~Momma’s Rain~ (excerpt – chapter three)

WordWulf By WordWulf, 15th Sep 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Personal Experiences

On a camping weekend, standing knee-deep in the river, enjoying a moment’s respite from the sweltering heat of summer, the boy asked his father, “Where do our legs go when we stand in the water?” Father took his hand, thought for a moment. “I don’t know, son. But the river always gives ‘em back.”

~Children By the Way~

Excerpt from “Momma’s Rain,” a novel by Tom (WordWulf) Sterner

~get this Indian off my chest~
~he can do his voodoo dance~
~make bad medicine~
~in someone else’s brain~

Chapter Three
~Children By the Way~

On the road
Spring, 1958

Tim Turner knew a man who knew a man who owned a tiny court, half a dozen units, water at the pump in the kitchen, a shared latrine. He moved his family the next day from the outskirts of town and into Billings Proper. They would be living in another court but this time the landlord called it an apartment. There was no place to play on the property but right across the street was a city park. Timmy discovered the wonder of lilacs there and scampered through the dark green tunnels of their supporting limbs. The fragrance of lilacs takes him back to that place every single time. That’s where he met Shirleen.

He was hunched down in his private fort, an open space between a thick stand of lilac bushes. He could sit there and see all around himself and no one could see him. He was able see everyone and everything and felt as transparent as the invisible man. One day, when he decided to make the rounds of the tunnels, he came around a blind corner, where he bumped into a sturdy young girl. She had curly hair and freckles across her nose. Timmy thought she looked just like Shirley Temple.

“Are you blind?” she asked, a petulant look on her pixy face.

“Uh ...” Timmy stammered, “I don’t see so good.”

“Sit!” she ordered, gesturing with a pudgy finger. “I am the Queen of Sheba and I order you to sit before me.”

Timmy obeyed, sat and squinted at her. Her dark hair was done up in curls and adorned with a pretty lilac wreath. She was wearing a frilly print dress. The Queen gazed back at him, eyes unblinking. He felt the heat rise to his face. His ears were burning.

“My name’s Timmy,” he offered, nervous and unable to think of anything else to say.

“I think not!” she replied haughtily. “You are Oop. You have come to lead the Queen of Sheba to the pot of gold.”

“I am?” Timmy squeaked. “I have?” (Pot of gold? Boy, did she have the wrong guy.)

She stood and performed a perfect pirouette. (Maybe she was Shirley Temple, after all). “Come, my slave,” she ordered, “The time of riches is upon us.” Timmy followed her through the lilac tunnels and sat with her on the sidewalk in a fall of summer shade. “A game of jack ball?” she inquired.

“Sure, I guess,” he replied. (Jack ball?)

Shirleen produced a handful of metal stars and a small red ball from a tiny pocket on the front of her dress. It came as no surprise to Timmy that she could pull stars from her pocket. He could see them in the sparkles in her eyes. “They’re called jacks,” she smiled. Two perfect dimples found her cheeks and displayed themselves there. Timmy imagined his index fingers would fit perfectly in them; his hands become a flesh frame for her pretty face. Shirleen tossed the jacks out on the cement before her and began to snatch them up one at a time in between the bounce of the ball. She had an incredible sense of rhythm. Bounce the ball, pick up a jack, catch the ball, and bounce the ball ...

“Onesies done,” she announced, and then tossed the jacks out again. She made it almost to the end of her twosies, and then dropped the ball. “I did that on purpose,” she said as she handed the ball and jacks to Timmy. “All in a sense of fair play so that you may have a turn. Let’s see what you’re made of, Oop.”

Timmy tossed the jacks and she giggled as half of them bounced into the grass.

“Oh, that’s so like you, Oop,” she twittered. “You really know nothing about jack ball, do you, you ape of a man?”

She was on her tens and Timmy was still struggling with his onesies when a man walked toward them on the sidewalk. Timmy made as if to get up and move aside for the stranger but the queen wouldn’t allow it. She stood and pushed him down with a pudgy finger. “Sit still, Oop! The pot of gold cometh.”

Timmy was thinking, ‘What a strange girl’, when the man reached them. He leaned on his cane, put a hand into his pocket, extracted it and dropped a handful of change between the children on the sidewalk. Timmy’s mouth dropped open and the man sauntered away without a word.

“Close your mouth and gather the gold, Oop,” the Queen ordered. She patted her hair and smiled, quite satisfied with herself. “Then follow me to market.”

