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General

Trigger warnings: homophobia, racism, slurs

 

I’m a ghost. One minute , I was on my bike and the next thing you know, I’m out there, out of my body. No limbs, not really flying around, just here, moving about unimpeded. Just myself… if I may say so, a spirit. Ethereal, elusive, visiting.

 

“I’m hungry”. Mom sighs. She can see Grandpa in the reflection of the small window above the sink. The swishing water from the faucets mingles with the patter of the TV.I am running late again, she knows it.

 

“What’s that lil’ fag doing?” Grandpa punctuates his question with a deep, armchair-muffled fart. Mom closes her eyes and ignores it.

 

“Dad, you know I don’t like you calling Cameron like that” She says it softly, her voice quivering when she pronounces my name.

 

“C’mon Jane. You know it, everybody knows it, let me tell ‘ya. Back in the days, these guys didn’t prance around, waving flags, rolling their hips for the whole fucking world to see. Real gentlemen, did it in parks, behind the train depot, never asked for a thing, never bothered. The world’s changing and the next thing ya know, these guys will get lil’ babies, turn them aroun’, teach them that fucking a boy is all right”

 

She knows it’s no use. Getting into a fight now, before Sunday lunch. She has cooked yams, he doesn’t know about it yet.

 

“Jane, it’s all fucking plain to see. That lil’ fag ‘o yours, moving around on his bike, standing up, bouncing his ass for all the queers to see, real pain in the ass, these cyclists. Used to drive ‘em off the road, got the fender real close, and then bam! down in the ditch”

 

He guffaws, wheezes, coughs and almost chokes. He spits inside his hankie, rolls it into a ball and thrusts it in his pocket. Mommy sighs again. She hates washing his pants. Soon, the smell of roasted yams wafts over the living-room.

 

“What’s that you’re cooking?” She doesn’t answer, she can’t answer. She turns around and she can see the sparsely-haired head, his hand on the armrest holding the remote, the cable of his hearing aids coiling around the back of his ears. She can also see the dinner table, three plates, three glasses sparkling from the sun behind the French windows. She wants the door to be pushed open, me on the threshold , biking helmet still on, smiling apologetically for leaving her alone with him.

 

“Where’s he been anyways?” To the library, I told him this morning before they left for church. “What’s this all about this book-reading? Books. Tell you what, when I was his age , we didn’t fuck around with no books. Us boys went fishin’, huntin’ , then the dances on Saturdays, drunk as pigs, this is where I met ya mother, bless her soul”

 

She already knows about it. He told her a hundred times.

 

“Know what? this library,I’m sure this is where he goes to get some, pretty lil’ dudes with glasses on, like to give it to ya, behind the library.”

He guffaws again. Mommy clenches her fist on the kitchen counter watching the whorls of her forefinger as it tightens, watching the blood being chased away. She gives a casual look to the knife block standing tall and tempting on the other side of the counter.

 

“ His boyfriend’s holding him. No wonder the prick don’t wanna go to church. Too many sins, he wouldn’t be able to walk through the door, he’d be struck dead on the spot”

 

Mommy’s nose itches, she rubs at the corner of her eyes. She never asks for this. Him, his ass down all through the day, picking his nose, rubbing what he finds into little balls he flicks away. The diapers he wears at night, washing him in the morning, legs up in the air, the retching while he harps, on and on, about me. Her sister, living two thousand miles away, calling her once a week, telling her what to do, visiting at Christmas, mommy and I sleeping on the convertible sofa in the study. Today, he didn’t want to go to the restaurant after service. His back ached, what a relief. She couldn’t stand it anymore. The two of us, listening to his rants while families were enjoying their Sunday lunch (“ This waitress’s a bitch” “I seen a darkie in the kitchen. What’s this country come to? N***ers flipping burgers. In my days, they was just good enough for mopping the fucking floor after us folks were done. Outta view, didn’t mix up with us folks”). We looked down at our plates and prayed for him not to order desert.

 

“Can’t wait no longer, might as well go on without him”. She sighs again, with relief this time. When he eats, he doesn’t speak. She watches him as he pushes himself up with shaking arms and grabs his walking frame. He shuffles painfully across the room, his fat ass rolling in his striped baggy pants, the slippers never leaving the carpeting, just scraping and scraping to the dining table.

 

“Hurry up Jane! I’ll say grace. Dear Lord, be kind to our Cameron, it’s not his fault if he’s the way he is, just be kind to’im , that’s all we want. Spare us, this was no doing of ours, musta been his father, bad genes make bad kids. Be kind to his mother and his grandfather. Protect us from harm. Amen” She is used to his unconventional graces, he likes to think he could have been a preacher. He likes to eat his meat first, she gives him two pieces of golden and crusty fried chicken, which he nibbles at, mouth opened, washing it all down with a cheap bottle of red he always ends up downing on his own.

 

“You haven’t tol’ me. What’s next?” She can’t say it. “ C’mon, fool, Grandpa’s still hungry”

“Yams”.

He blinks.

“What’s that?”

“Yams”

“D’ya take me for one of those spooks? Yams, why doncha put salad on the side? I’m no fucking rabbit” His fist bangs on the table, the dishes clatter.

“I have mashed potatoes left from yesterday’s dinner.” She chokes up a sob.

“That’s the spirit”

 

 A knock on the door, mommy gets up, nabbing at the corner of her eyes with her napkin. She opens the door, two police officers, caps off, looking grave.

 

From inside the house, they can hear Grandpa.

“The fuck is that? What did the little prick knock for?”

August 17, 2020 09:21

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4 comments

P. Jean
08:55 Aug 20, 2020

The old curmudgeon was characterized perfectly for what he was! Old, bitter, angry and vile. Good take on the prompt. I wonder if she will have need of the knife in the knife block now?

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09:55 Aug 20, 2020

Thank you. I see poison in his broth. I wish I could comment on each of your stories but you are way too prolific. Keep going.

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P. Jean
10:00 Aug 20, 2020

Thank you but I find my compulsive approach to these prompts have seriously cut into real writing time!

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10:20 Aug 20, 2020

I know. I once wrote three short stories but as you said it cuts on my other project . I only write when the prompt appeals to me now.

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