of a single wide manufactured home. He wears a white tank top and holds a beer can. His dark slippers surround his white socks. He takes a sip of beer. Father backs up the Datsun and pulls up the driveway. I get out of the car, my trash bags filled with clothes. Lenney smiles at me and glides his hand across his greased-back hair.
“Where’s Frata?” Father asks.
“Oh, let me get her. Honey, he’s here with Beatie,”
Mother comes outside. Her hair grown long. She wears a pony tail. Mother smiles and welcomes me with her arms.
I don’t want to hug Mother. Mother smells of sweat and cigarettes.
“Hi Mom,” I stare at an old frayed green couch on the porch. We walk inside the modular home.
“Frata, you know I doing you a big favor,” Father says.
“What do you want us to do, live in the street?” Mother says.
We sit on the red velvet couch from the bright yellow house our family once shared together.
Father sits. “How much dis gonna cost to get dis dump out of foreclosure?”
Father’s shirt pocket stuffed with his blue checkbook, pen and pocket protector.
“Two thousand dollars.” Mother says. She lights a cigarette.
“What you do with all the money you get from the state?”
“I don’t have it,” Mother takes a drag off the cigarette.
“Mama Mia. You crazy”
Father swings his head towards the shag carpet. Lenny takes a sip of his beer. Lenney sits in the kitchen at the metal dining room table, his back to us.
“What does he do all day?” Father asks. He points to Lenney.
Lenney takes another sip of beer and takes a seat on the couch near us. He wipes his face with his shirt. No one answers Father.
“Frata, what you are doing is crazy, I don’t know how you gonna live Frata. Your gonna end up back in dat mental hospital.”
Mother stares at the carpet. Father writes the check and tears it out of a
book. He hands the check to Mother. “Make sure you call the mortgage company tomorrow and let them know you need a receipt.”
Mother takes another drag of her Salem. “Again, What do you expect me to do?” She stares at Father.
“Frata, I don’t expect you to do anything. It’s your life now. If he gets a job maybe dat could help your situation. Maybe then you could go back
to college and become a real nurse.”
Father hands Mother the check. She smiles and folds it. Mother stuffs the check inside the back of her back jean pocket.
“I am a nurse.” Mother keeps her eyes on the ground.
“All I know is I have to get back to the office. Dis is your problem, nurse.” Father points to me.
I keep my eyes on a dusty framed black and white poster of Elvis on the wall nearby. Darlin little pie/Don’t you worry/I’m gonna be right by your side. I smile at him. Elvis will not let me down. Father stands up and tucks the front of his shirt back inside his pants. Father puts his checkbook inside his shirt pocket.
Father does not move his head back to Mother or me. Father’s neck is stiff and points straight ahead. Father walks out the sliding glass door.
May 23, 2010 Comments Off
“Your dad told me to tell you can get pregnant now,” Valoria whispers to me. I’m in my room trying to figure out what shoes to wear. My China doll shoes or my brown track shoes.
“What are you talking about? I thought you weren’t going to tell him.”
“He saw blood in the toilet earlier in the bathroom; he just knows.”
“How could he know?”
“He just does, that’s all. So he wants me to let you know that whatever you’re doing with boys, you could get pregnant now. So you better be careful.”
“He thinks I’m having sex with boys?”
“Well are you?”
“No, I am not having sex with boys.”
WHAT TO DO WITH A PERIOD
Father sits on the red velvet couch in the living room. Father’s hand is in his pants. His belt unbuckled… I know what your thinking his pants are always unbuckled. Father watches bombing footage from World War II on television. His head faces the dark kitchen. I open a drawer in the kitchen and grab the plastic cellophane wrap box and three paper napkins. I fold the napkins in half. I pull out a sheet of plastic wrap and rip it against the blade of the box.
I wrap the plastic wrap around the napkins. I repeat the process three times
until my sanitary napkins look like burritos. Father keeps his eyes on the
television. I take the burritos to the bathroom. I put two inside the cabinet under the sink and safety pin one to my panties.
Operator: “I have a collect call. Will you accept the charges?”
“Who is it?”
Operator: “She says her name is Lucy Ricardo?”
“Hi Mom, how are you?”
“I made you a key chain today in occupational therapy.”
“You know I could always use a key chain.”
My eyes spin slow. I look out the window. Mother is silent.
“Mom, I gotta go.”
“Beatie I’m getting out of the hospital this week.”
“Really? Where are you gonna go when you get out?” I hear Mother breath on the other end of the phone.
“Lenney and I are getting married. We are gonna buy a mobile home.”
I have nothing to say to this.
“Beatie, you can come stay with us.”
I have nothing to say to that.
A Few Months Later
Frances is tall, dark, and part Italian. He has olive skin. I kind of forget about how his wavy black hair sits almost to his shoulders. Instead, I concentrate on his smile. Frances is two years older than me. We have been boyfriend and girlfriend for about two months. I love him and he loves me.
“Hey cutie” Frances pulls up beside me on his beach cruiser.
“Need a ride?” He pats the handlebars of the bike.
“Sure,” I say.
Frances lets me to jump on the handlebars. His special chosen plucked cherry blossom. Frances smiles. His feet move fast fast. Frances stands on the pedals his throat behind me. I feel his face on my my neck. The smell of his cologne makes me want to be close to him.
“Turn here. I don’t want my dad to see me.”
I point to the alley close to my house. Frances stops the bike.
“Here you go, cutie.”
“Thanks Frances, you’re so sweet.”
I wrap my arms around and look up at him. We kiss gentle. Frances’s lips are soft. Both of us into the moment. I melt into his eyes with love. Frances looks into me and then I see it. The brown mud Datsun turns up the alley.
“Shit! It’s my dad.”
The Datsun accelerates and is coming right for us.
“Oh no, he’s gonna kill me,”
Frances’s stares straight ahead. Father pulls up next to us and rolls his window down.
“Get in da car, and you leave her alone, Beatie has enough problems.”
Frances pedals away fast.
“Get in da car, Beatie.”
I have no choice. I get in the car.
“What are you doing with dat boy, huh?”
Whack! The gorilla’s hand bounces off my head. A volcano erupts in my brain.
“You’re too boy crazy. Instead of school you study boys. Dats crazy.”
My chest pounds. Father whacks me again on the head.
“Dad, we’re just friends.”
“Don’t lie, Beatie.”
Whack again! This time on my cheek.
“Now get out.”
I get out of the car Father opens the front door. We walk inside the house. I make my way fast down the hallway. Father is right behind me.
“You Goddamn Dummy Ding!” Father gives me a sharp toe in the butt. A whack and another kick. I’m on the ground. Father quietly kicks me with his right dress shoe. He is done. I crawl to the bathroom and shut the door. I lock it.
“You dick! You dick!”
I grab a brush and throw it at the door. Father can’t get me. If he tries I will punch him with every muscle. Every fiber. Every bone of my body.
“You need to leave dis house,” he says.
“You keep a dirty room and you lie. I cannot keep you here. Understand?”
I yell from behind the bathroom door. The clack of Father’s feet knock in a hollow rhythm and the front door closes. The Datsun’s motor starts. Father leaves.
I sit on the floor. My fingers trace the dusty floorboard of the bathroom. The particles of dust like fibers of people. I blow the dirt clean.
December 18, 2009 Comments Off
Mr. Fedlister, combs my hair and parts it down the middle. He pulls each side of my locks behind my ears.
“You need a haircut,” Mr. Fedlister spits on the comb and strokes my hair strands again with the comb.
I’m ready for my close up. I stand on the stage. My hands rest on a textbook. The book sits on a classroom desk. A nature scene and earth globe behind me complete the picture scene.
“Smile. Say cheese,” the photographer looks through the lens. I hear a click.
Lights flash. I smile and hold the pose.
“One more time please” the photographer presses the button. The lights flash again. I blink. See dots. The dots blink and don’t stop. Off and on someone plays with a light switch in my brain. My head starts to hurt and my brain can’t keep up with these lights. I try to chase them away and close my eyes. The lights come back. Watching them swim I see neon-colored tetra fish. My stomach feels pain. I receive a message from the burrito I brought from home and ate today at lunch.
“Out. Let me out. I can’t stand it in here! I can’t breathe, Beatie,”
“Mr. Fedlister, I think I need to get to a bathroom fast.” My hand rubs my belly.
“First, Comb your hair again. Your hair is so messy, Beatie doesn’t your dad ever take you to get your hair cut?” He hands me a small black comb. I run the comb quick against my ears.
“I’ma comin’ out, Beatie, ya better let me. I ain’t stayin’here no more,”
“I gotta go,” I hand the comb back to the teacher and run out of the room. There is not much time-Burrito wants out. Once at the bathroom. Latch a door behind me. Hug the latrine. Stick my finger down my throat. Hang my head inside the bowl. I gag.