Timmy gathered the coins from the sidewalk. He couldn’t believe their good fortune, eighty-five cents. He had never had that much money to himself in his whole life. He glanced around, afraid the man would want it back but he was half a block away and walking as if he had not a care in the world. Timmy followed Shirleen to a small corner store where they bought penny candy, two-cent tootsie roll pops, and sodas. There was seven cents left over which he offered to Shirleen. She closed her fluttery little eyes, pushed his hand away.

“You did all the work, Oop. The spoils are yours to keep.”

Oh, they had lots of fun in their lilac kingdom, Timmy and his Queen. He discovered he actually was Oop, as in Alley Oop from the comics, and she was Queen of all the lilac jungles in the universe. He never knew where she lived and was afraid to ask, but for a couple of months it didn’t matter. Momma allowed him to go to the park almost every day and on the very best days he would find his Queen there waiting for him.

Then Leda was born. The sixteenth of August and now he had two younger sisters. No one in the Turner family remained the baby for very long. Most of the time after Leda was born Timmy had to stay home to help Momma while she recovered from the birthing. He would look out the window and wonder if Shirleen was watching from deep in their jungle. It wasn’t too long though before Momma felt better and he was allowed to spend more time in the park.

He visited their lilac kingdom several days in a row and was much relieved when Shirleen showed up one day. She laughed when he confessed to her that he was afraid she might have found a new Oop while he was away. “My dear Oop,” she replied. “There can only be one Oop and you are he. I knew it the moment I first saw you.”

Timmy was seated before her and she leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. To this day he likes to close his eyes and snuggle up next to the comfort of the tiny lips of his first kiss. The gold man came that day. He chuckled contentedly as Timmy chased his pennies and dimes, and then went merrily on his way.

Timmy came home from the park one day near the end of summer to find Momma upset. Uncle Tim and Auntie Babs were in from Denver and coming to visit the family before heading home. Auntie Babs was Daddy’s other half sister and Uncle Tim was her husband. He was Timmy’s favorite uncle, a large jovial man. He was always nice to kids and had three sons, one of them a couple of years younger than Timmy. He was called Little Timmy. Timmy was Big Timmy. Timmy couldn’t understand why Momma was so upset. She liked Auntie Babs and Uncle Tim. All of the kids got along well.

When Daddy got home from work, he and Momma began to argue. They were still at it when Uncle Tim and Auntie Babs arrived. Daddy went for a ride with Uncle Tim in his new car, leaving the women and children at home. They planned to return and have dinner together. Timmy took Little Timmy to the park to show him the lilac jungle. Little Timmy was mightily impressed. His eyes got big as saucers when Timmy told him about his Queen and the man with the cane. Timmy had thirteen cents left from the gold man. He took Little Timmy to the store where they bought penny candy. Timmy felt guilty about that. What if Shirleen wanted something next time he saw her and depended on what was left of the gold man’s money to buy it?

The children were in bed and asleep long before Daddy and Uncle Tim got home that night. Daddy didn’t go to work the next day. Now Timmy knew why Momma was upset. Daddy and Uncle Tim had gone out drinking, talking about old times. They decided Uncle Tim would help Daddy finish the roof he was working on, then the Turners would follow him and Auntie Babs back to Denver. There had been a big hailstorm the week before and the roofing business was booming. At first Timmy was excited. Jerry was in Denver and Grandma Webber, Daddy’s mother. He would be glad to see them. But Daddy was drinking and Momma was crying. The good summer was coming to an end.

Inquiries tracy@traceliteraryagency.com

Revues at Amazon
~Tom (WordWulf) Sterner~

~Momma’s Rain~ (excerpt – chapter one)
~Momma’s Rain~ (excerpt – chapter two)
~Momma’s Rain~ (excerpt – chapter seven)
~Momma’s Rain~ (excerpt – chapter eight)


1958, Alcoholism, Art, Billings, Fathers, First Kiss, Love, Memoirs, Mommas Rain, Montana, Mothers, Novelist, Parenting, Philosophy, Photography, Poetry, Poverty, Sons, Survival, Tom Wordwulf Sterner, Writer

Meet the author

author avatar WordWulf
I write novels, poetry, songs,nonsense & lies. Sometimes truth sneaks in when I ain't lookin'.

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author avatar Songbird B
22nd Oct 2011 (#)

Your story captures me every time, Tom. The moment I start to read, I am caught up in Timmy's world. A sign of a great writer..

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