W. FLOOD : Chapter Twenty

W. Flood

 

Chapter Twenty

I turned on the lights to my small bedroom and let Glory walk in first ahead of me. I’m a gentleman. I could never tire of watching her walk, just the sight of her moving was enough for me to smile, and salivate a bit. Her limbs were fucking cute. The way I felt couldn’t be natural. I felt foolish, but having her so close to me was strange. It shouldn’t have been strange, but it was, everything always is. I don’t know how to act properly. It was so hard to be myself with the tireless analysis of every single move or word. I was so keen on her and she didn’t care about those things that made me vulnerable. I had no reason to feel out of sorts but I nevertheless did. The way her jeans looked made me feel a little bit better. I won’t lie.

“We have to be quiet. Catherine is asleep.” I said in a whisper that I guided safely into her ear.

She looked around at the room. “This is awesome! Where did you get the coffin?”

“My best friend Ronnie and I made these coffins when we were in junior high. We got one each. You got the stakes, I got the coffin.” I wrestled my phone from my pocket, I looked at the copious amounts of missed calls and voice messages. What the fuck was I doing? I missed my family. My friends were always like family to me and I felt guilty about shunning them.

Pangur was on the unmade bed, Glory sat beside her and softly petted her frail frame. Pangur was so close to the end of her road. I needed to make a decision and soon. “So this is Pangur Ban. She is so pretty for an old lady. What the fuck is a Pangur Ban? What do you mean?” Glory spoke to my cat. I fumbled with opening fresh beers, first handing Glory hers and then I put mine out toward her to clink her bottle against mine. Slainte.
“Pangur Ban, is the title of an old, old poem about a dude’s cat. Ninth or tenth century, I’m not positive. Irish stuff.”

I put on Chelsea Wolfe, low but audible. I thought how unromantic it was to click a button to hear music. To put the needle to a record is something of a aphrodisiac. I needed a record player. Fuck. My old one broke ages ago.

“How old is she?” asked Glory.

“As ancient as the poem.”

“Oh, no,” said Glory as Pangur Ban walked the length of the bed hunched over, almost a stretch and emptied her bladder. Glory rose slowly, unaffected by the amount of piss but concerned. Why must everything be so embarrassing? Life is undignified.

“Pangur, No!”

“Oh, no.”

“I’m sorry. Should I be embarrassed? She is losing control of her bodily functions. This happens. She is really sick.” I turned to my cat, “Come on! Babe, now?”

“Aww. Poor thing. That is so sad. No need to be embarrassed.” Glory rubbed my back, as if I was the one who pissed the bed. I hadn’t done that in months. Honest.

“Fuck.”

“It’s really an obscene amount of piss. How is it possible for something so small to retain that much liquid? She never even drinks her water. I don’t get it.”

“Isn’t it? Toilet maybe.” Pangur hopped off the bed.

I removed the comforter and the sheets from the bed. “I have to clean this. I’m going to put these in the washing machine.”

“Can I help?” Glory asked, thoughtfully.

I envisioned myself throwing my beer on her and telling her to remove her clothes so I could wash those too. I’m good at ruining moments. I refrained. “There are blankets in the coffin. I’m sorry but we will have to sleep on the floor.”

“I don’t care where we sleep. It’s not the end of the world. Stop worrying.” She kissed me.

When I returned from the kitchen Glory was not in the room. There was a nice cozy bed set up on the floor with the quilts from the coffin and throw pillows from the bed. “Glory? Glory? Where are you?” I had a handful of stain remover and remembered how terrible cat piss smells as the smell punched me in the nose. Then it occurred to me where this little weirdo might have been hiding. I smiled, lifting the lid of the coffin open.

“You fit. I haven’t fit in that thing since I was sixteen.”

“I do fit. It’s snug in here. How about you pretend I’m dead. What would you say about me? Give me a proper eulogy”.

“I don’t want to eulogize you. I don’t know you well enough yet to deliver a eulogy.”

“Just do it. Say something nice.”

“Fine but you can’t look at me.” I shut the lid and sat on top. “Can you breathe?” She clawed the inside of the coffin. “Is that a yes?” More clawing. “Hold on what is your last name?”

