~momma’s rain~ ~chapter five~ ~children in a crossfire~ ~part two~ ~discombobulated~

WordWulf By WordWulf, 24th Apr 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Domestic Violence & Abuse

~is there anyone hasn’t been embarrassed by parents~made to wish they were somewhere else~someone else anyone else~things you laugh about when you grow up~talk to them about until they’re gone~then miss them every time you think about it~you realize at times they were killing themselves~


Later that day, Daddy was up flashing the pipes and ridging the hips of the house while I piled scraps onto a tarp spread on the ground. The painters had shown up and set up a scaffold so they could paint the soffits and gutters. They were just about to climb the scaffold and get to work when I heard one of them say, “Can you believe it? Only in Colorado, not a cloud in the sky and it’s startin’ to rain.”

His workmate extended a palm out past the gutter, pulled it back and examined his hand. He licked a finger and laughed, “Damned if it ain’t!”

Another rule when working with Daddy was to never go up on a steep job unless he was there to help you off the ladder and onto the roof. I sneaked past the painters and climbed up Daddy’s ladder which was set up on the other side of the house from them. I was pretty sure I knew where to find Daddy and, sure enough, there he was as I scampered over the top. Daddy’s left hand held a smoking Pall Mall and was positioned against the chimney just above where the painters were working. He was using it to brace his body and hold him upright. The other hand held his business as he was taking a leak behind the chimney.

“Pssst!” I said, and Daddy sprayed up so high he put his cigarette out. There was urine dripping from the end of his nose.

“Goddammit, Tommy!” he cursed, “You scared me near to death! What in the hell are you doing up here anyway. You know better than that!”

I held a finger to my lips and said, “Shhh ... shhh. Shh,” as I pointed to the ground on Daddy’s side of the roof. He finished with his business and put it away then wiped his hands on his jeans. He led me to a place where we could sit, take a break, and talk in private, a flat panel on the back of the house. When I told him about the painters and the rain, he said, “Oh shit!” and we both got the giggles again. Daddy decided, even though he had hoped to finish the roof before noon, it must be time to break for lunch.

When working with Daddy, I always hoped ‘break for lunch’ meant to go down in the people’s yard and have a sandwich. No such luck this fine day. Daddy knew there was a nice shady park nearby with a big ol’ tree a few feet off the road. He kept an old blanket behind the seat of the truck. When we arrived at the park, I got it and spread it out on the grass under the tree.

Daddy brought out the baloney sandwiches Momma made for us. They were okay except Daddy always had her put lots of butter on both slices of bread. I ate mine in spite of the buttery taste and texture I couldn’t stand. We drank water from Daddy’s canvas water bag. He kept it hanging from the side mirror of his truck. He claimed the air passing through the bag kept the water cold. It was wet but not very cold in the summer.

After lunch Daddy gave me some of the gumdrops he always kept in his pocket. Then he yawned and stretched. I watched him go through the motions of an after-lunch ritual I had seen so many times I knew it by heart. Daddy glanced at his watch, then took it off and handed it to me.

“I’m gonna take a little nap. You can go play on the playground or whatever you want to do. Wake me up at two o’clock if I don’t get up before that.”

He laid on his stomach, crossed his arms for a pillow, turned his face to the side and put his hat over his eyes. He seemed to go to sleep almost at once then the music commenced. He had this gas problem and began his song with a few introductory toots. Then the real rip-snorters would come. This is how I came to know what downwind meant. I learned to position myself upwind but that didn’t solve the whole problem.

People out for a run, bicycle riders, ladies out enjoying the weather and pushing baby buggies, these and more were all fair game. They usually paused and grimaced at the odor, then continued on with a confused look on their faces. But I swear, the rip-snorters would blow them right off the sidewalk. Their eyes might tear up to find and accuse me as if I had control over this incredible fart machine.