“Please Beatie, get me out fast!”
Try again. Put my finger inside. Tickle my throat.
“I’ma comin’ Here I come!”
something comes up my stomach. I release broken Burrito into the potty.
“You saved my life.” he moans. I stare at broken Burrito and flush the toilet.
Dressed and ready to walk to school. An unwrapped burrito sits on the counter of the kitchen. I throw it in my brown lunch bag along with an apple.
I eat my burrito and take two bites from my apple.
Neon fish swim in my head again. My brain gets a message from Burrito.
“You gotta let me out fast. I can’t take it no more.”
I let Burrito free into the latrine.
“Thank you Beatie, I love you”
“Beatie, your dad’s on his way from work to pick you up,” I lie on a cot, covered with a brown blanket inside the nurse’s station. Mrs. Reid pats my head.
Father arrives, his eyes soft.
“Mrs. Reid, I think I’m gonna throw up again.”
“You betcha, Beatie, I wanna be free your brother Jeffrey isa’ comin too,”
Mrs. Reid grabs a plastic dish off the table near the cot. My body shoots up and I hurl Burrito onto a dish.
“Good girl, get it out.” She pats my back. I hold the plate close and concentrate.
“This is the third time in the last two weeks your daughter has thrown up at
school,” Mrs. Reid says.
“She also looks like she’s losing weight. She’s getting too thin. Maybe you should have her looked by her doctor. Does Beatie have a pediatrician?” Father pauses for a moment, his feet uncrossed.
“I’ll take her to dat doctor soon.”
Father stares at the wall. Father’s legs cross.
A few days after school I see Mr. Fedlister. He walks toward the teacher’s
“Mr. Fedlister, watch me. Watch me.”
I run through the grass, both my arms raised at the elbows. My Hands flop straight ahead. I run, dive and roll. I am a gold medal gymnast, a swan.
“Good job,” Mr. Fedlister glances in my direction.
I stand proud. My arms reach for the sky. This is the moment. I wait for my medal. My arms held high. The star spangle banner plays God bless America. Father and the rest of America watches me from inside the Olympic stadium. Father stands from his seat first.
“Look at dat” his gorilla hands clap with a strong muffle sound for me.
The world follows Father. People rise from their chairs. The world gives me a standing ovation. It’s the proudest moment in the American history of women’s gymnastics. The camera on Father. He wipes tears with a clean handkerchief. The camera on me. I smile valiant. The medal placed upon my neck with a bouquet of purple lilies handed to me by “Bella” the famous gymnastic coach.
Beatie brings home the Gold. Nadia, the silver medalist gives me a hard look. I smile at her. I don’t care, too bad for her. I won.
Mr. Fedlister walks away.
I WALK HOME ALONE
My mind thinks about food. I am hungry. I hope Father left the back sliding door unlocked and I can steal some cheese and bread out of the refrigerator.
Father told me: “Do not eat dat food when I’m not home. “You can eat an apple if you’re hungry.”
I open the wooden gate to the backyard of the bright yellow house. I make sure I put my foot on each of the round concrete stepping stones. (Someone told me that if you step on a crack you break your mother’s back.) I skip on each stone leading towards the sliding glass door to the dining room. My stomach growls. The sliding door is locked. I peer into the window and see the time on the clock near the thin bar table. The time reads 3:15. I hit the glass with my fist. I cup my hands and make circles around my eyes and press my face against the window. I see a bag of red apples on top of the refrigerator. I turn and pretend to eat a vanilla ice cream cone dipped in chocolate.
I hear a noise, a slight cry. I walk toward the sound. Lift my leg to take a step.
See greasy, gray fur. Red eyes open, a bright red mouth. A long thin tongue. A belly in the dirt. I lose my balance. The face of death. My behind foot grazes the spine. My lead foot smashes the ribs. Hear the crack then a high-pitched baby squeal.
My heart rushes and I run. My mind follows. I am scared and sick to my
stomach, but think your here with me and I know I’m not alone. We will make
it, won’t we? We just gotta wait till Father gets home, right? Wish we could leave but where would we go? Next door? Lorena’s house? No… Father will have a fit if we leave. We better stay here.
Now can you see the cat’s ear? A pink bit of flesh poking out of the ground. It’s sick isn’t it? All these dead cats in our lives, but your here with me and you won’t let me down. Thank God. Were gonna make it. We sit on the steps and wait. Thank God your here with me. I don’t know what I would do without you. A few hours pass. The cat is silent now. Let’s stay far away from it.
THE DEAD ARRIVAL
Father arrives! He opens the sliding glass door quick.
“Sorry I’m late, I had to present an offer for a house” he says.
“Daa-Dad, there’s a dead cat out here. I had to sit here alone while it died. It was horrible.”
“Yeah, Dad… dead” Father walks out to the backyard.
“Where’s dat kitty?”
“Over here Dad” Father follows us to the dirt. Father squats and examines the cat. Father’s knuckles bend with one knuckle stuck on his chin.
Father grabs a garden hoe near the peach tree. He taps the dead animal with the small shovel, a serious look to his face.
“Dat poison I put out must have worked.”
before i died i felt the wind rushing my face by Rad Wolf
October 29, 2009 Comments Off
“You are so beautiful.” Mother says to me. My hair has been curled with sponge curlers. I wear the pink and white flowered dress Mother bought me. I also wear black Mary Janes. The shoes surround my white Bobby socks with white lace around them. Mother strokes my hair with a brush and drinks coffee.
“Don’t be afraid. The judge will be real sweet to you. I just hope I don’t see that girlfriend of your father’s. What’s her name?”
“Oh, you mean Valoria? They’re just friends, Mom. That’s not his girlfriend. Dad’s just lonely, that’s all.”
Mother takes another sip of her coffee. She closes her eyes and presses her hands to her forehead. Mother’s fingers shake.
I LOVE COURT
In the court room I see people who sit on benches. I sit near the back with Mother. Finally, I see him. Father sits toward the front. Father looks like a young boy. He smiles with his lawyer as if the lawyer is his father.
“The court calls case number #45987 Scareli versus Scareli,” the bailiff says.
Mother and I walk towards the front of the courtroom. Father is already in front of the judge. The three of us together again.
“First what I like to do is to call the minors to my chamber. The judge removes his glasses and wipes them. “Lets all take a ten-minute break,”
The bailiff leads me through a long hallway to a room.
“Have a seat,” the bailiff says to me. I sit in front of a large oak desk with framed pictures of the judge’s family. Certificates surround the walls. I breath. I am scared. The judge walks in and takes a seat at the desk.
“Want some candy?” He hands me a lemon ball.
“The judge puts the lemon ball in his pocket. “Well, then. Do you want to live with your father or your mother?”
I stare at pictures of a happy family on a big desk. A boy, a man and a young mother with long, soft blonde hair combed to one side. The mother smiles. Her teeth white. A pearl necklace hung soft on her neck.
“My mom is crazy, she can’t take care of me. She just got out of a mental hospital a month ago and she doesn’t have a job either. So I have to live with my dad. There is no way I can live with her.”
“Beatie, I always like to hear what the child has to say. I will keep this discussion with you today in mind when I make my decision. By the way, you say your father is not crazy, correct?”
“No way. My dad is one of the smartest men in the world.”
“Oh yeah. If it wasn’t for him I don’t know what would happen to me. I mean, my mom is just plain crazy. She never does anything around the house and she always sleeps. She thinks my dad has girlfriends and everyone in the world is out to get her. My dad has one friend named Valoria who spends the night sometimes since Mom moved out. Dad says they’re just friends, but Mother thinks my dad wants to be with Valoria instead of Mother. Can you believe that? Maybe if she wouldn’t sleep so much my dad would want to be with Mother instead.”
“Is that what you think?” The judge asks.
“What else could it be?”
PATRICIDE OF THE RICARDOS
Our parents return to the courtroom. I wait on a chair outside of the room. It’s a blur and I’m confused. I’m a fish in a glass bowl waiting for someone to feed me fish flakes. A young boy stares at me through the glass.
“Hey Cosmo” the boy says to me. I pucker my lips since I can’t speak. Maybe the boy will feed me.
“Jeffrey it’s time to eat dinner.” I hear a woman’s voice say.
“Okay Mom I’ll be right there” The boy stares at me from above.
Please feed me I wiggle my fin. The air is getting thin.
“See ya Cosmo” The boy walks away.
Time passes. Mother walks out of the courtroom first with her lawyer. Mother dressed in a glitter pant suit. The lawyer shakes Mother’s hand. Father walks past Mother and the lawyer. Father looks away as if passing a stranger on a busy street. He walks in front of me. Is it possible Father didn’t see me? Mother picks imaginary sparkle lint off her shoulder as Father’s feet leave us. Mother’s lawyer walks away.