“It’s Mayberry. Gloria Mayberry.”

“I like it.” I said lifting the lid of the coffin as I stood up. “Well, Thank you for coming here. Am I supposed to thank people? Wait! What did you die from?”

“Witch hunt. I was hanged.” She hung herself with an imaginary rope, her wet tongue dangled.

“What fucking year is this?”

“1692, who cares. Proceed.”

“I am deeply saddened by the sudden execution of Glory Mayberry. I didn’t know her all that well.” I looked at her, her wry smile, her crayon blue jeans. Blau. I thought of what she said about the being true to myself, about not caring what others might think. I decided to just be honest, it wasn’t as much about being honest to her than it was about finally saying aloud what I really thought and how I truly felt.

“I saw Glory at Anne Bonny’s. It was excruciatingly painful for me to look away from her. She was so beautiful. I was completely smitten. I knew it. I knew everything she wore and how on some days her hair was straight and other days a bit wild. I wanted to smell it. I wanted to sniff her head so badly. I don’t know much about her and that is what makes me sad the most. That I won’t be able to learn everything about her. I won’t be able to be a part of her life. I wanted to be Glory’s best friend. I know she wanted to be an actress. I know her parents were amazing. I know she wished she was nicer to her sister. Her therapist was aces. I know she was smart and she was funny. Had I known she was going to be a victim of such mass hysteria, I would have spoken to her sooner. Its my fault, you see, I am at a place in my life were I don’t know if love is real, or if things in life are ever truly right. I was looking for isolation and distance and instead I stumbled upon a woman, a woman I did my best to avoid, to admire from afar, in order to save her and protect myself from certain heartache. I wish I would have found more quotes. Had I known the inevitable I would have never let myself shy away from touching her at each possible rendezvous. A lobster claw snapping at her arm or an affectionate squeeze of her neck whenever in close range. I wanted to be her person. From the moment I found out about her existence I thought about her everyday. Quelle domage. Maybe we could have had something intrinsic, something irrefutable. She could have helped me, she could have been the person, my person, who gave me the sustenance and could have amended my recurring feeling of disorientation. Maybe with her beside me I would never feel lost again.”

She looked up at me and I couldn’t gauge what was going on inside her pretty scalp.

“Ok I think I should stop there.”

“It was lovely.” She climbed out and rolled over to my feet, crashing into my legs. She pulled me down to the floor by the bottom of my shirt. “I want to kill you.” I would have let her too.

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W. FLOOD : Chapter Nineteen

W. Flood

Chapter Nineteen

Glory and I walked along 149th street toward my apartment. It was dark and gloomy, just the way I had always liked it. It could have been perfect only had it been Halloween or Walpurgisnacht, but it was an ordinary day. The desolation of Memorial park had an eerie feel, of something supernatural as if specters watched us from some hidden shadow.

Glory had her hand in mine, just where I wanted it, underneath the constellations of Hercules and Corona Borealis. I wanted to know about the stars so I could navigate us out of here. There would never be enough time for us here, in this world, in this form. We had to hurry. We all know death is close but I knew death was closer than I preferred, inching forward each second. I was comforted by the fact that I knew someone like Glory. I also knew it was only a matter of time before I fucked this up. Wilhelm, ever the saboteur. Just leave me enough rope.

“Fuck!” I said.

“What is it? What’s wrong?” Glory asked, stopping in her tracks and pulling me toward her by the hand. She pulled me closer, placing the back of my knuckles on her mouth as if testing for heat.

“It’s Mr. Dailor.” I said, staring at her, thinking about how we could be standing one day, this far apart at a ceremony, making tough promises, hoping never to stray, hoping our feelings never change for the worse.

“Mr. Dailor? Who’s he?”

“This guy. I’ve known him my entire life but it’s always so awkward with him. I grew up with his son, we were close in elementary school but drifted apart after that. He is a good guy. I think he became a teacher. Mr. Dailor grew up with my mother, Hattie.”

“So what’s the matter? What’s the big deal? Besides the fact he looks a bit off his rocker.”

