Page 54 - WTP VOl. VIII #7
P. 54

The Color Surge (continued from preceding page)
 how we’ll get ready. We’ll each share something we don’t normally tell people. Maybe even something a little dark, you know? Then it’s out in the open, and we can decide if we still want to get together or not.”
“No. I don’t like this game.”
“I’ll go first.”
“Then you better make it good.”
I carry the phone back to my bedroom, kick off my shoes, and lie back on my bed.
“Here goes. My father died when I was 12. He was a pretty good guy. But my mom? She went nuts after his death. Like, off-the-deep-end nuts. She’s still alive, but out of my life now. That’s my story.”
“That’s not a story. You gotta give me details. You never see your own mother? I can’t imagine it.”
“You don’t know my mom. After my father died she... well let’s just say she didn’t handle it with particular grace.”
“Details, man!”
“It’s beyond embarrassing. I suppose you’d say she became...well...I guess nymphomaniacal is the word.
I think something just snapped. One day I came home from school to find her in bed with some guy—Stu was that one’s name. A dim bulb, but not a jerk. Basi- cally into two things: his car—a Studebaker, which he probably thought was named for him—and my mom. That wasn’t so bad, but before long my mom started sleeping with other men. And I mean a bunch of
’em. I’d come home to the sound of her and whoever banging the headboard. After a while I started kicking and pounding her bedroom door telling her to stop, and she’d shout at me to leave her the fuck alone. That happened a lot, and the neighbors weren’t too happy. So I ended up going to a friend’s house after school instead. In fact, it was Mike, from work. That’s how we became buddies. I was essentially on my own, spending most of my time at his place because I couldn’t get into my own.”
“How long did that go on?”
“Weeks. But finally the authorities got involved. Turned out my mom was shooting up and turning tricks. My house was a frickin’ bordello! So I was re- moved from her custody, and she went off to prison.”
“Dale, I’m so sorry. That’s awful. What happened to you?”
“I got rescued by my dad’s parents. Wonderful people, smart and salt-of-the-earth. They had a small farm in Ohio and were truly lovely. So, you see? The story has a happy ending. Happiest days of my life, living on that farm. Helping with the animals, tending the garden, learning to bale hay, harvest corn, that kind of stuff. That’s how I got into food, too. From my grandmother. She was a great cook. And a great shot.”
“Like with a gun? Did you learn, too?”
“Only a little. Not like you, I’m sure. I had this old .22 rabbit rifle she taught me on. It was originally hers, and she gave it to my father when he was a boy. When he died, it got handed down to me. I was never much of a shot, but I loved getting lessons from my gramma. Loved having her help me aim it. We’d set up coffee cans on a log, and she’d stand behind me and wrap
her arms around me and hold my hands in position and put her chin on my shoulder and help me sight the target. Then I’d squeeze the trigger and the kickback would push me back into her and I’d feel like I was sinking into the belly of the earth. I felt so safe with her, and strong, and smart, and grown up. But still a boy, you know? It was this wonderful, magical time of innocence again. They were very kind to me.
“I remember one afternoon sitting on their front porch on a rainy day, just the three of us. My grandma and grandpa were sitting in a swinging chair holding hands. I was in a rocking chair there on the porch, and we were just swinging and rocking and watching the rain come down. I can still feel it in my gut, that day. The way the rain formed a kind of curtain com- ing off the roof, and the sunlight was slanting through the water in a way that transformed it into something more like a feeling than a color.”
“Like the color surge?”
I laugh. “Nothing like that! No, just a kind of bluish- gray that made me feel happy and sad at the same time. A color that said, ‘this is joy, but it can’t last.’ And of course it can’t. Nothing does. Then, a few years later, both my grandparents passed on. Peace- fully, and within a month of each other. So the state moved me to a foster family ’til I turned 18.”
“That’s a heck of a story, Dale.”
“There’s something else I didn’t tell you.” I stifle a laugh. “I shot one of my mother’s boyfriends.”
“You what?!”
“Well, I didn’t really shoot him. But he and my mom

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