~momma’s rain~ chapter four ~children/it’s elementary~ ~part four~ ~dirty white trash~

WordWulf By WordWulf, 19th Apr 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Domestic Violence & Abuse

~we were aware we were white trash~that being white trash was not a good thing~we weren’t insulted by being told so~it’s all we had ever heard~& so it was but we were hungry~desperate to be alive~certainly not good enough~damned sure angry soon enough~my brother & me~

~dirty white trash~

Whenever Daddy returned to drinking after being on the wagon for a while, he usually tried to trick Momma with subtle ruses and lies. I believe, after some time, she became complicit in Daddy’s charade. It was easier to pretend and hope he was merely experiencing a bit of a setback, a momentary glitch, a bump in the road of life the family could survive, maybe even coast over in neutral.

Such was the prevailing mood on my tenth birthday. As prearranged, Momma took us next door for a barbecue with the neighbors. We had never had a barbecue or been to one so this was another new experience for my siblings and me. It was a bit strange since the last time I saw Terrance the man had been naked. Lily sat on Terrance’s wife’s lap and everyone pretended to be normal. Terrance couldn’t keep his eyes off Momma and Lily. I probably wouldn’t have noticed that if I hadn’t seen him choking his chicken. Momma artfully avoided all references the couple made concerning Lily coming to spend some time with Uncle Terrance and Auntie Mum-mum. My birthday gift was a model car kit, a 1960 Lincoln Continental with suicide doors. This is the only birthday celebration I remember having as a child which puts me one ahead of Jackie.

That night, events took place that brought stark reality back to visit. My fears were confirmed, the good year was over. Daddy got drunk, drinking Terrance’s beer and began to pick a fight with Momma. She took us kids home and told me to keep everyone in her bedroom and out of the kitchen no matter what happened. I held the box containing my model car and wondered when I would find time to apply glue and paint to its parts.

Momma had locked the door when she came home which infuriated Daddy when he tried to get in. Before she could open it from the inside, he kicked it open. My fists clenched and tears rolled down my cheeks as I listened to Daddy roar. I hugged my sisters close and Jackie and Phillip snuggled in as near as they could get to me. Momma cried out again and again amidst the awful sound of Daddy’s fists on her skin. Linda began to wail loudly and Daddy burst into the room.

“Tommy!” he hollered, “What the hell are you doing to that baby?”

Before I could reply, Momma was tugging on Daddy’s shirt sleeve.

“Come on, Tom. Leave the kids alone. Linda’s okay.”

Daddy turned around angrily and Momma retreated into the kitchen.

“Bitch!” Daddy roared. He grabbed a dinner plate from the counter and heaved it at her. Momma ducked and the plate crashed through the kitchen window, breaking glass out into the yard.

The violence of the breaking plate extended past the four square walls of Daddy’s anger and gave him pause to stop. “Sit down, Carroll,” he ordered.

I peeked around the door frame and saw Momma shuddering against the wall, seething with anger of her own.

“I don’t want to sit down, you bastard!” she hissed.

“Come on,” Daddy pleaded, “I drank a few too many beers with Terrance, that’s all. You don’t have to get pissed at me and lock me out of my own house.”

“Pissed!” Momma exploded, “You had a load on last night when you got home, every night this week for that matter. How many shingles have you put on this week, Tom Sterner? You’re always drunk on the kids’ birthdays,” she sobbed in despair. “You’re always drunk.”

“That’s about enough!” Daddy took a step toward where she was standing next to the sink.

Before he reached her, the outside door swung open and a policeman shined a light in Daddy’s face.

“Sit down, Sir,” he ordered in a firm and controlled voice.

Momma went to the door. “Everything’s okay, Officer,” she murmured, her hands fluttering around her face, attempting to smooth down the mess of her hair.

“We just had a little argument, that’s all.”

There was a broken blood vessel in her eye, her lips were swollen, and blood dripped from the corner of her mouth.

“You too, Ma’am,” the policeman urged. He pointed his flashlight to indicate an empty chair at the kitchen table.

“Go on over and have a seat. We’ll get this all sorted out.”

As soon as Momma and Daddy were seated, the policeman came into the room. He was followed by three other officers.

“Is anyone else in the house?” he asked Momma.

She sobbed and gestured toward the darkness of the connecting room.

“Just the kids,” she said softly. “They’re ... they’re all right.”

One of the policemen came to the room to check on us. The flashing light from the patrol car outside gave his appearance a stop, freeze, and go effect. My siblings and I remained huddled on the bed and he said, “Hey guys, I’m gonna turn on the lights, okay?” He switched on the lights and looked almost like a normal person. “Are you guys okay?” he asked.

“Do you know what’s going on with your parents?”

“Nothin’!” I blurted out.

The policeman scanned the room with his eyes, pointing his flashlight even though it wasn’t turned on. He smiled at us.

“I’m going into the other room. Do you want me to turn the light back off?”

I nodded my head and the man flipped the switch off then went to join the others in the kitchen.

