I’m going to take you out behind the woodpile and whup your sorry ass.
That’s a likely quote from an old grand-dad. Or maybe it was from an episode of Hee-Haw or The Beverly Hillbillies.
My grand-dad on my mother’s side died before I ever remembered him. Other than his soft belly and his light white summer shirt. I can see his cotton undershirt underneath. Wife beater, that’s what those are called. I don’t know any other name for them. My mother calls him “my daddy,” even now, when she is almost 80. She had the perfect childhood, she says. Her mama and daddy divorced when she was in high school. That was in Fort Worth, Texas. She filed for divorce based on repeated infidelity.
My grandmother’s second husband, Howard, was a broad-faced Cherokee railroad man who looked like a bulldog. He drank whisky, smoked cigars, and carried a wad of money in a silver money belt. He hid whisky bottles everywhere he went. He took us out and spent crazy wild money on all of us. He drove us down long Texas highways going on big adventures, weaving all over hell and gone. He bought us roast beef sandwiches that we were too queasy to eat. He scared the bejesus out of us. He told dirty stories to us. He showed us his WWII playing cards with the pictures of naked ladies on them. He sang songs and smiled all across his face, from ear to ear. He scrambled eggs with chorizo for us, whenever he was able to get out of bed in the morning. Truthfully, I never could see my grandmom with Howard there entertaining us, weaving and falling around like a drunk in a Disney ride.
I’m eleven and Howard and Mary are visiting. They are sleeping in my room. Where am I sleeping? I don’t know, I don’t remember. I just remember road trips and whisky bottles, and whisky bottles under my bed and in my closet after they left, and whisky bottles and weaving on the Pacific Coast Highway, and spare ribs and macaroni, and whisky bottles under the front seat, and snoring. Big, loud snoring, and my room with its dusty rose Victorian wallpaper and old oak bedroom set, and the smell of whisky lingering for weeks afterward. A drunken sachet.