“Mom, what happened?”
“Your father divorced me and gets to keep the house, Ricky is dead.”
“What about me?”
“You get to live with me on the weekends.”
“Is that good?” I ask.
AFTER THE PATRICIDE
Mother smokes a Salem in her housecoat. She rubs the ass of a cigarette in the glass black ashtray on the night stand near her bed. She covers herself with a dirt cream-colored blanket. Mother falls asleep. Mother wakes to go to the bathroom and eat puffed rice cereal out of a box. Mother does not leave her apartment for three months.
(Father visits Mother at the Flat)
“Frata, you’re gonna end up back in dat hospital if you don’t get out of bed. It’s been three months now and dis house is a mess.” Father and me sit by mother’s side.
“How are you going to get a job and pay your rent if you can’t get out of your bed? The money you took out of our bank account isn’t gonna last forever,” Father says.
“What money?” Mother asks.
“What do you mean what money? The money you took out of our bank account. What did you do with it?”
“I gave it to my brother,” she says.
“You gave it to your brother? You crazy woman! You crazy! You Crazy…”
Father stands above Mother. She lies under heavy blankets. Father swings a pen near Mothers forehead.
“Follow the pen!” Father says. Mother follows the pen with her eyes. Father swings the pen pendulum. Slow then fast, he moves the pen from one side to the other side. Mother’s eyes follow the pen. I watch Mother. Her eyes close. Father makes the pen go faster. Father’s brow furrows. Father thumps Mother on the head hard
with the pen. Mother growls and turns a dull shade of pale green.
“Damn Crazy Woman! I command a crazy woman to become sane!” The bed shakes.
October 22, 2009 § 2 Comments
It is a one story flat. A box of a flat. One bedroom. One bath. A kitchen and a gas stove. The Dodge is parked in front of Mother’s apartment door like an old blue Chevy Nova parks in front of seedy trucker motel.
“Beatie open it up,” Mother says.
The box sits untouched on my lap. I try not to cry.
“Mom, you just got out of the hospital. How are you gonna take care of yourself let alone take care of me? Just let me go back to Daddy. Let Daddy take care of me.
You’re sick!” I say.
“Just open the box, Beatie.”
“No, it’s not gonna change anything.”
“Open the box!”
I open the box. The box is cardboard. Six pairs of jeans stacked, the same color, same style, and a pink flower dress with a petty coat. A blue and white bag of my favorite candy, the kind with coconut and almonds, sits at the top.
“Just eat some candy,” Mother says. “I bought you some of those saddle back Ditto brand jeans you always wanted.”
“I don’t want them.”
“Then just eat the candy.”
I open the bag and stick a bite size candy bar in my mouth. The taste of tears and chocolate makes my throat dry and my tongue salty.
Mother watches me. She takes a hard inhale of her Salem.
“I bought you some Barbie, dolls too.”
Mother coughs a fur ball and rubs her eyes. Her fingers twitch.
I run to the door. Father. I know it’s cFather.
“Move outta my way, Larry.”
“Look Beatie, your dad isn’t gonna come and take you home.” Larry stands at the front of the door. His butt rubbing the doorknob.
“Larry, get outta my way.”
Larry shakes his head.”You’re a dumb bunny, Beatie.”
“Please just open the door,” I say.
“Open the door,” Mother says. Larry opens the door. I see Father. He sits in the Datsun. I run to the car. The car moves in reverse. Father does not see me.
“Dad… Daddy!” Father’s body faces forward, his head faces the road. Father’s glasses sit straight on his face. Maybe he doesn’t hear me.
Father’s head does not move. The car moves forward and away from me onto the road. I watch the back of Father’s black hair become a small dot. He is gone. I turn and walk towards the door. My eyes keep to the ground and notice a brown wrinkled grocery bag on the doorstep. I pick up the bag and look inside. A note sits on top of some of my clothes from home and some old sour ball candies. I read the note.
Don’t worry. Everything gonna be okay
don’t cry. Your Dad.
BACK INSIDE THE FLAT
Larry smiles and takes a final sip out of his beer can.
“Frata, I gotta go. I’ll give you a call in a few days when I get to Amarillo. By the way, Frata can you give me some money?”
Mother takes a drag off her Salem and smashes the butt in a black ashtray.
“Here’s some.” Mother hands Larry a large bundle of cash.
“Thanks. Have a good life, my little sister, I’ll pray for you.” Larry hugs Mother.
I walk to the bathroom and sit on the toilet. I cry. Did I forget to mention I hate my life?
A FEW DAYS LATER
“Mom, do you want me to go to the store?”
“Yeah get whatever you want honey. Take twenty dollars.” Mother points to her wallet on the night stand near her bed. Mother’s body under dirt sheets.
I walk to the grocery store. It’s dark. I notice a chalk-colored sidewalk ahead of me. Cars drive by and honk. I hate to walk in the dark. I run. Once, at the grocery store, I put two six packs of root beer soda and a six-pack of fruit punch soda in the grocery cart. Three bags of different kinds of chips go in the shopping cart. grab fifteen chocolate candy bars from the check-out lane and set them on the conveyer belt along with the other snacks.
“Boy, that’s some party you’re going to have. Is that all for you?” The white haired checkout lady asks.
“No, I just do most of the shopping for my family,” I say.
She puts the groceries in the bag. I walk out of the supermarket and stop at the hot dog stand on the way to Mother’s apartment.
“Six chili dogs,” I tell the gray haired hot dog lady.
“Are you gonna eat all them hot dogs?”
“No, I have a family to feed.”
“Oh,” the hot dog lady says.
EAT THE CHILI DOGS
I arrive home. Mother is asleep.
“Hey Mom, I got us some dinner.”
“Oh how nice,” she says.
I turn on the kitchen light. Mother wears her usual housecoat. We sit on the small couch together. We drink soda and eat chili dogs. Mother chews her food
“Mom, can I watch TV?”
“Sure honey. Do whatever you want.”
I turn on the TV. The picture on the television is dark.
“When I get some more money from your father I’m gonna get us a new TV, this TV needs a new picture tube.”
Mother stuffs hot dog in her mouth. Some of the chili misses her lips and lands on her cheek. More chili falls on Mother’s lap.
“Maybe if we turn it on its side it will work better.” I turn the TV on its side.
“Yeah, that’s a little better. Here, let’s try turning it upside down. Maybe it’ll be even better that way.” I turn it again and Mother and me move our heads to the side.
“That’s better,” Mother says.
“Let’s see what’s on.” I grab the TV Guide off the coffee table and flip through it.
“Hey Mom, guess what’s supposed to be on tonight?”
“Hmm?” Mother’s mouth full of chili dog.
“The Exorcist. Can I watch it?”
“Sure, whatever you want.”
WATCH THE EXORCIST
Mother goes to her room. She turns out the bedroom light. I watch the TV upside down. A girl lies on a bed. A priest overlooks the girl and waves a cross to her forehead. The girl’s eyes are stretched open. The picture on the TV is snow green. The sound on the television is good. Kind of loud. I hear the girl in the bed growl at the priest. A woman cries. The woman sits near the girl’s bed. I hear a noise from the window behind me. It’s the sound of cats. The cats meow and fight outside Mother’s apartment. A girl growls at a priest on the TV and cats hiss outside Mother’s window. I listen to both sounds. Mother sleeps. Mother wakes. I watch Mother. She glides from her room and crosses the living room to the front door.
“Hey Mom this movie’s weird.”
Mother moon walks to the door. Mother opens the front door.
“Mom what are you doing?”
“Here kitty kitty… Here kitty,” Mother whispers.
Her housecoat moves to the breeze in the darkness of night. Mother’s arms raise and stretch to the moon. Mother rushes outside, her arms raised high. She welcomes a Noah’s ark of alley cats.
WHAT IS MOTHER DOING?
Mother runs to the alley behind the apartment. I follow her barefoot wearing a white tee-shirt with a print of a yellow smiley face. I stay far enough behind Mother that she doesn’t see me but close enough to see what Mother does. Mother dances near a metal trash can in the alley. A glow-eyed mom cat meows behind the garbage can. The mother nurses her kitten. Mother pauses for a moment. She raises her arm. Mother’s fingers spread into a web. She snatches and tears the dirty white infant quick from the mom. An alley baby in Mother’s grip. The kitten’s mother has no choice. She flees and leaves the child. Mother holds the baby by its neck. I hurry back around the other side to the living room. I jump onto the couch near the TV. The sound of an exorcism comes from the television. I watch Mother from the window. Mother swings her hips. A greasy kitten’s body dangles from mother’s fingers. The eyes red-orange glass marbles. Mother enters the door. A stiff-headed young cat wiggles its legs under the palm of Mother’s hand.
“Mom, where did you get the kitty?”