The policemen spoke in low voices with Momma and Daddy for a while then took Daddy away in handcuffs. One of them hung back and told Momma not to worry. Even though she refused to sign their papers, Daddy would spend the rest of night in the drunk tank at the jail. She should just take care of her young-uns and try not to worry about it for the rest of the night anyway.

After the policemen drove away I helped Momma calm my brothers and sisters. We sat with them and talked softly until they drifted off to sleep.

The kitchen was a mess; Momma and I fell into an easy rhythm, wiping, sweeping, and picking up. Momma got a half dozen butter knives and wedged them into the door jamb of the broken door. If they let Daddy out tonight the wedged knives might prevent him from entering and, if not, would maybe give Momma a chance to defend herself in some way. She told me she would just break away and run if she got the chance and had no choice. We had a plan, that if she ever had to flee, I would tend to my brothers and sisters until she was able to sneak back and get us. She lay down on the old sofa with a cold damp rag on her swollen face. I sat on the floor next to her and fell asleep. It was two o’clock in the morning.

Two hours later Daddy kicked the door in. The knives didn’t even slow him down. They clattered across the linoleum floor like metal toothpicks. He ordered me to get the kids out of his bed. He grabbed Momma by the hair and dragged her into the bedroom while I herded and carried the sleepy ones in to lay on the couch. While I made the couch down into a bed for the six of us, I listened to the familiar voices, angry and pleading. How I hated my father at that moment.

While tucking the little ones in, Jackie’s eyes found mine. They were desperate in their message of doom and condemning in their utter truth. I closed my eyes to the squeaking of the springs. Jackie turned over, his face to the wall and, for once, by choice.
A man came a couple of days later to put a notice on the door of the Garfield house. Jackie was standing out in the yard. I was watching from the kitchen window. The process server followed Jackie’s eyes to my face.

“Are your parents home?” he asked.

“Nope, they ain’t,” Jackie answered from behind him.

The man addressed me through the window.

“Are you kids here by yourselves?”

I was holding Cheryl and had a bottle propped into her mouth. She was three months old now and a chubby little thing. She gurgled as I pulled the door open with my foot.

“We’re here but we ain’t alone,” I said with all the grown up confidence I could muster.

“I need to speak to someone eighteen years of age or older,” the man persisted.

“Just stick it on the door,” Jackie piped up from behind him, “We know what you’re here for.”

The process server shook his head and muttered to himself as he taped the document to the screen door. He turned and walked away, then called back, “You kids leave that alone. It is a legal paper. Be sure your parents get it.”

Jackie stuck his tongue out at the man and came in the house.

“One o’ these days someone’s gonna smack you for that tongue o’ yours,” I warned him.

Jackie cocked his head and grinned at me.

“One o’ these days I ain’t gonna get smacked no more.” His skinny neck made him look like a pencil whose eraser is too big and ready to fall off.

Cheryl had fallen asleep in my arms. Lily and Linda were snuggled into the corner of the couch and were asleep as well. I laid the baby down in her dresser drawer bed then went to fetch my model car from where I had hidden it in the corner of the coat closet. I got lost for a couple of hours sticking it all together, enjoying the acrid odor of the plastic cement. When I was finished, one of the wheels wouldn’t stay on so I glued it in place. The other three turned out just fine. The car reminded me of Daddy, three wheels rolling, one frozen in place. Circles, going nowhere in circles. I set my Lincoln Continental on the window sill behind the couch and fell asleep staring at it. One arm was around my sisters. Jackie and Phillip had gone out roaming.

When Daddy and Momma got home, there was pretty much a repeat of the night of my birthday except this time nothing was thrown through the window and the police didn’t come. About a week later the sheriff came with some helpers and set our belongings out on the curb. Momma always left the phone number of her work with me so the man used his car radio and told her what was going on. He made me promise not to go anywhere until Momma got home from work. Cars drove by slow, neighbors looked out windows at the six of us sitting on a couch in the gutter, behind us, a small mountain of garbage, our worldly belongings. I was too embarrassed and busy taking care of my three sisters to notice anything else, not Jackie though. He picked up a shirt from a pile of clothing and held it up to the sunlight.

“Our clothes is full o’ bugs.”

Inquiries: wordwulf@gmail.com
©2014 graphic artwork music & words
conceived by & property of
tom (WordWulf) sterner 2014©
~also available at Amazon ~
~chapter one~
~chapter two~
~chapter three~
~of lips, mother & wine~


1958, 1959, Alcoholism, Art, Colorado, Denver, Family, Free, Memoirs, Missouri, Mommas Rain, Money, Mothers, Novelist, Parenting, Philosophy, Photography, Poetry, Poverty, Religion, Saint Louis, Sons, Survival, Tom Wordwulf Sterner, Violence, Wikinut, Writer

Meet the author

author avatar WordWulf
I write novels, poetry, songs,nonsense & lies. Sometimes truth sneaks in when I ain't lookin'.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
20th Apr 2014 (#)

wow!" what a tale to tell...thank you

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author avatar WordWulf
20th Apr 2014 (#)

thank-you! It's quite a story. I appreciate you taking time to read & comment.

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