Publication Year: 2004
Published by: Red Hen Press
Chapter One: Mr. Foam
My friend Sharon walks with Mom and me to the A&P, our local grocery store two blocks away. Sharon’s mother shops at the supermarket because she knows how to drive. We always walk, pulling our wagon behind us. It’s 1963, I’m five, have lived most of my life on this block, and could walk to the A&P blindfolded. Most of the homes are painted white, ...
Chapter Two: Notes and Soaps
The note says: “Please excuse my daughter from school. She was ill and feels extremely bad about missing ...
Chapter Three: The Hospital
Mom has been sick a lot lately. A few weeks ago she went to the hospital to have hemorrhoids removed. I got in big trouble ...
Chapter Four: The Keyhole
Unlike before, the upstairs bathroom door closes tight and Mom says she doesn’t want me to wash her back. I stand beside the door listening to rushing water fill the old four-legged bathtub, wondering how awful ...
Chapter Five: The Bogeyman
As we walk up the stairs to our bedroom, Dad turns the hallway light off and listens to us scream in the dark. He’s laughing, “You big babies! Afraid of the dark!” In the background we hear Mom say, “Turn that light back ...
Chapter Six: Balken brij and Pig-in-the-Blankets
Once a year, Grandpa hangs his cap on the hook and ventures into our dark, damp basement to help the women to make balken brij. Later, a couple uncles feel guilty and join Grandpa in the basement to help him ...
Chapter Seven: A Licen se for Lice
Everything was fine until the nurse came to school and called us out of our class to check our hair. I was glad to get out of Penmanship. We stood in the hallway, quietly whispering, wondering what the nurse was looking ...
Chapter Eight: On Track
Walking home from school, I see a girl lying on the railroad tracks. A group of boys have gathered, laughing boldly, but not doing anything to ...
Chapter Nine: Seeing Everything
“Sue,” I whisper loudly, “wake up.” By the way she moves, I can tell Sue is waking. I tap her on the forehead. She ignores me. “You’re breathing ...
Chapter Ten: The Trash Bin
“Hey, girls,” an old man in a wheelchair says to my cousins and me. His voice rattles like a worn-out machine gun. “Could you get my ...
Chapter Eleven: The Day We Drive
I want to learn how to drive. Then I could be on the freeway with the radio on, one elbow leaning out of the window, not weeping like my mom ...
Chapter Twelve: Dogs and Rabbits
Early one morning before the sun has risen, I stand by the stained glass window in the hallway and can tell something is going on in the garage. Mom is standing in the yard grabbing her stomach. Then she sees me and ...
Chapter Thirteen: Peaceful Hunting
On Christmas Joe gets a B. B. gun, Sue the game “Go to the Head of the Class,” and I a tape recorder. I’m going to work on stopping my voice from ...
Chapter Fourteen: A Wise Investment
After I waste that nickel on Donny’s penis, I know my grandpa is right. I don’t spend money sensibly. Donny’s penis looks like the neck of a dead ...
Chapter Fifteen: The Other Mother
“Hey, Mrs. Burlingame!” I shout while waving at her kitchen window. Standing on top of the monkey bars, I stretch across the school boundary ...
Chapter Sixteen: An Imaginary Line
Except for the Green Beret album playing, the house is quiet. Mom is humming, “Trained to live off nature’s land, Trained for combat, hand in hand...” “The Singing Nun” and this album are her favorites. We...
Chapter Seventeen: A Nose’s Job
While doing dishes and listening to the radio, Mom suddenly looks me in the eyes and says, “You know, it’s too bad we don’t have money or I’d ...
Chapter Eighteen: Shedding Hair
“Is the water too hot?” I ask Mom as she leans her head under the kitchen ...
Chapter Nineteen: Mending Battles
After eating lunch, I walk up the hill and go to school. I see Bully pushing the little kids, shoving them by their shoulders and banging them on the side of the school wall. The kids are huddled beneath the porch avoiding ...
Chapter Twenty: Empty Pockets
First I hear the car come up the driveway and then the tires squealing as my father steps on the brakes, just before hitting the garage. After the car door ...
Chapter Twenty-One: A Hymn
Sitting on a beer crate in the front of a beat-up van, I watch my father drive. Delivering beer is his new job since he has been laid off from the factory. He seems happy driving down this country road. Mom’s not proud ...
Chapter Twenty-Two: Justice
The moment we heard Mr. Brown scream, “Get on the floor and eat that noodle!” my brother Joe and I ducked beneath their kitchen ...
