~chapter seven~ ~children & angels alike~ ~part three~ ~werewolves & peppermints~

WordWulf By WordWulf, 9th May 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Short Stories

~Jackie took stuff from people~Daddy accused him of being a born thief~I don’t believe any of us are a born anything~you get your ass kicked enough~go hungry suffer forget about hope~or never learn it in the first place~that’s what you are if you manage to stay alive~let somebody else give it a name if they must~

~werewolves & peppermints~

Jackie came in the back door. I had been worrying about him coming home and, now that he had, I wasn’t prepared to deal with him. I watched him from the dark of the living room, television ghosts crawling across my face. Jackie reached for the radio as it began playing that song, ‘Stand by Your Man’.

“Don’t!” I chastened in a one word voice.

“I ain’ messin’,” Jackie argued, “I jus’ wanna touch it an’ see if ‘t wiggles mean.”

I joined him in the kitchen then. Jackie stood with his hand on the radio. “What are you doing?” I asked.

“I wanna break ‘t ‘cause it’s his,” Jackie replied.

I sat down and looked up at Jackie’s face. From where I was sitting, I could see the blood clogged up in his nose.

“Better change that shirt,” I advised. “It’s all bloody and’ll just get you in more trouble with Momma and Daddy.”

“Who cares?” Jackie replied nonchalantly.

I offered him a sad smile. “I do, Jackie,” I said, then added, “Hey, where’d you get that bag of groceries?”

Jackie smiled, a real smile. “Some ol’ fat lady bought it then remembered she couldn’t find the cottage cheese. When her an’ the ol’ man in the store went lookin’ for it, I jus’ picked up her bag an’ walked out with it.”

I felt my eyes grow wide. “Ain’t you afraid you’re gonna get caught?”

“Nah,” Jackie laughed, “She was too busy bein’ mean at the poor ol’ man who works at the store ‘cause she couldn’t find the cottage cheese.”

“How did you buy the licorice?” I asked. “I thought you said you walked out with her stuff before you were waited on.”

“I did walk out with it,” Jackie grinned. “I stashed it in some bushes then went back in t’ buy the lic’rice. She was so mean she wouldn’t even leave the ol’ man alone while he was takin’ care o’ me. She jus’ stood there with the cottage cheese in her hand and wouldn’t stop gripin’ ‘im out. I’m glad I got out o’ there ‘fore she noticed her bag o’ stuff was gone.”

Jackie went over by the front door. He prodded at the pile of coats with his foot then walked straight to the dresser thing. He opened the side door and reached over the bottles. When his hand came out it had the twinkie things in it.

“How’d you know the bag was in there?” I asked him.

“I know you better ‘n you know your own self.” He gave me a mean little smile. “I know you an’ I now all ‘bout stash. I ain’ smart like you in school but I know stuff.”

I wasn’t about to argue that point with him. We sat down at the table and polished off the whole package of little cakes with creamy filling in them. Jackie threw the wrapper in the trash can Daddy kept by the table for his cigarette wrappers and other smoking trash. I picked the package out and carried it over to the neighbor’s trash where I stuck in with the stew cans. As good as Jackie was at stealing, seems like he always did something just daring someone to catch him. I was a good cleanup man.

“Get the bed ready,” I said when I came back inside. “We gotta carry the kids in and put them to bed.”

“There ain’ nothin’ t’ get ready,” Jackie replied

“Just move the blanket off the mattress so I can lay these guys down,” I said tersely. “Moving the blanket is getting the bed ready, Jackie. It ain’t no big deal.”

Jackie looked at me like I was crazy. “I don’ know ‘bout you, Tommy. We ain’ got no bed. We got a mattress an’ we ain’ got no sheets.” He snorted at me in disgust then went in to pull the blanket off the mattress.

We laid the kids at one end and Cheryl in her drawer. Jackie and I laid down at the other end by ourselves.

“Sorry ‘bout tonight,” I said.

“Don’ worry ‘bout ‘t,” Jackie said, “it ain’ yours.” He turned away from me and buried his head under the blanket.

Later, laying there awake, I heard the springs squeaking from Momma and Daddy’s room. I hadn’t heard them come in so I must have been asleep for a while. Jackie was right still and again. When the springs were squeaking, everyone was safe. I turned over on my side and went to sleep.

The next couple of days were busy but went fairly well. Mom was working long hours at the Dog House. As soon as she got home from work, she got busy washing and ironing our clothes, deciding who had grown into what and if it had any use left in it. Next week she had to register us for school. She was bound and determined for us to look as good and clean as was humanly possible.

Dad was making an effort to stop drinking. He had gone to a contractor, White House Decorating, and gotten a couple of roof jobs to do. At night, when Mom was at work, his demons assailed him worse than ever. He would go into his bedroom to nap, then a while later cry out in fear and sometimes bang on the walls with his fists. There was blood there. Then he’d come out into the kitchen, puffy faced and running his fingers through his hair. He presented a startled appearance and scared me more than a little bit.