“Every time I see him he asks me about my mother. ‘How is your mom?’ I just hate lying about it.”

“So don’t. You don’t have to lie about anything. You don’t owe him an explanation. Wilhelm, you don’t have to talk about it or do anything you don’t want to. With him, with me, with anyone.”

“Wilhelm!” Mr.Dailor yelled, changing direction and pulling his mangy looking dog with him. He was one of the few who called me by my proper name. I appreciated that about Mr.Dailor. “How are you? You look good.”

“I’m well.”

“And who is this? She’s hot!”

“This is Glory. I agree. Glory, this is Mr.Dailor.”

“Nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you, Glory. You are a very pretty girl. Nice job Wilhelm! He is a handsome man even though he’s been mixing it up it seems. That’s a good way to lose your looks.”

“Uh. Thank you.”

“I agree.” Said Glory, jutting me with her elbow. I felt like I was bright red. Feverish.

“How is your mother? Glory, did you know my first girlfriend was Wilhelm’s mother. Hattie was so lovely.” Mr.Dailor looked up at the sky, reflecting on his own youth. I did not want to even try to wonder what he was thinking about.

“I did not know that. Young love.” Glory said.

“How would you?” I said to her, smiling.

“Hattie was, what was she? Breathtaking. She really was something. I haven’t seen her in such a long time. How is she doing?”

“I wouldn’t know.” I knew how she was. She was alone and destroyed. Heartbroken and irreparable.

“What does that mean? How would you not know? I don’t understand that.”

“The truth is I haven’t spoken a single word to her in about eight years.”

“No way! Why? I would never not talk to my kids. Wow.”

“It’s sad. It’s not how I want it to be. We just cease to have a relationship.”

“That’s so sad. What happened? I don’t understand.”

“There are reasons. They’re all pretty shitty. The whole situation is shitty.”

“Wilhelm, she is your mom, man. You have to talk to her. I know how she can be.” We both knew what he was implying. “But she needs you. You should call her. Patch things up. You are good kid, do the right thing. Help her.”

“I can’t, I can’t talk to her. I can’t help her. I can’t do anything. Hey Mr.Dailor, I’m sorry, we have to get going.”

“Alright Wilhelm, but think about it.” I always think about it. “Put ice on that eye. Nice meeting you, Glory.”

“It was nice to meet you. Good night, Mr.Dailor. You’re puppy is eating something.”

“Shit. Karloff, don’t eat that.”

We walked along the benches where years ago the older kids hung out at, we passed the handball I wrote on hundreds of times. I don’t know if Glory noticed it, but I wrote ‘It is possible I have done nothing important. – W.Flood’ across eighty feet of handball court. I was surprised it hadn’t been buffed yet. How is it possible some people never accomplish anything in the duration of their lifetime? How is it possible to be content? Why is it that I have continuously wanted more from this monotonous existence without anything worthwhile ever happening. Why couldn’t I do something more? Anything.

We wash away the routine for years at the public house we walked passed, the bar where my friends might have very well been inside. I’ve walked this street so many times. I wanted to walk a different way home for once but I knew I’ve already exhausted every avenue here in Whitestone. Glory squeezed my hand, I didn’t want her pity, it was too much, she didn’t need to know all that.
“So, wow. Eight years. That is a long time. You okay?”

“I suppose. I think I tend to reside in the flux of okay and not okay.” I was never okay, but that was my problem, not hers. I thought that was all I would be for Glory, a problem. She should run from me. Fast and far.

We didn’t say much to each other. When we walked I almost felt like it was already all ruined. The relationship was corrupted. Or was it all in my head. I thought of the fast paced walks on cold nights from the bar. I thought of the other cities and the other lives I might have had if I just left this place behind me. I thought about how I wanted to be in my bed with Glory with everything stricken from the record. Inadmissible in heart. I thought of Hattie. How I hated coming home, the ponderous dread that coursed through me and rained down on me. Eight years later Hattie is somewhere and I felt so guilty for how her life turned out. I was sure I would be the one to find her dead all those times I came home. That looming feeling of death is never absent, it’s right on our heels.

