Margie, Johnny, and their friend Denise were in the back room of the house. They had decided to smoke some reeds they had picked from the field. Father smelled smoke in the house. He had always been terrified of the house burning down, and losing everything he had worked for.
He followed the smoke and barged into the back room. “What are you burning?!”
When he saw the reeds on fire as a cigarette, he screamed, “Get out of here! Put that out you dummies! Denise, you are going home right now. Margie, tell your mother to take Denise home!”
Margie, Denise, and Mother got in the car and left. Father threw Johnny on the floor facedown and beat his rear end with a shoe, over and over again.
“Stop, please!” Johnny yelled. I grabbed the top of the bathroom doorway, and braced myself. I felt helpless. My little brother was being beaten and there was nothing I could do to stop it. My brain went numb. I felt another piece of my heart die.
Mother soon returned with my sister Margie. Father grabbed Margie, threw her down and beat her with the shoe. At least he finally let go of Johnny; I felt a strange sense of relief.
“Stop it, stop it!” Mother yelled.
“Shut up or you’ll be next!”
Margie got only a few more swats with the shoe. She had gotten off much easier than Johnny had. Again.
A friend visits
Father stomped in from work, exhaled, and looked up to see the family all assembled at the kitchen table. His eyes jolted open when he saw my friend Natalie sitting at the table with us. “Hi there, good to see you, Natalie,” he said.
“Hello Mr. Hardy,” Natalie said.
“Supper’s ready,” Mother announced.
Father placed his lunchbox on the floor next to the kitchen table.
“Hey Natalie, do you know what kind of cheese dogs like?” Father asked.
“No, what?” Natalie answered.
“Mutts-arella. Ha, how do you like that one?”
I turned off robot mode. I let my shoulders relax. “Please pass the peas,” I said.
“Say that three times fast,” Father quipped, “please pass the peas, pease pass peas, pees pass pees. The peas pee?”
Johnny erupted with laughter. Natalie chuckled. I forced a chuckle of my own.
Margie yelled out, “That’s dumb.” I expected Father’s arm to quickly punch her on the side of her arm, but he just laughed and ignored her comment.
I should have friends over more often.
After supper Natalie and I went out for a walk up the hill and through the neighborhood. As we walked back down the hill towards my house, I gathered my courage. I had to tell somebody. “The other night, Denise, my sister’s friend came over and they were upstairs in the back room smoking something. My parents came home and Father found them smoking. Mother took Denise home, and Father beat up my brother.”
“That’s not true,” Natalie said, “your father is nice. He would never do that.”
“Yes, he did. It was terrible.”
“I don’t believe you.”
I dropped the subject, and never brought it up ever again.