“Behind the Dodge, next to the president,”
Mother kisses and swings the cat.
“Yeah Beatie. Didn’t you know that John F. Kennedy is in the garbage can outside?”
“Mom, the President isn’t in the garbage can.”
“Well, then God the Father is.”
Mother shuts the door to her room. I stare at the TV. A girl screams at a priest. A bed shakes. The baby cries in Mother’s room. I fall asleep.
“Mom I don’t feel so good today. I don’t think I’m gonna go to school. My stomach hurts.”
I haven’t been to school for two weeks. Mother says when the spirit moves me to return to school and moves her to drive the Dodge she will drive me to school. Mother sits at the dining room table. She drinks black coffee and smokes.
“Want to watch TV?” Mother asks. She sticks her finger in her nose.
“I thought maybe we could go to the store and get me a surprise,” I say.
“Yeah, like some toys,” I say.
“A surprise?” Mother asks.
Mother puts her cigarette out in the ashtray. She gets up and walks to the bathroom. She shuts the door.
“Go get a surprise for yourself,” She says through the door.
I hear Mother vomit in the toilet.
“Mom, are you okay?”
The toilet flushes.
“Just go get a surprise and bring me back a chili dog,” she says.
I leave Mother. I buy a chili dog and a Barbie doll. I return home to Mother.
Nurse Lucy record now available on Amazon and Itunes
September 30, 2009 Comments Off
Father and me sit at the real estate office again. We do not speak. I spit in my silver flute and I try to make audible flute sounds with my mouth.
The phone rings. Father answers it. “Beatie shush dat pipe!” Father swings his fist at me.
“What do you mean suicide watch? Yes, yes, of course Frata is going to be a little sad, but I can’t take dis anymore. The doctors, dey are the ones who make her sick. What do you want me to do? I can’t live like dat. No satisfaction for me. She is lika a box. No… I want out of the marriage!” Father’s finger rubs his forehead.
THREE WEEKS LATER
Father and me and sit alone in the real estate office. Again, we do not speak. I puff on my flute and can now make audible flute sounds.
THE PHONE RINGS:
“What you mean she’s out of the hospital? Dey discharged her? She’s not well. No, she cannot come back here. I cannot handle her anymore. Maybe her brother or sister can take her.” Father hangs up the phone. Father does not speak to me.
THREE WEEKS LATER
Father and me sit at the real estate office again. We do not speak to each other again. I also no longer practice the flute. It’s too hard.
THE PHONE RINGS:
“What you mean I am overdrawn in dat account? I have forty-thousand dollars in the bank. You mean the joint account? Yes, I have it with my wife. We are in the process of getting a divorce. Frata? She what? What you mean she took the money and left me two dollars? Dat is a joint account. She lives with her brother Larry now.”
FATHER MAKES A CALL
“What you mean she moved out of her brother’s house? How did she get an
apartment? Yes, we are in the process of divorce. Why would she take my money? How am I gonna pay the house payment? Dat dam crazy woman!” Father hangs up the phone. No, Father does not speak to me.
EPISODE FIFTEEN (Three Days Later)
LITTLE RICKY GETS KIDNAPPED
“Something may happen after dat school tomorrow,”
Father stuffs a banana in his mouth.
“Your mother…” Father says something else but his mouth is muffled with
“What about Mom?”
“Your mother might be picking you up from dat school.” Father swallows.
“What do you mean Mom’s picking me up?
Where am I going with Mom?”
“You’re going to live with her in dat apartment.” Father throws the banana peel in the garbage.
“I can’t live with her. How is she gonna take care of me? She can’t even take care of herself.”
Father closes the lid to the garbage. “I know dat. But the lawyer says she has custody of you until we go to court.”
“Dad, what’s gonna happen to me? She just got out of the hospital. You know she’s not well yet.”
“The doctors say dat they have to release her. They say dat she is stable.”
“Please Dad just meet me after school and I’ll go home with you.”
“I cannot do dat.” Father grabs an apple.
“I can’t, dats all. It’s something dat may not even happen so don’t worry about something dat may not happen.” Father takes a bite from the apple.
My stomach hurts. Dat something has thrown a rock at my belly.
TOMORROW SCHOOL TIME
I sit quiet in my sixth grade class, my face fixated on my sixth grade teacher, Mr. Fedlister. With his bald head and dark curled mustache. He stands in front of our class.
“Beatie, wake up. Focus,” Mr. Fedlister’s cornflower blue eyes light up like a flashlight. He points to me with a yard stick. I focus on Mr. Fedlister’s tight plaid, polyester pants.
“Beatie, since you seem to be in a different world than the rest of the class, can you tell us what deep sea creature no human eye has seen in its natural form?”
I think for a moment. ”A squid?”
“No, that is not correct.”
“No, Beatie, it’s a giant deep sea squid, not just a squid. If you didn’t have your eyes on my pants you would have listened and paid attention. You would have known the correct answer when the class discussed it earlier.”
With my head hung upside down, my legs hooked and locked around the monkey bars. I imagine I’m a bat who sleeps in a dark cave. I close my eyes. I try not to think about Mother and what might happen after school today. I’m afraid.
“Can I have a turn?” she asks.
My eyes open and center on the tip of Lorena’s nose. Her face still covered with a small gauze patch. She stands above me and waits for me to move off of the bars. A few months have passed since I mutilated my best friend. She keeps the patch on her face as if her nose is whole and its just ugly for no one to see but her. The scars on her arms and neck less prevalent now. I ignore her.
I can’t eat. I’m going to throw up.
I fixate my gaze to the front of the class, on Mr. Fedlister’s slacks again. I hear “The Star Spangled Banner” playing in my head. I hum a verse to myself. Oh say can you see by the stars early light…
“Beatie, pay attention here, right here not in your musical fantasy world.” My teacher points near the crotch of his polyester pants with the wooden yardstick. I continue my hum. For so proudly we hail… Mr. Fedlister’s blue eyes flash bright. He shifts his weight to one side and grabs the transparent tape off his desk with a free hand. He rips the tape into two sections. He walks to my desk fast and tapes my mouth closed in the form of an X.
“Now focus!” he says. I focus.
My heart moves fast like humming bird wings hovering around a dry bird feeder. I am scared. I can’t think. I’m going to run. I don’t want to see it. I’m not going to look. I do see it… Mother’s red Dodge Cornet waits for me across the street from the school. I walk slow. I know I can’t run away. I see Mother. She smiles at me and her hands wave. Larry-my uncle whom I hardly know sits next to her in the car.
“Hey Beatie what’s my cute little niece up to? I haven’t seen you in ages, man. Boy, have you grown.”
I pretend not to hear his question and kick a small pebble on the sidewalk.
“Mom, I’m not going with you.”
Mother is dressed in her white nurse’s uniform. Her starched bonnet a Danish windmill. Larry gets out of the car. Larry is short, skinny and greasy-looking.
“Beatie I have a surprise for you,” Mother says.
“I don’t want a surprise.”
“Come on honey, just get in the car,” Larry moves towards me.
“Mom just let me go home to Dad. You’re too sick to take care of me.” Mother’s gaze is soft. I feel she understands. She must know what’s at stake. I don’t back away from Larry and I don’t run away. I trust Mother to do what is right. Mother will do what is right. Larry grabs me and throws me in the Dodge.
Mother and Larry lock the doors. Mother starts the car and guns the motor with her nurse’s shoe. I try to make it to the window. Larry keeps pushing my face down on his lap.
“Let me out! You prick! You prick…”
“Stay down, Beatie. You’re making it hard on yourself.”
“Oh Shit, we need gas. I need to stop at the gas station,” Mother says.
“Let Me Out! Help Someone, Please Help!”
Larry is strong. He presses my face down hard. We arrive at the gas station. People watch the three of us in the Dodge. My body jerks like bacon sizzle in the blaze of sun.
“Help! Please Help Me!”
Mother puts the gas in the car and smiles.
“I’m a mental health nurse and my daughter is schizophrenic. We’re taking her to a hospital,” I hear Mother say to an old woman who pumps gas next to mother.
“I’m so sorry, I knew someone once who had schizophrenia,” the woman says to Mother. The woman stares at me. Larry has a death grip on my neck.
“I’m not Crazy!”
“Good luck to you,” the old woman says.
“God bless you and thank you,” Mother says.
We leave the gas station. Mother’s foot pushes the gas pedal hard. Larry squeezes me firm. God, I hate my life
September 23, 2009 Comments Off
“Come on you guys. Let’s play jump rope,” It’s recess time at school.
“Okay, Beatie you be in the middle.”
I assume the position. Lorena and Rosie twirl the rope. I jump.
“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, my mother told me to shut the gate.”
The rope whips my legs. I fall.
“Oops, sorry,” Rosie says.