Eventually I learned to position myself upwind and away, to separate myself from the goings on. At some point I began to have a bit of fun with the situation. In my imaginings, the approaching passersby would be my targets and the man under the tree, my father, a lethal weapon. I would time the target’s gait with my calibrated fuzzy eye then will my cannon to fire when they were in the cross hairs. To my knowledge, no one ever connected the laughing boy on the grass to the farting man under the tree. Not that they had time or an inclination to connect anything. Being victims of what I would later name ‘Agent Brown’, their only real hope was to hold their breath and lurch away. Daddy took little purple pills called Carter’s Little Liver Pills. He called them Carter’s Little Farter Starters. I don’t think he had any idea how well they worked while he was sleeping.

Once in a while my giggling antics woke Daddy up. His usual behavior was to lift his hat from his face and rub his eyes. By the time he focused on me, I would be the composed and well-behaved son Daddy knew me to be.

Two o’clock finally came and I started the process of waking him up. This was best accomplished with a very long stick. I don’t know what haunted my father but he always woke up scared to death and fighting. This day was no exception. Eyes wild, he came up from the ground swinging, knocked the end clean off my poking stick. “Wha, Wha, Wha,’’ he gasped, spittle gathered on his lips. Awareness came to him slowly. He smiled, embarrassed. “Sorry, son, let’s wrap ‘er up ‘n hit the road.”

Once we gathered and put away our lunch supplies, we got in the truck and the pee ritual began. Daddy always used a large coffee can or milk jug to do his business. I had to be in the truck with him to watch the mirror and front approaches from my side of the vehicle. For my part, whenever Daddy allowed, the window was always rolled down. I didn’t care how cold it was. The smell of fresh urine when confined to close quarters is a stinking and offensive island significant to its own miserable self.

Daddy also did his business at times when parked on the street or alley next to his roofing jobs. If anyone approached, and this happened all the time, my job was to get out of the truck and keep them busy while Daddy put his willy away. This was problematic, especially when it came to older folk. They wanted to speak with the journeyman concerning their roof problems and had very little interest in conversing with a ten-year-old kid. They had finally caught the neighborhood roofer on the ground and didn’t want him to get away. Daddy would usually come up with something, like, “Tommy, go with this lady and see how long a ladder we’re gonna need to check on her roof. I’ll be right there.” It was strange and twisted funny to watch him, one hand holding his peesqueeter in the jug, the other covering it up, and speaking with someone about roof problems or the weather, and all the while with a straight look on his face.

The worst part of the pee ritual, though, was its finale. The passenger side of a parked vehicle is usually next to the curb. It was my duty to nonchalantly empty the contents of the jug or can into the gutter. The task also had to be done sans gagging or one risked a smack on top of the head. The containers were always warm and moist unless they had been filled at another time and hadn’t been emptied. In such cases they weren’t warm, just moist, and had to be emptied before the current ritual could begin. More often than not, they were downright wet because of some errant dribble, especially if Daddy was drinking. My fear of getting some of this business on my skin usually guaranteed it would occur. I knows now that if I could have just thought of it as water or Koolaid, the chance of a spill would have been significantly reduced. I wasn’t aware of such wisdom then and, since I have been aware of it, haven’t had the occasion to empty an adult’s pee pot, not even my own. I’m thankful for that.

Concluding these unpleasantries, which didn’t seem to bother Daddy a bit, we went back and finished the roof. The painters asked Daddy if he would do them a favor and slap some paint on the pipes while he was up there. They weren’t a bit eager to hang by their toenails forty feet in the air. Daddy agreed and I got the job while Daddy finished with the ridging. The paint was the same color as the roof and trim so my ten-year-old sloppiness wouldn’t be noticed, not that anybody but pigeons would ever see the top of the roof anyway. I will always wonder if Daddy would have helped those painters, free gratis, if he hadn’t pissed on them earlier.

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~
~chapter four~
~I’m Bound to Ride Again~


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

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

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