Life or Something like it

k.b By k.b , 23rd May 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Short Stories

Short story of love gone wrong and childhood interupted


The low-ceilinged barbershop smelled of stale roses.
I kept my face blank, or at least I tried too. I leaned on the broom I'd been using to sweep up the hair and other stuff off the wooden floor after an especially long day at the barbershop and allowed the scent of shaving cream, soap, dyes and old memories to assail my senses. My mother had inherited the shop from my Grandfather, who’d inherited it from his father.

Over the years, a lot had changed in the small town in which we lived but not much had changed on Main Street. Old men still sat on old wooden chairs on the outside of shops watching the world go by as they discussed how times had changed and how much they missed the good old days as the evening sun lit up the skies in pastel hues. Some of them still wore a look that said they expected to bleed to death as they sat in Momma’s chair.

Even the sign that hung outside the shop was the same one my Great-Granddaddy had hung, the red and blue stripped light that always been associated with barbershops still worked and the autographed black and whites of such greats as Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Dizzy and Coltrane still hung on the shop walls. Momma still used old-fashioned shavers that looked like mean knives and the shop chairs were the old school leatherette numbers that made your butt sweat and stuck to you if you sat too long in them on hot summer days.

I couldn’t help but think that so much had changed yet so much had remained the same as I tried to take in all my mother was saying to my three sisters and me.
I couldn't believe, NO, didn't want to believe she'd allowed herself to be taken in by my father's silver tongue and winning smile once again. That man had brought nothing but stress and heartache to all of us for as far back as I could remember. He'd some how managed to perfect the art of looking busy when in fact all he ever did was hang out with his drinking buddies playing dice or running numbers. Or he’d lie around the house all day as he listened to the sound of the grass growing up the side of the house trying to cover the rotted sideboards and peeling house paint in an effort to hide our shame.

This he did by day…

At night, he’d get all gussied up and go down to the “NINE BALL REC. CLUB” to play cards or pool. He was always looking to hustle a few dollars from some unsuspecting fool that fell for his smooth charm and well delivered line. The regulars, being wise to him, kept well away.
Then he’d go in search of a couple hours of pleasure with some female who believed his tall athletic frame, boyish good looks and dark brown eyes held a soul and more than the empty promises that tripped off the tip of his tongue as easily and as lightly as Gregory Hines doing his thing on stage at the Apollo. My Momma said he had “soulful eyes”, eyes which were full of promises and held the secrets of the motherland; she said he was her “soul mate”. I felt he was a dog cleverly disguised as a man wearing pants.

He continued to walk tall. The eternal Mandingo warrior as my mother’s 5'7 frame seem to lose an inch or two as she was forced to carry the weight of raising the children she along with my father had created, keep the barber shop going and try to recover money his drinking buddies owed for haircuts.
Her rhythmic sashay that once drew wolf whistles that would embarrass me as a child when I walked down the street with her was now just this side of a shuffle. Her once smooth, mocha complexioned skin was now blotchy if she used lotion, ashy if she didn’t.
Her once soothing voice that my Grandfather referred to as her “calling up voice” now sounded weary except for the times she would sit with us under the magnolia tree at night telling us stories her Grandfather told her. Her face expressive and glowing in the light cast by the pitch oil lamp that stood on the table built under the tree for family meals, her voice blending in with the sounds of the night creatures and the surrounding darkness that enveloped us like a velvet blanket. We would be transported to the time and place she spoke of, my sisters and I knew all the persons she talked about, it didn’t matter to us that they were all long dead.

If Momma had listened to us, she would have kicked him to the curb when he "borrowed" the money she had saved up in the Mason jar that was hidden under the box spring of the bed they shared. Or the time she asked him to get back some money she'd paid sticky fingered Eddy to fix the roof but instead he'd run off with the money, my father had beaten Eddy almost to a bloody pulp but had said he'd not recovered the money.
Money we later learned he’d spent on some two-bit hussy he'd picked up at a cheap little motel down by the train tracks.
When I'd first walked into the shop this morning I'd noticed the light in my mother's eyes, and as the day wore on I could tell she was just about bursting with news she wanted to share with us kids but was waiting for the right time to do it. I'd wanted to take her in my arms and dance her around the shop like she did us when we were kids, just so we could all share in that happy unrestrained, full bodies laugh that had become almost as rare as her smile.

Earlier in the day, my sisters had all walked around wearing silly grins but now looking at them I knew they felt the same distress I was feeling.
It had always been my dream, no, more like an oath I'd made to myself to get my sibling, myself and my mother as far away from my father as I could once I turned 18.
I was going to tell them this today, when I looked at my mother's face I'd felt it would have been and ideal time for us to share, to come full circle, to be complete as a family, I still had some details to work out but I'd figured we could work out the details along the way...

Now here she was, telling me she was about to marry my father. We were all almost grown; we didn't even carry his name, in all these years he’d never once spoken of marriage to my Momma, yet here she was telling us this...
I was two days away from being 18 but I felt like crying like a 6 year old.


Coming Of Age, Family Relationships, Father And Son, Mothers Heart, Short Stories

Meet the author

author avatar k.b
In between fighting crime, righting wrongs and wishing for a kick-ass “Help Me Super Ninja” signal, I retreat to my semi-adultish world to write children’s books.

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