“Hey! Help me up,” I say.
Lorena puts her hand out. I take it. Lorena drops me. My back falls to the
“Hey you guys! That wasn’t very nice!” I stand. Rosie shoves Lorena into me. My body drops.
“Hey,that hurt.” I stand.
Rosie shoves Lorena at me again. This time I push back.
“Knock it off,” I say. Lorena looks back to Rosie.
Rosie smiles. “Come on, Beatie. What’s the matter? You scared or something?”
“What are you talking about? Why should I be scared?”
“Because you’re a creep,” Rosie says. The kids on the playground notice and
form a crowd around the three of us.
“Yeah, you and your family are sickos,” someone in the crowd yells.
“How about her dad? He looks like a pervert,” someone else says.
Rosie rams Lorena at me again. Lorena’s mouth lands in my ear.
“I really don’t want to fight with you, Beatie,” Lorena whispers.
I think for a moment. I grab both Lorena’s arms and hold them. My nails are long, thank God. My hands move up and come back down fast on her shoulders. Lorena’s eyes do not meet mine. I dig and scoop her skin. Lorena looks at her muscle. Her lips do not move. Lorena’s eyes understand. The crowd is large now. Someone drives Lorena into me again. I thrust my nails. This time at Lorena’s neck. Her eyes to the sky. I puncture her throat.
Oh, look. Lorena’s bleeding. I will win. No one can stop me. I will win, I will win.
“Here comes Mrs. Scudmeiser,” someone says.
I am about to win. I come at Lorena with my teeth. I bite her nose. Lorena screams.
“Oh my God. Look what she did!” Someone gasps.
“Stop! Stop that right now!” Mrs. Scudmeiser grabs me.
I am ecstatic. I won. I don’t have a scratch on me. Everyone is scared of me.
I am proud to be me.
“Beatie, what have you’ve done?” Mrs. Scudmeiser asks. Lorena puts her hands on her face and keeps them there.
“Tilt your head back, Lorena. You’re okay. Honey, don’t you worry,” My teacher says. Mrs. Scudmeiser walks fast. Her hand has a firm grip on my arm. She guides Lorena at the waist with her other hand. Blood drips on the black tar.
“Move out the way,” Lorena and I are led out of the school yard. Mrs. Scudmeiser looks straight ahead. We walk fast to the school office. We meet Mrs. Reid, the school nurse, inside the First Aid room.
“Oh my God, that’s horrible!” Mrs. Reid says. I stand near the doorway.
Mrs. Reid’s eyes trace my eyes for clues. “Beatie, why?”
“I don’t know,” I say.
Lorena sits in a chair. Her hands cover her face with a tissue. Lorena’s eyes stare at the wall. Mrs. Scudmeiser caresses Lorena’s nose with an ice pack and towel.
“It’s going to be okay, honey. Don’t you worry. Someone get me another towel, she’s bleeding all over the place, the tip of her nose is chewed off. Someone please call an ambulance.”
Lorena is comforted by all who notice. I stand at the doorway and watch Beatie in disgust.
Father and me sit at the skinny bar table It’s dinner time. My head moves to the left. I watch Father slurp noodle soup. His throat gurgles. I wish he would laugh or look at me. Dad why do you ignore me? Why don’t you speak to me? Please just talk to me… I feel water in my eyes. Father stares at
“Come on Dad, please talk to me.”
Father looks up from his spoon. He stares at me yet, Father is far away. He is somehow lost in a desert. He walks fast toward a red sand hill wearing green army fatigues and a beret. Somehow I’m in the hot sun walking behind him. I wear my pink knitted parka and a green Eskimo cap made out of dog fur. The wind blows hot dirt inside me and Father’s mouth.
“Wait Dad, wait for me” Father moves fast ahead. I can’t seem to keep up with him. He carries an empty metal baby carrier on his back. Father runs.
“Wait for me Dad” He keeps a fast pace ahead. I breath hard and run behind him, climbing a sand mountain. I trip and fall. Father stops and turns. He looks at me quick and continues the pace. I get up and adjust the scarf around my throat. Running hard, fatigue sets in. I fall on a rock. My neck sweats. My mouth dry like cotton. Time to let Father go. I watch him move fast. My eyes squint. Away he goes till father becomes invisible.
Reality is real. Father drops his spoon hard in his soup bowl. He looks at me and points at me with his salute finger.
“Beatie, you have a criminal mind.”
“Petey, are you asleep?”
“Yes, I’m right here, Beatie. What is it?”
“Petey I just don’t know what to do. You know my dad won’t talk to me except when I do my homework and then he just yells and gorilla-swipes me in the head.”
“Have you tried talking to him in a nice pleasant way?”
“I try every day but he looks the other way and ignores me. I can’t stand it. Ever since I brought home my report card and got in that fight at school with
“Tell me… Beatie what happened?”
“That stupid teacher, Mrs. Scudmeiser, gave me an F in writing and I got in a
fight at school with Lorena.”
“Yes, I watched the fight. You should never bite someone’s nose off.”
“I know, I feel awful about it.” “Tell me what’s going on with your school
“Well, Petey, my teacher Mrs. Scudmeiser told Father I daydream in class.”
“Do you daydream in class?”
“Sometimes, but I can’t help it.”
“Why can’t you help it?”
“I try to pay attention to what my teacher says but somehow I just can’t
hear all the words.”
“What do you hear?”
“I guess for one thing it’s all a jumble. The words get mixed up and I’m watching everyone else taking all the sounds in and then I hear flutes playing in my brain. Ya know, Petey?”
“Flutes playing in your brain?”
“Yeah, flutes. I think it’s because I wish I had a flute”
“Why a flute”
“Cause Dad and me saw a girl once on television playing a flute. Dad said she
was gifted and that her parents must be proud of her. I bet if I got the chance, I could be as good as that girl. Don’t you think?”
“Yes, now I think I know what you’re talking about, Beatie. For now just try to pay attention and try not to talk too much in class and especially try not to fight. Maybe that would help.”
“So, you think I should try to be more quiet in class and maybe try not to hurt others?”
“You could try that, Beatie. You’re good at reading, right?”
“Oh, yeah Petey, no one can touch my reading skills. I really do just think Mrs.Scudmeiser just has me confused with my sweatshirt.”
“Yeah, I have this sweatshirt. I got it from my Aunt Rhoda
last Christmas. Anyway, its a picture of an angel staring at the sky it says
‘daydreamer’ on it. I believe Mrs. Scudmeiser thinks I’m a daydreamer cause
of my shirt.”
“Hmm… could be. Your shirt may not help your situation much.”
“I know, Petey. If I could just get Father to speak to me everything would be
fine. I beg him every day to speak to me. He doesn’t say a word. He glares at me and is silent.”
“There, there girl.” Petey cuddles close to me. I hug Petey hard.
“Why don’t we pray about it?”
“Yeah, that’s a great idea, Petey.”
I fold my hands and squeeze my eyes.
“Dear God: Please, please make Father speak to me. I hate when he just walks away from me and ignores me. I’m gonna work extra hard to do good in school. Please God, help me not to get into any fights or arguments with anyone. Please God… Please.” I say the Our Father prayer twice.
REPORT CARD TIME
It’s a miracle! Beatie is a wonderful asset to our class. Your daughter is gifted and has artistic hands and teeth. Beatie is assigned to grade six.
I run home and hand my end of school year report card to Father. He reads the report with his salute finger pressed on his lips. Father removes his finger. His mouth moves. Father speaks. “I’m gonna buy you a flute.”
“You mean your gonna buy me a real silver flute?”
Wow! Imagine… me, Beatie Scareli at Dodger stadium right before the World Series of Baseball is bout to begin. Me, the solo famous flutist in front of a large audience of classical music and baseball fans. Only my flute plays. No one sings. The crowd is silent. They imagine the words:
Oh say can you see/by the stars early light/for so proudly we hale. I see Father. He sits somewhere in the stadium wearing a blue Dodger baseball hat. Father smiles. A finger to his lips. Father watches the audience. All eyes upon me. His daughter a gifted wonder for all to see.
“Look at dat,” Father points to me.
“Dats my daughter Beatie”
August 20, 2009 § 2 Comments
The small yellow house is dark and smells like sweat again. I see Father in the living room. He stares at the walls. He does not look at me. Sandy’s father, the police officer
stands in front of Father. The policeman holds a clipboard and writes a report.
“So, Mr. Scareli, you say your wife is not schizophrenic.
“She’s not crazy. It is dose damn doctors they make her crazy, with all those drugs they give her.”
“You’re saying your wife is not mentally ill?”
“No, she is not mentally ill… but your wife is a prostitute.”
“Mr. Scareli, don’t bring my wife into this.”
“Well, she looks like a prostitute.”