W. FLOOD : Chapter Eighteen

W. Flood

Chapter Eighteen

“I should preface this story with some background information. It most likely wont make sense out of context.” I played the sock on her hand as if it were a guitar. If the sock was a real guitar I’d probably practice a lot more.

“Okay hit me with it.” She sipped her Hofbrau. Glory really wanted to know me which I found most peculiar. She wanted to know about Wilhem Flood, but why? I knew I was worthless, nothing. I couldn’t understand her interest in knowing about who I was as a person. It made me excited and frightened at the same time. She had to be defective. There had to be something irreversibly wrong with her. This was impossible.

I wanted to be different with Glory. I wanted to be myself only this time, unguarded and open. Honest, completely honest.

“I have been pretty unhappy for quite some time. I haven’t really admitted that to anyone. I’m not happy. I mean, I can have a good time. I can still find ways to laugh. But I’ve really just felt…stagnant, frustrated. What’s the best synonym? My Father would always say he was disgusted with his life, by our family, or rather the situations our family found its way into, I guess now I understand what that feeling really is. So before I begin, I’m not complaining about my life nor do I want anyone’s pity, let’s set it straight, there is a clear difference, I’m merely providing facts, a detailed analysis of who I am, and remember you are the one who wanted to know, so here it is. I am Wilhelm Flood. I am 28 years old. Fact. I have not yet begun a career of any variety. Fact. I am really good at nothing. Fact, half fact half joking. I’m alright at a lot of things but not great at anything at all. I feel like nothing grand is going to happen in the foreseeable future. I will never achieve anything, or make any progress and that scares me. I just heard myself and all that sounds awful but.”

“Wait, when in your birthday?” Glory sipped her beer.

“December 29.”

“Really? I’m in December too. The fourth.”

“What!” I said in a exaggerated drawn out way.

“Shut up.” said Glory, slapping my leg. “Continue, please. I get that. I feel the same way sometimes, not entirely but I do understand where you’re coming from. The only thing I’ve ever wanted to do, was to act and I never put myself out there because it terrifies me. I don’t think you’re alone. I think the 21st century has become very impossible for most people. I don’t think you have complaints, per se, well maybe a few. It appears to me that you are very hard on yourself. Things will work out. But how does this get you a black eye?”

“Right. Well a few months back I was the bar, it’s right down the street. I was there with my friends, my best friends, people I’d do anything for. We were having a great time bullshitting about whatnot. Its never a bad time, you know, when we all get together. We were talking about our lives. I said something that depressed me. I talked about things, things I’m going to do, things I wanted to do but haven’t done and probably wont ever get to do. Yeah, I’m going to write that book. Im getting that job I wanted. I heard myself, it sounded so rehearsed, I’ve said it so many times. The career wasn’t going to happen, it still hasn’t. It occurred to me that I sounded like I was full of shit. I was sick of talking shit. Talk talk talk. I don’t want to talk about doing things, I want to actually do them. Plus at this point I was having these recurring thoughts of leaving everything behind. I am an escapist at heart. I have always wanted to leave, its one of the things I desired more than anything for years. It’s just sometimes the desire to leave is stronger and the thoughts of leaving are more frequent. I suppose it is when I’m at my most discontent with my life.”

“ You roam around a bit. So why don’t you leave? Why haven’t you left yet? Something has to be the reason for staying.”

“It seems easier for other people to up and leave. Why haven’t I left? My sister, I’d feel bad leaving her.  My family strongly opposes. I don’t have the money to fund the escape. I don’t have the money for most of the things I’d like to do.”

“Your family would want you to be happy and if you really wanted to leave you could. Where would you want to go?

“Are you leaving with me?”

“Depends on where you’re going?”

“I’ve always dreamed of moving to Ireland or Germany, or a place like where you’re from.”

“I could live in those places. We could move in with my parents. My mother would adore you. My father might bury you out back.”

“I like that.” I said, raising my beer. “Moving in with your parents might seem like a step backwards. I’ve lived on my own for so long, you know.”

“My father wants to build Evelyn and I our own houses behind our house, further into the woods. It’s his dream. I think he wants a compound. Continue, please.” Glory tugged at the socks.

