What to do about me?

 

This time, they say, Iím going to jail.

Four made roosters crowing among the dirty coffee cups of our cruddy kitchen, each uncle acting like a different kind of father to me.

Albie, the outraged disciplinarian, making up in volume what he could never do in fact, unable to shoot a gun on the front lines of Korea even as the dead piled up around him, most of whom he was helpless to patch up or revive.

Frank, the lumbering silent bear, full of a foreboding presence his great bulk provided him, a delicate man trapped inside, hurting only by accident even when enraged like this.

Ted, the hot head, the boy just barely a man to whom I am most attracted, a boy who brought me secret treasures from the auto shop until grandpa scolded him about spoiling me, and who looks hurt each times he comes home empty-handed.

Harold, the bald-headed, level-headed wise man of the family, his life so full of calculation, he perpetually fidgets, taking this out in is spare time on board games with me, challenging me each time to defeat him, then proud of me when I prove I can.

He says he sees no way out of jail this time since I let the cops catch me trying to shoot someone with a gun.

I said I had a bee bee gun but no bee bees and I only threatened by buddy Billy because he wouldnít go and buy more.

Albie demands to know where I got the gun.

Frank moans he hoped I didnít hurt anyone when I still had bee bees.

Ted says I ought to go to jail if only to teach me a lesson, though I know he doesnít mean it since he still has visions of Vietnam in his eyes.

Harold tells the others to shut up while he tries to recall if he knows any lawyers we can afford to us or any legal argument to suggest I had to use the gun the way I did, and that in the end it is all really Billyís fault and Billy should face charges instead of me.

I tell Frank I donít shoot at people or other living things, just bottles and cans, and despite what the police said about my firing at cars, I didnít know the highway was there or that I was so bad a shot as to hit one of them instead of the can I was aiming at.

Albie shuts up at this, as if he can see the tin cans piled up like bodies on the frozen mountain side, each one groaning at him, begging for him limited medical attention to save its life.

Ted stomps back and forth across the kitchen, each heavy footstep rattling the coffee spoons and the half filled cups, his breath full of steam with the chill of the room, grandpa is too cheap to heat properly.

He asks Harold if we might smuggle me across the border to Canada where he has friends. He suggests he can tell his friends Iím a draft dodger, too.

Albie calls that stupid since Iím way too young to join the army and adds that fact that he was, too, then his eyes die again.

Frank says they should take me up to his house in the mountain, a remote cabin no one would think to look for me in or reach me once the first serious snow arrives.

Harold says that itís as bad as a prison and suggests the real prison would be better, more heat and enough to east.

They are still discussing this when the time comes for me to go upstairs to my room to sleep.

But I wonít be sleeping tonight. I know the moment everyone else goes to sleep, Iíll be running away.

 

 


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