“Let’s get back to your wife. She was found today walking around the
neighborhood in the nude wearing a nurse’s bonnet. It was also reported that she accosted a teacher at the school.”
“Who said dat?”
“It doesn’t matter, Mr. Scarelli. She could be a danger to herself and to the neighbors.”
I look out the front living room window. Mother sits in back of a patrol car.
“Why is Mom in a police car?” Father does not answer me.
“Where is she going?”
I feel that thing in my throat. The lump is back.
“Dad, where is she going?”
Father and the policeman ignore me.
“Dad, answer me!”
“Your mother is going to a mental hospital,” Sandy’s father says.
“Yeah, well your wife is a hooker,” Father says.
“Yeah, well your wife is crazy.”
I watch Mother from the window. She sucks her thumb. Sandy’s father walks out of the house. He gets in the patrol car. He straps his seat belt. He starts the motor. The
police car turns onto the road, forward and fast. I run to the curb and watch. Mother is trapped. She turns her head. She stares at me with a thumb in her mouth.
Mother is gone. I walk back to the house. I can’t breathe. I have got to get to my room. I focus on the carpet. I pass Father’s feet. I look down. I can’t look at him. I can’t say a word. The lump is killing me. I walk faster. I make it to the bedroom. I close the door. I am alone. My throat is clogged. I lie down on the bed. I bury my face in a pillow. I am frozen. My throat is clogged. I stare at the darkness of a pillow. I press it against me. I choke.
It’s dinner time. Father and I sit in our chair assignments. Father does not speak to me.
July 28, 2009 Comments Off
Father rubs his fist inside the bottom of a turkey.
Yuck, gizzards. I hate gizzards.
“Go clean your room. It looks like trash,” Father tells me.
The clothes in the drawers of my bedroom have been emptied and spread around my room. My Barbies thrown in the garbage. Posters of my favorite heartthrob Scott Baio and my cute kitty pictures have been torn from the walls by Father. “You start over and don’t come out till your room is clean,” Father points to my mess.
I clean my room and hang new posters. Fashion-posters from a Seventeen magazine I stole from Lorena’s house. The festive evening arrives.
“Room looks okay now, you can come out. Dat turkey is ready. Frata get up from dat bed.”
Mother smells again. Mother rests in her dark green terry cloth housecoat.
“Come on, Mom, let’s eat.” I shake Mother.
“Leave me alone,” she says.
“Mom, you need to be healed,” I saw a healing on the Praise the Lord show once.
“Heal me then.”
I place my hand across Mother’s forehead. “I feel the Lord’s power through my hand. His spirit moves me.” I pulsate Mother’s head with my fist.
“The Lord says unto thee, a heal ya!” I thrust my head back, eyes wide open.
“A heal ya!” Mother repeats. Her eyes close, focused on my power. She is healed.
She gets out of bed. Her mouth is dirty at the corners from a chocolate candy bar she ate the night before. Mother peers into the kitchen. Father smiles at her. “Oh Mama Mia. Out of sight out of mind.” Father laughs. Mother ignores him.
We sit in our chair assignments at the long skinny bar table, a turkey named
Fred as our guest.
Father carves Fred. He splats Fred onto my dish.
“Here, put pepper.” Father shakes the baby rattle onto our plates.
We stare at sliced, peppered Fred. We eat Fred in silence.
After we eat our guest, Father says, “I’ll take pictures in the backyard.”
We follow him to the backyard. I wear a blue and white polka dot cotton dress. I stand on the patio behind Father and wait while he directs Mother with his salute finger.
“Here, stand by the peach tree. No! Stand under the peach tree.”
Mother takes her housecoat off. She is dressed in bone-colored pointy pumps and an off-white lace bra. She wears bikini panties with the day “Thursday” embossed on the front.
“Look down. Look up. Move back. No! Stay under dat peach tree. Okay smile, Frata.”
Mother is posed, arms spread at her sides. Palms up. Eyes closed. She floats.
Mother smiles with her tobacco-stained teeth. Father takes the picture.
I watch and wonder. I wonder were you are. Why does it have to be only Mother, Father and me standing in the backyard taking pictures? Why aren’t you here? Why can’t I touch you and hear your laugh?
July 27, 2009 § 1 Comment
Another spoken word about failure.
Written and Narrated: Ginnetta Correli
July 23, 2009 Comments Off
Two Months Later
THE HUNTING TRIP
Rosie has boobies and wears a bra. She is smart with freckles and a cream face. When I hang around Rosie, I can be mean. I’m not sure why. Today the victim is brown-eyed Sandy.
“Got the bags?” I ask Rosie.
“Oh, heck yeah. They’ve been sitting in my locker all day.” She opens the door to her school locker.
“Gross! That stinks,” Lorena says. “It smells like something died.” She plugs her nose with her fingers.
“Yeah, I don’t know why I put them in my locker. I should have hid them in a bush somewhere.”
“How many did you bring?” Lorena asks.
“Three bags.” Rosie moves some books out of the way. We see three large, clear bags filled with what looks like vomit inside them.
“What’s in it?” I ask.
“Well, I couldn’t get any poop out of Sugar, so I mixed the bags with other crap like mayonnaise, sugar, mustard, A1 sauce and some of my poop.”
“You put your poop in it?”
“I thought little Chihuahua dogs poop like crazy,” Lorena says.
“I think Sugar’s constipated. I couldn’t get any out of her.” Rosie hands Lorena and me a bag.
“This is gonna be funny. I can’t wait to see her face,” Lorena says.
“I see her,” I say. The three of us watch Sandy. Her long blonde ponytail bounces, her red ribbon neat and tight. She carries her books through the thick green grass of our school ball field. The three of us grab the bags from Rosie and run. We catch up to Sandy. Now she walks on the sidewalk. We stalk our prey.
“Hey Sandy,” Rosie says.
“Hey girls!” Sandy says.
I don’t take my eyes off of her. My mouth waters.
“Hey, Sandy, want some Tootsie Rolls?” I ask.
“Tootsie Rolls?” she asks.
“Yeah! Here you go. Eat this!” Rosie snatches Sandy around her waist and pulls her to the ground.
“Hey! What are you doing?” Lorena comes up from behind and grabs Sandy hard on the neck. She presses Sandy’s face to the asphalt. Rosie holds her down.
“No!” Sandy screams. “Stop it! Leave me alone! What are you doing?”
Kids who walk home from school stop to watch.
“Get the rabbit!” Someone in the crowd yells. I straddle Sandy’s body.I open the bag and release the contents of the bag onto Sandy’s face.
“Ugh! Ugh!” she sobs.
I ignore her. I press down on Sandy’s shoulders with my knees.
My fingers frost her face. Sandy becomes tranquilized.
She wears a mask of make-believe feces. Two holes expose her watered eyes.
We take turns…
July 21, 2009 Comments Off
THE BABY SHOW
I like to ride my bike and play dirty Barbies. I also hang out with my blonde ponytailed friend, Lorena. We like to believe we are on the Laverne & Shirley Show. We achieve this belief as we remain in constant character. Never do we let our audience leave our sight. Today, our victim is Grandma Alice. She shares the bedroom with Lorena.
“Push, Laverne, you can do it!” Lorena screams in my ear while I lay on Lorena’s twin bed. My feet press the headboard. My legs spread open.
“That’s sick, I tell you!” says Grandma Alice. She watches us from her bed.
“Oh… oh” I groan.
“Make Boo Boo Kitty come out, Laverne!”
“This is too much. It’s sick and crazy!” Alice rubs her tired eyes.
“I feel like I gotta poop real bad,” I say.
“I see her, Laverne!” Lorena says.
“Oh my God, I can’t hold it! Ugh! Ugh!”
“Laverne, Boo Boo’s head! Blood, I see blood and poop!”
“Ah! Ahhh!” I pretend to push.
Lorena grabs a stuffed animal from Grandma Alice’s bed-a stuffed yellow fluffy chick.
“Stop right now!” Alice pleads with us. We ignore her. Lorena shoves the baby chick hard between my legs. I start to push hard.
“Keep pushing, Laverne! Wait… Stop! You made it!” Lorena’s marble green eyes focus in between my crotch. I give birth to a furry stuffed animal. Boo Boo the toy does not breathe.
“Breathe, Boo Boo!” Lorena slaps the stuffed chick hard against its neck.
“Come on. Breathe!” I say.
“She isn’t breathing!”
“No, tell me my daughter is alive.”
“Come on. Breathe, you wet retard!” Lorena’s blonde ponytails swing. She whacks the stuffed toy again.
“Hurry up, Lorena, I wanna go to sleep.” Grandma Alice shakes her head.
I close my legs and sit up and stare at Boo Boo. “Get some water on her!” I say.
“Here, just spit on her. We have to hurry.” Lorena throws the baby chick at me. I spit on Boo Boo’s head. Boo Boo lies still.