“So I went home from the bar. I had all of these feelings. I felt like maybe I had become too sentimental, too soft. It’s weird when you can’t tell if you are incapable of love or if it’s really that you love too much. I was once a spiteful cold, cold boy. Now as a man, I well up at the thought of my mother, or the thought of my life remaining this way for the rest of it. So I made a decision. If I couldn’t leave, I would find a different way to escape. I cut myself off from everyone. I haven’t had proper communication with anyone outside of my sister in a while.”

“What’s her name again, I’m sorry.”

“Catherine. She is so worried about me. I have been neglectful towards everyone. It’s partly because I’m ashamed. I want my life to be different. I wanted everything to be so different. I don’t answer my phone, I don’t return their calls or texts. I go out of my way to avoid everyone I know, which is difficult in Whitestone. I saw my friend, Emma. She showed up at my job last night, and she is asking me whats wrong, what’s wrong, something has to wrong, right? I mean everything feels all wrong. But I said that nothing was wrong. I lied to Emma. I tried to reassure her but it wasn’t working so now, we both know everything is wrong. She wants to get a beer, I tell her I cant. I use work as an excuse. I have to be in early. All that sort of bullshit. She insists. So out we go to the bar. She says one beer, I caved. I kept the focus on her and fired questions at her to keep the questions off of me. We drink and she tells me how she’s upset by my actions, that she and everyone misses me and I’m being a selfish cunt. She doesn’t understand what I’m doing. That no one did.” I barely understood it myself.

“Were you two together at some point?”

“Emma? No, we’re just close friends. I’ve known her since I’m eleven years old. Nothing to worry about there. So Emma is so mad at me. And I said some things I regret saying. I insulted her. I implied that she is complacent with her life, and because she’s okay with it does that mean I have to be? I am not. I guess I came off badly, but I didn’t mean anything malicious. honestly. She told me she wanted to punch me in the face. I thought I kind of deserved it with my behavior and all. I said, one shot. I removed my glasses and she swung hard. I said thank you, hugged her and left. I went home and thought about everything, and I cried a bit.”

“You’re a gigantic baby.” Glory chuckled.

“I don’t know if gigantic is precise.”

“How do you feel now?”

“Right this minute? I feel all sorts of emotions.”

“Are you embarrassed to share this with me. If you don’t want to talk about anything just say the word and we can change topics.”

“No. I tend to share too much. But it’s not a trust thing, I don’t trust you, I don’t trust anyone with my emotions entirely. You get the parts I’m okay with. I trust Pangur Ban. Pangur’s talks have no omissions, as for majority of my feelings and thoughts, I can share, I don’t care if you know.

“I already told you I have trust issues.”

“You did. We are perfect then.”

“We could be. We could be two straight lines in a crooked world.

“I’d like that. I think it all comes down to purpose. I want to make something.” I caught the reference.

“What is your family like?”

“My dad moved far away. I never thought about it but I guess he was kind of distant even when he was here. I wish I could up and move. My mother is still here in New York. They both are, I don’t know, damaged in different ways. But deep down they are decent people that are just really fucked up. Its funny my father is a truck driver, and he would sit and watch westerns all day long, it is a similar lawless kind of lifestyle. The open road. Oregon trail shit. I wish I could have appreciated it then, I would have sat and watched them more with him. I didn’t get the appeal. Clint. What a bad dude? In a way my father did exactly what I’ve always wanted to do.”

“Yeah. What’s that?”

“He left.”

“Give me your hands.” She took a felt tipped pen from her purse. “Hold them out like your receiving communion.” She wrote Eastwood across my fingers. “There.”

We kissed, and I could feel myself falling for all those things my heart was whispering to my mind.

“Look at the stars. Here I have this app it will tell us what constellations are above us.” She said, fumbling in her bag for her cellphone, while my own vibrated in my pocket, another ignored call under the stars.

W. FLOOD : Chapter Seventeen

W. Flood

 

Chapter Seventeen.

