Monday, May 25, 2009

T'aint Fair Jim McGee

Stuck in reverse can reach beyond all restraints of time. To decide whether to make use of family history, that near bottomless and ever renewable resource, is dependent upon how the memories have been held and by whom.

A story that's been long kept in the vaults of disregard, can lay quietly gathering strength, like metamorphic layers.

Tess tried to stay composed through the melting process as she lay on the ground between the buildings. She'd crawled out her bedroom window, knowing the narrow strip of green between the houses was glimmering as intensely as her room.

She'd soon be missed in all the chaos. But it was lovely just laying there until then.

The ground was the first damp coolness she'd felt against her skin since January when she'd laid with Fred, hands tucked behind their heads, elbows flared, smoking cigars. The black sparkles of the night dew reflected across the wind shield of his baby-blue Barracuda. They'd just found each other's rough edges and had turned everything to velvet; velvet as in the silky dark skin, her cheek across his belly. Velvet along the backs of his ample thighs. Velvet like the warm newly wet underside of her, laying together happy and naked.

"Darlin' for having been an astonishingly well-kept virgin in these heady times, I firmly declare that you are quickly developing a sweetly defined style of romance. Ahem! And your bass line..."

"Well," he laughed, "my cap's tipped in your direction Madam. You make it easy to be a fine lover; pass that I.W.Harper m'dear, would you?"

The new year was off to an interesting start.

She couldn't resist, "Fred, my God! Do you ever think of the beautiful babies we'd create?"

He had. And he was certain the world wasn't ready for them. Nor was he really ready for the two of them as a couple. Just trying to get past his family would be absolutely impossible.

Tess loved that his brakeman's job with the Southern Pacific Railroad, between Bakersfield and Barstow, were as dear to him as the chamber orchestra and choral group he was helping to initiate at East High.

She knew his plans might include family some day. But she also knew that he'd never be ready for the battles of a mixed marriage. The world was too filled with hatred and Bakersfield, sure as hell was no exception. Fred was a lover, a writer, and a musician, not a warrior. That's what she loved about him.

"Ladyfair, what you were confronted by last week in school is a fraction of what our kids will be fighting every day of their lives."

Tess easily recalled the bitch slap, that one she hadn't seen coming. Nearly brought her to her knees. She'd held her cool, knowing she was seriously out numbered. These girls packed knives. They were however, only delivering a straight up message. "White bitch, back off!."

"Tess, I adamantly want to spare you the ugliness that you're going to be met with on the front porch at my folk's place. Your family is bizarrely different, and God knows I love them all."

"Well then, my darling hunk of gorgeous humanity," she flung the words off rakishly, into the blackening sky,"would you kiss me with the love you feel and please say goodbye?" She'd become a nun.

Her whole life she'd believed if a person held tightly to every shred of focus that was available to them, working endlessly to expand that, that things would start to change. Will power with a sizable helping of intense passion piled on ever so thickly, just for entertainment along the way. Upon reaching the right level, the very fabric of reality would begin to meld and be reshaped. Much as her mind and emotions merged when loosing herself into another's body. Or performing beautifully before a rapt audience.

Like the time she flew as an eight year old under the full moon.

Luke was coming home though he'd only be there long enough for a weekend visit. He was leaving for real this time.

When he joined the Navy, she knew he'd be done in four years. He'd be home on leave often. She'd be just a year short of graduating when finally they could get some time together! It would be like when they were kids.

Those four years had brought so much change. Best was the birth of their youngest brother Barry. Tess called him "her little brown berry", and he loved her completely with the toothless delight of an infant. The joy that this new baby brought her, and to the rest of the house seemed to pull every one together, even their folks.

Tess wanted badly to blame Mom. Sheliah had always provided the rage, filling the house with yelling and dramatic plate throwing while Poppa would sorta laugh and stretch out among the babies on the living room floor, refusing to fight.

You knew better than to crawl in with Pops, even though he was just as crazy about playing with the little kids as you were. Hell, you couldn't leave Momma flailing about with all of that anger; it just wouldn't be fair. Shelia would stand in the doorway with her hands on her hips, furiously hollering, "just get the Hell up off that floor and fight this out with me, God Dammit!"

Pops would flatly refuse, holding a flying baby above his prone chest, "Sheliah honey, as of today, I'm through fighting with you."

A few weeks before, all four of the girls went with Pops to the florist's shop. They'd been given huge arms full of flowers to parade into Mom, all in a line according to height, crooning and crowing "Happy Birthday To You..."

Poppa brought up the tail, with a very large, very soft package tucked under his arm. Tess knew it was a wonderful floor length terry cloth robe; white with satin trim. She helped him pick it out at the shopping center. Macy's no less! It was nearly a hundred bucks!

But Mom surrounded by kids and flowers could only muster a Poloroid photo-happy smile. The fire that was dancing in her violet eyes was not the kind that filled your heart with joy. Serious trouble was brewing for her 40th birthday.

By late that fall they were living in The City. Mom was already back to work and they were now sharing the old Victorian with another family; Dad's mistress and her three kids.

The three adults worked for the State of California doing "Public Relations work". You weren't too impressed with that bunch were ya kid? Lot's of office parties with people who weren't anywhere near as much fun as the old newspaper crowd.

But it was wild having eight kids together under one roof. Now that you were the oldest by six years, you always had lot's of babysitting money and playground time. You practiced switching back and forth between Mary Poppin's magic, and Peter Pan, doing battle with pirates while rampaging Neverland. Always, waiting for Luke's leave home.

His last few letters said he'd finally found a mid-western girl to marry. He'd be driving up from San Diego in his '61 Plymouth, and not just on leave. He'd finished his four years with Uncle Sam's Yacht Club.

It'll go like'll all spend the weekend draped around the kitchen table, telling old stories. Dad will be down from San Francisco and Luke will have everyone laughing so hard that Mom will have to tightly criss-cross her legs and pull off her glasses to wipe the tears again and again.

And you're never going to be able to let him know how you really feel. After all, you're brother and sister! So what if you've been this crazy about him your whole life? He's getting married, and moving to Wisconsin for Christ's sake.

Oh Shit! It sounded real this time.

A couple hundred crickets are singing in unison all around her as the melting begins. It starts very slowly out at the far edges of her extremities; her toes, up and along her legs, across her flat downy belly and beneath hungry breasts; rubber arms with still, tingling fingers, earlobes light and hot, free of all jewelery. As she softens in through her scalp and out along her long black hair the bedroom window is quietly closed. Melting alone.

It's all humming now as it worms its way easily down into her core, penetrating quite deeply.

She's pretty certain it's going to be a full moon... Shhh... stay focused.

Concentrate all of your will...


  1. Oh, this is wonderful Ade! I really enjoy seeing your perspective of our crazy family history. I especially relish your take on "pops" and big brother. Your memories of "pops" are just so much more nurturing than mine, more filled with light and presence. My memories are mostly of disappointment and longing. Also, your experiences with big bro are so special, you two were pals as kids, that just awesome...I'm hungry for more. Love you sis!

  2. I concur with Melody. You cover a lot of weighty themes here, but you do it smoothly, so that it never feels cluttered. The details are beautiful. I'm really enjoying your foray into memoir. Keep it up! - Micah


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