“She’s dead, Laverne.”
“My baby’s dead?”
“Yes, I’m sorry.”
“Oh for Pete’s sake, this is ridiculous, Lorena hurry up! Get this over with. It’s dinner time. Beatie’s gotta go home.” Alice pulls her short gray hair at the crown.
“That can’t be. No, Shirley. My baby breathed and moved in my belly. She was happy.”
“I know, Laverne. I don’t know what to say.”
“My little girl?” I cry. Lorena places Boo Boo on the pillow next to me. I let my head rest next to my daughter. My daughter is dead.
“I’m sorry, Laverne. I tried everything.”
“So, what do you want me to say, Shirley? That’s okay? My daughter is dead?”
“Beatie, it’s time for you to go home. I’m tired. Show is over,” Alice says.
“But Alice, don’t you understand? I just lost my baby. How would you feel if you lost a baby?” Alice doesn’t answer me.
“Yeah, Grandma, how would you feel if you lost your baby?” Lorena asks.
“Just finish this crap up, Lorena.”
“Okay.” Lorena grabs Alice’s hand and the three of us hold hands together.
“In the name of the Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost. Amen.”
Lorena and I make the sign of the cross. Boo Boo lies on a soft pink pillow printed with pastel butterflies resting on petals of tulips. Lorena and I raise the pillow high and stretch our arms. We bring the pillow fast down to the ground hard. I watch Boo Boo’s head bounce. We shove our baby under-to be forgotten below the clutter of Lorena’s bed.
DINNER WITH THE RICARDOS
I walk home alone from Lorena’s house. The winter night is chilled. I notice street lights illuminate the sidewalk. I feel alone as the cars drive by; headlights brighten the dark night. I’m hungry.
I arrive home to the small yellow house. The house is dark and quiet. I make my way to a bedroom. The room is dark and smells like sweat. I turn on the lamp near the bed.
Mother lies under heavy blankets.
“Mom, wake up. Are you still asleep?” She says nothing.
“Mom, wake up.” She is silent.
“Mom, get up.” I shake her with my hands.
“Wake up, you’ve been sleeping all day!”
Her eyes glued shut; I see the paste of sleep. She wears a red housecoat she hasn’t taken off in four days.
“Mom, you gotta get up, he’s gonna be here soon, what are we gonna make for dinner?”
“Leave me alone.”
“Mom, get up!”
I hear the sound of Father’s Datsun. It pulls in the driveway.
“He’s here. Shit!”
Mother gets out of bed and moves to the kitchen. Her body smells. I run to the kitchen, grab a pot and fill it with water. I turn the fire up on the stove and hand her a wooden spoon. Mother stirs water. We hear the sound of the front door being opened. The sound of Father’s dress shoes thump toward us. We do not make eye contact with him. He drops his attaché case in the usual spot by the dining room table.
“What did you make?”
“We’re making macaroni and cheese,” I say. My heart beats fast. He walks to the kitchen and sees the cold water in the pot.
“With dis water? You made water, Frata?”
Mother stirs the pot. She keeps her eyes on the pot.
“I work all day, you sleep all day and all you have is water? It’s not even boiling yet.”
“Da-Dad, it just takes a little while. We didn’t think you’d be home so soon.”
“Come on, it’s 7:30. What do you think, I’m stupid, huh? Get outta here, Beatie.” He waves his hand at me. He’s gonna King Kong-swipe me on the head. I feel a hot tear drip on my face.
“Frata, go taka a bath. You stink.” Mother is silent.
“Get in the bath, Frata!”
Father pushes Mother out of the kitchen. Mother stumbles. We chase her to the bathroom. She closes the door behind her. We hear the sound of water filling the bathtub. Mother turns the water off. The room is silent.
“Did she get in the tub or is she dead?” Father asks me.
We open the door. Mother sits on the floor-motionless in the nude.
“Get in the damn bath, Frata it’s been five days. Get in the bath!” Father pulls Mother to the tub.
“Go to hell. Leave me alone.”
“Come on, Mom. You need a bath.”
“All you do is sleep. You’re gonna end up crazy,” Father says.
Father and me force Mother into the bathtub. The water makes a huge wave. We press her down and hold her. Mother gives up and stares off into another world. Mother is stranded.
“Let’s eat.” Father says.
We shut the door and forget about her. The two of us cook and eat macaroni and cheese at a skinny bar table with four chairs. The chairs face the kitchen. Father and I do not face each other. I chew my food fast. Father does not speak to me. Two chairs between us. I dream in a quiet trance for you. A brother who sits in the last chair, chair four. I can see you. You look confused and scared but you swallow your food fast. My dream is interrupted by a loud bubble sound. The bathroom vibrates. Mother has farted.
“Oh mama mia. Is the whale alive? Frata, are you okay?” Father yells from the dining room. He chews his macaroni.
“Real funny,” Mother says.
“Mama Mia, I thought you died after dat explosion…”
My eyes water. I laugh and pee my pants.
July 15, 2009 § 1 Comment
The Cast of Lost People In My Life
An Italian man. He says: dis and dat instead of words like this and that. Some of the kids in our neighborhood say: “Beatie your dad is a creep”
Our schizophrenic thirty-four-year-old mother. She has red hair and believes she is Lucy Ricardo. Not much about Mother resembles Lucy except maybe her hair color.
Me, a skinny twelve-year-old girl with brown hair, buckteeth and a long thin nose. I pretend I’m the girl version of little Ricky.
Me, as I lie in bed most evenings before sleep and watch the only show on TV: The episodes of our past.
Thank God you’re here.
THE BEACH TRIP
Father sits on the red velvet recliner chair. His eyes read the opinion page of the newspaper. Father’s hand twirls his ding dong inside his off-white cotton underwear. I’m used to it. He stops to drink his morning coffee from his usual green, broken-handled coffee mug.
“I could show houses today” Father says.
Mother smokes a Salem. She sits wearing her paisley, blue and pink housecoat on the nearby living room couch.
“Frata, why does your old bathing suit not fit? Where’s dat money gonna come from? Now I have to maka money for a new bathing suit at Kmart. Frata, why do you get so fat? You need to exercise-maka movement!”
“Dad, let’s go!”
“Beatie, it’s Memorial Day. It’s gonna be hard to finda parking.”
“Why do we have to go to Newport Beach all the time?” I ask.
“Beatie, you know we only park by the church at Newport. Why do you ask such a crazy question? Dat is where we go.”
Mother picks her nose with the tip of her dirty fingernail.
Father gets up from the chair and sets his empty coffee cup near the kitchen sink. He walks to the bathroom and shuts the door behind him.
“Ughh” Father grunts.
The toilet flushes. My cue. It’s time to fry an egg omelet in a pan.
Mother coughs on the couch while I crack an egg shell. The egg sizzles inside a black iron pan. The egg is ready; I peer into the bedroom. Father is showered and dressed in forest green, Boy Scout-issued shorts and an old white shirt. He stands near the bed and holds a pair of pink rubber flip-flops.
“I will wear dees shoes.” Father says.
BREAKFAST WITH THE RICARDOS
We sit at the long thin bar table that faces the kitchen.
We have chair assignments:
Chair 1= Father, Chair 2= Mother,
Chair 3= Me Chair 4= empty.
Why do we have chair assignments? I dunno.
“Give me plate.”
Mother and me hand father our dish. Father splatters a piece of egg
omelet, a wedge of orange and a piece of sourdough bread onto each of our plates.
“Here, put pepper” Father, shakes the pepper rattle. Mother and me stare at our plates.
“Father son oily ghost amen.” Father moves his arms in the sign of the cross.
“Can we have some ice cream?” Mother asks.
“Frata, all you want to do is eat sugar and sleep, dats why you get so fat.”
Mother’s eyes widen. She opens her mouth and shoves in a piece of omelet with her butter knife.
We eat our meal and finish the breakfast in a quiet trance. In my trance, I dream about you a brother who sits in chair four.
LUCY AND THE WHALE
“Do they make bathing suits for whales?” Father shouts to the sales clerk at Kmart. Mother and me stand by the dressing room. We wonder if they do make bathing suits for whales and if they do, will it fit Mother? She weighs about 160 pounds. I think whales weigh more.
The sales clerk comes back. She holds a one-piece bathing suit with a ruffle
skirt. “How about this one?” she asks. She hands it to Father. He studies the suit.
“Yes, go try dis on, Frata.”
Mother doesn’t look at the suit. She snatches it from him and shuts the dressing room door behind her. Father and I wait near a woman and her two daughters. They both remind me of Barbie. They watch us. I see them whisper and giggle.
“Hhhuhh…huuhhh…huhhh.” We hear Mother’s heavy breath while she tries to zip the back of the suit.
