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PROMISE KEEPER | tannenbaum

It’s an all new crew in the kitchen, and the mood is jolly!!

I doubt anybody even knows about all the puking that occurred here a while back. The cocaine is coursing through me like a new pulse. I’m grinning and beaming, making cool small talk. Showing the crowd exactly how to make the rum and wine spritzer.

Billy and Willy appear. They both give me the same look, a lizard-like look that means I’m not even there. It’s just about all I can take.

“Is Santee Claus gonna bring you boys some presents?”

I’m making a threat and the boys know it. They’ve seen me lying amongst their presents. They do not respond with words. They know I’m getting serious.

“Should we go out there and look at all your presents? Should we shake them? Try to figure out what’s in there?”

I’m rolling now.

All illusions of control have vanished. I didn’t swallow rage, I just postponed the inevitable. It was time to pay.

I rode the emotion, the booze, the cocaine, out to the living room. The kids were rolling with me, as if there were something that could stop me. The whole party was flowing with me. We were a river flowing to the sea, flowing to the tree.

“This present is for Billy!” I danced a little jig.

“Put that down!” Sharon was there like a bouncer, hands on hips.

“Eat a dick. I mean really eat a dick. Not just a peck on the pecker. Gobble a fucking knob, you bitch.”

I was growling now. Sharon shrank back out of it. I tore the wrapping and bow and sting and cardboard flew and batteries spilled out and some kind of precious gadget hit the floor.

Memories of Christmas flooded through my brain and it was all bad.

“What do we have for Hillary? Do you like your mommy? Do you let her go potty? Maybe it’s a doll that goes potty!” Of course it was a doll. I don’t know if it went potty or not. I tossed it into the kitchen. I caught a glimpse of Crystal watching. Tough titties.

“Where is Willy’s presents? I’ll bet Willy has one just like Billy’s!”
“That’s enough.” It was a hero. A male hero man making his move. He was good, confident and poised. He really pissed me off. He was the boss of something.

I threw the package in his face and charged, shoulders lowered, into his midsection. His breath escaped as I drove him into a couch full of pissants. My fists were flying, pounding on his hapless ass. Someone grabbed my feet and dragged me off. A big, soft ass came crashing down on my head. I rolled over to the tree, rose to my feet and looked around. Everything was frozen in time at that second. Willy or Billy was standing there and I snatched him up and heaved him into the tree.

Crystal was there on my arm, tugging me towards the door. I backed out warily, and followed her to the car.

“I need me some Starbucks, honey.” I wanted coffee.
Crystal started the car. “You want to go out in public. I don’t think so.”
“Lunatic!” Voices from Sharon’s house. What a bunch of losers.
I slumped down in the seat and looked at the lights. A weariness swept over me and I hated the world. Christ. Christmas.

whisper

Once again I sleep the sleep, count the sheep in my sleep. Grampa is a crow that hoo hoos over the pastures, the rolling Iowa farmland. It always rolls into the woods where the deer, the huge Iowa corn fed deer roam. The outbuildings house barn swallows that fly up suddenly when young boys clamber up into the hay mows. Bales of hay can be used as huge building blocks. Forts and the like. Little architects at work with the imagination and the will to move those itchy bales.

Grampa never liked a disorganized hay mow, all the broken bales and wasted space. It was up there on that old wood that was god knows what, constructed god knows when, that he had a little pencil stashed in some little cubbyhole and made little marks on that ancient wood that only meant something to him. Something he said about the IRS one time gives me the only insight I have into it. As far as I know, I’m the only person he ever told about those little marks. That makes me feel good.

I was not his real flesh and blood. He adopted my father. Looking back, I understand the difference between the dyed in the wool relationships between real blood and this adoption business. That makes it even more significant somehow that he let me in on his accounting secrets. And now the visits he pays me as a crow are especially touching. Then again who else would pay attention to an old crow that swoops and circles, cawing in mathematical cadences that spell names and greetings. It’s a bit complex. It sounds insane.

The truth is that I have to go back. There is something there on that farm that I really should collect. Procrastination has only made it worse. It means that I have to sneak now. Sneak in, sneak out. Dig in the cover of darkness. Find a needle in a haystack.

END of Part One

… to be continued

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