Memories are just fragments of film. It’s odd, some of the events our brains retain, be they home movies, or pure fiction–intricate fabrications focused tighter and tighter over time. The power of suggestion is strong, indeed. My mother is one of those story tellers who believes in the fables she’s invented, says my dad. I have no reliable source of reality in regards to my childhood, though I do tend to put heavier stock in most things my dad has to say, because he’s not bat shit crazy. Or is he? Dad did a lot of hard drugs when he was young, says my mother–she’s mentioned angel dust and heroine more than a handful of times. But that was before I was born, so why should I care? Right? Right?
These are some things that I know are real memories.
I do recall, without uncertainty, my dad harvesting some of the plants he’d raised in the basement of our house in Lapeer; I watched him roll a joint for himself, and he said, “Don’t you tell your mother.” I also remember when our tabby cat, Thomas, somehow found himself locked inside “Dad’s Room,” and when we discovered him, several plants had been chewed to fuck all. Oh, Thomas!
Dad and Grandpa had fields of weed some fucking place in B.F.E. (which means Bum Fuck Egypt for reasons I do not know). Once my mother began working nights, dad had no choice but to take my sister and I along for the ride out to green fucking acres (I’ve just now come up with that). At age eight, or nine, or ten, I didn’t know what the hell dad was doing, parking his truck in the middle of nowhere, and wandering off into the tall weeds for thirty plus minutes. Tara and I would sit in the dark, and listen to hordes of crickets–or God forbid, the unholy June Bugs. Sometimes dad would leave the radio on for us. Other times we would play the Color Game–that’s when one of us would think of a color, and the other would guess; we’d take turns, guessing the same goddamned colors over and over again. I invented the Color Game one night when Tara couldn’t sleep, for whatever reason–she was an extremely anxious child. It was my way of trying to soothe her without allowing her to climb down from her top bunk and into my bed. She always did end up sleeping beside me. Tara and I grew up best friends, though my role leaned heavily toward mother, even before our parents were divorced.
I was five years old when Tara was born. I’d wanted a brother, for reasons only a five year old girl might be able to explain. My mother had had a long, hard labor. She’d lost a lot of blood, and Tara, who was ultimately taken by C-section, almost drowned in that blood. It was several days for both mother and newborn in the hospital before my dad finally took me to meet my sister. I remember it was night, and Dad had bought me a McDonald’s Happy Meal to eat on our way to Hurley. I sat in the back of the station wagon, stomach in knots, stuffing french fries, and chucks of cheeseburger into whatever crease and crevice available to me. I don’t recall the toy that accompanied my food. That’s a detail my brain did not retain, probably because seeing my baby sister for the first time was/is paramount. My dad held her up before me, and I fell immediately in love with the raven haired baby named Tara.
The day Dad was able to finally bring my mother and sister home, he discovered the remains of my uneaten Happy Meal. “When I asked you if you’d eaten all your food, you said, ‘yes, daddy.’ So why is there food smashed all over in the backseat?” I don’t recall my response, but it most likely involved tears. My dad scared the fuck out of me when he was angry. Hell, he still does, though anger is something exhibited rarely these days. Now, my dad is all enlightened and shit. He hasn’t raised his voice to me since I was sixteen, and his (then) sister-in-law caught me and my (then) step-brother trying to steal cigarettes from the grocery store where she worked. In our defense, back then store management was lacking considering the easy placement of tobacco products. Liquor, too.
Dustin, my (then) step-brother and I used to climb out his bedroom window when our parents were out and sit on the roof; we’d smoke stolen smokes and drink stolen Hot Damn. I had a pipe some dude at my high school made for me, and if I didn’t have any cigarettes, Dustin and I would use it to smoke tobacco we’d loosened from butts we found in ashtrays, or laying around the yard.
I loved Dustin. Until he molested Tara. Now, I hope he’s contracted a penis disease that’s left him dysfunctional, and makes women weep upon the sight of it. Like, I hate him so much, I hope he can’t even masturbate because it’s fucking broken all to fuck, and ugly as sin. I hope the sight of his own penis makes him cry out in terror. And I hope bits of skin fall off into the toilet every time he takes a piss. I hope it looks like an overly grilled bratwurst that has been soaking in a pot of stinking hotdog water. I hope the only thing he is remembered for after he dies is the stench of his rotting penis.