The harsh headlights of Hattie’s second husband’s filthy Ford pickup, aggressively slithered into the house through the slits in the dust cloaked venetian blinds. The pick-up truck gurgled loudly, and breathed as heavily as Hattie’s second husband did. It was as if he was being selfish with air as well, trying to take it all for himself or he would die. Air felt awful about having to enter his lungs. He would take it all, because everything was all his, in this supposition of a morganatic wedlock. Marriages dissolve by the second across the world, though theirs did not.

Go back where you came from.

The truck was blue and white; blau und weiss. Catherine and I could feel the ominous hum fill the house as he sped into his crumbling driveway. I imagined the fissures that plagued the house of Usher, bubbling and shifting the shoddy concrete of the driveway, his driveway.

Why did they have to return to the house? A ranch style house in Whitestone, that lodged hulking aversions. We were often left alone. But if you asked us, and no one ever did ask us, we preferred it that way, we preferred to be left alone. Let them go off to their debaucheries.

“Be gone!” Channel your inner Vincent Price. Let the adults go off to fumble with their own irresponsible devices, in their rank hang outs or to the seedy casinos of Atlantic city in a feeble attempt to hit it big. It was never going to happen for them. Hattie and him longed to apprehend that quick fix to all their problems. Quite possibly the only commonality between the two of them. The change never poured down from the slots. No chips were ever cashed in.

I find myself wondering what draws people together. How do two people who don’t seem to enjoy each other’s presence come together. I mean, I understood what kept Hattie and her second husband together. The thoughtless arson of every bridge they trespassed. I wanted to be wrong for her sake. Deserving or not, I wanted a better life for Hattie. They were only together because they had no one else and both were too weak to ever try being alone. It was daunting for me to think I was just as weak, possibly even more so, even more desperate than them. Maybe that is another reason I’ve pushed everyone I love away from me, maybe I distanced myself to prove that I can be content alone. I sabotaged everything regardless of the pangs I felt sleeping alone. It occurred to me I couldn’t remember them ever saying I love you. If she said I love you to me I wouldn’t say it back.  I was a bastard for that. He only told me he loved me two or three times and I didn’t believe him. No truth in his stained smirk. I could hear the conversations, the arguments are more apropos description, I could everything through the walls.  We heard every one of his raspy detestation. I knew what he truly thought of me. I didn’t want their love. Anyone with a tongue can say I love you, despite being equipped with defective hearts. Come to think of it, I have a hard time believing anyone who tells me that they love me. It is difficult to fathom that love is even a real thing.

They would return to his house in the early morning hours, drunk and broke, and hating each other for it. This was normal in our house. I felt bad for them. He resented my mother for his misfortune. She was his bad luck charm. The nights were long, tense and sleepless. Catherine and I dreaded their return. It was always the same. A night full of turmoil, a morning of averted eyes and concealed heartache, with miserable days barely worth living. Why couldn’t the house just crumble with us in it. The Ushers pitied Catherine and I. We were raised in putrefaction.

“Promise mommy you wont say anything about what happens here to anyone.” We vowed to Hattie. We’d conceal to truth from all outsiders to help her. Mask your hatred. I never could affirm that last bit. Install in the children a suspicious and fretful perception of the truth. Make it so they always feel like they are at risk of saying too much, of saying the wrong thing, bestow anxiety unto them. The restive wear worn clothes and tired looks.

Catherine and I were happiest when we were left alone in the house.

Nothing in the house belonged to us. We were reassured of that regularly. Nothing. Not the cracking brick facade, or green fence, grun, nor the fridge, that Hattie spelled her name in magnetic letters and I followed it up with, ‘is the mother of immorality’, even those plastic magnetic letters were not ours. We should have never been there in the first place. We were there and had to eat every last bit of the shit thrown at us. He reminded us of his true feelings of us without much provocation. I suppose when you are miserable it does not take much to incite. The look of Hattie’s face could set me off too.

“You think I need you. You and your fucking kids. You pieces of shit. I need you? You kidding? Leave. Go. This is my house. My house! Get the fuck out. You dumb bitch.” This is not the way you show your love, I’m almost certain of that, and I don’t know anything about anything.

