Papa’s got me waiting in the car. He’s taking me to Nanna’s cause Momma’s screaming makes me scream and Papa says he can’t think like that. Momma slipped in the shower and is hurt. Papa is taking care of her and she’ll be alright. But she has a lot of bruises and her nose is leaking blood like the hose out back when you forget to twist it all the way to the right and that’s just wasting water you little shit is what Papa says and how long’s it been like that he asks me and I tell him since we put up the slip ‘n slide I guess and he tells me that won’t fly around here but I don’t know what made me think of that cause it was a while ago that happened. Oh, Momma’s blood. That’s right. There’s a lot of it coming out.
Papa’s in the car. We’re ready to go. Are you ready, kid? I’m ready. Papa asks me to hand him a beer from the back, he’s got his hands full driving. I hand him a beer from the back. Papa puts on Storm Front by Billy Joel. When Papa puts on Storm Front by Billy Joel his eyes well up. When Papa puts on Storm Front by Billy Joel I’m supposed to listen to the words, really listen, and hush up. I hush up. We turn left at the end of the street to get to Nanna’s. Papa takes a sip of beer. Pass Four Brothers Gas Station, can we stop and get a candy bar but Papa doesn’t hear me over Billy Joel. Papa takes a drink from the glovebox. He gets bad headaches. Closes the glovebox. Papa starts turning left when
Sharp. Stomach. Glass shards in skin blood. I hang out above for a minute and watch the cars spin, twisty twirlies. Someone took a hammer and hammered out all of the sound. Everything is muffled. It smells like gasoline. Papa’s coughing. God-fucking-damnit Papa shouts.
I wake up. Beeeeeeep. Beep Beep. Tubes. Momma is in the chair. Papa is sitting in the chair next to her. There’s a new man here. New man is pacing by my bedside. I fall back into a kind of sleep.
I dream. I dream of thuds. Uncle Raymond in the tree stand. Aim. And Pop. Thud. I see it through my noculars. The stag falls, rests. Nanna in her bathroom. Snapback. And Pound. Thud. I see it through the crack space I peer through sometimes watch cousin Misty peeing. Nanna throw her head to mirror one two three times. No shatter, no blood. Nanna careful not like Momma. Nanna sigh. Crack bat thud. Fist face thud. Car, thud.
I wake up. Beep Beep. Beep Beep. Beep Beep. Still tubes. Only Momma in the chair. She gets real close to me:
“Honey, honey. Oh my. You’re fine, you’re gonna be fine they say. Everyone says you’re fine really. But honey, honey. A man is going to come around and you got to…”
I dream again. I dream of hiding places. The shed. The woods. Fort. Attic. Under the bed. My bed. Momma bed. Nanna bed.
I wake up. New man is next to me in chair. Momma in chair out of focus. Papa in chair out of focus too.
Hard voice, real voice: I need to ask you a couple of question when you’re feeling up to it.
Same voice I remember in the courtroom. Judge voice. He called me son. Papa didn’t like that. Judge also wanted to ask me some questions. I looked out and saw Momma, her face still very puffy and her eyes looked like the whole ocean wide and deep. I looked out and saw Papa. His eyes steady, focused, like a beacon. Papa told me what to say to the Judge. Momma told me to tell the truth. I didn’t know which. Looked at Momma’s eyes, saw ocean. Looked at Papa’s eyes, saw beacon. Needed a map, not a swim. Told Papa’s story.
I let new man know I’m feeling up to it. New man signals to Momma and Papa to get going for a bit. Momma looks at me with ocean, Papa looks at me with beacon.
He asks what I remember, was my father drinking, did my father ever hit me or my mother?
I remember Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, Punk Rock. I don’t know who what drinks. Momma’s clumsy, anyone’ll tell you that.
I dream. I wake. They move. Planets touch. Too hot to go in the attic. Getting too big to fit under these beds. Momma fixing good meals. One day a storm’ll come says Papa. I believe him good.
Derek Maine lives in North Carolina with his wife, two children, and dog (Gidget). They also feed an outdoor car, Lily. Derek has stories published or forthcoming in X-RAY, Ligeia, Expat Press, SCAB Magazine, Misery Tourism, The Tower Babel Notice Board, and elsewhere. He is on twitter too much @derekmainelives