“Frata, are you alive?” Mother opens the door.
“Oh Mama Mia!” Father says. “The bathing suit fits the whale. Oh, thank God!”
“Oh, she eats so much and sleeps all day, she’s lika beach whale, lika she’s dead. A dead beach whale.”
Mother stands in front of us in the aqua blue bathing suit. Her eyes seem vacant and the bathing suit fits tight.“Frata, get dat one.”
I LOVE FRATA
We are on our way to the Beach. Father drives us in our brown Datsun station wagon. Mother sits on the front passenger side. She stares straight ahead. Her mind orbits the planet Geodone.
“Gerald Ford was put in power by big business. Dat’s why he’s the President. You know Frata, the CIA is the reason we have drugs in this country.”
“Uh huh,” Mother says. A vacant dullness in her eyes. A Beatles song plays on the radio.
“You know Frata, Beatles were all on dope, Dat’s why they sing dat song ‘I get high with a little help from my friend.”
“Frata dat smells bad. Did you brush your teeth after you ate dat egg dis morning?”
“I gargled with gas,” Mother looks out the car window.
“Yes, gas.” She smiles.
“You smell like gas.” Father says.
We arrive at the Beach. We circle the church parking lot like crows. We always park by the church near the beach.
“Frata you look on dis side, Beatie you look on dat side.” Father gestures to us with his index finger, moving it to the right and to the left in a salute motion.
“I see one right there!” I scream.
“Where do you see?”
“Over there-the red Bug. It’s pulling out!”
“You got a good eye,” he says. Father guns the motor with his pink thong. He pulls up behind the Bug we wait as the Bug pulls out. The traffic behind us waits for our mud brown station wagon to move out of the way. We park the Datsun.
“I’ll change in the car.” Father changes into his tight blue nylon bathing suit. His legs covered with a few thick patches of dark coarse hair that stick to the seat. Father rubs his leg. We walk through the beach following Father. His pink thongs flick sand onto us and everyone else behind him. Father notices a young freckled-faced girl with long blond braids. She lies on a blue and red towel, printed with a cartoon of Minnie Mouse. “Pretty good stuff there!” he shouts to the young girl. The girl’s mother gives Father a hard look.
“Beatie, I’m a man and dat’s a pretty girl just like you and your mother. It’s natural”
I shrug my shoulders. Mother ignores him.
We find a spot and lay our towels on the sand and watch teenagers toss Frisbees. Children splash in the water. I feel calm. I come up with an idea:
“Hey, Dad, let’s play that game.”
“What game is dat?”
“You know, that in-the-hole game?”
“Oh dat game.”
We roll onto our bellies with our eyes facing Father’s index finger.
“In the hole,” Father commands. We stick our fingers in the sand.
“Out the hole.” We lift our index fingers out of the sand.
“In the hole. Out da hole.”
We keep up the finger charade as we challenge our reflexes.
“Out da hole. Out da hole. In da hole.”
Mother’s out. Her finger is not fast enough. I am still in the game-me against Daddy. I am smart and have the best reflexes. I want to win. I will win.
“In da hole. Out da hole. Out da hole. Out da hole.” Faster! Faster! Our fingers duel.
“In da hole out da hole in da hole.”
“Ah, ha!” I win! I beat the “In the Hole” master!
Father laughs and hands me a piece of tangerine. “You win.” Father smiles.
Mother looks on, mesmerized by the sea.
“Frata, I’m going in dis water.” Father points to the sea. Mother is silent. She lies on a faded yellow beach towel, her hands wrapped behind her neck. She stares at the sun and smiles. Saliva trickles down the side of her mouth.
I sit on my towel, watching Father. He swims near a tall gray wave. The curl begins to break. Father does not allow the force to knock him down. Instead, he pushes his head under the wave and appears a few moments behind the swell. Father stands in the water.
“Mom, I’m gonna swim.”
“Don’t drown, honey.”
“Okay” I tell her.
I run to the sea. I dip my toes in the foamed, murk-filled water. The ocean feels cold on my body at first, but I get used to it. I see Father and move towards him.
Father trots over to me as if he is a little boy and I am Elmo. We stand by each other’s side. Father splashes me.”Hey, that water’s cold!” I splash some
water back at him and skip away.
“You gonna get it, I’m gonna get you!” He kicks the water at me. We chase each other along the shore. I am happy until Father grabs my arm. He begins to lead me to the deep end.
“Come on. You with me.”
“Oh, no. Daddy, stop!” I turn and try to run towards Mother. Father has a firm grip on my arm.
“No, I wanna go back.”
“Why you so scared all the time? When dat wave comes, you go under the wave. Look. Watch me.” I watch him thrust his head into the spout. He comes up quick and spits.
“Now you try.”
“No, I can’t.”
“Come on, I’m right here. I’ll always protect you. Don’t worry, I’m going to be right here, next to you always.”
“Of course I promise, look I’m your father!”
The next gray wave starts to fold in front of us. I close my eyes and press my head into the wet darkness.
All I can do is hold my breath and wait to get to the other side. I let the ocean take me. I’m not afraid anymore-whatever happens, I’ll let happen. I like this feeling; I’m free. The wave dissipates. I float next to Father.
He turns and grabs my face hard and pinches my cheeks.
“You see? You go under the wave!”
I giggle and have learned to fool Mother Nature. I continue to swim. I am free. At one point I turn and see Father walking back to Mother. I follow him.
“Frata, feel the water.” Father shakes water drops from his head onto Mother.
“Aah!” Mother jumps on her towel and pretends to swing her fist at him. Father reaches for her and grabs her. Father lifts Mother’s body slow into his arms.
“Ahh maybe you not so heavy for a whale” Father grins.
“Oh Ricky,” Mother whispers.
At that moment. I witness a moment. A moment I wish I could hold onto forever. Mother holds Father tight. Their eyes focus on each other with deep admiration. Ricky Ricardo, trots with Lucy in slow motion. His feet hit the sand hard. He carries Lucy in his arms, determined to take her to the sea. The water splatters under his feet. Mother’s body sways with his every move. I notice her hair-red hair with soft curls. Her curls bounce against Father’s chest. Gently, Ricky tosses Lucy into the ocean.
He slips and rolls with her. Lucy and Ricky are in love. Nobody can take this feeling away from me or from Mother and Father.
The tide comes in, Lucy and Ricky roll together and float on their backs. They stare together at the powder-blue sky. Both seem entranced by the small cradles of water and are comforted by the water’s healing power to clean away all the hurts and disappointments they have felt together in the past, the present and maybe the future. People on the shore stare at them. An old couple and a young family. The people envy Mother and Father. I adore them.
The sky becomes dark. It’s time to go home. We pack our belongings and head for the Datsun. I am in a wonderful heaven. Lucy and Ricky are in love.
I sit in the back seat, the seat belt strapped tight around my shoulder and waist.
“I know you cheat on me,” Mother says. The happy episode of “I Love Frata” comes to an end.
“Come on, Frata, you’re crazy.”
“Crazy?” Mother jiggles her boob with her fingers.“Captain Ricky, tell my titties.”
“Frata, you’re a crazy woman. I don’t know why I married you. I tell you don’t talk. You talk and you make no sense.”
Father jabs Mother with his salute finger.
I have no other option but to watch. “You guys, don’t fight. Please don’t fight.”
“You’re gonna end up in the hospital, Frata. You’re crazy.”
“Captain Ricky, you’re gonna get wet, I tell ya.” Mother hurls and spits at Father’s face. The spit, foamed and thick, sits on Father’s olive-skinned cheek. Father’s hand turns into a gorilla’s. He swipes Mother across the side of her mouth. Mother’s head swings like a wrecking ball. Mother’s skull throws itself as far back as it will go while still attached to her neck. It crashes hard onto the headrest.
“Please stop!” They ignore me. “Please stop!” I beg again. I start to feel a lump inside my throat. This feeling does not go away and it hurts. I need to make tears come out of myself. Yet, a lump in my throat blocks salt liquid from my eyes.
“Please you guys just, stop it!”
Mother turns to me in the back seat. She stares at me for a moment. Her lip bleeds. She smiles at me and whispers,“Mars.” Mother winks at me and leaves. She leaves me for another planet. Father and I are trapped in the Datsun. The motor hums in a one sound monotone. Father does not speak to me.
Give or take a few dates and times. See how it goes. Thank you for any support on this project.
This is a work of fiction. All incidents and dialog, and all characters with the exception of a few well known historical figures and situations are products of the authors imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental. Where real life historical figures the situations incidents and dialogs concerning those persons are entirely fictional and not intended to depict actual events.
(c) copyright Marshmallow Press all rights reserved. No portion of this book can be reproduced or copied without the written author-publisher consent.
ISBN:978-0-61521384-2 Library of Congress:2008930162