We always hoped the door to our attached rooms would never open. The two us in that split room, with its dingy white walls, restless with bloody cuticles. We weren’t asleep. We were frightened little kids but we could ride out the night in the dark with our tears and fading hopes. The hopeless and the frail. We could handle that, easily. Then the door would open. We’re leaving. Slurred words. Streaked mascara. Catherine would be crying. Hattie as well but still trying to assume a false sense of parental control with a melting face. We’d stuff some clothes into garbage bags and he would belittle us the whole time, finding a sick sense of pleasure from it, schadenfreude, as we left his house with the clothes he bought in garbage bags he bought with our mother he bought. We were directionless. Wandering around Whitestone in the dead of night, with nowhere to go, and no one to call. It was such a joke, a parade for the pathetic, only to march back a few hours later, to sneak in like vermin, quiet so we wouldn’t disturb him from his drunken unconsciousness. After it became routine I stopped packing. The first few times I was so happy at the prospect of escaping.

I spent nights awake in that house of his, I plotted my escape. I looked out the window that looked into the backyard, I saw the darkness and that was where I wanted to go. Walk into it and disappear.

The door opened. We never wanted it to open but it did. She came in crying, make up is disarray, he grabbed at her while yelling, “Where are you going?”

Catherine cried. I’d love to tell you that I didn’t cry but that would be inaccurate. I can not look at Catherine crying and not follow suit.

“Leave me alone, I’m checking on my kids.” Said Hattie pulling her shirt out of his hand.

“Your pieces of shit.”

“Just stop.” Maybe not that night.

He pulled her into the dining room, chastising her for her past, for us, her ex-husband, for all of his failures.

It was all Hattie’s fault. Maybe I had something in common with her second husband after all. My life is not a result of Hattie or him. I want to let go of it all. I thought that, I’ll admit it, I blamed her for a long time but I reflect and as I do, as I confide in you, I don’t ever want to be like those people. I didn’t want to angry anymore. Those adults, do I dare say guardians, laughable at best, those people who shaped my environment, one of whom is part of my genetic coding, were the last people on the planet I would want to emulate. Why are there people in this world who refuse to take responsibility for their actions? Am I the only person who strives to be a decent person? If anything I was grateful, I have seen the ways in which you should never treat the woman you love or how not to have a fulfilling life. It has instilled tenets to guide me and how I behave and treat others. I will try not to raise my voice or speak unkindly, for the moment that I do, the relationship is corrupted and irreparable, and I shall never raise my hand to a woman.

He punched her hard. It made a sound unlike those you hear in movies. I’d like to tell you it’s never happened before but I’d be a liar. He hit her with his disgusting hands. Unwashed hands I had to shake. Hands with bad habits, that I cringed when he dug them into chopped meat or into Hattie. There was no trace of love in his appendages. He pushed her onto the table where he kept his records, pieces of paper flying everywhere. He swung. He swung again, hitting her, hitting her, hitting her. Punch, punch, punch. Catherine and I stood in the doorway, watching, learning. Is this love? Hattie shrieked a sound I hated more than any other sound in the world. I only heard it on nights like those or when she was strapped to a gurney, barely conscious leaving for the hospital.

Catherine yelled at him, “Stop! Stop! You’re hurting her!”

He turned to us, “I’m not hurting her. I love your mother, I’d never hurt her.”

“You are too.” He was still holding her down.

I wanted him to hit me desperately. If he laid a chubby finger on me then that would be it, it would seal his fate, but we are not fatalistic. I looked at the door expecting someone to storm through it and save us. Please, I thought, punch me, just hurt me then my father would come back just like Clint Eastwood. He would be on the way out of a busted up town, conflicted, in the middle of stand-off with a moral dilemma, but he always came back. He did what was right. I wanted Justice, better yet I wanted revenge. I thought my family was going to save us. All the people we swore not to tell a single word to. Why didn’t I speak up? My uncles would come and rescue Catherine and me, where were they? They would help us. They just didn’t know. No one ever came through the door even though I stood and looked toward it waiting for someone to burst through it. No one ever saved us. I just cried, helpless and frozen. I wanted to protect Hattie. I wanted to protect Catherine. Helplessness is an expression I wear. Blood surged in my tight discolored knuckles, grinding me teeth.