Jackie and I watched Michael Landon in the movie, ‘The Werewolf’, one night while Dad was sleeping. The sounds coming from his bedroom were much like what we were hearing from the movie when the werewolf man was locked up. It wasn’t much of a reach to compare Dad’s behavior to that of the werewolf, especially where Jackie was concerned. We went right to that place, fearful and sure that one night Daddy might just tear down the door to his bedroom and rip Jackie to pieces. Daddy was bent and bound to hate Jackie, drunk or sober. He was nice to the rest of us when he was sober but Jackie spent most of his time standing in a corner awaiting the next round of punishment.

The Friday before she had to register everyone for school, Mom had the day off. Dad was set to finish up his first job for White House Decorating and looking forward to his first payday in quite a while. He decided, since I wasn’t needed at home, I should come to work with him. Dad usually cleaned up the scraps around a job each night when he was finished for the day. He was in such a rush to get as many shingles as he could installed each day on this particular job that he hadn’t done any of the cleanup. Everything was right on schedule as far as he was concerned. He knew Mom had Friday off and had planned all along for me to do the cleanup. He just hadn’t bothered to tell me.

I approached the day with deep a sense of foreboding. Something was very different and I couldn’t figure it out until Dad and I got in his truck. When we were a couple of blocks from home, Dad reached under the seat and came up with a bottle of peppermint schnapps.

“Don’t tell your Momma.” His puffy eye winked and blinked. I watched his adam’s apple chug up and down as he sucked the clear, thick syrup into his system.

I was so upset my hands balled themselves into fists. I didn’t want Dad to see and couldn’t control them, so I sat on my hands. Tears came to my eyes so I stared out the side window at the green and yellow/brown trees click-clicking by. I didn’t want Dad to see my tears either.

“S amatter, Tommy?” he asked.

“Nothin’,” I replied sullenly, past the lump in my throat. I wanted Dad to go to the job straight away so I could clean up the mess and just get back home. I had known about Momma's long awaited day off too and planned to spend it with her. I wasn’t with Dad so he could spend time with his favorite son like Jackie implied. I was with him because my hands could pick up Dad’s trash and empty his piss.

He pulled into the parking lot of a liquor store, glanced at me and said, “Sit tight.”

He returned to the truck right away. “Assholes don’t open ‘til ten,” he said offhandedly.

He pulled the bottle out from under the seat of the truck and sucked the last drop from it. The world seemed to be moving in slow motion to me. Outside the cocoon of the truck cab cars sped by. Impossible squirrels flew from autumn limb to autumn limb.

Daddy started the truck and drove a block and a half to 26th Avenue and Federal. He pulled into the parking lot of a bar called ‘Mickey’s Manor’. A cartoon mouse waved from the top of the neon sign on the roof of the building. “Come on,” Daddy said impatiently. “I’m low on money ‘til I get paid, so don’t ask for anything.” This was the only incident of the day where I agreed with my father. I felt sick and didn’t want anything.

Daddy ordered a beer and a double shot of schnapps from the bartender who gave him double his order. It was ‘8 to 10 Happy Hour’, time for two-fers. Daddy drank four beers and four double shots. He kept glancing nervously at his wristwatch. The clock in the bar said 10:10, which any bar hound worth his pelt knows is 9:55. Bar clocks are set fifteen minutes fast so the bartender has time for a ‘last call’ before he has to send all the drunks out into the street at closing time.

Daddy reached across the booth and chucked me roughly under the chin. “Cheer up, Tommy. Le’s go make some money.”

We left the bar and returned to the liquor store. Dad jumped out of the truck like it was on fire. He went around the corner to the front door of the establishment but returned too quickly once again. “Sonofabitch!” he said as he slammed his open palm against the steering wheel. “What a way to run a business!”

Three liquor stores later, he returned to the truck with a brown paper bag. I turned my head but was unable to turn a deaf ear to the clinking of glass as he withdrew a pint bottle from the bag. It had its own small bag for a coat. He slid it under the driver’s side seat and nodded for me to lean forward. I knew the drill. Dad pulled the seat lever and deposited the larger bag behind the seat where the old lunch blanket was stored. Quarts, pints and half pints, each had a distinct clink which changed tone relative to how full or empty they were. He climbed in, started the truck, and drove for a couple of blocks. His hands were shaking bad as he parked the truck in an alley next to a vacant lot. He pulled the bottle from under the seat and drank greedily from it. The clear liquid ran from the corner of his mouth. He caught the drip with a finger and sucked it in. He took a deep breath of relief and screwed the lid back on the bottle.

“Sorry we’re runnin’ late, son. If that asshole at the liquor store would’ve opened at ten like ‘e was supposed to, we’d a-been at work by now.”