Chapter Twenty-Three: Awaken
Dad is virtually impossible to wake. Except for the vacuum, he can sleep through most anything. But when Dad wakes, the first thing he does is yell things that don’t make sense. Both Sue and I have walked upstairs ...
Chapter Twenty-Four: The Box
I know something is up when I see the UPS man walk to our front door and Mom yanks Sue into the kitchen, laughing like a wild hyena. We order things from Montgomery Ward and then walk to the store and pick ...
Chapter Twenty-Five: Bobby Sherman
We had a great gig going in junior high. If we wanted to walk three blocks to the city library during Study Hall to work on a special project, all we needed was a teacher’s permission slip and we were free of Study Hall, free ...
Chapter Twenty-Six: Real Meatloaf
With a cigarette in one hand and a beer bottle on the counter, Mrs. Lock uses her fingers as spoons and her palms as measuring cups. Throwing food in all directions, but not directly into the bowl, she talks about her ...
Chapter Twenty-Seven: Cleaning Cupboards
I’m thirteen and it’s my first job cleaning a stranger’s house. An attractive woman in her fifties who looks like she buys a lot of Avon products greets me at the door. She seems both kinder and younger than I had ...
Chapter Twenty-Eight: Apricot Pits, Love Beads, and Jesus
“Your hippies ain’t what you think. You think they love babies and poor people, but it ain’t true. They take too many drugs to know how to love. I’ll tell you what they do. They stuff their babies into roaster pans and ...
Chapter Twenty-Nine: Tongue-Tied
I walk down Seventeenth Street praying Jesus will provide me with powerful words to convince the Road Knights and the Lock family to want Jesus. Though I’m only thirteen, I have visions of becoming ...
Chapter Thirty: Miracle Whip
“Trust me, mayonnaise works better than Noxema. Why do you think ...
Chapter Thirty-One: Union-Made
Surprised to see Dad come home so early—usually he goes drinking after work—I make the mistake of asking him, “How was your day at ...
Chapter Thirty-Two: Good Housekeeping
“Are you sure the woman’s last name is Brasher?” I ask my ...
Chapter Thirty-Three: The Shower
I want to scream, “I’m fifteen now! When are you going to stop?” But I can’t say anything. All the air has been knocked out of me. I lie on the floor unable to move, uncertain if I’m paralyzed. The shower water keeps...
Chapter Thirty-Four: The Family Mantra
Tonight my father bawls, wails just like the pansy he says my brother is when he cries. He doesn’t punch holes in the wall, throw chairs through the windows, or kick our bodies while blaming us for all his ...
Chapter Thirty-Five: The Whiskey Bottle and the Bike
I ride my bike up the driveway and see Dad sitting in a lawn chair drinking whiskey out of a bottle. He looks out of place sitting outside alone. I ...
Chapter Thirty-Six: The Hypnotist
Before the entire high school, the hypnotist stands on the stage requesting volunteers. Most of us remain seated, knowing from past experiences that this means the class president, star athletes, and cheerleaders. It doesn’t...
Chapter Thirty-Seven: The Test
It’s a ’66 Bonneville. Big fenders. Virtually impossible to squeeze into a reasonably sized parking space. Something I know I’ll have to do before...
Chapter Thirty-Eight: The Beach
Like so many summer nights, Mom and I are sitting on the steps, watching the neighbors sweep their porches and watering the lawns. Mom talks with the old folks in Dutch and I tell stories to the neighbor kids who...
Chapter Thirty-Nine: Brains, Books and Boys
Walking back home, daypack filled with books, I see Grandpa sitting on his porch swing, and cross the street to join ...
Chapter Forty: The Waiting Room
Twice a week Mom needs to go to Cascade, a town about fifty miles away, for radiation and chemotherapy. “Ma, do you think the radiation ...
Chapter Forty-One: Good Stock
“You don’t understand these things, but Tim’s family comes from a different stock. His family ain’t going to like you and it isn’t gonna be because of something you do or how you look. Just stay home. Tim will be back in ...
Chapter Forty-Two: A New Home
“Well, we signed our house off today. We have a month and a half to find a new home,” Mom tells me when I get home from ...
Chapter Forty-Three: Another Chance to Hope
We’ve been in our new house less than a week and Mom is already in the hospital. It seems like Mom’s new home has become these long corridors which simultaneously echo in pained voices and voices of boisterous ...
Chapter Forty-Four: Different Worlds
Wearing plaid pants and a striped shirt, looking more like someone who works for the railroad than its owner, Dr. Midnight comes in greasyhaired, and smelling of cigarettes. The doctor doesn’t begin his ...
Page Count: 156
Publication Year: 2004
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