Hattie got off the table and darted for the living room, he turned and with a quick shove sent her through the glass coffee table, shattering the glass pane table top. I don’t think he intended for it to happen. I’m not defending him, but the situation was escalating.

“You broke the fucking table,” he said, pointing at her on the floor, where there was a quilt. They usually watched television on the living room floor.

“Enough, okay?” she said through the sobs. She got up carefully, glass strewn about. He hit her, she fell against an end table a lamp exploded.

“You ruin everything! Now I have to get a new lamp too.”

Why didn’t I leave and get help? My family lived nearby. I could have went and got my uncles. Men. Real guys who I wanted to be like. If it was a choice I would have went into a home if it meant that someone took Catherine in. I don’t care about what I saw or how I felt, my only concern or regret is that I did nothing and allowed Catherine to witness and feel those same things I felt bearing witness. My guilt for my sister decimated the guilt I have for Hattie. We were almost rescued, that night was the one time the police came.

Two police officers were at the front door of his house, I recollect how peculiar it sounded to hear knocking on that specific door, no one ever used that door. They said a neighbor reported a complaint, some kind of disturbance. One police officer was an asian man and they other was a white woman. They were in the house, I don’t remember how they got there, they just were, you can think of your own outlandish entrance for them. Hattie’s second husband, sat at the table in the dining room, fixing up his work records, Hattie had annoyingly decided to shut the fuck up, ignoring questions from the female officer. Hattie was then in the living room trying to tidy up while the male officer asked her questions, while never taking his attention off of his partner in the other room. The house remained tense, I don’t think Hattie answered any questions. He seemed like a nice enough man, his eyes were compassionate and I think the sight of my little sister and the surrounding crime scene got to him a little. The night was criminal, punishment needed to be doled out accordingly.

-Miss, what is your name?

-What happened?

-Do you need an ambulance?

-Are these your children or his?

-You need to press charges…

-I know you don’t want to, but you need to.

-Look at what this is doing to your children.

-Did he hit you?

-Ma’am they could take your kids away.

-You should press charges…

There was a knock at the side door, the door we used. There were two more police cars outside.

“Sir, we need you to step outside.”

I went out the front the door, in my pajamas with my red hooded sweatshirt over them, the cowl covering my long messy hair, bare footed, useless and standing in the driveway. He came to the door but wouldn’t step through it.

“Sir, can you come outside, please.”

“For what? This is my house.”

“Please step outside sir.”

“No,” he looked up the steps into the house, toward Hattie, “you called the cops you fucking bitch, rat.”

“The children are frightened, sir. They look like they have been crying for days, your neighbors reported it not your wife, sir. Step outside.” I was ecstatic someone called them.

He tried to shut the door on one officer and the four reacted. They fought with him while one recited the miranda rights, wrestling against the side of the house, his house. One cop smashed his face against the brick siding. I was smiling ear to ear, overcome with joy. The bastard sun rose, people were all outside now, watching her second husband get roughed up and handcuffed.

I was so happy, rooting for the cops, the good guys, I turned to look at the spectators. My happiness was short-lived.

I realized then I was truly alone. Hattie, was crying but for a different reason, it was her worry and sympathy for him. Dare I say, love. Catherine was emulating her. She was so young, she is really not at fault for her reactions. Catherine didn’t know any better, after all, she was just a little girl. I was not very kind to Hattie during this time but after that night I would never show her any warmth. What love was left in my impressionable heart was gone. I lost my innocence long before that night, but now I lost my compassion for my mother as well. We were done, I thought I could remain frozen forever, I thought I could turn my back and sleep soundly. He went through the system, Central Bookings, probably ate a halal sandwich, got arraigned, and was back in under thirty hours. The fighting never ceased, but he didn’t use his hands so much after that. My feelings towards them both were decided. I wanted to write this on the side of his fucking house. You know I love quotes. Nietzsche would not have been impressed.

W. Flood is dead.
W. Flood remains dead.
And you have killed him…