He glanced in the rearview mirror then through the windshield. “Hand me that jug over there,” he said casually. I reached to the floorboard and handed across the piss jug. When he was through, I figured things might be looking up. Daddy handed it back for the emptying and had managed to do his business without getting any on the outside of the jug. The thing was almost full. He hadn’t been cleaning the inside of his truck or his piss jug either. I opened the door a bit to empty the jug and, just as I did, Daddy pushed in the clutch. The truck rolled forward and I spilled warm piss all over my free hand. “Sorry boy,” Daddy apologized, “Here.” He pulled a yellow stained handkerchief from his back pocket and offered it to me. I gave him the best smile I could manage under the circumstances and declined the handkerchief. I wiped my hands on my trousers. It became painfully clear to me that if Daddy was Jackie’s werewolf, he was my very own personal drunken slob.

I was mightily relieved when we finally arrived at the roof job. I had begun to wonder if it really existed or was just another story to pacify Momma. Stranger things had happened. As Dad tended to his libations, I hopped out of the sweet/piss smell of the interior of the truck. A deep breath of city air never felt so good. I went to work with a vengeance, piling shingle scraps on wrappers, wiring them up and depositing them in the back of the truck. It was a great relief to be outside working with my hands, getting them honestly dirty.

Daddy came down for a smoke break and mentioned some spots in the yard the lady of the house reported I had missed while cleaning. Daddy had decided we would work through lunch (hurray!) and just get the damned job done. We didn’t have a rake and I couldn’t see the spots he mentioned, so I crawled around the outside of the house on my hands and knees. I used my fingers as rakes, pulling them through the grass, and depositing every nail and minuscule scrap onto a shingle wrapper I dragged along behind myself. I usually liked the people in the houses where we worked. This lady, I decided, must be evil. How dare she pile one more indignity upon one such as myself who had spent the day suffering one after an-unbelievable-other?

As has happened many times in my life since, I was forced to eat a tender-bit of self-ingested crow. It was hot and I was sweating, feeling lowly and put upon. I was sure I had never been so awfully sorry for my poor, miserable self and completely justified in my feelings. An angelic female voice from nowhere and everywhere said, “Tommy.” I squinted my eyes and raised myself up into a kneeling position. Just as I gave up searching for the sound and got back to my hand raking, the voice said my name again. This time it was accompanied by the tin tinkle wink of metal on glass. I moved toward the house, the sound, and stood up.

“Come on in the back door, Tommy,” the voice said from what appeared to be the kitchen window, cleanser and a metal sponge holder on the sill. I still didn’t see a person. “Come on,” the voice urged, “I have something special for you.”

I broke a bunch of Momma and Daddy rules when I went in that back door. “Don’t talk to strangers,” etc. etc. If Daddy caught me... but he was busy ridging the house. I could hear the singing rhythm of his axe. If it ceased its working song, I should have plenty of lead time to run outside and get back to work.

So in I went and up the six steps to the kitchen. I expected the usual kind and matronly old lady who would likely offer me a glass of water or milk, maybe even a Coke. Instead I stepped into the kitchen and found himself in the company of a real live angel. Her body was twisted, braced into and supported by a chrome walker gadget with rubber brake/wheel attachments. She wasn’t old at all and whatever evil chord pulled her body down extended to the left side of her face. The horrifying rictus of her countenance was overcome absolute by an exquisite angelic aura emanating from her bluer than blue eyes. She smiled from the side of her face that was hers. I was owned and blessed of the moment.

“This is yours,” she said, her eyes stealing mine and leading them to her crippled fallen hand. It clutched the walker and a ten dollar bill between angel skin and steel. “Take it,” she insisted as if she could hear the whispers of the thousand refusals echoing through my brain.

I stepped forward and reached for the money. She surprised me by pressing it into my hand.

“You sure are a hard worker,” she said. “You keep this money all for yourself.” Her twisted hand felt like heaven’s breath.

I didn’t know what to say so I didn’t.

“Come have tea,” she offered. “It has been the longest time since I had a handsome young man over for tea.”

There was a gleaming ornate silver tray and serving set on the table across from the window. I reached for the server and she said, “That won’t do. You’re my guest; please be seated.”

I sat in a chair and watched in awe as she transferred her broken body laboriously from the walker into a chair of sorts with canvas back and seat. Once she was seated, she extended her hand to me again.

Inquiries: wordwulf@gmail.com
©2014 graphic artwork music & words
conceived by & property of
tom (WordWulf) sterner 2014©
~also available at Amazon ~
~chapter one~
~chapter two~
~chapter three~
~chapter four~
~chapter five~
~chapter six~
~legend of new horse~


1958, 1959, Alcoholism, Art, Colorado, Denver, Family, Free, Memoirs, Missouri, Mommas Rain, Money, Mothers, Parenting, Peppermints, Philosophy, Photography, Poverty, Religion, Saint Louis, Sons, Survival, Tom Wordwulf Sterner, Violence, Werewolves, Wikinut, 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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